The Case of the Playboy
Helen Nielsen’s masterful teleplay is built on King Kong, Robert Armstrong himself plays the boxing trainer whose palooka tastes canvas every time he sees a pretty girl. The two are used unwittingly by an entrepreneur who has been known to buy a baseball club, fire the team and sell the land.
He acquires the Wilshire Lombard Hotel for next to nothing by inviting the owner to his training camp, where the trainer’s presence brings to mind arson for insurance in years past. The trainer had been employed by a hoodlum who did the deed while under investigation by the boxing commission. The trainer’s contender at the time died in the fire, murdered to silence him.
Thus the threefold symmetry of the image out of King Kong progresses from fighter to entrepreneur to insurance fraud, while all three are kept in play simultaneously, bobbing and weaving.
Twice the trainer addresses his boxer as “big ape”. A liaison with a lady in San Diego gets the entrepreneur killed by his jealous secretary.
Lyon’s direction deals out the script’s complications in easy strides with a number of deftly telling nuances and quick reflections of the theme.
Like Kong, the boxer is set for another go-round in the epilogue.