With Philip Ober and Foster Brooks, practically a remake of Seiter’s Room Service (the Monkees’ Broadway debut does not come off as planned, the boys should be girls in the backer’s lights (Doodles Weaver at The Millionaires Club).
Stage Is All the World
Manhattan Manhunt II
McCloud, whose new-found celebrity (thanks to an article by Chris Coughlin in the Chronicle) vexes the Department, is assigned to protect a British theatrical maven who has received letters assailing his “filthy, obscene” productions and threatening his life.
A fine bravura defense of the nation against the cultural phenomenon pictured here as an off-Broadway fantasy on virgin sacrifice. There is a striking feint along the lines of mere old-fashionedness, and Richard Dawson’s performance as the Cockney enfant terrible who swallows up publicity (and whatever else lies to hand) sets the tone.
Albert Popwell as the stage manager starts the thing by bringing up Brecht.
Walk in the Dark
Murder Arena II
McCloud complains about his assignment to rodeo detail, so Chief Clifford sends him to Special Auxiliary Force VI under the command of Sgt. Dameron, where he works to catch a murderer in Central Park.
The significance of “Walk in the Dark” is that it serves to mirror the rustic chivalry in “The Concrete Corral” on a more sophisticated plane. McCloud is assigned to the all-girl police unit (alongside Susan St. James and Ann Prentiss) staking out Central Park with decoys to no avail and suffering casualties. The murderer, who “carves up” his victims, finds his way through the park after dark with incredible ease and slips right through the dragnet. He’s blind, as it turns out.
McCloud has to pull rank on Sgt. Dameron to get his man, and this earns him a professional rebuke as well as a commendation.
Our Man in Paris
Man from Taos II
In Paris, McCloud and a stewardess try to locate a mysterious arms smuggler with ties to an American mogul and a New York gubernatorial candidate.
Part II unveils the mystery. The man in the hotel room is a distinguished former Assistant District Attorney, civic booster and lawyer (“Criminal?” “Corporate.”) named Aldon F. Flanders, about to marry a certain Miss Talbot, and slated to run for Governor.
He’s been having a little trouble with his female courier, who takes a million dollars at a pop to M. Rissient in Paris, for the purpose of smuggling arms to the East or the Near East. Mr. Talbot is the financier.
McCloud shows his badge to a French tobacconist, but can’t make himself understood (“c’est un autre service,” says the man, waving his index finger, “pas parisien”). However, he has deputized (sort of) a French stewardess, who helps him with the language barrier, as they try to trace the man whose name sounds like Reason or Recent.
There’s a greatly skilled use of the Universal back lot as Paris, lots of sunlight, close-ups zooming out, breezes, sound effects, etc., added to the second unit photography.
As McCloud says in Part I, “Who says you can’t make new friends in New York?”
Sidney Cantrell (Sebastian Cabot) is a world-famous astrologer, a man of wealth, most of it his wife’s (Louise Latham). He arranges to have a client (Peter Haskell) kidnap her for ransom, then during negotiations he kills the man in an apparent fit of rage, with McCloud and Sgt. Broadhurst as witnesses.
A bomb is set to kill Mrs. Cantrell if the ransom isn’t paid. She is a nervous, talky person, who is given tranquilizers by her kidnapper to help her sleep out her ordeal.
The subtle, dry action is full of parallelisms. Cantrell’s secretary (Jill Jaress) is another frazzled wreck, what with her employer’s fussiness and stinginess and the very odd people who form his clientele. The kidnapper’s girlfriend (Susan Strasberg), who is innocent of the plot, is nevertheless abandoned before their getaway to Malaga when he dies in the hospital after being struck from behind.
Mrs. Cantrell’s chauffeur is forced out of the car at gunpoint and threatened with one in the back if she doesn’t get in the front seat. She’s kept in an abandoned building in Queens. McCloud comforts the secretary, uses the girlfriend to snare Cantrell, and defuses the bomb.
The title is explained by a tattoo of a ram’s head on the kidnapper’s arm. McCloud is a Virgo. He’s at a desk when it all begins with Mr. Rafer (Elisha Cook, Jr.), who complains of “alien gamma rays.” The Marshal, who is having lunch, reassuringly folds him a hat made of wax paper from a sandwich, so as to provide an “anti-gamma ray magnetic field.” Elmer (Woodrow Parfrey), a patrolman, brings in maps for the kidnapping investigation, including one he drew himself. “You think any of those kids downstairs could do one like this? You bet they couldn’t,” Elmer growls.
Sebastian Cabot’s resemblance to Richard Todd gives the acuity that is required to set up the droll punchline. The kidnap plot, which is not disclosed at first, is made manifest in a wink, and all that remains is for McCloud to ferret out the motive, principally from Cantrell’s business manager (Alan Oppenheimer).
McCloud reveals himself as a great student of Mr. Wong’s skills, from the delicately dissembled interrogation to the culminating coup de théâtre.
Fifth Man in a String
McCloud has “a little tête-to-tête” with a mobster seeking public office whose scheme to silence a murder witness involves becoming a patron of the arts.
Fred R. Shultke is running for Harbor Commissioner. Years before, he killed a rival, and believes he was seen. The question is, what to do at this juncture?
The witness is a low-level runner named Stephen Rudensky, who saw nothing at all. He has a brother, “the internationally-renowned violinist Paul Rudell” according to the latter’s remarkably lifelike and true-to-form obituary on the evening news (“he will be missed”), who founded a Conservatory of Music in New York, and whom Stephen deeply admires in his far-flung travels, saving the odd newspaper clipping that comes his way.
Shultke has a plan. He donates $10,000 to the Conservatory (“a modest little contribution,” McCloud observes), places his own Fifth Avenue lawyer on the staff as a part-time advisor without pay, arranges a frame job, and has Rudell stabbed after a charity concert rehearsal.
Stephen Rudensky surfaces for the funeral, Shultke tries to have him killed. Meanwhile, a student of Rudell’s, Louis Brocco, is held for the murder on impressive circumstantial evidence that leaves McCloud cold. This is a lovelorn lad who looks over his shoulder every day because in his childhood, like Cocteau’s poet, kids threw snowballs full of rocks at him. He has, by his own admission, “no personality”, is “not strong, not attractive” without his violin.
The rest of the quartet, second violinist Waldemar, violist Milton and cellist Kurt, are studies of a very similar sort. They train like athletes and live like chessplayers, work at a deli and scrape along in the city. When Louis is arrested for first-degree murder (the motive is asserted to be love for Rudell’s granddaughter Natalie), they try to bail him out, and then get into trouble by taking evidence from his room (they give themselves away by straightening up the apartment before they go). McCloud wonders how a man wearing one blue sock and one yellow sock could have such a neat apartment, finds out they have a key, could run them in, but will accept a bribe. “You see,” says Kurt, who thinks the marshal has beady eyes and hence a wrongheaded implacability, “I told you so!” They bring him Louis’s returned love letters from behind the deli counter (“‘Dear Miss Rudell,’” McCloud reads, adding, “sort o’ formal for a love letter, ain’t it?”), and inquire about the bribe. “That’s gonna cost you one bagel and cream cheese, and maybe a cream soda, I don’t know, I haven’t figured that out yet.”
Natalie is receiving the attentions of Shultke’s lawyer, Kevin Mallory, who disprizes Louis in the strongest terms as “a weirdo”, if not “dangerous” on the surface.
McCloud grasps the situation with great rapidity, helped out by general astuteness and by chance and good investigative work. He sees Rudell’s double on a streetcorner near the Conservatory, learns of Rudensky’s plight, has the rest of the quartet stake out Natalie, follows her to Rudensky. A shootout with Shultke’s assassin (the “man in the green hat” who’s been following Louis around) and a pursuit through Long Island bring him to the arrest of the lawyer, whom Shultke has set to kill Rudensky (“I don’t want to think I saddled myself with a weakie”). The last scene has the quartet playing Dvořák (the “American” quartet), and between Alex and Milton is toe-tappin’ McCloud with his harmonica, under a bust of Beethoven.
Mayberry’s direction is distinguished by a sense of detail in a flowing mise en scène. Shultke flip-flops back to his hotel room in robe and slippers after assigning Mallory to kill Rudensky, and this walk from the elevator (out of which two prostitutes emerge and are sent on to the room), his short parti-colored robe and the sound of his slippers as he walks away from the camera down the corridor, is one of the best scenes of this kind. The final chase under a clear blue sky is not less remarkable.
Neville Brand and Rick Weaver give seemingly effortless performances that go very far in refinement and characterization. Lilia Skala is skillfully present as Natalie’s aunt Eugenia (these Russians call each other Natalya and Eugénie and Pavel and Stefan), a ballet teacher at the Conservatory, “an aristocratic lady,” McCloud says, and as quick as he is to understand the situation.
Joseph Wiseman has a brief scene as Rudell signing autographs, then plays Rudensky in a tricky twofold manner as a man of feeling and violence. One is in his gentle demeanor, the other in his tough-guy voice.
Alex Henteloff stays on a nervously even keel as the co-violinist amid these rapids. Richard Haydn and Avery Schreiber are brought in to definitely etch their characters in a swift movement. Shelley Fabares is abstracted and responsive by turns, as needed. Gary Collins is a perfect tool (Timothy Carey is the apartment manager, and Charlie Jones delivers the obit on the news).
It’s a balmy summer day in New York at the opening. How are things, Chief Clifford would like to know. McCloud has collared a pickpocket, also a man selling flying saucers, he’d like more challenging duty, at night for instance. Every day, says the Chief standing on the steps outdoors, we meet and have a talk like this, you tell me of your day, I have a plan. “From now on, you work nights.”
And that night, McCloud has just answered a call about a “dying animal” (it was the old man’s bagpipes, “he gave me a demonstration that wouldn’t quit, a whole serenade, you betcha”) when the call goes out about Rudell’s murder. Responding, he finds Louis fleeing from the scene after a passerby’s scream of terror.
Chief Clifford berates McCloud for “coercing” the prisoner by bringing his violin to him in jail. The marshal tells Louis about his Aunt Cora, who loved the violin and had 23 cats. “One day a stranger came and took away her innocence, just took away her innocence. He told her what those strings were made of, and just absolutely devastated a fantastic musical career.” He gets Louis to play for him, “you know, that Borodin quartet, No. 2 in D Major, I think it is, just that third movement, that’s the part that really turns me on.”
The beauty of the structure is revealed in the transition from Louis’s dreary apartment, where the manager offers McCloud a cup of tea (“haven’t had m’ booster shot,” the marshal answers, refusing it), to the Conservatory, where Eugenia serves him from a samovar.
Lady on the Run
Filmed on location in Mexico City, with many fine day and night interiors and exteriors centered around the Grand Hotel, and culminating in a double Donen finale amongst the agaves and on the Teotihuacan pyramids (with Mancinian music from Stu Phillips).
Mayberry’s subtle and evocative direction unobtrusively picks up many details, for example: as Ann leaves her apartment to kill her brother-in-law after he’s acquitted for hiring a hit man to kill his wife, the camera just establishes beside her on the table in the middle distance a small bronze copy of Bourdelle’s Heracles stretching his bow. As she descends the stairs after the hit man kills her brother-in-law in a dispute over money (and she is seen beside the body), she passes another bit of statuary, an eighteenth-century portrait bust of a lady (again in the middle distance).
In fact, this is fertile ground for Mayberry, who spies a tourist at the pyramids tripping over a stone, and another whose hat is winged by the gesticulating guide, almost unnoticeably.
McCloud is sent to pick up the fugitive ( a simple “in and out,” says Chief Clifford), who meantime has eluded the Mexican authorities. Sgt. Broadhurst is sent after him, and when he disappears, the Chief goes in himself. Inspector De Palma wants to know if this is standard police procedure in New York. “Certainly not,” says the Chief.
Be Careful What You Pray
A trucking company is plagued with hijackings and finally succumbs to protection, which leaves it in a worse condition than before with an inside man as partner.
Stolen goods from Boston are written off as a charitable donation. A convoy of trucks from Virginia is the real objective, heisted in high winds with no police helicopters flying.
A convent school is the intended recipient of bathroom fixtures in the first instance, the convoy is full of furs and cigarettes.
A great sunny thing of highly advanced composition put together by Miller and Mayberry out of whatever comes to hand on the great Atlantic seaboard.
Resurrection in Black and
The Rockford Files
A woman’s death is faked for a large insurance benefit. Her supposed murderer is tried and convicted. A newspaper reporter takes an interest in the case. Rockford is hired to do the legwork.
The mechanics of the investigation are of great interest, leading to the prisoner’s defense counsel, now living in a sanitarium and regrettably senile, finally to a retired coroner on his boat. A body was substituted, the mother was complicit. Several participants in the scheme were subsequently eliminated.
The portrayal of a lady reporter is just as interesting. This is a classic professional position finely analyzed as an involvement with the world only rarely withdrawing its gaze for a moment in a subjective lapse, met with a stare from Rockford.
It’s the steady concentration that makes the part, without a trace of somberness. Joan Van Ark has it all the way, with William Prince as the lawyer and Milton Selzer as the coroner.
A Need to Know
Spymasters work a foreign national in view of tangible gain, he is a double agent serving to implement an assassination plan against a Federal agent.
As “a member of the international community”, this embassy chauffeur enjoys diplomatic immunity and sees himself held down by “small men with small minds, like the leaders of my country.” These delusions of grandeur find expression in a penchant for small boys in city parks.
A visit to the man’s psychiatrist brings enlightenment to Lt. Kojak, stress and temptation are the poles, the lady is nowhere in evidence.
Mayberry is brilliant, pulling out from a lineup into the witness room and identification window or filming a tense confab between the doomed agent and Kojak with Capt. McNeil at a small patch of greenery across the street and down the block from the UN Building visible in the background.
Hector Elizondo is the chauffeur, a role remarkably similar to his embassy official in “A Case of Immunity” for Columbo. Al Freeman, Jr. and Jess Osuna are the agent and his boss, who meet McNeil and Kojak at the Bibliothèque for tea. The smiling assassin is Yuki Shimoda.
He’s a kid Kojak delivered in a “rat-infested apartment” back when the lieutenant was a uniformed officer. Now Theodopoulos Kojak Moore has a juvenile gang rousting shop-owners for nickels and dimes out of their Social Security.
Kojak takes a belated interest, but there’s another influence, a high-living hoodlum who pipes the kid aboard a diamond heist. Kojak calls the fellow “psycho”.
There’s a fine adumbration of Wyler’s Detective Story in Det. Stavros’s admonition to the kid early on, and the same director’s Dead End is just visible throughout. The heist is impressively filmed in a tall building with truck elevators, but Russ Mayberry’s surprising coup is an incidental sense of riding around New York streets on a sunny day, nothing more.
Hotel of Fear
The Rockford Files
Angel Martin is a witness for the prosecution in a murder case, he’s ensconced in the Wilshire Plaza Hotel, then less conspicuous digs as attempts are made on his life, he’s reduced to asking the police for a jail cell, and finally is “tied to the Long Beach Freeway” under a “hit-happy” hit man’s “silenced .22”, while a mob boss tries to increase his take on the horses.
Mayberry’s work is unusually precise, even for him, cold and clear with a sense of staying one step ahead of television’s strictures by dint of rapid, flexible cutting.
John Flynn takes up this theme of a wackjob whackjobber in Out for Justice.
I Could Kill My
The second unit creates a homey view of Manhattan from across the river, another of the port, various buildings admiringly examined.
Mayberry (evidently filming in Los Angeles) reflects this onto his drama, a clinical portrait of a bulldozing shyster.
An amazing performance by Milton Berle (who co-wrote this with Stephen Lord) is the main component of this tour de force. He plays a comic at the end of his string, working a comedy club in the last vestiges of a celebrated career, having reached, as he says, the fifth level of show business. “Who’s Harvey Chase? Get me Harvey Chase! Get me a young Harvey Chase. Get me a Harvey Chase type. Who’s Harvey Chase?” A slatternly young fellow is the headliner, and his murder involves auto theft and blackmail, but his rival is framed for it.
Berle plays the comic as a perfect type, timing off, mispronouncing his words, not knowing where the beats are, but still able to burble up an involuntary chuckle out of innate good humor and skill. This is all terribly accurate and revealing, and after the case is dismissed a new man appears on stage, all but impeccable in delivery, softshoeing a string of gags at the club.