Case of the Irate Inventor
A bewitching teleplay with a humorous relation to Lubin’s Impact grows in interest to the end and beyond, owing to its Gogolian manifestation of plot as testimony and anecdote, some of it false.
The invention is an anti-collision device in its rudimentary stages, operating with radio waves and therefore unusable in flight. The inventor leaves his unfaithful wife and returns in time to resume his business partnership by a fixed date or be bought out, only to find her dead in his electronically-locked workshop, and it set ablaze.
The woman next door is wise to the wife’s infidelity, even horns in on the young Caltech grad who’s being fed the invention piece by piece “to sustain his interest”.
Mayer’s direction is very refined, adopting a general POV near Mason sitting in the partner’s office while he negotiates on behalf of his client, panning and tracking a little for vantage as his interlocutors address him variously.
Two rivals for East Germanic security chief eliminate each other in favor of a friendlier type. Cinnamon and Rollin revive the cabaret act whose star drove one of the two to murder. The other is set on the trail, and they collide fatally.
Cinnamon’s three songs (as Mona Bern) have lyrics by Bruce Geller. A Dietrich ballad begins and ends,
If you buy my glass of wine,
Destry Rides Again is evoked with,
But to show where my heart is,
Though I do love my garters,
I’ll make you a present of these:
My two stockings may fall,
For I do like you all,
‘Cause I heard nobody knocking my knees.
‘Cause no matter where you are
There’s a lady ‘bove the bar
Who’s wearing nothing much at all except a frame.
The tunes are by Lalo Schifrin and Herschel Burke Gilbert & Rudy Schrager.
The center of this teleplay full of “central offices” (Central Committee, OBQ Central, Neurological Center) is Albert Paulsen’s performance as a security chief in the Eastern Zone, a skillful bureaucrat and not an ideologue. He is keen on determining the validity of a defection, which undoes him.
When Phelps goes over as a drug addict named Cochran, the torture of withdrawal elicits from him the code name Orpheus for a double agent, who is gleefully identified by the security man with his own top secret assassin.
Valerie (Jessica Walter) applies pressure as an upper-echelon controller searching for a double agent in the security setup. To clear himself, the chief must contact the assassin, who meets Paris in disguise. The bomb in Dr. Tratzmer’s office is discovered, the assassin is arrested.
Between them, Playdon and Mayer concoct various striking images, a photo of Cochran with a bowl of milk and the security chief’s cat on it (Rusty), Cochran’s hand clutching a hypodermic needle and held to the floor by the chief’s foot, the Eastern Zone doctor stepping away on Valerie’s orders when Cochran’s reward is to be administered.
My Friend, My Enemy?
Paris is seized upon during a vacation and interrogated to learn the identity of his “control”. That fails, so he is subjected to a form of mind control depending on a transmitter and a needle in his brain. This administers three levels of pain.
His dossier reveals a magician in Amsterdam who was to teach him everything, only the lady assistant provoked the master’s jealousy and he shot her during a trick, instead of the playing cards and balloons.
A girl is found to stir old memories (a defector, Paris thinks, between headaches). Phelps is supposed to have killed her, and she really is dead. Paris snaps out of it before accomplishing the enemy’s purpose by means of a stratagem well known to the IM Force.
An American businessman is framed for the murder of his Japanese wife by her brother, who kills her with a knife. The purpose of this is to scuttle the New Economic Treaty Council, of which the accused had been the chairman, and stop the signing of a treaty. Also, the murderer scorns “mixed blood”.
The crime is committed in the garden of the brother’s walled home, whence he plans to rule Japan one day. An outdoor jujitsu match entertains guests, brother and sister walk in the garden, he kills her, letting the husband discover the body and be chanced upon by another guest, a police inspector.
Paris replaces an invited Kabuki actor at the next gathering. His performance serves as a preparation for his later disguise as the murderer (Nimoy as Dhiegh), joined by Dana in the garden for a re-creation filmed by Barney from afar and peddled by Dana as a snoop photographer’s blackmail.
A very delicate game is played to mount in the consciousness of the brother a nervous anticipation of the film’s content, so that in the presence of the police inspector, tailing the blackmailer, it should be withheld from screening for fear of its revelations. This is enough to cast doubt on the future leader, the film is blank beyond its first frames of a walk in the park, though he knows it only after seizing the reel from the projector before witnesses.
Willy trains rapidly in jujitsu (he is a judo man) to go three minutes in a challenge match at the estate as a diversion for the filming (Phelps is his manager).