The Disposal Man

A nabob is menaced by a professional killer with an unknown employer.

The Empire Builder

The theme is brilliantly stated in the stylistic pirouette of the opening scene. McCloud and Chris Coughlin are at a Chinese restaurant. Her columns praising him in the New York Chronicle are exciting the jealousy of his fellow officers. She has to be objective, she says. They order drinks, he wants fruit juice, their waitress has “a couple of grapefruit” she could squeeze for him. “Squeeze away,” says Marshal McCloud, “there ya go.” At the bar, Malcolm Petrie is holding a nervous confab with Frank Gordon, who interrupts it drunkenly and loudly to rail against cops in general and that cowboy over there in particular. Finally, Gordon advances upon McCloud and draws a switchblade. Wrestled to the floor, he suddenly addresses the marshal by name, and in a perfectly quiet and sober voice tells him that a contract is out on a certain very famous man.

Gordon denies it all at headquarters, but McCloud is nevertheless assigned to protect Arthur Yerby, the very famous man with a half-deaf tailor and an art dealer who sells him knockoffs. McCloud knows him to be very rich, and discovers he has many enemies, even among his own family.

Petrie meets a hit man at the airport, whose aliases are Thomas Dane and Alan Roberts. McCloud confers with a paroled and retired assassin, Sid Nylan, who briefly explains the techniques employed by a “disposal man.” For close work, auto accidents and heart attacks (induced by poison gas from a small tube) are best. If security is too tight, sniping’s the only way. Asked by Nylan if he was in the service (if there’s one thing Nylan can’t stand, it’s a hypocrite), McCloud replies that he flew Air Force reconnaissance missions in Korea.

Petrie engages a prostitute for the lonely disposal man stuck in his hotel room until zero hour, but she is dismissed. McCloud tracks her down, but she won’t help. Instead, she snoops on her own and is killed with a poison-gas tube.

After a first attempt at the airport (Yerby is in town for “a big proxy fight” which he wins in “a moral victory—my low morals over theirs”), and another from his hotel window, the disposal man trails Yerby to an art warehouse. The showdown reflects The Lady from Shanghai.

Yerby’s son Philip is described by his father as feeling “what every good son feels toward his father—paralyzing fear,” but Philip isn’t afraid, only inept, as his mother explains, before calling the police to have him arrested.

In the end, Yerby the “empire builder” is all alone.

Sagal activates the Universal back lot with throngs and jackhammers. The disposal man’s second-floor vantage on Burton Rill’s Custom Tailoring across the street from the hotel resembles The Sting’s set-up, and there is a sense of New York in the summertime.


Patrick O’Neal Arthur Yerby
James Olson
Thomas Dane/Alan Roberts
Nita Talbot
Rosalie Hudgins
Jean Allison
Marian Yerby
Randolph Mantooth
Phillip Yerby
James McEachin
Det. Richard Thatcher
Arthur O’Connell
Sid Nylan
Jack Carter
Frank Gordon
Murray Matheson
Peter Lincoln
Arlene Martel
Linda Farley
Pat Renella
Malcolm Petrie
David Mauro
Lew Palter
Burton Rill
Pat Morita
Art Lewis
Desk Clerk
Judi Sherven

Story by Mel Arrighi
Written by Mel Arrighi and Dean Hargrove

Directed by Boris Sagal

33404, 12.29.71

At the Hotel Carlson, 185 W. 45th St., room 205, Thomas Dane watches This Gun for Hire (1942, dir. Frank Tuttle) on television, and another film, possibly Mr. Sardonicus (Burton Rill’s Custom Tailoring is across the street at 179 W. 45th St.).

Felix (played by Pat Morita) does not appear in some syndicated versions.

Det. Thatcher refers to “Chief Peter J. Clifford”, and that’s how the Chief’s deskplate reads. It appears that his name was changed in subsequent seasons, or perhaps rather that his fame had not spread throughout the department at this early date.

Dane’s or Roberts’ prison number is 956701.

At Bellamy’s Art Warehouse, Edward Kienholz’s The Beanery (1965) and Back Seat Dodge ‘38 (1964) are reflected in the sculpture, with significant differences. The couple are not embracing in the back seat of the old Dodge, rather she is being throttled in the front seat, and the customers at Barney’s Beanery are mannequins, one of which (with a cowboy hat on) is beheaded in the shootout. A surgical operation is also represented in the style of the sculptor George Segal.

Asked by retired disposal man Sid Nylan (who can’t stand a hypocrite) if he was in the service, McCloud replies that he flew Air Force reconnaissance missions in Korea.

The credits give George Lincoln for Peter Lincoln.


(Jealousy at headquarters.)
McCLOUD: (To Chris Coughlin.)
Every time I appear in one of your columns, there’s trouble in the bunkhouse.

CHRIS COUGHLIN: Sam, wherever you go, you make news. I can’t ignore that, it’s against my Hippocratic oath or something.

FRANK GORDON: (To  McCloud, sitting at a table with Chris Coughlin.) Hey, that’s a great-lookin’ posse ya got there, cowboy!

FRANK GORDON: (After pretending to be drunk and attacking McCloud.) McCloud, Arthur Yerby’s gonna be murdered. They hired a pro to do the job.

(McCloud believes Frank Gordon’s story.)
I have a strong feelin’ about it.
CHIEF CLIFFORD: I hesitate to ask where.

McCLOUD: Arthur Yerby’s been grazin’ in the tall grass. He’s about as rich as they come.

ARTHUR YERBY: Since it’s my experience that all journalistic minds are identical, I‘ll spare you the trouble of asking the same questions.

ARTHUR YERBY: (Mistaking McCloud for a member of the press.) Wait a minute, don’t tell me, you’re with Field & Stream.

ARTHUR YERBY: (To reporters, ending the interview.) Thanks for all the notoriety, gentlemen, this is where I get off.

DESK CLERK: Business or pleasure?
DESK CLERK: Well, you came to the right place.

McCLOUD: It would help us to know if there might be someone wantin’ to do away with ya.
MARIAN YERBY: (To McCloud.) I could give you enough names to fill a petition.

ARTHUR YERBY: (On his wife’s influence.) From a conservative megalomaniacal empire builder, I became a hedonist megalomaniacal empire builder. Dear Marian, mother of my only son, such as he is.

ARTHUR YERBY: (Of his family.) Well, here we are all together again, brought together by the strongest bond of all, our mutually-held stock.

ARTHUR YERBY: (Of Philip.) He has what every good son has for his father, paralyzing fear.

McCLOUD: (To Chief Clifford.) A real good bushwhacker knows how to keep downwind and out o’ sight.

CHIEF CLIFFORD: (To McCloud.) Stop calling me “Chief,” you make me feel like a Comanche.

(McCloud wants to meet a professional killer.)
When I get a little time off, I’ll be happy to run you over to Sing Sing and introduce you to a whole slough of ‘em.

DET. THATCHER: Marshal McCloud, you are devious, subversive, manipulative...
McCLOUD: I appreciate y’ confidence.

SID NYLAN: (Of Arthur Yerby.) He’s not a hypocrite. He’s honest like a shark is honest. There’s very few of his kind left. I’d hate to see him go.

(Arthur Yerby’s collection of abstract kinetic art.)
How does that one grab you, Marshal?
McCLOUD: Well, it’s not somethin’ you’d want to wake up to.
PETER LINCOLN: I think it’s obscene.
ARTHUR YERBY: You think everything’s obscene, Peter.
PETER LINCOLN: I’m usually right.

LINDA FARLEY: (How long has she known Frank Gordon?) Physically I’ve only known him six weeks, but spiritually, oh, we go way back. We’re kindred souls.

McCLOUD: Appreciate y’ help, ma’am.
LINDA FARLEY: Always glad to be of public service.

ROSALIE HUDGINS: (Laughing, to McCloud.) You vice squad guys are too much. These weird disguises! What are you supposed to be—Midnight Cowboy?

THOMAS DANE: (To Rosalie, demonstrating.) This is a breakdown rifle. This is a silencer. The telescopic sight is very accurate. I could hit a cockroach at a hundred yards.

THOMAS DANE: (Wiping a glass in his hotel room.) I do this outta habit. I don’t need to now. I burned off my fingerprints. Burned ‘em off with acid. (Turns to Rosalie’s body.) See? Time to go to work. What was your name? Maggie? Betty? Rosalie. That’s right—Rosalie.

THOMAS DANE: Where’s a good restaurant?
DESK CLERK: A good restaurant? I don’t know any good restaurants. I know a couple of fair restaurants.

(The Yerby family wants McCloud replaced.)
PETER LINCOLN: (To Chief Clifford.)
We would prefer, under the seemingly dangerous circumstances that now exist, a more traditional and experienced member of your department.

(McCloud resigns from the case against Chief Clifford’s strenuous objections.)
That was a real fine performance, Chief. You know, your version of the irate official, that’s one o’ my favorites.
CHIEF CLIFFORD: Well, I had to see how far he’d go.

MARIAN YERBY: (To McCloud.) The really ironic thing, according to your theory, is that Philip really thought I’d give him control, over the corporation. Why, he could never handle it. He can’t even manage a simple thing like having his own father murdered.

MARIAN YERBY: (On telephone to NYPD.) Sergeant Thatcher. Good. This is Mrs. Arthur Yerby. I was wondering if you’d be kind enough to arrest my son.

(Alan Roberts is caught.)
What are you staring at?
ALAN ROBERTS: I just want to see what you look like close up. Stay well.

MARIAN YERBY: Congratulations, Marshal. You have saved a great man. (Exits.)

ARTHUR YERBY: Well, like always, Peter, just you and me. (No answer.) Peter? (He looks around, no-one is there.)