The Gang That Stole Manhattan
McCloud is assigned to a film shoot, and suspects the production is a front.
This Is Picture
McCloud is typically saddled with more routine duties than average, to keep him out of Chief Clifford’s hair. Here, he is sent as Director of Crowd Control to a Thirties-style crime caper being filmed on location (The Gang That Took Manhattan).
The film’s star, Larry Harris (Larry Hagman), is “TV’s favorite detective.” He horns in, to improve his image, when a body is discovered during filming in Central Park.
The producer, Max Cortez (Fernando Lamas), has financed the film with $1,000,000 of mob money from Vito Gilardi (Marc Lawrence), as a front to cover a jewel heist.
An old compatriot of Cortez’s remembers the plot from earlier discussions, tries to take a piece of the action, and is killed. McCloud’s homicide investigation leads to a last-minute discovery of the robbery in progress during filming of the climactic shootout.
“Real Bonnie and Clyde stuff—that’s what we want on that screen,” says Cortez, though Stu Phillips’ music quotes The Sting. There is much amusing sidelight material on the movie business, including Toni Holt’s performance as a television entertainment reporter (Vito becomes quite cross over all the publicity). Cortez asks Edward Binns as the director (“Wild Bill Hickok”), “Now this sequence here—how many setups you got?” Hickok answers, “Depends on how it goes—maybe seven, eight—I don’t know.” So it goes on a $40,000-a-day shoot. Earlier, Hickok rehearses an action scene with an eyepiece and silent-film vocalizations (“You’re suspicious! Crouch down!”, etc.).
The story’s provenance is perhaps earlier than a 1965 episode of The Andy Griffith Show called “TV or Not TV,” about a gang of crooks who rob the bank by pretending to be shooting a TV series (alert Andy notes the absence of lights, cameras, etc.). In this beautiful development ten years later, the actors and film crew don’t know the production’s a phony (and what’s more, it might not be).
During discussions of the robbery (timed to coincide with setups of the final shootout), a henchman asks, “What if they do retakes?” “Too expensive,” says Cortez.
“Everything I know about the police,” says actress Lynne O’Connell (Leslie Parrish), “I saw in the movies.” McCloud replies, “Well, that about makes us even, Miss. Everything I know about show business I saw in the movies.”
Kessler’s location footage shows the New Amsterdam side of New York to better advantage than anything since Theodore J. Flicker’s The Troublemaker. When Larry Harris joins in a fire escape chase and loses his footing at the top, Kessler has a brief wheeling POV shot with a fisheye lens for effect.
The final scene is an effective representation of the film crew at work. McCloud rides a crane to the second floor, standing by the camera to kick open a window and jump inside, etc.
As Wild Bill Hickok says, “Cut! Print! Perfect!”, the crooks attempt their getaway in a van marked “G.A.L. Incorporated—Motion Picture Rentals.” The assistant director addresses the crowd: “All right, everybody, settle down. This is picture now.”
Larry Hagman Larry Harris
Story by Gerry Day, Bethel Leslie
Directed by Bruce Kessler
CHIEF CLIFFORD: That’s what made this city great, McCloud, because the people and the horses think!
McCLOUD: (Watching the crew film a shootout in Central Park.) Ha-ha! Man, they sure do ham it up, don’t they?
CHIEF CLIFFORD: Even when you do something right, McCloud, you’re wrong.
LARRY: (On the phone with his agent.) How can tomorrow be better? Today was one of my best days!
MAX: (To Wild Bill.) The backers want lots of fireworks, lots of blood, real Bonnie-and-Clyde stuff.
LARRY: I had a situation exactly like this on one of my shows.
It was called “The Case of the Purloined Parrot.” The police were stumped on
that one too, so I had the dead man’s apartment dusted for fingerprints, and I
was able to prove that, uh, that the janitor did it.
McCLOUD: Now, this is not a TV show, Larry.
REPORTER: Someone said you almost tripped over the body.
LARRY: Where do you people get these things?
CHIEF CLIFFORD: (In bed watching television, hearing Miss Gigi report that TV detective Larry Harris is “working with Marshal McCloud of the NYPD” on the homicide case.) Muriel... I’m losing my mind.
McCLOUD: Comin’ in like a high wind, Chief.
CHIEF CLIFFORD: Good! Blow!
McCLOUD: What sequence is that?
LYNNE: Oh, a big shootout and chase. The usual nonsense.
McCLOUD: Larry Harris was beaten up last night.
CHIEF CLIFFORD: Good, saves me the trouble!
McCLOUD: Well, that’s got to prove something!
LYNNE: It’s the day of the independent. Almost anybody with
money can make a picture.
McCLOUD: Is he all that rich?
LYNNE: No, I don’t think so, I think there’s a backer somewhere in the background, I’m not sure. I could find out.
CHIEF CLIFFORD: What’s all this about that—that actor? What’s he doing on the case, what’s he talking about, and how does he know so much?
DET. SIMMS: (On the radio with McCloud.) Say, how are things in movieland? Hello? McCloud?
VITO: (To Max.) You screw up once more, and you’re gonna take a walk in any direction you want... until your hat floats.
(After shooting the jewelry heist.)
SGT. BROADHURST: Well?
McCLOUD: I didn’t see anythin’ wrong.
SGT. BROADHURST: Hm, it’s a good thing you didn’t bust in here with a bunch of men.
McCLOUD: Well, I still smell a skunk somewhere.
(The climactic shootout at Kimberly & Co., Jewelers.)
WILD BILL: Beautiful! Now freeze!
McCLOUD: (Leaping into open car from second floor.) Look out below! (Drives car off in pursuit.)
LARRY: (Still in the car, after playing dead.) Is that a take?
CHIEF CLIFFORD: (Entering scene through crowd.) Out of the way! I’m a real cop! (To actors in “police” car.) Follow that car!
(Cut to Gilardi’s office.)
VITO: At this point, our boys should be safely on their way. (Laughs.) A perfectly executed invasion of Kimberly’s.
(Cut to the chase. Cut to Gilardi’s office.)
VITO: Should have heard from them by now. I wonder what could be going wrong?