The Day New York Turned Blue
During a New York City snowstorm, a union lawyer is placed in protective custody as a witness to graft, a working girl is slipping out-of-towners a mickey and painting them blue, a Federal Inspector is auditing the Department books, the mob plans an invasion of headquarters, and patrolmen have a strike meeting.
The common ant, whose intelligence is in numbers, will go to extreme lengths to get at a crumb; remove the crumb, his legions withdraw. Similarly, the Celts have a saying about the devil’s intelligence of your whereabouts after this your exile.
Carl Sandburg has a way of working with a line like this: he strings it out and lets it play in the Rootabaga Country, and it comes out where it didn’t go in.
Swackhamer is one with difficulties, they do not cause him the mere arch of his eyebrows, and with every hair in place, despite enough material for half a baker’s dozen shows, he serenely pulls this off, earning a pat on the back from the Chief for McCloud.
The technique is the classic television ploy of cramming the set with actors able to deploy their forces fast and tight, because the script has a complexity that is unusual even for McCloud. The clean lines of Swackhamer’s direction are as good as can be imagined, because he always has the next move in his mind, without overlooking the polish on the scene in hand. He is able to keep transitions to a minimum, at least partly due to the script, and because his preparations allow him to pick up the strands one by one without any difficulty.
A good example of this is the union meeting, led by Carl Weathers. Swackhamer films this in two parts: first the warm-up, and then the punchline. Between them, the Chief announces he is going to the meeting (with a gag line involving a Federal inspector). Rather than follow the Chief to the meeting, Swackhamer can have him pop his head back into his office to nix any warnings, and then be seen entering the now crowded and confused meeting, so that Swackhamer has two gags going simultaneously and one in the offing—while at the same time he has two separate plot lines in full development (the menaced witness to pension fund graft in protective custody, and the azure prostitute—Gig Young, Bernadette Peters).
The finale brings every inch of film directly or by implication into play, and drops an entirely new element (McCloud’s defense of police headquarters) into the stretto to crown the work.
Gig Young Jack Hefferman
Written by Glen A. Larson
Directed by E.W. Swackhamer
R.P. PEARSON: Just think of me as your Messiah.
CHIEF CLIFFORD: Aren’t you working rather late?
R.P. PEARSON: Well, time is money. And so is racial balance.
BEBE MURCHINSON: You’re gonna get him to press charges? You can’t even get him outta the toilet!
BEBE MURCHINSON: (In handcuffs.) They’re
gonna pack you so far off the force you’ll need a passport!
McCLOUD: Well, the beauty of it is, ma’am, I ain’t on the force.
BEBE MURCHINSON: (Long pause.) You’re telling me.
McCLOUD: Well, there’s nothin’ like a little stokin’ to get a fire
out of an old log.
MRS. JOHNSON: Very poetic. Reveals a lot about your character. Honest, forthright, down to earth. What happened to my Benny?
R.P. PEARSON: Chief Clifford, this is rather
CHIEF CLIFFORD: Aw, Mr. Pearson, that’s only because you’re used to issuing regulations. Following them, ha-ha, that’s the challenge!
NURSE: The City of New York may be broke, but they’re not gonna push us around.
BEBE MURCHINSON: You’re a listener?
R.P. PEARSON: I’m all ears!
BEBE MURCHINSON: (Eyeing him.) That’s a shame.
CHENEY: It was the worst thing I ever saw. Bodies lying around everywhere, like cock-a-roaches [sic].