Night of the Shark

The American mob plans an Australian expansion, with the help of a planted Chairman on Sydney’s Police Board. McCloud, on airport duty at JFK, has a shootout with a hit man and goes to Sydney as a witness.

We’re into Roy Rogers

McCloud feels at one point he’s made himself unintelligible to his Australian hosts and is about to explain when Inspector Hale stops him by saying, “That’s all right, we’re into Roy Rogers.”

Sydney’s Opera House is the site of a major scene, and the climax takes place at the Australia Day Parade. The theme is Australia itself, at about the time it began to emerge onto the world scene.

The simple mechanism of the plot is designed so as to throw a shaft of poetic light onto this city of transportation.

The opening scene is peculiarly grisly, as a confab of gangsters (under surveillance from a police raft) ends in a murder by poison and sharks.

Sydney’s Police Superintendent Caldwell’s Anti-Organised Crime Task Force is establishing a New York-Sydney mob connection when the superintendent is shot at JFK Airport, and an American police commissioner is killed. McCloud merely happens to be there on one of his routine boring assignments.

The McCloud unit does very well in Australia, repeating its earlier success in Mexico City with “Lady on the Run”.

We know, on the authority of Sgt. Broadhurst in that episode, for example, that McCloud doesn’t drink. Yet here, exceptionally, and under the imprimatur of the show’s creator, McCloud not only accepts an Australian beer, he gets drunk, buys drinks for the whole pub, and has to be carried out. Even in Hawaii (“A Cowboy in Paradise”), McCloud drinks fruit juice.

He knows Alf Donnelly as Albert Donahue, a New Mexico land developer who himself says, “Half of Albuquerque lost money on my deal.” When Donahue’s wife was discovered dead, homicide was suspected and a warrant was issued.

Nevertheless, the mob has spent ten years and millions of dollars establishing him on the Sydney Police Board in advance of expansion plans (“It’s official, Eric,” says Officer McGee to her surveillance partner, “we’ve been invaded,” though neither of them can see from their vantage point who is the odd man out at the confab). If his delicate past were known, the operation would be spoiled. (Inspector Hale, too, is bought or sold.)

So Donnelly attempts to kill McCloud, and at the Sydney Opera House in broad daylight. McCloud is on his way to the airport and desperate measures are called for. Satlof’s direction shows pretty clearly, I think, Utzon’s design in its original state, and the compromises forced upon it later, in some degree. It’s a very close view, though not exhaustive, beginning with a shot inside the restaurant before the wide picture window looking out on Sydney Harbour and the Bridge. McCloud clambers over a balcony and down an exterior wall, there’s a bit of a chase. The word “concourse” is used in the script to link Saarinen’s JFK and Utzon’s Opera House, poetically.

McCloud cracks the case in time to intercept the Australia Day Parade, whose Grand Marshal is Donnelly on horseback with his wife (“you’re the boy who leads the parade” is the explanation for not killing him when his bosses find out he’s been gunning for McCloud). McCloud takes Mrs. Donnelly’s horse, and the chase is on right through downtown Sydney across the Harbour Bridge and onto a football (soccer) field, where Sydney are leading Melbourne 1-0. The announcer describes events: “Now one of them’s pulled a pistol, and he’s shooting at the other.” A footballer knocks the gun from Donnelly’s hand with a well-placed throw or kick, and McCloud wraps the culprit in the goal net. He tricks Chief Clifford into buying a round for everybody at the pub.

Satlof has some action here that’s interesting. He tracks back at a low angle with a wrong lens on McCloud and Inspector Hale walking down a corridor, and gets a unique effect. On the Bridge’s pedestrian walkway, he lines up a straight shot to good effect, then cuts to a helicopter side shot. Stu Phillips is again inspired during the chase to his best work.

The script by Glen A. Larson is of course authoritative. There is some brilliant use of symmetry to set up the gag. Mrs. Donnelly spills the beans that Supt. Caldwell is not dead but incognito at Sydney Hospital. There, Donnelly almost bumps into McCloud, but slipping away is stopped by Officer McGee (“Remember me from the Academy?”), who introduces him to the visiting American marshal.


Lloyd Bochner Alfred Donnelly
Rowena Wallace
Officer Jennifer McGee
Gus Mercurio
Alex Demery
Victoria Shaw
Carol Donnelly
Alwyn Kurts
Chief Superintendent Caldwell

Written by Glen A. Larson

Directed by Ronald Gilbert Satlof

43316, 3.21.76

BARKEEPER: (To McCloud.) You’re him! The one that got the guy that got the super!

McCLOUD: There ya go. (Exits.)
INSPECTOR HALE: What’d he say?
DOVER: There ya go.
DOVER: I don’t know. At least that’s what I think he said.
INSPECTOR HALE: I wonder if that isn’t some sort of American putdown.
DOVER: I don’t think so. He seems like a nice bloke.
INSPECTOR HALE: You’re very naive, Dover. Very naive.

SUPT. CALDWELL: What did he say?
CHIEF CLIFFORD: There ya go.
SUPT. CALDWELL: What does that mean, exactly?
CHIEF CLIFFORD: (Searching in his mind.) Well—it means— (Nonplussed.) No-one ever asked him!

OFC. McGEE: Hotel? You’re going to the airport!
McCLOUD: That’s right, just as soon as I find out who tried to gullyjump me.