The Great Taxicab Stampede
McCloud is framed for the murder of a drug-dealing hack, and exposes the ring.
Whoa, Taxi... Hyaw
Murray Gutman is a cabbie for a small firm founded after the war, but “things change, new people take over,” and now he fears for his family should he tell what he knows.
The new proprietor, Keith Hampton, is a suave sophisticate who brings in drivers from overseas, gives them phony documentation, and now lives in a high-rise apartment on the proceeds from the heroin they distribute around New York. One of them, David Kessler, wants out, he came from Israel and fell into the rackets. Hampton kills him in Central Park, then manages to blame McCloud (tailing Hampton with Sgt. Broadhurst) when a shootout takes place.
Hampton laughs his way past all allegations (he doesn’t even own a gun), and McCloud is pilloried on the Action 4 News.
Kessler’s sister, Nidavah Ritzach, flies in from Israel to see justice done. She flatly tells McCloud she means to kill him, police and press being convinced no other gun than a .45 or a Magnum could have drilled her brother.
In the park by broad daylight, McCloud is fired on by two hit men as he searches for and finds Hampton’s large-caliber bullet (Nidavah has followed him there, too, but thinks he’s to be eliminated as “no longer useful” to his bosses in the drug trade).
McCloud traces another cabbie to his home and finds him dead. Action 4 swings into action, Chief Clifford takes his badge and gun.
Nidavah gets hired as a cabbie, but can’t find a convenient spot to kill Hampton (she wants “everyone responsible”). McCloud doesn’t even know Hampton runs the cab company, and when he learns this from her he understands the whole setup, and so does she.
The tragedy of all this finds its continuance in Det. Simms, whose wife is in the hospital, six months at five hundred dollars a day, he’s desperate, he goes on Hampton’s pad, detailing police movements. He’s finally ordered to kill McCloud, but at the confrontation resolves to redeem himself.
Redemption comes at the Arches, where Det. Simms arrests everybody in the middle of a final shipment before Hampton moves along in the hierarchy. There is a shootout, Det. Simms is hit, Hampton escapes in his gray Mercedes coupe. McCloud driving a cab pursues, along with Nidavah, whom he calls “Nida.”
The finale takes place on the rainwet streets of Manhattan. Murray calls the cabbies, McCloud directs them, they all converge (jostling or abandoning passengers) on Times Square (down 53rd and through the tunnel). These night exteriors are Dixon’s best work, unless it’s the fine summery shoot on, around and under Bow Bridge in Central Park, with a POV as McCloud hides under it in water over his knees, methodically emptying spent shells from his .45 six-shooter, one at a time.
“Who says ya can’t get a cab in this city when ya want one,” says Marshal McCloud, after Hampton’s coupe is surrounded.
It will be seen that this is closely related to “Bonnie and McCloud” that same season, and a marvelous reflection of the theme.
Nowhere, I think, is it more clear that McCloud is the Western hero come to life in a dangerous, lawless city, like Wyatt Earp in My Darling Clementine. Anyway, he has a fine way to get a cab, one quick whistle and “hey!”
George Hamilton Keith Hampton
Story by Gregory S. Dinallo
Directed by Ivan Dixon
The actor playing TV Action 4 newsman Jim Sullivan is uncredited.
(Keith Hampton is questioned and released.)
KEITH HAMPTON: No apologies?
CHIEF CLIFFORD: Yes. I’m sorry we didn’t nail you.
KEITH HAMPTON: You’re gonna be a lot sorrier, Clifford, if there’s any further harassment. (Pause.) Frightening! (Laughs. Exits.)
(McCloud’s Central Park shootout makes the front page and
excites TV criticism.)
CHIEF CLIFFORD: McCloud, I have no choice but to take you off the case, and by off I mean OFF. I don’t want to hear about it, I don’t want to talk about it, I don’t want to feel that you’re even thinking about it.
(Nidavah Ritzach knows her way around New York.)
MURRAY GUTMAN: Ever drive a cab?
NIDAVAH RITZACH: No. Only tanks.
MURRAY GUTMAN: (On the murder of his colleague David Kessler, to Nidavah Ritzach.) Waste. But that’s the city. Waste.
NIDAVAH RITZACH: (To McCloud.) It was easy for you to kill my brother. You’ll not find it so easy to kill a soldier in the Israeli Army.
CHIEF CLIFFORD: (To McCloud, unhappily.) How many times do you have to be taken off a case before the message comes through?
MURRAY GUTMAN: (To Nidavah Ritzach.) You know, it normally takes quite a while to get a license to drive a cab in New York.
MURRAY GUTMAN: (To Nidavah Ritzach.) Look, I’ve been with Lomto Cabs for thirty-one years, come this June. It was great in the old days, right after the war, a small independent company tryin’ to make it. Things change. New people take over.
(In a diner, after a call for help in the middle of the
McCLOUD: Joe, ‘preciate ya meetin’ me here.
SGT. BROADHURST: Yeah, I’m a nice guy, don’t forget to testify to that at my divorce.
KEITH HAMPTON: (On his balcony overlooking the city at night, to Det. Simms.) The only reason I’m up here is because they’re down there, grabbing for a pinch of ecstasy. Fast rush. (Winks.) Nickel ride. Only difference is, I have an expensive way to live, they have an expensive way to die.
CHIEF CLIFFORD: (As McCloud enters his office.) Come on in, McCloud. I didn’t think the night could get any worse, but I—forgot the unexpected.
(McCloud makes a telephone call, no answer, he rushes out.)
CHIEF CLIFFORD: Where’s he going in such a hurry?
SGT. BROADHURST: He didn’t say.
CHIEF CLIFFORD: Who was he calling?
SGT. BROADHURST: He didn’t say.
CHIEF CLIFFORD: What did he say?
SGT. BROADHURST: Nothing.
(McCloud “arrests” Nidavah Ritzach to keep her from killing
KEITH HAMPTON: What’s the charge?
McCLOUD: Il-legal entry into the United States.
(Nidavah Ritzach introduces Marshal McCloud.)
MURRAY GUTMAN: You’ve made quite a reputation for yourself in this town, Marshal.
McCLOUD: Well, it’s blown up quite a bit.
NIDAVAH RITZACH: I like you, Marshal McCloud.
McCLOUD: Well, feelin’s mutual.
MURRAY GUTMAN: (On cab radio.) Marshal,
this is Murray. I got the boys out. Where is he now?
McCLOUD: Headin’ down Fifty-Third.
MURRAY GUTMAN: (On cab radio.) You drive
like a real cabbie, Marshal.
McCLOUD: Much obliged.
CHIEF CLIFFORD: (The stampede. To Sgt. Broadhurst.) This is his work. I can feel it. There’s a lump in the pit of my stomach that’s got McCloud written on it.
CHIEF CLIFFORD: (On the way to Times Square.) Faster, Broadhurst. Hell for leather!
(Keith Hampton’s gray Mercedes coupe is cornered by taxicabs
in Times Square.)
McCLOUD: (Holding Nidavah Ritzach’s .45 on Keith Hampton.) Who says ya can’t get a cab in this city when ya want one?