A study of the psychopath Walter Legenza, “untouched by civilizing influences”, who hijacks trucks and kills their drivers in Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, and tells his gang, “dames are trouble”.
He separates his muscle, “Big” Bill Philips, from an honest Quebecoise by “paying his tab” for him. When Big Bill is killed in a raid, Legenza sends a hit man after the girl, just in case. The girl barely survives, and talks to Ness.
The heat is on, Legenza kidnaps a small-time bookie for $60,000, enough to relocate with burned fingers and changed faces. The bookie, Willie Weinberg, is killed as a precaution even before Mrs. Weinberg can come up with the ransom. The body is found, Ness busts the zoo drop and catches Legenza with two broken legs at the bottom of a polar bear enclosure.
Miner pans left through the open passenger door of the failed hit man’s car on a row of bullet holes in the windshield, then tilts down on the supine body hanging headfirst nearly to the pavement. The old Los Angeles Zoo is well-filmed as the Eastern park.
The Twilight Zone
Serling’s teleplay has been disprized after the fashion of Prof. Bloom on Poe, “indispensable, but not good.” A careful study of the facts in either case dispels the error.
In a mountain village forty miles south of the Rio Grande, Mr. Williams arrives by way of an “unidentified flying object”, with a gift for humankind, a book. One of two police officers is killed attempting to apprehend him, he is wounded by two bullets. The army is called in, he is killed and his book burned, leaving only a hint of its miraculous contents.
The writing is oblique and allusive. Its style brings forth reflective points in succession, one of which is that two thousand years is a short time to get used to Emmanuel.
The epilogue summarizes the book as a cure comprising “a little more faith.”
In case there was any doubt remaining after that perhaps somewhat equivocal burlesque, “To Serve Man”, this corrective is given to show outright in the plainest possible terms the blessing put to the fire and its giver assassinated, just to set the record straight, and all in the name of mere superstition.
The Case of the Stand-In
Bellem’s teleplay is longitudinally related to “The Case of the Duplicate Daughter”, there an heiress each in Northern and Southern California, here a sister in Boston and Los Angeles, one alive, one dead, and one of the two adopted with a trust fund to her name.
It comes with two brothers, a Boston hoodlum in prison and up before a Senate investigating committee, and a Los Angeles fisherman about to merge his fleet with a cannery.
An excoriating tale of East meets West anticipating Paul Mazursky’s Harry and Tonto by a decade and more, but roughly coinciding with Theodore J. Flicker’s The Troublemaker on the Eastern Seaboard.
The Case of the Fickle
The complex and allusive script appears to be drawn from the jockey metaphor in Cukor’s Pat and Mike. Tiger Lil wins three races, but a fire in the stables kills the owner. His daughter loses the horse when it’s sold by the executor, her uncle.
The new owner is a former flame now married to a wealthy rancher. The horse was overpriced for the girl’s sake, and now is found to be lame. The owner’s wife, ignorant of this fact, returns the horse as the girl’s only asset. The owner is found dead after the girl’s visit to the ranch.
The father’s secretary is revealed to have been married to the victim for a short time, bilked by him, and withholding a Mexican divorce against restitution. The victim had been on his way to Mexico with a number of horses to be destroyed, including Tiger Lil.
A masterpiece of surrealism, in which the secretary’s tale floats up on the witness stand like a scene from a Nō play.
The Case of the Bluffing
Addison Blake’s estate is nominally divided by sale to Charles Lambert, who owns the dairy farm, and Clay Eliot, who owns the newspaper (the names are significant), but there is a further division. The farm land is owned by the manager, Floyd Grant, who knows there is oil beneath it.
The English daughter Blake never knew he had, and who was told that he died during the war, arrives in Ladera only to learn of his death on a hunting trip with Lambert, a drinker, seven years before.
Eliot’s articles on the farm’s leaking ammonia compressor, and the girl’s visit, decide Grant on a course of action. She is invited to the farm one evening to discuss her real parentage, the compressor explodes, but she is rescued at the last minute by the farm’s engineer, who only thought he was being paid for an insurance scam.
Grant is shortly found dead, the girl standing nearby with a walking stick in her hand, the murder weapon (this is a case involving contrecoup lacerations of the brain).
Mason is in town. Lambert also was sent to the farm that evening, but waited outside with a pistol. His wife, Blake’s former secretary, killed Grant for sending him there so as to woo her.
The teleplay by Samuel Newman supplies still further details. The secretary gave Grant the mineral report her boss never saw and had no interest in. She further told him Blake had no heirs. She married Lambert to save him, his drunkenness left him unknowing whether he killed Blake in an argument or not (an inquiry determined it had been a gunshot wound self-inflicted by accident).
A batch of gangsters have risen from grimy beginnings in Sicily to a nice middle-class existence in America. One of them has a new plan, to murder politicians and replace them with stooges. His partners think he’s going too far, he arranges a private dinner at his home, to placate them with the increased profits his scheme has derived (by steering building contracts his way).
The Impossible Missions Force cater the dinner, rifle the vault in his wine cellar, give him a new wall safe and a mistress upstairs, and abscond with the loot. The victimized gangster doesn’t know the girl, can’t open the wall safe, and his partners kill him.
This is very taut and suspenseful, Miner going so far as to give Cinnamon’s POV when Joe De Santis discovers her in a negligee upstairs.
The younger generation from the vantage point of Captains Courageous (dir. Victor Fleming) in Technicolor and Panavision.
Miner as director of mysteries and enigmas. “O mar é uma puta.”
Howard Thompson of the New York Times, “might have gone places with more care.”
An influence of Rosenberg’s Cool Hand Luke makes itself known in the balancing of analysis Miner sets himself to achieve. The monumental structure extends far south of the border, on the feminine side.
For the tuna fishing etc., Hawks’ Tiger Shark, a root and source of Fleming.
Halliwell’s Film Guide, “excellent action sequences at sea.”