Cover Before Killing
An M.A. student in chemistry with a part-time job as an insurance inspector deals in advice to likely clients on arson. A business partnership is dissolved by murder, and the body is left for Kojak after the fire.
Ambition and amateurism, two bÍtes noires of the Lieutenant, are very elegantly shafted, with a side note on young love among the help.
Kojak explains the protection racket very tersely, then says “that ends the lesson.” A little violence installs your staff, you strip the business leaving nothing but the license.
One of the local boys starts making moves like this, an old-fashioned operation employing young men from the neighborhoods, including an ex-con who grew up with Det. Crocker. Kojak has an undercover man whom he debriefs on an escalator in one fine continuous take, on, up and off.
The operation is clumsily bungled, the hoods kill “a file clerk on his big night out.” Brad Dexter as the mob boss towers above them and dismisses them.
The ex-con has a vicious temper and a lofty style of living compared to his old chum’s, who still and all feels a bit of loyalty toward him. It comes to a shootout at the end.
This remarkable composition takes its theme from Hosea 11:1. Kojak gives his niece a set of paints on her tenth birthday, she’s kidnapped by a part-time belly dancer and a Greek cohort to get a third member of the gang out of jail, a cop-killer in a $400 suit. Kojak mobilizes the neighborhood, and a number of very fine points are made rapidly before the conclusion on the airport tarmac, with the niece drugged in a wheelchair about to be put on a charter jet by the girl in a stewardess uniform.
The cost of doing business in the big city is reckoned at something on the order of 1%, which adds up to a hefty sum for an extortionist, but he’s a very careless fellow, throwing witnesses off rooftops and blowing up innocent bystanders, so it becomes a police problem.
The richness and profusion of details in the script by Burton Armus comfortably savors certain points, like the street artist who sells the witness a picture, then sells the bomber her address, then sells the police his portrait.