The Legacy
Mission: Impossible

The script by William Read Woodfield & Allan Balter transmutes four sons of Hitler’s officers into four graves at a cemetery in Zurich, forming a quincunx with E. Braun’s crypt at the center, which is made of solid gold out of Der Führer’s personal fortune, and covered over to prevent detection.

This is to be the basis of a Fourth Reich, but Rollin takes the place of one Von Schneer, the plan is foiled, and a shootout reveals the artifice.

O’Herlihy’s direction particularly emphasizes, under the stolid determination of these “disciplined” young men, their boyish nature.


The Emerald
Mission: Impossible

It is a large stone with a tiny piece of plastic film affixed to a facet on its underside, containing a plan to devalue the U.S. economy.

It falls into the possession of an arms dealer to form a matching pair. Unlike Shaw’s Undershaft, he prides himself on emotionlessness in business.

The stone is sought for its intelligence value by an enemy agent. Each of these men is dealt with differently.

The action takes place aboard the S.S. Queen of Suez during a voyage to Tangier. Cinnamon loses at poker to drunken Phelps, almost jumps overboard when the dealer intervenes, he will win her jewels back.

The agent engages cardsharp Rollin to deal for the emerald. What Rollin has up his sleeve is a winning hand.

The agent tries to force the issue and wakes up on a sardine trawler. He orders Rollin’s death by coded radio message before it’s revealed to him he’s on the Queen of Suez, and then he’s sedated.

Rollin applies a mask to the unconscious agent, who is killed and thrown overboard by his own aide. At Tangier, the emerald divested of its microfilm is delivered to a higher-up in the adverse party.


The Town
Mission: Impossible

“The Town” is related to “The Photographer” and “The Carriers”, also Don Siegel’s Telefon and Dan Aykroyd’s Nothing But Trouble. Woodfield, Arizona is a small town off Highway 40 whose citizens are every one a Soviet agent. It looks exactly like what it pretends to be.

Phelps observes a strange sight. The young couple in the pharmacy stumble over their suitcase, opening it to reveal uniforms for the Park Regent Hotel in Los Angeles, and setting off a blue smoke gun. A second later everyone’s outside, the town sheriff holds a gun on Phelps.

Rollin at the mountain lodge where the two have plans for a bit of hunting is concerned. He drives down to Woodfield and is told that his friend has had a stroke and cannot speak.

Rollin gradually gets wise, the IM Force is summoned on the fly. Totally without preparation, they secure the doctor’s office. Phelps has been injected with curare.

A lecture attended by the whole town has demonstrated how to use a bathtub fall as an apparent suicide (you break a little finger, for instance, because your man has tried to save himself). The young couple drive on to Los Angeles past the border crossing, Needles, Essex, Barstow and San Bernardino. The target is a defector from the Soviet space program.

Cinnamon is Mrs. Phelps, Barney is a hired driver, Willy an unfortunate trucker who breaks down on the road and injures himself, requiring treatment.

Rollin takes the doctor’s place with an ad hoc mask and a remarkable performance by Will Geer. Phelps dies on schedule and is whisked away, the young couple are arrested. Rollin holds a town meeting until the troopers arrive.

The mask he used is left behind, an Einsteinian image.


The Ransom
Hawaii Five-O

It’s to be paid at Sea Life Park between the acrobatic porpoises (“hard-working Hawaiians”) and the crowd, a helpful man returns it, the briefcase opens, a quarter-million is spilled.

Keen-eyed Kono spots the culprit but is nabbed by an accomplice. He helps the kidnap victim escape and is beaten for his trouble. The young boy’s father puts up the money again.

An Army major picks it up at Oahu Cemetery, where he dies in a gunfight. The henchmen run a boat supply shop, McGarrett is doused with gasoline but kills them both.

Kono is rescued from an empty bait tank, bound and blindfolded and “starved”.

O’Herlihy contrives to divide the screen into three vertical bands at a public telephone where one of the kidnappers is in the blue center stripe.


The Reunion
Hawaii Five-O

Paratroopers gather twenty-five years after the war, three of them were in a Japanese prison camp, they meet the commandant.

The wit was broken in mind under torture, the strongest lost a leg, the ranking officer turned traitor to save the other two (he now runs several corporations).

The cripple wants revenge, the wit is framed for it, the businessman has bought the commandant’s computer company to destroy him but dies in the attempt.

Fingerprints identify the commandant as someone else, money buys that.

Great script by Paul Playdon, typically sharp direction by O’Herlihy. The actors are Joe Maross, Simon Oakland, Barry Atwater, and Teru Shimada.


F.O.B. Honolulu

Hawaii Five-O

All the powers of the world contend in Hawaii for a weapon of ultimate destruction against the U.S., and it’s “your own Commander Nicholson” who gets hold of it, a pair of $20 printing plates for Andrew Jacksons.

The U.S. State Dept. will pay a sizeable amount and give amnesty, his lady partner eliminates him on offers of more cash from the KGB and finally Wo Fat, who forces the issue. A small-time player named Tony Madrid takes a hand and nearly trumps them all after his fashion.

The authoritative direction includes the elevator gag from The Pink Panther, Nicholson’s demise filmed from the surf with a handheld camera, a temple pond with floating thug amid carp, and Col. Misha the Bear’s POV of McGarrett through the small round window of the cabin door on a departing jet, “the title is purely honorary”.


Air Cargo—Dial for Murder
Hawaii Five-O

Black marketeers hijack various items in a sustained scam. A shipment of medicine gone astray causes the death of a hospital patient, her husband concocts revenge.

O’Herlihy is entirely inspired by the general layout of this, by passages such as the system engineer eliminated from the gang and shipped back air freight (the camera rides the freight loader on the tarmac with the coffin and finds an Oriental perspective on McGarrett standing at his desk to handle a phone call in the background left while Chin Ho in the foreground right and just off-camera counts the dead man’s secret pile of money intermittently into the frame), and by the casting of James Hong, Marion Ross and Michael Strong as the nervous engineer, a spotter for the gang, and the husband aggrieved by the law’s delay after his wife’s death in a simple absence of the needed medicine, he’s in import-export and ships things out to anyplace whatsoever “every day of the week”.


While You’re At It, Bring In The Moon
Hawaii Five-O

A tale of Howard Hughes old and young, under another name. He’s out to build a steam car, cash out everything and liquidate fourteen corporations in so doing. His top executives bring legal action, he’s a mental incompetent in germicidal pools and saunas, a world apart.

He shoots at them and kills one, then escapes. The event is recorded on audiotape, as it happens. There was not enough time for the deed to be done as presented, another weapon was used.

A unique rifle lobbed .45 shells on a high trajectory 250 yards for the job, bought by a nonexistent company called Orion Enterprises out of a Geneva bank account from an engineering firm in West Germany, Lithia Arms Co.

Any resemblance to the JFK assassination in the form of a dramatic burlesque is probably coincidental. The title comes from a reporter’s question to McGarrett, “How do you bring in a billionaire? Isn’t that like bringing in the President?”


Cloth of Gold
Hawaii Five-O

There’s an Auguste Dupin logic in this tale of chicanery and murder, Three partners lure homebuyers to Hawaiian Palm Estates by means of videotapes shot with scenery from elsewhere on the island and shipped to the mainland, suckers get “a quarter-acre of lava rock”.

They use the camera for other things, drug a girl for acquiescence, she dies a prostitute and addict.

Her father obtains a job as houseboy to the three and kills them one by one with a small gastropod whose beautiful shell gives its common name and the title.

Jay Robinson, Ray Danton and Jason Evers are the thieves.


Follow the White Brick Road
Hawaii Five-O

A Navy sailor is pursued by two toughs, eludes them and collapses on a Honolulu street. They are agents of the Naval Intelligence Service, he is a heroin mule.

Danny is placed undercover as a corpsman on a destroyer late of Vietnam, now steaming from Subic Bay to Pearl Harbor. He dispenses the Navy’s exemption program to an addict, who is killed by a dealer with an overdose.

Five-O traces the tattoo artist whose work is on the initial corpse. Madam Sung is questioned, but all signs point to the White Horse Tattoo Parlor, whose proprietor supports a mother in the Philippines and has no record save a 1959 ticket for “driving too slow on the Mauna Loa Freeway.”

Che extraordinarily has a team of lab-coated analysts at microscopes to determine the substance under the fingernails of the mule, which must have come from the ship.

The dealer is a mate in damage control who hides the brick in a fire extinguisher, whence it is extracted by a man in a hard hat “checking shore power” at Pearl.

O’Herlihy films aboard ship at sea. A great sequence transports McGarrett by boat hoisted to the deck.


Journey Out of Limbo
Hawaii Five-O

Dan Williams is deposited in a dump truck’s load of sand at a construction site, unconscious (the image is taken from Buñuel’s Los Olvidados with a vengeance). He wakes in a hospital, has a concussion and is unable to remember his day off.

Five-O has the job of providing security for an informal meeting of the Chinese commerce minister and an American nabob, Norton Hummel, formerly a captain on General Stilwell’s staff, aboard Hummel’s yacht.

Gradually it comes to Williams that he stumbled on a bunker and two men loading a small boat with high explosives amid bodies. This is a scheme to destroy the yacht in a suicide attack, the bodies are dummies meant to wear U.S. Navy uniforms.

Hummel’s son died at Shangjin, where Duke also fought.


Here Today, Gone Tonight
Hawaii Five-O

The teleplay by Jerome Coopersmith is from Malle’s Ascenseur pour l’échafaud, a sort of translation by way of homage.

The murder is as before, there is a glass elevator outside the building, a massive security apparatus leads to the company president’s office, his new project is a road through a wilderness preserve.

The company’s books are offered to McGarrett, fraud, corruption, everything but the murders, for which no evidence remains.

Dan Williams is flown in a circle over familiar lights at night, supposedly to Maui. A prefab house duplicates the junior executive’s, he slips out for the murder.

The boss’s wife will rub out a blackmailer on to the plan, she has the money for it, just as her late husband would have, she says. Five-O steps in.


The Odd Lot Caper
Hawaii Five-O

Negotiable securities amounting to a fortune are robbed by daylight from the Honolulu Stock Exchange and downtown brokerage firms to finance a signature building project that island investors won’t support.

It begins with the murder of a blackmailer, his badger game is a stock tip for wives.

The bloody robbery takes in a bonfire of records at each venue, and computer files are seized or destroyed, so that the certificates can’t be identified.

The developer has a friend in Boston vouch for him, the securities are a loan.

One brokerage employee remembers a late colleague’s first stock purchase framed on his wall, it’s been sold with the man’s estate, a 1912 issue, she recognizes it in the developer’s vault by the frame marks.

O’Herlihy’s direction is dynamic and faultless.


Will the Real Mr. Winkler Please Die?
Hawaii Five-O

The dramatic construction is given as two intersecting lines of action, one a straightforward tale of escape from the Iron Curtain, the other a Russian doll with a pure abstraction at its center.

An Austrian “Mr. Memory” quits the vaudeville circuit to work for East German Intelligence. After six months, he escapes to the West under a new identity, opens a souvenir shop in Hawaii and lives quietly for seven years, until a man-in-the-street interviewer questions him on a matter of local politics. He evades the camera, but is recognized and forcibly recruited for another mission. The scene in the street sends him to Five-O, where at first he claims to be a protected witness, then at a subsequent meeting admits to being a top spy.

On a cold and snowy night in Washington, D.C., McGarrett confers with a CIA man, no-one has seen the spy, only one man can identify him, a defector hiding out in “deep security”, the former head of Soviet Intelligence for Eastern Europe. This man is brought to Hawaii and quickly determines the suspect is not who he claims to be.

Seven years before, the defector married a fellow agent, she reported to the spy on an agent lured to the other side by his addiction, the spy had her arrested by Counterintelligence and she died horribly. The suspect didn’t know of the marriage, the spy did.

The suspect confesses he has been forced to impersonate the spy so that the defector can be assassinated.

McGarrett’s plan nets the spy, saves the defector, and gives the suspect yet another identity.


Murder Is a Taxing Affair
Hawaii Five-O

A Federal agent murders a tax evader en route to Hawaii but picks up the wrong bag and has to join Five-O’s investigation, questioning each passenger. $600,000 is the prize, he’s had enough of millionaire loopholes and furnished rooms, “from now on I take”, and is a stalking horse for the critique along similar lines. He searches a wealthy couple’s hotel room but takes nothing, kills a stewardess who has nothing, and is about to throw a couple over a cliff for the bag in their possession when McGarrett puts a halt to the caper and the agent goes over the cliff instead.

Silence ends one act as the couple stare at their bag full of money, the camera pans across the stewardess’s bathroom to see her face behind the shower glass as she is strangled at the end of another. An unusual degree of finesse is in these cadences, finally a lateral shot of cliff, sky and sea completes the picture.


Why Wait Till Uncle Kevin Dies?
Hawaii Five-O

An ominous parable of prodigal sons and daughters who sign away their inheritance to Reversions, Inc. for an advance minus a percentage. The company has recently undergone a change of management and no longer relies on actuarial tables and long-term results but gets its money at once by murder.

A ne’er-do-well is impersonated by a new man in John Manicote’s office who is dressed up as a millionaire’s son. A fail-safe system insures his life against any changes in the will.

A pile of murders on McGarrett’s desk prompts him to act, Five-O has the final aspects of the case well in hand before the company moves its headquarters to Zurich.


Secret Witness
Hawaii Five-O

What he bears witness to is a Chicago hit man liquidating a liability, a local boss’s skimming bag man.

He drops his library book, The Poetry of Robert Frost, where these lines can be found:

I do not see why I should e’er turn back,
Or those should not set forth upon my track
To overtake me, who should miss me here
And long to know if still I held them dear.

The hit man tries to bribe a librarian for the patron’s change of address. The latter’s typewriter reveals him to Five-O (and so the theme is Auden’s reader and rider).

O’Herlihy’s camera work in the last scene at the witness’s home in a high-rise begins with a walk to the louvered window for a down-angle on McGarrett’s car pulling up in the street below, announced by siren.


Murder with a Golden Touch
Hawaii Five-O

Old gold is made to appear in Makapuu Bay as salvage from the clipper Boston Cloud whose captain, says the president of Geodetic Surveys Ltd., was an opium trader in the Far East named Jeremiah Farmer.

Actually, the gold’s been filched from an island firm and remolded to fit the bill so cunningly that even the U.S. Mint can’t prove it.

Five-O divides and conquers.


Nine Dragons
Hawaii Five-O

O’Herlihy is called upon for this feature-length drama of Wo Fat’s amazing scheme to take over the government of China by murdering its leaders and blaming the deed on America, with a retaliatory strike to follow. This requires great rapidity on location in Hong Kong, and O’Herlihy’s skill is evident in and around the harbor.

The murder weapon is a deadly toxin under study at the University in Honolulu. Wo Fat enlists the Triad gang of the title, murders a professor and takes his place, purloins the venom and waits for McGarrett, who arrives in Hong Kong and is kidnapped, drugged, brainwashed and filmed denouncing the attack, for immediate release after the event.

The venom is to be introduced into the water supply at Hang Chow, where a government meeting is scheduled. Wo Fat sits in a control room, like Gen. Scott of Seven Days in May, ready to put McGarrett on the air at a moment’s notice, as he monitors events in Hang Chow and stays in touch with the missile center.

Certainly this casts Wo Fat in a light very different from his instrumental role as agent of a hostile power. Even more amazingly, perhaps, his ultimate failure here isn’t the end of him, somehow.


The Author

A small-town roman à clef hits the bestseller lists and gets compared to Peyton Place, one of its keyhole characters is defended by Matlock when an apparent attempt on the life of the spinster who wrote it leaves her minister dead in the living room.

A gossipy recluse propelled to TV fame, her secret co-author dead at her hands, there is a succinct image closely related to Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.

O’Herlihy’s beautifully precise and analytical technique takes the most tangible aspects of this in stride with the least, as easily as switching the lens on a microscope or telescope.