Have Rocket—Will Travel

The profoundest mysteries concerning a lady scientist and a psychologist in the heap of stress and ambition that is the early space program.

Only on the planet Venus can it be understood, The Three Stooges go there in a failed rocket for which they have a new fuel.


To Catch a Butterfly
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour

“A nasty, spiteful brat” is the name here for a psychopathic boy who starts by tormenting his new neighbor’s dog and nearly kills the wife in a scene so gruesome that its implications are more than enough (he lays a tripwire on the basement stairs, she plummets and wedges her hand in the railing, he advances toward her with a 1” electric drill).

The Hitchcockian touch is the personal magic of the boy’s salvation. This little monster was tortured at a very tender age for lying, so now he’s thought to be cured, or anyway soon to straighten up, etc. The neighbor is a kindly man who sees to it the boy gets the help he needs.

This is a great, sympathetic role for Bradford Dillman as the self-doubting young executive who fears his kindness is interpreted as weakness, a man at the center of an unsteady world full of unconscious bullies and defensive, testy people. Edward Asner is the jolly neighbor with an odd idea of child discipline, Diana Hyland is the executive’s wife, and the boy is directed perfectly.


Of Late I Think of Cliffordville
The Twilight Zone

Cliffordville, Indiana, where the aged nabob started out. He knows everything, the devil sends him back according to his wish.

A sequel to Jewison’s Other People’s Money. The nabob knows all but can’t build a thing, can’t make anything. He gives his last farthing to return home, in the present.

Many thematic workings pivot this from “Walking Distance” to “Back There” and “Once Upon a Time” on an ironic basis of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.


A Matter of Murder
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour

An antiphonal joke, in which a body is batted back and forth by two opponents in a game of sorts, with only one result ultimately sought by both.

A man kills his wealthy wife in favor of her niece. The body, wrapped in plastic sheeting and bound with heavy chains, is in the back of his Rolls-Royce stolen by Philadelphia Harry’s gang. The heat’s on, they can’t put it back where they found it or ship it to Mexico as usual. They put it back in the man’s garage. The man and the niece write a ransom note, paint the car silver and leave it at Lookout Point, where the gang steals it again.

The man goes through the charade of paying ransom to the gang in a park, but waits in vain. The silver Rolls has to be shipped to Mexico now, even at cost.

The police are onto the murder, figuring from the evidence that the body’s in the man’s cellar or in the lake. A search of the house is fruitless, taunted they plan to drag the lake.

The Rolls was taken at first while the man was on a pier testing the depth of the lake. Harry realizes the man’s original intention, reasons that they came too soon, ten minutes later the body would have been sunk. That’s their new alibi, to bolster it they plan to dump the body in the lake from the pier. The ending is left to the viewer’s imagination.


Mission: Impossible

“Lay not your treasure up” is given in the form of Bashō’s haiku, the password in a Japanese garden. A version of it goes like this:

  the camellia flower

spilled pure water from within

  when it reached the earth

IPCRESS (Induction of Psycho-Neuroses by Conditioned Reflex with Stress) is the method used on escaping criminals by a gang they pay to ferry them over the border. The subject gives up his hoarded wealth and perhaps dies.

Phelps joins the queue, the man ahead of him is up for thirty years with millions of mob money stashed away.



The Concorde
Airport ‘79

The idea is a beautiful one, a reporter with information about a weapons magnate flies East and West on the Concorde, attacked by her subject’s latest development.

The visual plan is surprisingly complex. Montgolfier’s balloon is introduced on L’Enfant’s National Mall bearing a banner which reads STOP THE CONCORDE. The Harrison Industries missile tests look as if they were filmed at Peenemünde. A female gymnast is filmed in slow-motion. Susan Blakely lies atop the glass roof of a solarium.

All these metaphors of flight have a countertheme. The Concorde’s Paris landing passes through orange arresting-nets like breaking the sound barrier. The Alpine landing echoes Rod Serling’s The Doomsday Flight and Edward Dmytryk’s The Mountain, and the whole film is echoed in William Friedkin’s Deal of the Century.