Mission: Impossible

The late lamented leader is gone, his daughter has a document from him naming members of the government “who privately favored friendly relations with the West.” She finds her brother in the act of suicide, he’s a Minister in the government, their father’s men are about to be purged, he and his sister need help. The Americans will trade for the document. She agrees. He is merely exercising a government ploy to obtain the document. The IM Force go in to get it and the girl.

Phelps wants to publish a book about her, Dana is his sister. He and the girl fall in love, she leaves the city in a funeral party. From the hearse a streamlined racing car emerges, compact and low to the ground. Phelps and the girl race to the border and under a control gate. The document is encoded on the cylinder of a musical cigarette box.


Hawaii Five-O

An obscure, lightly-painted screen of images conveying a deadly form of ignorance, the idea is that a cerebral drug culture with a spiritual bent is clinically a destructive phantom that rebukes the “lineaments of gratified desire”, leaving hysteria cases in a hospital ward, and the occasional suicide.

The chemistry professor’s forehead kiss, the blonde’s ecstatic motorcycle ride that ends tumbling off onto the beach sand laughing, the professor’s arm slowly raised on the fatal cliff to hand McGarrett a pointed gun, these are the main points encompassing large supplemental imagery like the blonde Venus at her parents’ home with swimming pool and ocean view yet miserable for reasons that are unfathomed by the “glimpse of God” sought in various forms of lotos-eating.


Six Kilos
Hawaii Five-O

A “box man” is killed at the airport. McGarrett fills in for him (having cracked safes for the NIS a little).

The hotel room at the Maunaloa in Hilo is bugged, a tough at the door holds a gun on “Harry K. Brown”, demanding to know why he’s late.

Instructions are delivered on tape at a beach house, “the man” lays out a raid on a yacht, the hidden safe has forty million dollars worth of heroin.

McGarrett, the tough, another man and a girl complete the daring assignment. She shoots the pair but not McGarrett. Five-O arrests her as the ringleader, her voice on the tape is slowed down as “the man”.


The Adventure of Colonel Nivin’s Memoirs
Ellery Queen

Robbie’s terribly risky move is to underplay this most intensely, so that the aliquots of international decision-making expand and disperse into quite the plain images they intend. You have a blackmailer who is a British Intelligence officer with Nazi files from occupied Paris, and various victim-suspects, all of whom were coerced by the occupiers or working undercover, including the present wife of the Russian ambassador in New York, closely watched by the NKVD (“What will Truman do,” asks Inspector Queen, reading in the papers about another strike).

The feint (not to put too fine a point upon it) would be along the lines of British imperialism undone by American democracy (Col. Nivin’s doorman wears a turban, but isn’t from India, nor is he the New York criminal his revealed identity suggests, but Major Pearson of the OSS, looking for the files). This dissipates, leaving a simpler impression (the Russian ambassador asks if there are not listening devices in Inspector Queen’s office, and is told, “Sir, this is America!”).

The beautiful solution has a ship that cannot be in Boston Harbor and the Port of New York at one and the same time (it’s Russian, with a defector), so that the real meaning is the nonexistence of any conflict between principles and expediency.


The Adventure of Veronica’s Veils
Ellery Queen

Robert Pirosh’s script is flagrantly a masterpiece on its subject, burlesque. There are two main aspects in which Robbie’s direction signally expresses this, and the first is a surprising dramatic evaluation of the MacGuffin, the producer’s onstage funeral during which a film of himself is projected, announcing he’s been murdered. Robbie cuts to a long shot of the stage from the center right balcony as the house lights come up and curtains behind the casket are drawn on the blank screen lifted to the heavens.

The second is a stirring, pointed command of the idiomatic rhythms in the art being portrayed. The cast (George Burns, Barbara Rhoades, Jack Carter, Julie Adams, William Demarest, Joshua Shelley, Don Porter, Hayden Rorke) is more than able, it rises to the occasion at exactly the mark and reveals its superabundance of gifts by never missing it, even though the actual stage material used is very slender, quantitatively.

The show is called Take It Off!, the comic killed the producer with his prop insecticide sprayer, incidentally killing the stripper’s parrot, Galahad (the producer’s wife wasn’t seeing another man, she lost her shirt gambling, and the angel wanted to move the stripper into O’Neill and Ibsen, whom the lady—her stage name is Veronica Vale—thinks is Buddy Ebsen).

The Night They Raided Minsky’s is a conscious holding of inspiration for the work.



The Adventure of the Pharaoh’s Curse
Ellery Queen

Ellery Queen dictates a novel throughout this adventure, having injured an index finger while using a can opener, and recalling Nabokov’s famous remark to Edmund Wilson on the latter’s fictional female characters, that he would as soon use his penis to open a tin can.

Inspector Queen has to solve the case of a museum benefactor who has been found dead after the premiere of his exhibit, the sarcophagus of Amon-Ra. Ellery suspects murder, but a heart condition is indicated.

Now, there is a great deal of hugger-mugger surrounding the victim, who is unloved by his family, detested by an Egyptian antiquary as a graverobber, and loathed by the museum director, whom he humiliates. There is a cloud of suspicion around this Męcenas as a profiteer in the recently-concluded war, who sold defective planes as in All My Sons.

In fact, the dutiful guard who found the body has a Gold Star flag in his office, and caused the death by brandishing a pistol, which made the moneybags keel over.

Simon Oakland plays the victim as a careless sort of vulgarian, amusing and helpless. June Lockhart plays his wife, who is leaving him for Ross Martin as the patient museum director. Nehemiah Persoff is the Egyptian.

The strangeness of the artifice is intensified rather than diminished by the abandonment of Hollywood lighting in a piece set in 1946. There are amusing touches in Peter S. Fischer’s script, such as the broken driver’s-side window in the victim’s car (he locked his keys in), the ceremonial golden key found in the middle of the bunch on his key ring, the medicine in the wrong coat pocket.


The Adventure of the Sunday Punch
Ellery Queen

The argument can be stated with the telegraphic precision of an Associated Press wire release, or even a newspaper headline, for all the mysteriousness it engenders, and this gives a graphic sense of structural possibility to a mere feint or red herring along the way, which looms large.

Boxer expires, opponent blamed, ring doctor guilty (daughter beaten by pug).

The very interesting detail of the supposed poisoner, a pharmacy student bankrolled by a mob boss (for an honest favor) makes this a special case of Emersonian favoritism, perhaps (the student is black).


The Adventure of the Tyrant of Tin Pan Alley
Ellery Queen

“America’s beloved tunesmith” (Rudy Vallee) is murdered in the record library of a radio station during an unscheduled break in a live interview. Present are his disaffected wife (Polly Bergen—Simon Brimmer describes their happy marriage on-air as “ideal”), his manager (Albert Salmi), a disenfranchised bandleader (Michael Callan), a plagiarized young songwriter (Brad David), the tunesmith’s stepdaughter (Renne Jarrett), and the all-night disc jockey (Ken Berry).

Payola is the motive, the tunesmith being a music publisher with a long arm. The radio station set is illustrative of the Art Deco style, with the amusing addition of a color-coded and structurally significant record-finding system in the library.

The tunesmith wrote Brimmer’s theme song, with lyrics by the latter:

A foggy night;
The stars grow dimmer.
Murder’s afoot—
Call Simon Brimmer.

Policemen snoop
Without a glimmer;
To solve the case,
Call Simon Brimmer.

Inspector Queen describes this amateur sleuth in the act of naming the wrong culprit as “like a cat in a birdcage”. The bandleader tries out a new song called “Mona Lisa” and turns it down, “who wants to hear a song about a painting?” The tunesmith calls him “a cut-rate Como”. Ellery Queen drives his father home, and the Inspector tells him, “the way you drive we can both sleep.”

The actual author of the lyrics and the rest is Robert Van Scoyk. Robbie handles the murder particularly well, wielding the camera around the record stacks to a medium close-up of the tunesmith, looking for anyone else’s recording but the bandleader’s, and wearing one blue and one yellow sock, facing an unseen adversary.

In light of NBC’s sometimes careless titling (Colonel Nivin is so given, correctly or not), there is a delightful error at the beginning,

The Adventure of