The Countess

Linda Lawrence was once proposed to by Ben in New Orleans, but she married an Englishman and now is Lady Chadwick, a widow of independent means.

It seems to her that the past can be bought, “I can buy anything”, but it takes planning. She has her late husband’s business agent, a stalwart and servile fellow with a sword in his walking stick, hire a man to spread rumors at the mine and lumber camp that Ponderosa scrip is worthless. The men insist on being paid in cash, she buys up the cash reserves of the Virginia City Bank. Whatever Ben needs, he shall have from her, she’s come to be married.

The Ponderosa is in the worst trouble the Cartwrights have ever seen, unable to meet contracts, about to go under without a clue.


The Night of the Bottomless Pit
The Wild Wild West

A fastidiously clean and “ideally bald” commandant runs Devil’s Island, to which a muckraking journalist is sent for denouncing “France’s Crown of Thorns” and replaced at the last possible moment by West.

Gordon, so bad he was drummed out of the Foreign Legion, takes an aptitude test to be a guard. He knocks out two thugs and mimes a laborious fight to pass.

West is sent to the pit, where he meets an American agent tried and convicted under a cover that must not be broken. Escape leads to the boudoir of the commandant’s wife and the lady in bed. The commandant supervises all such attempts.

A musical watch and an old lady out of Hitchcock prepare the final escape by rowboat. The monkey-chattering madman in the pit, Le Fou, is a guard in disguise. The commandant’s aide, Le Cochon, has an iron leg. The commandant dies in his own bog, but kills Cochon for abandoning him.

At the train, Camille has a new fiancÚ, a smiling hirsute fop with a striking resemblance to the commandant yet, as West notes, not averse to shaking hands in the least.


The Night of the Green Terror
The Wild Wild West

Dr. Miguelito Loveless, Ph.D., conceives a plan to take over the country. He starves an Indian village to supply it with food, wins still more adherents among the forest tribes by promising to eliminate the palefaces lock, stock and barrel.

He demonstrates on a scale model. The same green powder that destroys tree and flower, fish and fowl, will in higher concentrations dropped from a balloon incinerate whole cities.

He appears to the tribes as contemptible Robin of the Woods, servant to the Lord of the Forest (himself mysteriously clad in a full-scale suit of armor). West challenges this lord, the chiefs insist, Loveless is defeated and his device is turned upon himself.

But in the end, by a magician’s trick or two, the foiled plan reflects mockingly on West and Gordon, agents in government under President Grant’s orders.


The Night of the Feathered Fury
The Wild Wild West

A monumental reflection on the mystery of The Maltese Falcon, which is here a small mechanical toy bearing within it nothing less than the veritable philosopher’s stone, the gift to Midas.

The toy represents a pecking chicken, when it’s wound up, it pecks out the name of its maker in code.

Cf. Peggy the Pecking Penguin in George Marshall’s The Goldwyn Follies, “she pecks and pecks and pecks and pecks and pecks!

The toymaker’s daughter is turned to gold and shattered, but not her gun, why? “Something about her soul,” says the mad magician, Count Mazeppi.

Moonlight reconstitutes the bird, West and Gordon have a housekeeper, she takes it home to her child.


The Two Against Time Raid
The Rat Patrol

A quick and explosive nighttime raid on German headquarters in an Arab town yields a photo showing the map position of an ammo dump. The place is unguarded, Dietrich is there before them, watching on a rise.

The cave at the foot of a hill is mined and ready, Dietrich makes his move. He and one soldier enter the cave after Sgt. Troy, the rest face the patrol. A shot brings down the cavern sufficiently to pin Dietrich and seal the entrance.

“Troy lost, mission botched,” says Sgt. Moffitt. Troy has scuppered the wires to prevent an explosion. Dietrich knows a way out, has to be helped.

Outside, Troy is offered a chance to escape. He knocks Dietrich down, signals the jeeps, blows up the hill. Dietrich rises to his feet and limps slowly away.

“Close,” says Troy. “Very,” says Moffitt. Troy had the chance and could have killed Dietrich, but admits he “didn’t even try.”


Take Me to Your Leader Raid
The Rat Patrol

Dietrich follows at a safe distance while the patrol drive his agent, in disguise as an American major, to Division HQ. A radio transmitter keeps the prey in sight.

There are delays. A truck full of wounded Italian prisoners has broken down in the desert, their colonel is taken on to HQ for help.

A sign reads, “Water Hole—2 Miles”, the major knows it leads to quicksand, the Italian compliments him on the quality of his intelligence. “That’s why we’re winning the war,” says the false major.

At another stop, the Italian recognizes the major from a liaison meeting, and is shot. Troy suspects, runs a bluff, the major races for Dietrich in one of the jeeps.

The others pursue him, one of Dietrich’s two half-tracks is destroyed, the colonel is deposited in a field hospital, the major left dead on the desert. Gen. McLean is just seen driving away. Sgt. Moffitt observes, “Nice to see the old man’s still around.”


The Rat Patrol

Sgt. Moffitt is a German ace launched out of a cave into a convoy, “a severely burned man” with a bandaged face.

A security chief has the patient’s wife flown in on “Goering’s private aeroplane”. She is tender and solicitous and someone else entirely. Moffitt puts the security man to bed in bandages, he later escapes and is shot in the corridor as the newly discovered spy.

Sgt. Troy is an orderly in this clinic, found out and beaten. The purpose of the raid is disinformation, Moffitt as the ace has sighted a false position.

“You’re late,” says Troy as rescue comes. The patrol fights its way out, he recovers.


The Fifth Wheel Raid
The Rat Patrol

Col. Jameson is captured, his sergeant wounded. Counter-Intelligence reasons it may be desertion, the Sikh knows nothing but joins the patrol on the raid and is the first to see his colonel in a German office. “Kabir!”, the colonel says, surprised. “Coffee?”

A dozen years in India with the Royal Army meant a bullet in the arm instead of the brain. The war’s over, says the colonel, the Allies have lost. He questions Sgt. Kabir on England’s gratitude, but the sergeant corrects him, “my loyalty was to you, Colonel.”

Killing the traitor absolves a dozen years of meaninglessness, even without the present contingency of safeguarding Allied plans.


The Two If by Sea Raid
The Rat Patrol

Rommel’s Tiger tanks are shipped in, the place and time are kept in a safe at a German naval lighthouse on the Mediterranean coast of North Africa.

Moffitt is caught and tortured but extricated. A collaborator has to believe he’s been killed, he too is “interrogated” but knows nothing more.

The kapitan in charge is satisfied, the leutnant who interrogates is not, he climbs the circling stairs to the lamp and personally countermands an order to signal the convoy. Moffitt is there to deal him out.

Very smartly filmed on location.