What did you watch this week in classic TV on DVD(or Blu)?

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Socialite Amelia Maitland (Lisa Pera) and her boxing champion boy toy, Gunther Pearse (Willhelm von Homburg)

Actress Lisa Pera and actor Willhelm von Homburg will return in later seasons.
Both Pera and Homburg in the season 3 “The Night of the Iron Fist”.
Homburg alone in the season 4 “The Night of the Big Blackmail”.
 
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JohnHopper

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Jeff Flugel

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Not only they recycled everything (shots, sets, music cues, costumes, plots) but guest actors kept on returning season after season. The series formed a family of recurring character actors …​
And they especially recycled stuntmen!
 

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And they especially recycled stuntmen!
More than once (in interviews) I heard Conrad laugh about the fact that the henchmen were always the same guys. Only the mastermind villain changed.

Doesn't matter - we tuned in each week to watch with delight, one of the most original shows ever with two wonderful actors.
 

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¶ If you want to see Robert Conrad and his stuntmen team,
¶ you've got two series to watch:
Mission: Impossible (“The Contender”: season 3)
Mannix (“The Playground”: season 3)
¶​
 

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For this one time only, I'm going to bite on Randall's style (apologies, sir!) and engage in a little photo essay of my own
Well damn, Jeff! You're getting as good at screen caps as Randall! And that's quite a high bar.
 

Jeff Flugel

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Well damn, Jeff! You're getting as good at screen caps as Randall! And that's quite a high bar.
Aw, shucks, Russ - thanks! And you were right to point out Hawaiian Eye as another quintessential Robert Conrad series. His work there should not be overlooked...the main reason why I didn't mention it is that I've hardly seen any of it. I'd sure like to, one of these days. Sadly, other than on a retro TV channel viewing schedule or some possible future streaming option, my choices are pretty limited for those WB detective shows...especially over here in Japan!
 
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Jeff Flugel

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Well, Randall, I guess I lied, because here's another photo essay, albeit a briefer one. I promise, I won't make this a trend...

Man of the World
- 1.6 "The Sentimental Agent"



A few years after he finished his run on the jazzy, noirish Peter Gunn, Craig Stevens starred in this early ITC "action man" series, which ran for 20 episodes in the U.K. during 1962-63 (not sure if it ever aired in the U.S.), and also features a main theme by Henry Mancini. Stevens plays Michael Strait, ace photographer, who travels around the world getting involved in various scrapes, mysteries and intrigue...kind of a more glamorous Man with a Camera. The show seems to be good solid action / adventure stuff, kind of a precursor to more famous ITC shows like Danger Man and The Saint.

This episode, however, is not the usual offering, as Stevens shuffles offstage and lets a guy named Carlos Thompson take over for the majority of the episode, as suave, unflappable Argentinian shipping agent, Borella. While "shipping agent" doesn't seem a particularly exciting profession for a TV series, it soon becomes apparent that Borella is not your typical businessman...

The episode begins with Michael Strait being arrested in his hotel room in Havana, apparently having snapped a photo of a house somewhere on the island that has the Cuban authorities up in arms. He's put under maximum security in a prison notorious for rarely releasing anyone alive. Strait's British "gal friday," Maggie (Tracy Reed), flies into Havana to try to help. Waiting in a crowded government office, she uses that tried-and-true (if now politically incorrect) technique of getting attention from the male staff...she flashes some (very nice) leg.

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However, once she mentions Michael Strait's name, she's persona non grata with the authorities. Disheartened, she leaves the office, but a disheveled fellow quietly follows her out to the street and tells her that he knows someone who can help. Enter Borella, who agrees to arrange Strait's release for $5,000. "But I don't have that kind of money right now!" protests Maggie. "Don't worry. I'll accept an IOU," replies Borella. "I trust the British implicitly."

This Borella guy is one smooth operator. He's as sartorially elegant, debonair and confident as Paul Henreid in Casablanca, but with more elan and carefree good humor. Carlos Thompson is just terrific in this role...it's no wonder he soon got his own spin-off series, also called The Sentimental Agent.

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Borella gets to work, bribing people left, right and center until he's esconsced in a hotel suite a few doors down from the one formerly occupied by Strait, which has been torn apart by government officials looking for a hidden microfilm. There's a guard outside Strait's room, so Borella heads outside onto the rickety balcony to cross over via a more secretive, if dangerous, way. He pauses at the next balcony, momentarily distracted...

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"Manana."

After a hairy moment, when the rusty old balcony railing breaks under his weight, leaving him hanging by one hand over the street a couple hundred feet or so below, Borella makes it into Strait's room and pokes around. Remembering the odd wording in a message Strait left Maggie, Borella figures out the microfilm's hiding place and vamooses. A meeting with a cagey and corrupt minister (Peter Jones) is a temporary stumbling block, but results in an arrangement to have another American photography expert meet him at his hotel. Borella is (unsurprisingly) quite pleased to discover that the photographer, Lee, happens to look just like the delectable Shirley Eaton.

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Borella feeds black market butter to Lee and sparks fly (seriously, was there ever any actress who could do "sultry" better than Ms. Eaton?), but he manages to keep his mind on business long enough to persuade Lee to develop the microfilm. They find out that it contains proof that a supposedly-dead Argentinian scientist (Cyril Shaps) is actually very much alive, and being held captive by the Cuban government in a house in the countryside. A streak of nationalist pride inspires Borella to not only free Strait, but rescue the scientist as well. A serious multitasker, Borella even manages to make some time to romance the scrumptious Lee along the way...

How this all plays out is clever and a lot of fun, and Carlos Thompson really steals the show here, effortlessly cool and confident, his cigarette holder hardly leaving his lips, except to engage in some passionate necking with Ms. Eaton (strictly necessary for the plot, of course). He's a man who's playing all the angles, but still living on the razor's edge of luck on whether his plan will work out. In other words, he's definitely not your usual import / export paper pusher...

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Thompson must have impressed Sir Lew Grade and the executives at ITC, because he got his own series the following year (with his character's name changed to Varela, alongside Burt Kwouk, "Kato" himself.) It only ran for 13 episodes, and Thompson unfortunately only appeared in two-thirds of them, as he fell seriously ill and was replaced by John Turner for the last several. Thompson retired from acting shortly after The Sentimental Agent ended, and became a writer and TV producer. He was married to actress Lilli Palmer for nearly 30 years, until her death in 1986, and sadly, committed suicide four years later. It's a pity he didn't continue acting, as - judging from this episode anyway - he was quite a talent.



I enjoyed this episode so much that I promptly ordered Network's The Sentimental Agent DVD set, now out-of-print but still affordable (if you know where to look...) The Man of the World set itself is still available for a very reasonable price, both from Network and Amazon UK. I'm looking forward to digging further into more of Michael Strait's adventures in the future.

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Rustifer

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Man of the World - 1.6 "The Sentimental Agent"
Jeff: Really interesting commentary on a UK series of which I've never heard. Not exactly on the same line, I'm a huge fan of British "cozy" mysteries, favorites being:
Midsommer Murders
Agatha Raisin
Poirot
Miss Marple
Inspector Lynley Mysteries
Morse
Hamish MacBeth
Father Brown
Shetland

Thank god for BritBox streaming. Being retired, I can blow an entire day binging on any of these, along with some popcorn and really good bourbon.
 

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Jeff: Really interesting commentary on a UK series of which I've never heard. Not exactly on the same line, I'm a huge fan of British "cozy" mysteries, favorites being:
Midsommer Murders
Agatha Raisin
Poirot
Miss Marple
Inspector Lynley Mysteries
Morse
Hamish MacBeth
Father Brown
Shetland

Thank god for BritBox streaming. Being retired, I can blow an entire day binging on any of these, along with some popcorn and really good bourbon.
Not to be unkind but I haven't argued with you in a long time. Poirot is not a "cozy" mystery by any standard, although it is a favorite of mine.

"Cozy mysteries, also referred to as "cozies", are a subgenre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community. Wikipedia"

Also you should never have popcorn with bourbon. I suggest potato chips.
I feel so much better now. :P
 

Rustifer

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Not to be unkind but I haven't argued with you in a long time. Poirot is not a "cozy" mystery by any standard, although it is a favorite of mine.

"Cozy mysteries, also referred to as "cozies", are a subgenre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community. Wikipedia"

Also you should never have popcorn with bourbon. I suggest potato chips.
I feel so much better now. :P
Well Marv, when you're right, you're right.
 
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Well damn, Jeff! You're getting as good at screen caps as Randall! And that's quite a high bar.
Thanks Russ! Your first rate posts are always a journey into witty observational sarcasm that we appreciate here, often compelling me to dig out my collection and watch the very same show you just featured! And I do hope that Jeff does more of his photo essays! As a much younger man than myself, I would assume Jeff's flying finger of fate (crucial to pausing on a favored millisecond of bits and bytes in the video stream), would allow his trigger finger to be much faster than my own! My flying finger of fate is slowed by arthritis and imminent fossilization. I often find that my freeze frame is off by a millisecond on the first attempt of catching the perfect shot...a beautiful girl's mouth might be contorted in an unflattering way in the middle of speech...or, I get her lips looking great, and she blinks, that freeze frame looking equally goofy...or, and this is the most infuriating, a scratch or blemish on the film source rears it's head...none of these things being noticeable at normal playback. Two shots and groups of people only complicate this further. I think I owe it to these beauties of long past (and a few dudes too), that I make them look as good as possible...wherever they are, albeit in a rest home or graveyard...once these screen caps are out in the interwebsphere, they live forever, and will show up in Google search if they're properly tagged!

Well, Randall, I guess I lied, because here's another photo essay, albeit a briefer one. I promise, I won't make this a trend...

Man of the World
- 1.6 "The Sentimental Agent"
Enjoyed your photo essay very much, Jeff! I would hope you will do more of these as your time allows! As I know you have a young family to take care of, and a generation of young minds to educate. As for me, I am a free agent of irresponsibility with nothing better to do. Between my old shows and Hockey Night in Canada, I just while away the hours listening to my sinuses drain and my arteries harden...although the dog demands a walk daily, otherwise I might not leave the house, ha, ha...

Borella gets to work, bribing people left, right and center until he's esconsced in a hotel suite a few doors down from the one formerly occupied by Strait, which has been torn apart by government officials looking for a hidden microfilm. There's a guard outside Strait's room, so Borella heads outside onto the rickety balcony to cross over via a more secretive, if dangerous, way. He pauses at the next balcony, momentarily distracted...

Ah, the above is proof of Jeff's adept freeze framing! You can't catch an alluring shot like these without a quick trigger finger! As my Dad used to say...that girl has an impressive superstructure. I wonder who she is? Shirley Eaton is prime Britbabe too. Thanks for reminding me to seek out that R2 DVD set of Man of the World, and I had no idea of the spin-off series The Sentimental Agent...great stuff as always, Jeff!
 
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