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What did you watch this week in classic TV on DVD(or Blu)? (5 Viewers)

Jeff Flugel

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My Three Sons Season 1 Episode 4 Countdown
A telecast of a countdown to a 1957 satellite launch provides the backdrop for a Monday morning in the Douglas household. Everyone seems to be unusually tired.

Written by David Duncan, Countdown is one of the most creative episodes of a television show I've ever watched. Would love to go into the details of this outstanding episode but wouldn't want to spoil it for anyone who may want to look it up. Here are the broad strokes. Everyone sleeps in on Monday which makes them late for work and school. Chip turns the TV to a countdown of a space launch for a new satellite. From that point on complete chaos ensues with everyone rushing to get ready and the satellite launch voice over mirroring the chaos. The hook at the end was equally creative and I never saw it coming. Paul Frees of the Rankin/Bass Holiday specials handled the voice over.

The first two seasons of this underrated show have excellent picture quality and are still available on DVD at quite reasonable prices and well worth a look.
Agreed on "Countdown." A great episode, very cleverly done. That first season of My Three Sons is especially strong, due in large part to the unified vision of Peter Tewksbury, who directed all of that inaugural season's episodes.

Another great line-up of shows there, Steve, lots of variety...and what a coincidence that we both watched the "Jaime's Shield" Bionic Woman two-parter around the same time.
 

Darby67

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Continuing with my examination of the late James Caan's early work in TV...he got another pretty good opportunity in Dr. Kildare season two's The Mosaic (Jan. 31, 1963) W: Jerry McNeely, D: David Lowell Rich. Guest starring Tom Tryon, Barbara Barrie, James Caan and Carl Reindel.

Tom Tryon (The Cardinal, Longest Day, In Harm's Way) stars as an epidemiologist who tries to identify the infectious 'patient zero' among an outbreak of deadly hepatitis (serum, the blood-bourne variety, not airbourne) among Blair General Hospital's class of young med students and interns. The outbreak soon kills one of the students, and also leaves two interns very ill (James Caan and Barbara Barrie, who's still working as an actress today!). This episode presents a nice procedural as the obsessed epidemiologist assists Dr. Kildare (Richard Chamberlain) and Dr. Gillespie (Raymond Massey) in the then-manual process of contact tracing, as it was in 1962, laboriously examining the contact mosaic of suspected purveyors of the virus one-by-one in a systematic process of elimination. My screen caps from the season two WAC DVD set...
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James Caan was certainly building his acting experience with better roles throughout 1963. The Mosaic is a fascinating time capsule about epidemiological contact tracing by manually drawn tables and flow charts, long before our current pandemic age with sophisticated cell phone apps doing the job. For anyone who loves the classic TV dramas of the first golden age, Dr. Kildare ranks in the upper echelon of the great B+W TV drama series.
Randall:

Seeing Tom Tryon in the Dr. Kildare episode you reviewed made me think it's too bad Disney never released a complete series DVD release of all 17 episodes of Texas John Slaughter (I believe some episodes were released on VHS but nothing on DVD)...among many other Disney anthology series shows :-(

Sean
 

morasp

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Agreed on "Countdown." A great episode, very cleverly done. That first season of My Three Sons is especially strong, due in large part to the unified vision of Peter Tewksbury, who directed all of that inaugural season's episodes.

Another great line-up of shows there, Steve, lots of variety...and what a coincidence that we both watched the "Jaime's Shield" Bionic Woman two-parter around the same time.
It caught my attention too. We probably watched it within a week of each other which made your write up that much more interesting to me.
 

Purple Wig

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Watched a few episodes of Gunsmoke this week and found this LP today.
44A0552D-9DB6-4943-AB8B-772438BAF56A.jpeg
 

The 1960's

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I found this to be quite interesting. It's the first comment below this video audio track on YouTube.

Ernie Winfrey 5 years ago:
Having been the engineer on this album, I have a few things to say about it. The first thing is that on this video the track was sped up...Why, I don't know. Because It was just as bad at normal speed. I have to give Burt credit for having the balls to even try it. My boss, and his friend Buddy Killen, got together with Goldsboro and decided that, considering Burt's huge popularity at that time, they would sell tons of records based solely on his fame. I know that Burt knew in his heart that he didn't really have the chops to bring it off but he may have expected me to perform miracles on his voice. I know this because when I was out adjusting his mic he whispered..."Ern, please help me sound as good as you can." As you can see I have only so much control over that. All the effects in the world will not make a bad singer sound good.But the most important thing to me was how humble he was and how down to earth he was. After we finished recording all his vocal tracks Buddy invited him to go out and eat. They left and I was putting all the tapes back in the boxes and Iheard "Hey Ern!". Burt stuck his head in the door and said "Come on man...We can't forget our engineer." That’s the type of guy he was. I understand that it was the stunt men and crew that Burt hung out with on his movie sets. The most endearing thing that Burt did was to call Dinah Shore (who he was dating at the time) every night after that days sessions were over and play her the results holding the phone up to the speakers. I kept his vocal down in the mix so it was hard to tell how really bad it was. But he seemed to be so proud of his shot at being a recording artist. Although Burt will never be that recording artist he wanted to be, I can truthfully say from my observation that he is one of the nicest, most humbleguys I've ever worked with in the studio. It kills me to see the problems he's gone through the past few years.​
 

Flashgear

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My tribute to early James Caan's career work on TV, continued. He was increasingly busy during the 1962-63 season, with good performances and greater visibility, appearing 3 times on network shows within about 7 weeks (I've already featured his Wide Country and Dr. Kildare episodes upthread). His episode of The Untouchables, under the direction of the great Ida Lupino, gave him another good crack at refining his action-star persona in the company of several rising and accomplished actors, and several veterans, all familiar faces. And with this 1930s gangland wardrobe, he even looks like the 'Sonny' he would be in The Godfather ten years later!

The Untouchables S4E10, A Fist Of Five (Dec. 4, 1962) W: Herman Groves, D: Ida Lupino. Guest starring Lee Marvin, Frank DeKova, Phyllis Coates, Roy Thinnes, James Caan, Marianna Hill, Tom Brown.

Future Oscar winner Lee Marvin plays Brannon, a veteran Chicago cop, who despite his diligence as an effective and clean policeman, is cashiered by the force because of repeated brutality that made the front page. It's one of the worst years of the Great Depression. He's naturally embittered, and in his anger ruminates with regret over never having taken a bribe from the mob in his precinct. He hates the mob boss Lamberto (Frank DeKova, later chief of the Hekawi tribe on F Troop) who controls a produce market on the North side. Brannon recruits his four brothers (Roy Thinnes of The Invaders, James Caan, Michael Witney and Mark Allen) in a bid to kidnap the boss for $150K ransom. To convince his brothers, all law abiding and hard working guys, he cynically belittles their current circumstances and trashes their hopes for the future. Caan's livelihood is as a pool hall hustler, with barely enough money to keep him in style. And Roy Thinnes plays an auto mechanic who is trying to find enough money to wed his girl (pretty Marianna Hill) and set up their own household. But they idolize their eldest brother, and though conflicted, they follow him simply out of loyalty to their embittered elder brother.

What Brannon doesn't know is that Lamberto is negotiating in secret to get a deal with the Justice Department, bargaining with his future states' evidence testimony to take down the rest of the mob and retire into protective custody with his beloved and disabled wife (Phyllis Coates, the first Lois Lane in TV's Adventures of Superman). She is a former showgirl who was crippled in a bombing attack on the mobster, and in the deft hands of the superb director Ida Lupino, their tender and loving relationship is fully drawn. The mobster has visions of their retirement refuge in a beautiful house on top of a hill in "the old country", with a vineyard below.

The Chicago D.A. has assigned Elliot Ness (series' star Robert Stack) to negotiate the deal and he reluctantly meets with Lamberto in a steam room sauna. Ness can't stand these bums at the best of times (refusing to eat with the mobster, he says "I don't eat with pigs") and is against doing the deal, but it's up to the U.S. attorney general in Washington. Before they can meet again, Lamberto disappears and rumors of his kidnapping are everywhere with people assuming the mob got wind of the deal. But the truth is that the Brannon brothers have him, and his mob lieutenant (Ric Roman) has no intention to pay the ransom. But the mob also goes about searching the North side...with Ness and the Untouchables following their every move...

My screen caps from the S4V1 CBS/P DVD...
Untouchables 5.JPG

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Ida Lupino could do it all...superb actress in the golden age (High Sierra, They Drive By Night, Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Out of the Fog, The Sea Wolf, Road House etc.) producer (founding partner in the great Four Star Productions), and a pioneering woman director with extraordinary sensitivity in pacing and story telling, framing a TV show in an economical 25 or 51 minutes to deliver an involving and authentic story that feels naturally unrushed! In watching A Fist Of Five, I was amazed about just how much effective character development she could establish in a two or three minute scene...there's a lot of brutal violence here with a high body count, but ALL of the major guest actors are sympathetic to some degree...Marvin's embittered cop feeling betrayed and abandoned, his close Irish clan of brothers devoted to him, and the mobster and his wife all seeking a way out of their dead-end depression era lives to escape the grim fate they know must await them. I've had this feeling before in watching any of Ida Lupino's directing credits. She had a sensitivity that as a woman you would expect, but as with all great directors, she respected her audience, and boy, did she know how to frame a shot and tell a believable and thrilling story in the time constraints of series television!
 
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Nick*Z

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Revisiting the original Dallas and realizing how utterly atrocious those DVD's are!!! Warner has rumored its working on a complete digital restoration. A Blu-ray announcement would be nice. The show is a cultural touchstone. The DVD's are a disaster.
 

bmasters9

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Revisiting the original Dallas and realizing how utterly atrocious those DVD's are!!! Warner has rumored its working on a complete digital restoration. A Blu-ray announcement would be nice. The show is a cultural touchstone. The DVD's are a disaster.

I think money is why they didn't do any restoration on the DVDs, and just released them as is (may be incorrect).
 

Nick*Z

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Favorite go-to's in the mid-summer - mostly British - Inspector George Gently, Agatha Christie's Poirot, Downton Abbey, and the Aussie import, Miss Fischer's Murder Mysteries. Also, rewatching my 'Arabesque' (aka Murder She Wrote, via Elephant Films). Wish the latter would get a Blu-ray release on this side of the pond, if for no other reason, then to restore the original titles. Hate the alterations made for the French release.

Would love to see Dynasty, Dynasty II: The Colbys, Falcon Crest, North and South, The Thorn Birds, The Father Dowling Mysteries, Crazy Like a Fox, The Dukes of Hazzard get Blu's as well.
 

Rustifer

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Episode Commentary
Gomer Pyle, USMC
"Luv Finds Gomer Pyle" (S4E20)

Here's a sitcom storyline that just might not clear TV customs today: A grown man buying a 15 year-old girl a treat, thus creating a fumbling awkward situation of creating an unnatural relationship. Kind of akin to hanging out at the local schoolyard dressed only in a raincoat while handing out candy to the kiddies. I figure the show's writers of this episode bet heavily that Gomer's own childlike identity would most likely diffuse any mistaken impression of creepy predatory behavior. It does.

Young Molly Peters (Joy Ellison) gets caught short of cash to pay for her malt at the soda shop. Gomer overhears and, in good samaritan fashion, offers to pick up the check for her. Molly fervently promises to pay him back, to which he unwittingly replies, "No need to--I do something nice for you and maybe someday you can do something nice for me..." Red flags. Alarm bells. Child protection services. But this is Gomer Pyle, so none of those warning signals are activated.

In short order, Molly shows up outside the Marine base--generally populated by women whose intentions are less noble than paying back a Marine for a soda. Gomer reluctantly accepts Molly's invitation even though he has a pending date with the redoubtable Lou-Ann Poovie (Elizabeth MacRae). Over sodas, Molly blurts out that her braces come off net week, thus making her mouth more attractive. Before Gomer can interpret and digest this tidbit of unctuous data, Lou-Ann pops into the soda shop displaying a figure that poor Molly is still years away from achieving. As planned, Lou-Ann and Gomer are off to the movie theater--hopefully to engage in some back row hand jive in the flickering movie light--only to be interrupted by Molly's sudden attendance. Wholly undaunted, Molly continues to plague Gomer and Lou-Ann's dates under the mistaken impression that he's actually attracted to her. After all, her braces com off next week...

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Molly butts in; Lou-Ann displays braceless teeth; Years later, Molly's still trying to entice Marines...

Lou-Ann, who possesses brain wattage on a higher level that Gomer's, immediately sees through Molly's seemingly innocent intrusions. Lou-Ann silently reminds herself not to employ any underwear on their next date, lest Gomer has forgotten the difference between a grown woman and a 15 year-old girl. A light bulb goes off in his head--as well as lower parts of his torso--and he eventually tells Molly to go pound sand, Gomer-style.

Note:
In one scene, Gomer is dancing with Molly at a teen party and displays a boogie style that would put a professional go-go dancer to shame. This is the same guy who sang "Back Home Again In Indiana" every year at our 500 Race. Gollll-eeee!!
 

Doug Wallen

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The Adventures Of Ozzie And Harriet
Harriet's Hairdo (1.11)

The Boy's Christmas Money (1.12)

The Late Christmas Gift (1.13)

Newspaper Write-Up (1.14)

Basketball Players (1.15)

Stop Worrying (1.16)

The Tuba Affair (1.17)

The Rover Boys (1.18)

Separate Rooms (1.19)

The Valentine Show (1.20)

Another fine cross-section of gentle, family comedy. More nothing that provided plenty of smiles and just general enjoyable feelings from stepping back to a less complicated era of sitcoms. At least one episode showed Ozzie and Harriet sharing a single bed with her cold feet and Ozzie's warm back – a familiar situation for most married couples. I am still enjoying getting to know the Nelson family.


Nichols
Gulley vs. Hansen (1.5) Robert Gist, Charles McGraw, M. Emmet Walsh. An episode that starts out as a comical feud story with Mitch and Ketcham egging the two parties on and ends with a serious meditation on what friendship and manhood means. I found it to be much better than the the prior episodes.

Deer Crossing (1.6) Ray Danton, Gene Evans, William Bramley, Ted Gehring. Another good character study of the difference that Indians experienced when faced with the “Laws” of the Whites. Ketcham is the token racist in this episode who stirs up the good citizens of Nichols. Nichols is sympathetic to Juan even in the face of a US Marshall (Evans) that Ketcham imported.

The Specialists (1.7) Ralph Waite, Don Keefer, Henry Beckman, Robert F. Simon, Charles Dierkop, Stefan Gierasch, John Crawford. Nichols learns the location of a fortune in stolen money. He assembles a gang of specialists to help him heist it. Things never go as Nichols planned.

Peanuts And Crackerjacks (1.8) Med Flory, Alice Ghostley, Paul Hampton, Wayne Heffley, Richard Bull, M. Emmet Walsh. Seems like many series had an underdog episode that involved the main cast with a pick-up baseball game. The secret weapon – Mitch.

Kolchak: The Night Stalker
Firefall (1.6) Fred Beir, Philip Carey, David Doyle, Madlyn Rhue, Alice Backes. A bad traffic move involving a dead gangster creates burning problems for an orchestra conductor. A pretty good episode.

The Devil's Platform (1.7) Tom Skerritt, Ellen Weston, Julie Gregg, Jeanne Cooper, Robert DoQui, Stanley Adams. Best on the disc. What's not to like when you place a rising politician who sold his soul to the devil and can change into a Rottweiler? Kolchak is propositioned, the politician has a fight with his wife and the newspaper seems real. This episode is firing on all cylinders.

Bad Medicine (1.8) Ramon Bieri, Richard Kiel, Alice Ghostley, Victor Jory, David Lewis. Indian spirit thief. Interesting premise, mediocre presentation to me.

The Spanish Moss Murders (1.9) Keenan Wynn, Severn Darden, Randy Boone, Johnny Silver, Ned Glass, Richard Kiel, Virginia Gregg, Maurice Marsac. Captain Siska (Wynn) made this episode for me. Watching him try to keep his cool while dealing with Carl was priceless.

The Energy Eater (1.10) William Smith, Elaine Giftos, Tom Drake, Michael Strong, Joyce Jillson, Robert Cornthwaite. Elkhorn (Smith)was the interesting persona in this one. Effects work was good. The hospital/construction people seemed very wooden and uninteresting.

Ironside
The Fourteenth Runner (1.15) Steve Ihnat, Ed Asner, John Van Dreelen, Ingrid Pitt. Cross and double cross, good actors in a not so strong episode of this series. Did a runner defect??? Ironside is placed in a position to work with the Soviets to uncover the truth. Somehow a funeral service with cremation aids in the conclusion.

Force Of Arms (1.16) Harold J. Stone, Gene Raymond, Linden Chiles, Diana Brewster, George Murdock, Frank Gerstle, William Lucking. A paramilitary force of vigilantes offers assistance to aid the police. They offer their “dossiers” when one of their leaders (Gerstle) is murdered. Infidelity and sour grapes figure into this episode.

Memory Of An Ice Cream Stick (1.17) Jack Kruschen, Mel Scott, Ena Hartman, Francine York. Mark has a blind spot when it comes to an old friend. His friends keep warning him that Sam (Scott) may not be completely rehabilitated. Mark and Ironside have a falling out. Predictable outcome with strong acting by Mitchell and Burr.

To Kill A Cop (1.18) Pernell Roberts, Ruta Lee, Parley Baer, Anne Whitfield, Bing Russell, Richard Van Fleet, Robert Karnes. A prominently belligerent restaurant owner (Roberts) gets into a public fight with the police force in general (Detective Galloway in particular). Ed continues to harass the man after two patrolmen are murdered. Ed believes Vincent killed the two cops. After Ed is suspended, he continues to follow Vincent. A fine episode.
 

The 1960's

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My tribute to early James Caan's career work on TV, continued. He was increasingly busy during the 1962-63 season, with good performances and greater visibility, appearing 3 times on network shows within about 7 weeks (I've already featured his Wide Country and Dr. Kildare episodes upthread). His episode of The Untouchables, under the direction of the great Ida Lupino, gave him another good crack at refining his action-star persona in the company of several rising and accomplished actors, and several veterans, all familiar faces. And with this 1930s gangland wardrobe, he even looks like the 'Sonny' he would be in The Godfather ten years later!

The Untouchables S4E10, A Fist Of Five (Dec. 4, 1962) W: Herman Groves, D: Ida Lupino. Guest starring Lee Marvin, Frank DeKova, Phyllis Coates, Roy Thinnes, James Caan, Marianna Hill, Tom Brown.

Future Oscar winner Lee Marvin plays Brannon, a veteran Chicago cop, who despite his diligence as an effective and clean policeman, is cashiered by the force because of repeated brutality that made the front page. It's one of the worst years of the Great Depression. He's naturally embittered, and in his anger ruminates with regret over never having taken a bribe from the mob in his precinct. He hates the mob boss Lamberto (Frank DeKova, later chief of the Hekawi tribe on F Troop) who controls a produce market on the North side. Brannon recruits his four brothers (Roy Thinnes of The Invaders, James Caan, Michael Witney and Mark Allen) in a bid to kidnap the boss for $150K ransom. To convince his brothers, all law abiding and hard working guys, he cynically belittles their current circumstances and trashes their hopes for the future. Caan's livelihood is as a pool hall hustler, with barely enough money to keep him in style. And Roy Thinnes plays an auto mechanic who is trying to find enough money to wed his girl (pretty Marianna Hill) and set up their own household. But they idolize their eldest brother, and though conflicted, they follow him simply out of loyalty to their embittered elder brother.

What Brannon doesn't know is that Lamberto is negotiating in secret to get a deal with the Justice Department, bargaining with his future states' evidence testimony to take down the rest of the mob and retire into protective custody with his beloved and disabled wife (Phyllis Coates, the first Lois Lane in TV's Adventures of Superman). She is a former showgirl who was crippled in a bombing attack on the mobster, and in the deft hands of the superb director Ida Lupino, their tender and loving relationship is fully drawn. The mobster has visions of their retirement refuge in a beautiful house on top of a hill in "the old country", with a vineyard below.

The Chicago D.A. has assigned Elliot Ness (series' star Robert Stack) to negotiate the deal and he reluctantly meets with Lamberto in a steam room sauna. Ness can't stand these bums at the best of times (refusing to eat with the mobster, he says "I don't eat with pigs") and is against doing the deal, but it's up to the U.S. attorney general in Washington. Before they can meet again, Lamberto disappears and rumors of his kidnapping are everywhere with people assuming the mob got wind of the deal. But the truth is that the Brannon brothers have him, and his mob lieutenant (Ric Roman) has no intention to pay the ransom. But the mob also goes about searching the North side...with Ness and the Untouchables following their every move...

My screen caps from the S4V1 CBS/P DVD...
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Ida Lupino could do it all...superb actress in the golden age (High Sierra, They Drive By Night, Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Out of the Fog, The Sea Wolf, Road House etc.) producer (founding partner in the great Four Star Productions), and a pioneering woman director with extraordinary sensitivity in pacing and story telling, framing a TV show in an economical 25 or 51 minutes to deliver an involving and authentic story that feels naturally unrushed! In watching A Fist Of Five, I was amazed about just how much effective character development she could establish in a two or three minute scene...there's a lot of brutal violence here with a high body count, but ALL of the major guest actors are sympathetic to some degree...Marvin's embittered cop feeling betrayed and abandoned, his close Irish clan of brothers devoted to him, and the mobster and his wife all seeking a way out of their dead-end depression era lives to escape the grim fate they know must await them. I've had this feeling before in watching any of Ida Lupino's directing credits. She had a sensitivity that as a woman you would expect, but as with all great directors, she respected her audience, and boy, did she know how to frame a shot and tell a believable and thrilling story in the time constraints of series television!
Randall thanks for this superior commentary photo essay. I thought the Kildare episode was exceptional but the images from this one popped even more! Last night I watched The Untouchables "A Fist of Five". The first thing that struck me was that neither James Caan or Roy Thinnes were mentioned in the opening credits. Then I realized these were very early appearances for both of these actors. Also seeing Lee Marvin portrayed as a cop was unusual because more often than not he seems to be associated with playing the heavy. Seeing Phyllis Coates was a treat though she looked so different than her early Adventures of Superman appearances. All in all a violent top notch episode with a loaded cast that I believe I'd never seen.

You have honored the memory of James Caan beautifully. I hope you have a few more forthcoming!
 

Flashgear

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Randall thanks for this superior commentary photo essay. I thought the Kildare episode was exceptional but the images from this one popped even more! Last night I watched The Untouchables "A Fist of Five". The first thing that struck me was that neither James Caan or Roy Thinnes were mentioned in the opening credits. Then I realized these were very early appearances for both of these actors. Also seeing Lee Marvin portrayed as a cop was unusual because more often than not he seems to be associated with playing the heavy. Seeing Phyllis Coates was a treat though she looked so different than her early Adventures of Superman appearances. All in all a violent top notch episode with a loaded cast that I believe I'd never seen.

You have honored the memory of James Caan beautifully. I hope you have a few more forthcoming!
Thank you Neal for the very kind compliments! I think A Fist Of Five is probably the best single episode in the final season. If there had been more of this quality, The Untouchables might have had a fifth season! For the 1962-63 season, the show had been moved from it's formerly comfortable Thursday night slot into the Tuesday night lineup against NBC's The Dick Powell Show (also excellent quality), but also up against another CBS powerhouse lineup of The Jack Benny Show and The Garry Moore Show (boy, did we love those shows!)...so Elliot Ness was bid adieu, but not before he got his obligatory "going blind" episode! (A Taste For Pineapple) Robert Stack and Walter Winchell must have blanched when they saw that tired old trope inevitably come up!

As for that great cast, all given their due with Ida Lupino's masterful direction...you just know you're in for something great when a guy like Frank DeKova has several great moments...he did some great stuff with limited screen time before, Route 66's Most Vanquished, Most Victorious immediately comes to my mind...but his scenes with Phyllis Coates were so genuinely tender, this thuggish mobster completely devoted to his crippled wife, who was consigned to a wheelchair because of a bombing attack on him. She gets another great scene with Robert Stack, as does DeKova! As I said in my post, it's amazing how much character development is accomplished in a two or three minute scene. I don't see that everyday in my classic TV viewing!

Seeing Phyllis Coates was a treat though she looked so different than her early Adventures of Superman appearances. All in all a violent top notch episode with a loaded cast that I believe I'd never seen.
She's very good here, entirely believable. The scene where DeKova lifts her out of her wheelchair and puts her to bed was really special, and unexpected in the context of this series with it's gallery of infamous gangsters. I hesitate a little in posting this screen cap, as it reveals so much more than would have ever been seen on our old analogue tube TVs...CBS/P remastered these so beautifully in HD that even with a down-res to DVD, some previously unseen features just pop, ha, ha...She was a beautiful Lois Lane, wasn't she?
Untouchables 24.JPG

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And Lupino gives Roy Thinnes and Marianna Hill a beautiful scene that enriches the story further, as the other pair of doomed lovers...
Untouchables 27.JPG

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Long before the fourth season, Quinn Martin had exited The Untouchables while retaining his ownership share. He of course was then developing his first QM series The New Breed. But you wonder if this nice showy role for Roy Thinnes might have factored into his being cast by QM in 1966 for The Invaders? Of course, by that time he had also been a series' lead, co-starring with Nancy Malone in The Long Hot Summer (1965-66).

You have honored the memory of James Caan beautifully. I hope you have a few more forthcoming!
Thanks Neal. He was a special guy in his big-time movie career wasn't he? Cinderella Liberty is such a rich, multidimensional film of the '70s. And Gardens of Stone and so many others! In The Untouchables, you really see the nearly fully formed 'Sonny Corleone' of The Godfather just over the horizon for him in his future...
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But James Caan and Roy Thinnes were in some fast company with this guy...Lee Marvin was one of the genuine tough guys in Hollywood...but in real life, a WW2 Marine Corps combat veteran of the Pacific war, who had killed many of the enemy (battle of Saipan) and was thus suffering for years afterward with his untreated PTSD, a devastated alcoholic with a high functioning career and tremendous fame in sight just a few years later (Point Blank, Dirty Dozen, The Professionals and an Oscar for Cat Ballou).
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JohnHopper

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Kolchak: The Night Stalker
Firefall (1.6) Fred Beir, Philip Carey, David Doyle, Madlyn Rhue, Alice Backes. A bad traffic move involving a dead gangster creates burning problems for an orchestra conductor. A pretty good episode.

The Devil's Platform (1.7) Tom Skerritt, Ellen Weston, Julie Gregg, Jeanne Cooper, Robert DoQui, Stanley Adams. Best on the disc. What's not to like when you place a rising politician who sold his soul to the devil and can change into a Rottweiler? Kolchak is propositioned, the politician has a fight with his wife and the newspaper seems real. This episode is firing on all cylinders.

Bad Medicine (1.8) Ramon Bieri, Richard Kiel, Alice Ghostley, Victor Jory, David Lewis. Indian spirit thief. Interesting premise, mediocre presentation to me.

The Spanish Moss Murders (1.9) Keenan Wynn, Severn Darden, Randy Boone, Johnny Silver, Ned Glass, Richard Kiel, Virginia Gregg, Maurice Marsac. Captain Siska (Wynn) made this episode for me. Watching him try to keep his cool while dealing with Carl was priceless.

The Energy Eater (1.10) William Smith, Elaine Giftos, Tom Drake, Michael Strong, Joyce Jillson, Robert Cornthwaite. Elkhorn (Smith)was the interesting persona in this one. Effects work was good. The hospital/construction people seemed very wooden and uninteresting.


The cream of the crop remains:


Episode #6
“Firefall”
written by Bill S. Ballinger
directed by Don Weis
music score by Jerry Fielding
guests: Fred Beir, Philip Carey, David Doyle, Madlyn Rhue, Virginia Vincent, Alice Backes, Lenore Kasdorf, Joshua Shelley, Carol Ann Susi, Carol Veazie, Patricia Estrin

Tony Vincenzo: “Kolchak. When you get back to the swindle and fraud stories, write about how you’re employed here, which is one of the biggest swindles in memory!”

Item: It’s a delight for music lovers and an inspired episode that highlights actor Fred Beir as the hyper rationalistic and perfectionist symphony conductor Ryder Marshall Bond chased and harassed by a frustrated and playful convicted arsonist ghost dreaming to become a conductor and projects his image to fool its victims. The film editor uses a series of three freeze frames to introduce punctual Ryder Bond en route to rehearsal to the audience which triggers his future trouble because a deadman doesn’t like being passed by during its funeral. This episode is music-oriented down to the last details: horn player and arsonist Frankie Markoff, the special funeral music for Markoff’s hearse convoy, the carbonized victims are music people (first violinist and concertmaster George Mason, Sorbonne graduate and music groupie Felicia Porter, treasurer and business manager of the Great Lake Symphony Association Philip Randolf Rourke) except Kolchak who fails to be on the list, the old music lover and next door neighbor Mrs. Sherman, music lover reporter Ron Updyke is a French horn player, Kolchak’s brief entrance during a music rehearsal that is underlined by two simultaneous shocking zoom shots (Kolchak/Bond), the weird events (the sudden frightening shaking piano of Bond, the Church entrance music, the quick appearances of the ghost nearby the Church windows acting like a little devil). Fire-wise, the family of Markoff make references to it: his wife (“you couldn’t say he was exactly burning with ambition”) and his young son who plays with matches in the apartment.

Carl Kolchak [voiceover]: “September 9, 5:30 PM. I was faced with two equally unpleasant possibilities. One, some sort of horrible freak note was being played in the brain of Ryder Bond… and he was setting fire to his fellow man, or two, to paraphrase Mr. Cardinale, something inexplicable was happening that perhaps I really did want to know about. Unfortunately, a reporter is paid to find out things… whether he wants to know about them or not. As I was to be taught once again, there are nicer ways to make a living. Far nicer.”

Carl Kolchak to Ron Updyke: “Don’t you read the Teletype, Uptight?”


Item: Find the most exciting cast and crew credits displayed in front of Chicago shots (the heart of the city, the motorway) and punctuated by Jerry Fielding’s highly jazzistic music that is a rework from the 1971 telefilm Ellery Queen: Don’t Look Behind You. As previously (see “The Vampire”), Kolchak is exfiltrated from the scene of the crime by a common man in blue and even twice. As in “The Zombie”, Kolchak exhumes a body and you find another reference to the underworld: see the introduction scene depicting the shooting of arsonist/pinball player Frankie Markoff (uncredited actor George Sawaya) by two gangsters. For the anecdote, Monique replaces Miss Emily at creating a crossword and a puzzle and is ordered by sleepless and weak Kolchak to deliver some stolen cash to informer Maria. Despite an inspired score by Jerry Fielding that can be connected to four of his film scores (Straw Dogs, Scorpio, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia and especially the two cues “Night Dig” when Kolchak awakes and sees the ghost of Bond in the Church—edited with short epileptic cuts—and “Goodbye Elita” when Kolchak stops his car next to the penny arcade, Demon Seed), he re-uses one of his own personal effect called “The Laughing Trombones” (see the following scenes: Kolchak trapped in the burning apartment of Ryder Bond’s ghost and Kolchak sees Ryder Bond’s ghost at the exit of the penny arcade) and also instills discreet snare drums and introduces a weird synthesizer played by Ian Underwood, it contains stock music by Gil Mellé (cues from “The Ripper”).

Carl Kolchak to ghost Frankie Markoff: “Listen to me, Markoff. This, is your body, here. You are dead. You are not Ryder Bond. You will never be Ryder Bond. Leave Ryder Bond alone. Return to your own body. Leave Ryder Bond alone! Return to your body! Return to your body, Markoff! And rest in peace forevermore.”

police head: Sergeant Mayer (actor Philip Carey).
monster: an arsonist doppelgänger (a vengeful ghost double).
Tony’s tidbit: Tony fears a lawsuit from Ryder Bond because of Kolchak’s article and treats Kolchak as a crook who later steals some petty cash from the box of his desk.
featuring: informer gypsy Maria Hargrove (actress Madlyn Rhue), Monique.




Episode #7
“The Devil’s Platform”
written by Donn Mullally
story by Tim Maschler
directed by Allen Baron
music score by Jerry Fielding
guests: Tom Skerritt, Julie Gregg, Ellen Weston, John Myhers, Jeanne Cooper, William Mims, Robert DoQui, Dick Patterson, Stanley Adams, Bill Welsh

Tony Vincenzo: “You know, I had once planned to enter the priesthood.”
Carl Kolchak: “And then the Inquisition ended and all the fun went out of it for you.”


Item: It’s the last Allen Baron episode and a very good study on the corruption of the political world through the allegory of satanism and therefore Faust’s pact during the state senator election and young candidate Robert W. Palmer is depicted as a careerist gangster who eliminates all his obstacles (campaign manager Steven Wald, secretary and mistress Susan Marie Driscoll, senator James Talbot, to name but a few) thanks to his hitman: the dog in himself, and Kolchak is attacked thrice by it (at the exit of the office elevator, the house of the Palmer’s to get the medallion back, the devil’s crypt next to the wine cellar). I always like Kolchak’s definition of a people’s candidate: “Why can’t the people’s candidate be like the rest of us—timid, insecure and lazy?” After “The Werewolf” with Eric Braeden, it’s the second of humanized monsters and the best one because of actor Tom Skerritt’s performance as the icy schemer with one Achilles’ heel: his medallion. Producer Cy Chermak ciments the template for the remaining episodes.

Politician Robert W. Palmer to Carl Kolchak: “You would like, more than anything, to have the Pullitzer Prize—though publicly you scorn the very concept of awards. You would like more than anything else to get to New York... and work on a major daily paper. You would even like a suede-backed chair at your desk. Not leather, suede. Such small ambitions really. Your editor is Anthony Vincenzo. He frustrates you terribly. You blame him for your problems but you know that you, yourself, are responsible for most of them.”

Item: Oddly enough, the interior set for the hospital is the same as the police precinct which can lead to confusion and, furthermore, there is no real guest police head but two men in blue: a park policeman and Officer Hale. As in “The Zombie” with Captain Leo Winwood, find the second corrupted official of the State. For the anecdote, returning home from her vacation in Rome, Miss Emily offers a present (a brand new Panama hat) to Kolchak who, later on, steals Miss Emily’s flask of holy water blessed by Pope Paul VI to fight politician Robert Palmer and his satanic medallion and exclaims: “It’s okay, Emily, God will understand… [pause] I hope.” For the record, Kolchak works alone and extensively in the dark room and study dogs and the occult. The music for the dog—alias Palmer—tailing Kolchak in the street scene by Jerry Fielding is a mixture of an old cue (“Zharkov Bites His Tail”) from Scorpio (1973) and the main titles cue for the film score The Black Bird (1975) that highlights a weird synthesizer played by Ian Underwood. The music achieved for the growls of the dog foreshadows the electronic style of Demon Seed (1977). Some scenes contain a reworked cue (see “Lansing Scalped”) from Chato’s Land (1972) for the lethal office elevator scene in the Brandon building and the final fight scene in the devil’s crypt. Actor Stanley Adams appears in the first telefilm The Night Stalker.

police head: Officer Hale (actor William Mims).
monster: a devil worshipper politician with special powers given by a medallion including transforming into a dog.
Tony’s tidbit: Tony worries about a possible lawsuit from candidate Palmer because of Kolchak’s article. Tony gets a food present (artichoke pasta) from Miss Emily.
featuring: bartender Louie (actor Stanley Adams).
 

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