|Index||5 reviews in total|
Living in a rattling house beside the Hollywood Freeway, McGavin plays a hard-luck detective, who resembles the character he played later in the "Night Stalker". He pursues a missing girl through the underbelly of 1967 Los Angeles, going from some Hollywood Hills decadence with a wild gay couple (think "Vanishing Point"), down to a go-go on the Sunset Strip, and eventually find her tripping on LSD in the Malibu shack of a part-time "guru", while the man's mother watches a game show in the other room with headphones. This scene, with McGavin waiting on the couch, both the mother and the girl on LSD laughing hysterically, is one of the weirdest. I hope this one gets released someday--it definitely stands on its own and is a a fun vehicle for McGavin, although the later show apparently failed miserably. As a noirish late 1960s portrayal of Los Angeles, this one is right up there with "The Long Goodbye" and "Marlowe". Indeed, as the writer moved on to "The Rockford Files", this is very closely linked to the stylish "Marlowe".
A gritty no nonsense private eye film that was the pilot for the
short-lived series of the same name. Darren McGavin is a p.i. who is
hired by film executive Edmond O'Brien to keep tabs on one of his
employees. O'Brien wants McGavin to keep any eye on a woman he thinks
might be dipping into the company funds. "An easy job that should only
take a couple of days", says O'Brien. The case is of course anything
but easy. The woman is hanging around with some most unsavory types
whose main income seems to be from blackmail. McGavin ends up in the
hot seat as the bodies begin to pile up. First the woman he is watching
gets the deep six, then O'Brien gets a couple of slugs in the head.
McGavin ends up on the wrong end of several beatings, a gun battle and
even gets pushed off a cliff in his car. A bad day at the office or
what! This comes across as a harder edged version of the same
producer's Rockford Files. Directed by Michael Ricthie who gave us that
great Lee Marvin film PRIME CUT. A very enjoyable nights entertainment.
The legendary Roy Huggins created "Cheyenne", "Maverick", "Colt 45",
"77 Sunset Strip", "The Fugitive", "Run For Your Life", and "The
Rockford Files". This pilot movie was Roy Huggins' attempt to reinvent
the private eye show (with a hint of "The Fugitive").
Los Angeles private detective David Ross was a man on the edge. He was an ex-con who had been unjustly convicted of a crime. Ross wasn't a high school graduate. He drove a beat up old car. He had no partners or secretary. His office was the opposite of plush. He handled divorce cases. He could barely make a living. His "friend on the force" treated him like scum. David Ross wasn't even his real name. At the end of this terrific pilot movie, the police solve the case rather than Ross.
This was a brilliant conception for a private eye show. Huggins might have tried reversing still more traditional attributes of the private eye. Maybe David Ross wasn't attractive to women and could never get a date. Maybe he didn't drink. And maybe he was unfailingly polite and somewhat timid-a soft-boiled detective.
But "The Outsider" had a real shot at greatness just the way it was. Roy Huggins offered the role of David Ross to Jack Lord, who would have been superb, but Lord chose "Hawaii 5-0" instead.
Other actors who might have been interesting as David Ross are Jack Palance, Charles Aidman, Hershel Bernardi, Herb Edelman, Bruce Dern, Clint Walker, Gerald S. O'Loughlin, Peter Falk, Telly Savalas, Stuart Whitman, Roy Thinnes, George Maharis, Vince Edwards or Bradford Dillman.
Darren McGavin had already brilliantly played private eye Mike Hammer, so he wasn't the freshest casting. But McGavin was one of the great TV actors, and he made a good David Ross. Director Michael Ritchie ("The Candidate", "Downhill Racer") did a stylish job with the pilot. The supporting cast was also first rate and included Edmond O'Brien, Shirley Knight, Ann Southern, and Ossie Davis.
This fine pilot movie lead to a very good series, but "Hawaii 5-0" killed "The Outsider" in the ratings.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Darren McGavin was an excellent choice as the square-jawed, world-weary
middle-aged gumshoe, living in some rat-trap next to a freeway and
keeping his telephone in the fridge at night.
The movie was pilot to a short-running series. It was a gritty little outing in light of its made-for-TV origins and I enjoyed it immensely. Although nowhere near as hard-hitting as Mike Hammer, there was plenty to involve the viewer each short week. The series never outstayed its welcome, and I would very much like to see the pilot movie again. It was like 'The Rockford Files' but with a sharper edge.
I have never seen the movie since, neither has the series been repeated (unlike 'Rockford') and suspect that it has probably been lost.
I loved the opening shots: his phone in the refrigerator, old pizza,
that gulp of sour milk . . . and the teaser (paraphrased) : "My name is
David Ross and you're probably wondering how I got into this mess."
One episode ended with an aerial view of him looking a broken rear-view mirror on his car. There was a note on his windshield. As his voice-over read the letter, the camera panned higher and higher. The note said something like: "Sorry, I broke your mirror. There were several witnesses. They think I'm writing down my name and address. I'm not."
His ups and downs remind me of one of my favorite fictional detectives, Shel Scott, who was always getting in and our of jams.
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