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The Todd Killings (1971)

Based on the true story of '60s thrill-killer Charles Schmidt ("The Pied Piper of Tucson"), Skipper Todd (Robert F. Lyons) is a charismatic 23-year old who charms his way into the lives of ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Skipper Todd
...
Billy Roy
...
Roberta
...
Amata (as Sherry Miles)
Joyce Ames ...
Haddie
Holly Near ...
Norma
...
Sam Goodwin
...
Mrs. Roy
...
Mrs. Mack
...
Fred Reardon
...
Mrs. Todd
...
Detective Shaw
Sandy Brown Wyeth
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Storyline

Based on the true story of '60s thrill-killer Charles Schmidt ("The Pied Piper of Tucson"), Skipper Todd (Robert F. Lyons) is a charismatic 23-year old who charms his way into the lives of high school kids in a small California town. Girls find him attractive and are only too willing to accompany him to a nearby desert area to be his "girl for the night." Not all of them return, however. Featuring Richard Thomas as his loyal hanger-on and a colorful assortment of familiar actors in vivid character roles including Barbara Bel Geddes, Gloria Grahame, Edward Asner, Fay Spain, James Broderick and Michael Conrad. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Every teenager was dying to be Skipper Todd's girl. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

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Language:

Release Date:

4 August 1972 (Finland)  »

Also Known As:

What Are We Going to Do Without Skipper?  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Inspired by real-life 1965 murders orchestrated by Charles Schmid, so-called "Pied Piper of Tucson," a charismatic young Southern Arizona homicidal maniac whose crimes (involving teen followers and victims) roughly paralleled those later perpetrated by teen guru/killer Charles Manson. See more »

Quotes

Police Officer: Do you have relations with men?
Skipper Todd: I try not to. But sometimes there's a guy who's really sweet... it's so easy. We're both men... we both know where it's at. Personally, you not giving anything away.
Police Officer: What's your feeling's towards girls?
Skipper Todd: I can sleep with them once because it degrades them. It makes them dirty. The worst thing about it is... you meet a chick who isn't... bad. You can't screw her because you don't want to make her "dirty".
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Connections

References The Boys in the Band (1970) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Robert F. Lyons excels in the lead role.
11 January 2015 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

Intelligent psycho drama inspired by "real life case histories", or rather, the story of an actual thrill killer named Charles Schmid Jr., a.k.a. "The Pied Piper of Tucson". A character who prefigured guys like Ted Bundy and Charles Manson, he is here named Skipper Todd, and is played by Robert F. Lyons. Skipper is a shiftless yet undeniably charismatic 23 year old man. The youths of the town of Darlington are completely enamoured of Skipper; he's one of those guys where the girls want to be with him and the boys want to *be* him. However, Skippers' outwards demeanour masks a dark side. And some of his associates are all too willing to help him cover up his crimes.

All things considered, I can see how some people would find this film off putting. It is a sleazy story, to be sure, but it's compelling in a very sobering way. It does have some pertinent things to say about the way that people can find themselves drawn in by the force of someones' personality, for good or bad. Skipper is a mostly cool, unflappable type who makes it through police interrogations without flinching. His mom (portrayed by Barbara Bel Geddes) largely puts up with a lot of his aimlessness, and his new acquaintance Billy Roy (a pre-'Waltons' Richard Thomas) regards him with awe.

Well photographed in Panavision by Harold E. Stine, with a powerful score by Leonard Rosenman, "The Todd Killings" serves as a rather picturesque depiction of rural California in the early 1970s. Performances are all right on the money, with a large number of familiar faces on hand: Belinda Montgomery, Sherry Miles, Holly Near, James Broderick, Gloria Grahame, Fay Spain, Edward Asner, Michael Conrad, William Lucking, Meg Foster, George Murdock, Harry Lauter, Eddie Firestone, Eve Brent, Jack Riley, and an uncredited Geoffrey Lewis.

The opening sequence is a grabber, and producer / director Barry Shear prefers to just plunge us into the action, saving all of the acting and technical credits for the final few minutes. Close-ups are used to good effect, and Shear gives us an honest, unflattering account of these turbulent times in American history and a memorable antagonist who's very much up front about his contempt towards the world in general.

Seven out of 10.


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