IMDb > They Only Kill Their Masters (1972)
They Only Kill Their Masters
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They Only Kill Their Masters (1972) More at IMDbPro »

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6.3/10   768 votes »
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Up 8% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Lane Slate (written by)
View company contact information for They Only Kill Their Masters on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
14 July 1973 (Sweden) See more »
Was the murderer a man... or man's best friend?
California small town police chief investigates a suspicious death involving the victim's own dog that presumably killed its owner. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
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User Reviews:
Just saw this on TCM See more (21 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

James Garner ... Abel Marsh

Katharine Ross ... Kate Bingham

Hal Holbrook ... Dr. Warren G. Watkins

Harry Guardino ... Capt. Daniel Streeter

June Allyson ... Mrs. Watkins

Christopher Connelly ... John

Tom Ewell ... Walter

Peter Lawford ... Lee Campbell

Edmond O'Brien ... George

Arthur O'Connell ... Ernie

Ann Rutherford ... Gloria

Art Metrano ... Malcolm

Harry Basch ... Mayor Wendell
Jenifer Shaw ... Diana

Jason Wingreen ... Mallory
Robert Nichols ... Doctor Peterson
Norma Connolly ... Mrs. DeCamp

David Westberg ... State Trooper
Lee Pulford ... Jenny Campbell

Royce D. Applegate ... Harry (as Roy Applegate)
Alma Beltran ... Rosa (as Alma Lenore Beltran)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
John Davey ... Head Removalist (uncredited)
Hans ... Murphy (uncredited)
Edgar Justice ... Minor Role (uncredited)
Tammy Shaw ... Minor Role (uncredited)

Directed by
James Goldstone 
Writing credits
Lane Slate (written by)

Produced by
William Belasco .... producer
Barry Mendelson .... associate producer
Original Music by
Perry Botkin Jr. 
Cinematography by
Michel Hugo (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Edward A. Biery 
Art Direction by
Lawrence G. Paull 
Set Decoration by
Phil Abramson  (as Philip Abramson)
Makeup Department
Lola Kemp .... hair stylist
Charles H. Schram .... makeup artist (as Charles Schram)
Production Management
Thomas J. Schmidt .... unit production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Scott U. Adam .... second assistant director (as Scott Adam)
Wes McAfee .... assistant director
Art Department
Ray Mercer Jr. .... property master
Sound Department
Al Overton Jr. .... sound
Harry W. Tetrick .... sound
Fred Carson .... stunts (uncredited)
Roydon Clark .... stunts (uncredited)
Duke .... stunts (uncredited)
Dick Warlock .... stunts (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Arnie Lipin .... wardrobe (as Arnold M. Lipin)
Editorial Department
Gary Bell .... associate editor
Music Department
William Saracino .... music editor
Other crew
Karl Lewis Miller .... dog trainer (as Karl Miller)
Lou Schumacher .... dog supplier
Glenn Shahan .... unit publicist (uncredited)
Crew believed to be complete

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
97 min
Color (Metrocolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Australia:PG | Norway:16 | Sweden:11 | UK:AA (original rating) | USA:PG

Did You Know?

In addition to her big entrance late in the movie, June Allyson appears in glimpses, walk-ons and cameo appearances throughout the film. She is in a scarf, walking across the town park during the opening credits, as well as in a cut-away close-up of her eyes when Able Mash first comes to the vet clinic and meets Murphy and Kathrine Ross for the first time.See more »
Anachronisms: Abel Marsh says he voted for Harry Truman, but he also says he is 40 years old. Assuming that the movie takes place in 1972 when it was released, he would have been 16 years old in 1948 when Truman was elected, too young to vote in any state of the Union.See more »
Abel Marsh:It's true what they say about Dobermans. I guess that's why they say it.See more »


Who killed Mr. Campbell (Peter Lawford) ?? Dr. Watkins, his wife?? The fire, but who set it in the first place!? Mrs. Watkins or her husband trying to cover for her!??
See more »
8 out of 12 people found the following review useful.
Just saw this on TCM, 24 October 2009
Author: eye3

It was better than it should have been. It seems like it was first slated as a movie-of-the-week but then an fading MGM figured to score some box office bucks with the gimmick of this being one of their last movies shot on a studio lot. Casting MGM veterans in small parts helped some but, this being a detective movie, Jim Garner has to carry it all the way. Which he does with his usual aplomb.

It's a movie of its time. It's a small-town murder mystery with a back story which might have come from a Playboy or Penthouse fiction piece; the type no major studio would have looked at just three years earlier (it was made in 1972), let alone in MGM's heyday.

Faults aside, this movie has its interesting plot twists ratcheting up what little tension there is, so I was hooked until the end. But a loose-end or two are never answered - where did the fresh water come from? And if it was from the bath tub, was any fluoridation found? What happened to Peter Lawford's girlfriend? In one scene she's waving hello with her generous bust; in the next - a crucial one involving PL's character - there's patently no trace of her nor does anyone ask. Eh?

Hal Holbrook and Katherine Ross form the remainder of the troika of leads; Holbrook as the county vet and Ross as his long-haired, long-legged assistant from New York. In other words, she's really there to become romantically involved with Garner's character (a cinematic must.)

Harry Guardino's county sheriff brings in his boys when things get tricky but to no any real effect except the last scene. Garner's character never feels the case slipping away from him or the noose tightening as with Humphrey Bogart's Sam Spade in 'The Maltese Falcon.'

June Allyson has a cameo, bringing in yet another plot twist. A better screenwriter and/or director would have put her in more of the picture. Her brief presence lights up the screen far more than the rest of the cast combined - maybe she should have played the detective.

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