This television film is really the first three episodes of the 1976 series, CITY OF ANGELS. The studio, looking to recycle some film decided to release the three episode story as a single film.
The series was about a P.I. in 1935 Los Angeles. Wayne Rogers is the lead with his somewhat loopy secretary, Elaine Joyce, and his lawyer pal, Philip Sterling helping out. Some nice period detail and such help the stories along. (Rogers tools around in a beat up 1930's rag-top) The series only ran for 13 episodes.
There is a big party going on at the home of millionaire type, Stephan Elliott. Two of the guests, Laurence Hugo and Laurence Luckinbill are outside in the garden having violent words. Hugo is a Pulitzer winning newsman and Luckinbill runs a large newspaper chain. Hugo is telling Luckinbill that he has evidence of a plot Luckinbill is involved in. Luckinbill decks the man and drowns him in a handy pool. He then has several thug types in his employ, haul off the dead man.
Watching this from inside a small garden shed is Rod McCary and Meredith Baxter Birney. The couple had stepped out of the party for a little bit of clutch and grab. Of course they knock over some tools and are spotted. McCary is grabbed by the thugs, but Baxter Birney manages to escape into the dark. She hotfoots it downtown to the offices of P.I. Rogers. She tells Roger about the incident at Elliott's place.
Baxter Birney wants to call in the cops but Rogers says otherwise. Something smells rotten here and he wants to look into it first. Rich types make him nervous. He pays a visit to Elliot's mansion and bluffs his way in using a false name etc. Elliott does not fall for the line and has a couple of security men escort Rogers to the front gate. Rogers however sticks around for a look in the car park. He finds a car with a TWO STAR GENERAL's insignia. Needless to say, this is rather strange.
He returns to his office and grabs up Baxter Birney. He stashes the woman at a friend's seashore house. Now it turns out that the woman is wanted for murder. Her beau, Rod McCary, has been found dead at her apartment. Of course it was the thugs in Luckinbill's employ who planted the body.
Now crooked cop Clifton James puts the grip on the Private Detective for a chat. This of course involves a bit of rubber hose. Clifton wants to know why Rogers had been bothering Elliott. After Rogers is "interviewed", he is tossed out. Rogers is not amused in the least. He intends to see what is going on here.
Also in the mix are Diane Ladd, Steven Kanaly, Lloyd Nolan, G.D. Spradlin, Jack Kruschen, Stacy Keach Sr, Martin Kove and in a nice cameo, Dorothy Malone.
The story slowly comes together, as Rogers discovers that a group of wealthy men are financing a coup to overthrow President Roosevelt. They intend to install a leader more to their taste. They have stockpiled weapons etc and rounded up a large group of like-minded ex- Military Officers and men to partake in the coup.
Lloyd Nolan plays a character based on real life Major General, Smedley Butler. Butler had in 1933 revealed a genuine plot to overthrow the Government. This was known as the "Business Plot". Butler, a two time Medal of Honor holder, said he had been asked to join the plot, but refused.
Anyways, the plot is uncovered and the villains, Elliott, Luckinbill etc are rounded up and jailed. Baxter Birney can come out of hiding and Rogers gets his 25 bucks a day plus expenses.
An entertaining bit of television.
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