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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
After Raymond Burr became a television icon as Perry Mason, he became
one of the handful of television stars (Bob Newhart comes to mind, and
also Dick Van Dyke) who managed to repeat his success with a different
type of series. For while Robert Ironside, the L. A. Detective crippled
by an assassin, solves crimes like Mason, he's doing it from the point
of being a cop - not a brilliant attorney.
I always enjoyed IRONSIDE because the series and the character Burr played were crustier than the polished and quiet Mason. Even had he not been crippled, Ironside never hesitated to call things as they were. And part of the pleasure of the series was watching Burr, straight-jacketed for so long as Mason, finally showing a slight edge of comedy in his performances.
This episode happens to be a favorite of mine. Arthur O'Connor is a quiet man (Mr. McPhee), whose wife happens to be a member of a bridge club that Jessie Royce Landis and Ellen Corby belong to. One day the game is canceled by O'Connor's wife (he delivers the message). This is unsettling because the lady was always very punctual. But what is worse is on the day the bridge club agrees to meet the lady show up. O'Connor explains that she has gone away to visit a relative.
Landis is suspicious of this odd behavior, and she and Corby go to see their friend Chief Ironside. He listens politely, and while he feels it probably is nothing much he decides to check it out to satisfy everyone.
Perhaps by now you are beginning to see where this leads.
Because of other business Ironside sends his three associates (Eve - Barbara Anderson, Mark - Don Mitchell, and Ed - Don Galloway) to check out what is going on. They see nothing unnatural, except that McPhee has his business secretary (Val Singleton) over to do some work at the house. He explains that his wife will be back at some future point but when he could not say. When Ironside hears this he starts showing interest. He goes to see McPhee and has a talk with him. McPhee admits there has been a domestic dispute and his wife left him.
While Eve, Mark, and Ed are willing to accept this, Ironside isn't. Subsequent events regarding property and the behavior of McPhee suggest something darker has happened. Then, McPhee and his Secretary Gail apparently bolt.
Looking over the house (seemingly empty), Ironside does something unusual - he heads for the bookcase and sure enough finds a volume of memoirs.
SPOILER COMING UP:
The book is I FOUND CRIPPEN by former Chief Inspector Walter Dew. Of course you might have noticed the similarity of the plot involving the apparent disappearance of the wife of the suspect, and his plausible explanations of what happened (Burr probably chuckled to himself - his best remembered film performance as Lars Thorwald in Hitchcock's REAR WINDOW bears similar resemblance to the Crippen Case). But this is the only time that such a similarity (as far as I know) led to an actual reference to Dew and his memoirs.
But the episode is not a carbon copy. To this day most criminal historians feel Ethel Le Neve (Crippen's girlfriend and secretary) probably had some idea of what happened to Belle Crippen. But here Ms Singleton's characterization is totally different. The episode concludes with Ironside and his aides confronting McPhee and Gail on a boat (like the Montrose in the Crippen case) that is headed for Canada. But it's obvious that Gail is very unwilling to flee with him (in fact she doesn't understand why they are going on board ship to Canada). And O'Connor as McPhee starts talking wildly, about how they'll never get there. It's obvious he is not fully aware of what he has done or who he is. When he sees Ironside and the others he briefly threatens a frightened Gail, but Ironside gets him under control by reminding him that Crippen loved Le Neve and would sacrifice himself to save her from the gallows. McPhee pulls himself together and surrenders.
It was a pretty intriguing episode.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
***SPOILERS*** It's when Aunt Victoria Ironside, Jessie Royce Landis,
came to see Chief Inronside, Raymond Burr, about a missing friend of
her's Roslyn McFee he just thought that she's been reading two many
crimes novels. That in her claiming that Roslyn had been murdered by
her husband businessman Harvey Mcfee, Arthur O'Connell, whom she was on
the outs with. It seems that Roslyn being in charge of collecting dues
for the Tuesday Night Bridge Club didn't show up for its usual Tuesday
night bridge game. This has never happened since the club came into
existence some five years ago! In trying to placate Aunt Victoris
Ironside checks into the matter of the missing Roslyn McFee and sure
enough finds out from her husband Arthur that she went on an unexpected
vacation without telling any of the members of her bridge club!
At first thinking that his Aunt Victoria was a little bit batty Ironside soon realizes that Mr. Mcfee was holding something back in what really happened to his wife Roslyn. He also finds out with the help of Aunt Victoria and her fellow bridge club members that he's having an affair with his secretary Val Singleton, Gail Kobe, behind his wife's back! It's when visiting the McFee house that Ironside sees that he's a bit paranoid about what's in the basement and alarm bells start to ring in his head. Enough to take Aunt Victoria seriously enough to start a full scale investigation of Mr. McFee and his connection to his wife Roslyn's disappearance! As well as McFee obsession in committing the perfect crime in a crime committed some 60 years ago in England back in 1910 that's a lot like what happened to Roslyn McFee now in 1969!
****SPOILERS*** Using a bit of psychology as well as rock hard police work Ironide did figure out not just what happened to Roslyn McFee by reading a book that was in McFee's personal crime library but also knowing in advance to not just who committed it but preventing him from committing a second murder as well!. And it was Aunt's Victoria women's intuition in what really happened to Roslyn McFee and her pushing him to investigate it that got Ironside to solve her murder and prevent another one from happening!
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