On its surface this Cassavetes-directed segment of his series is a fairly sentimental story about the trials and tribulations of a rather pathetic jockey, very well played by Walter Burke. But right from the sexy opening sequence of tracking shots of the sexy legs of a soon-to- be victimized femme, it turns out to be a clever homage to the sexploitation films of the 1950s and 1960s (e.g., Lenny Bruce-penned DANCE HALL RACKET).
Elmer Bernstein's score here is the immediate tipoff: it has the familiar sound of the library music used for hundreds of soft porn titles during this era. Of course this being network TV of 1959 the show is squeaky clean, but the pretty gals, dance hall setting and EB's music put you in the mood to watch a Joe Sarno movie (his film career commenced just a couple of years later).
End credits provided a fun surprise: several of the dance hall gals were cast by Cassavetes from a Miss Universe beauty pageant, including Playboy Playmate Marianne Gaba, and are credited with their titles (e.g., Miss Illinois).
Coincidentally, the very next episode of JOHNNY STACCATO titled The Return (a fairly clunky tale about Korean War PTSD) was written by James Landis who would soon become Arch Hall Jr. & Sr.'s house director, including helming their classic THE SADIST, as well as the sexploitation opus JENNIE WIFE/CHILD.
Another of Cassavetes' team, his frequent producer Al Ruban, also hails from a sexploitation film background including directing the not-so-hot THE EXPLOITERS in 1965.
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