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1949's "There's a Girl in My Heart" may have been a Poverty Row musicomedy, but served as a reunion of sorts for several players popular during Universal's wartime heyday, several of which were winding down their screen careers: Lee Bowman ("Buck Privates"), Gloria Jean ("Never Give a Sucker an Even Break"), Peggy Ryan ("Here Come the Co-Eds"), and in particular, the stars of "The Mummy's Tomb," Elyse Knox and Lon Chaney. Allied Artists (formerly Monogram) was the studio that produced this extremely rare title, utilizing one impressive street set representing the Bowery of 1899, with Lon Chaney channeling Lennie Small yet again, in the fairly sizable role of Johnny Colton, who leases a popular music hall run by shady Terrence Dowd (Lee Bowman), seeking to bilk his partner and the entire neighborhood to build a sports arena. Claire Adamson (Elyse Knox) is the property owner, joining the show rather than selling out, more than a match for Dowd's charisma-free womanizing (Chaney's gruff but lovable Colton lets his fists teach him a lesson). Director/producer Arthur Dreifuss, a former choreographer himself, does a fine job on a minuscule budget, Gloria Jean sings, Peggy Ryan tap dances, Iris Adrian ("Horror Island") puts in a brief appearance as well. Most delightful of all is Elyse Knox, already the mother of two (still two years away from giving birth to son Mark Harmon), really strutting her stuff on stage in what turned out to be her final film. It's just a shame that such a harmless little musical should be so overlooked for so many years, but it is at least available.
"Old Love" marked the third and final time that Hal Linden actually directed an episode, following "Corporation" and "Hostage," both from season four. Mario Roccuzzo (last of six) returns as handicapped 'Good Samaritan' Norman Deluca, previously seen in "The Arrival," where he tried to perform a good deed and was mugged for his trouble; here, he tries to save a choking man, Mr. Felch (Wynn Irwin, second of two), getting himself arrested for assault. Deluca laments that problems can arise when using the proper procedure ("broken ribs are always a risk when the 'Heimlich maneuver' is used, but most people prefer that to death!"). Former child actor Irwin Kroner (Mitch Kreindel) is arrested for throwing a telephone at his useless agent (Ben Hammer), striking him in the head, chipping his tooth, and cutting his eye and lip (Harris: "you might say he reached out and touched someone!" Kroner: "the guy wouldn't take my phone calls"). Kroner's mother (Audrey Christie, second of two) keeps insisting that her son is still a star, which proves to be highly embarrassing. An attractive woman (Sharon Spelman) shows up, not in need of a policeman, but to rekindle her friendship with old flame Dietrich, after 14 years apart (he takes this opportunity to take a looong lunch).
"Inquiry" begins with mugging victim Edward Meyers (Allan Rich, last of three) arrested for mugging someone else, desperate for cash since he'd just been robbed. Joseph M. Loftis (Michael Lombard, last of four) and wife Emily (Bonnie Bartlett, second of two) cause a disturbance at the Wainwright Academy for Boys after their 3 year old son is rejected by the admissions director. The school's headmaster (Norman Bartold, last of five) comes down to press charges (Harris: "are we missing our nap time?"), suggesting the Tick Tock Day School instead ("they'll take anybody!"). The main focus is Wojo's having to shoot an armed assailant high on drugs (Sal Viscuso, last of four), forcing an interdepartmental inquiry conducted by attorney Raymond Waymond (Joe Mantell), with Wojo represented by David Fingler (Barry Gordon from FISH, last of two). The third degree doesn't sit well with the hard working Wojo, fearlessly admitting to wanting to blow away the guy, who was nicked in the arm but otherwise unharmed (Barney doesn't believe that anything serious will come of it).
"Obituary" poses an interesting problem, as Wendell R. Bergendahl (Barney Martin) finds himself reading his own obituary while eating Life cereal! The mistaken cub reporter, Andrew P. Jessel (Will Seltzer, second of two), discovers a bonafide scoop when Louis Beilin (Phil Diskin) is arrested for breaking into a government warehouse full of frozen chicken; Herb Lund (Richard Stahl, last of three), from the Department of Agriculture, tries to explain about hoarding surplus goods until such time as they can be released, but under pressure from Wojo and Jessel, decides to come clean about everything in stock (anonymously of course). While all this unfolds, Mrs. Ruth Bergendahl (Peggy Pope, last of six), noting the obituary in her newspaper, arrives hoping to find her missing husband, much preferring this Wendell to the old one, who ran off with the neighbor's Korean exchange student! And all this occurs on Barney's birthday, not so enthusiastic this year (Wojo forgets to pick up his present). Phil Diskin had been among the credited cast for the second part of "Chinatown," but this was the only episode in which he truly appears.
"The Arrival" introduces Carina Afable as Perlita Avilar, prospective mail order bride from the Philippines, completing a long journey to marry Inspector Luger ("I had many proposals, but marriage was never mentioned!"). Alas, she's kept waiting all day as the reluctant bachelor shows little inclination to give up his freedom, but sincerely admits that he's lonely (she would return in the series finale "Landmark"). Captain Miller is dumbstruck that Luger failed to notify him that she was coming (Harris: "Barney, he didn't get her for you!"). Mario Roccuzzo (fifth of six) plays Norman Deluca, a handicapped mugging victim (wooden leg) who takes a shine to the Filipino beauty, and in a curious twist his assailants are never caught (Deluca would return in "Old Love"). Andrew Bloch (second of two) plays Vincent Brysom, arrested for ransacking the office of MENSA, the organization catering to intellectual eggheads, who casually admits to being a member (Brysom: "they told me to wise up!" Wojo: "okay smart guy!"). MENSA president William Deats (Alan Oppenheimer) wants Brysom to attend several meetings to avoid prison, but he opts to remain where he is (Wojo: "you're doin' a stupid thing!" Brysom: "well it's a start!").
"Hunger Strike" features Larry Gelman (last of four) as Philip Bishop, so determined against nuclear arms that he's gone on a hunger strike, not having tasted food since yesterday afternoon! Like so many liberals, he fails to call for the enemy to give up their nukes, but Wojo at least manages to get his nonrefundable cleaning deposit back ("I have kept that place spotlessly clean, even Joan Crawford would be happy!"). Dietrich walks in with an elderly woman known only as Miss Smith (Nora Meerbaum), arrested for stealing some flowers, whose speech is regarded as gibberish since she has spent over 20 years in various psychiatric clinics. Dr. Michael Packer (Stanley Kamel, second of two) remains adamant about her language problems until Dietrich returns with Joseph Obrockian (Ion Teodorescu, second of two), whose childhood experiences in Greek and Yugoslavian confirm her dialect as being Macedonian. Meanwhile, Barney is among the nominees for Deputy Inspector for a fourth time, having failed before in 1975, 1978, and 1980, unsure of whether or not he wants to get his hopes up yet again.
"Chinatown," the series' last 2-part storyline, concludes with Harris and Dietrich stuck together in a sleazy hotel room with their uncooperative witness Victor Ling (Chao-Li Chi). Dietrich doesn't appreciate being awakened early, while Harris objects to his partner's frequently playing the clarinet! More than a week passes with no positive results, the desperate Harris threatening to quit before it's over. Meanwhile, Miss Caroline Fitzjames (Joanna Barnes) files another complaint at the 12th Precinct, this time charging harassment from Lt. Ben Scanlon (George Murdock, eleventh of twelve), forever pestering her with unsolicited phone calls or personal visits. Barney and Wojo cannot hide their amusement at this unexpected and certainly unusual turn of events (Caroline: "he does belong to you doesn't he?" Wojo: "he does now!" Caroline: "you know I really don't enjoy doing this!" Wojo: "maybe you're not trying hard enough!"). Scanlon offers the widow a sincere apology, especially for the flowers she'll expect to find at home (Scanlon: "just throw them in the garbage, forget about them!" Caroline: "I will!"). Phil Diskin's role as Gillis is nowhere in evidence, though he still receives on screen billing. George Murdock's final appearance as Scanlon comes in the very last episode, "Landmark."
"Chinatown" served as the series' final 2-part storyline, about the restaurant The Jade Palace, where a murder was perpetrated by a gang of youths known as The White Dragons, dealing heavily in drugs and protection. All Captain Miller has is a single witness, waiter Victor Ling (Chao-Li Chi), who claims to have seen nothing, obviously frightened for his life. Barney receives orders from the District Attorney to keep vigil with Ling, now designated a material witness, for a period of 30 days, until he agrees to cooperate. This means that Harris and Dietrich will be bunking together like they used to in bygone days, to Levitt's unrestrained delight. Leonard Stone (last of five) plays Sidney M. Botnik, who creates a disturbance at his own Wild West Waffle Hut because its doors were just padlocked due to nonpayment of Internal Revenue taxes. Fred Sadoff (last of six) plays the unrepentant IRS agent, determined to make an example of the downtrodden Botnik, without regard to notifications, warrants or court orders ("we're the IRS, we can do that!"). Miss Caroline Fitzjames (Joanna Barnes), a twice widowed lady of means, reports that a valuable $40,000 diamond brooch was stolen from around her neck. George Murdock (tenth of twelve) returns for the ninth time as Lt. Ben Scanlon from Internal Affairs, three months too late to hassle Wojo about his phony paternity suit (covered in the 8th season opener "Paternity"). On his way out, he uncharacteristically becomes entranced by the attractive Miss Fitzjames, to the point where both are distracted (Scanlon: "nice girl!").
"The Clown," known as Bingo (Walter Olkewicz, second of two), is among the latest victims of serial mugger Arthur Duncan (J. J. Barry, sixth of seven), here making his third appearance, progressing from the handicapped to street entertainers (Harris calls him 'Circus Boy!'). Howard Platt (last of five) plays out-of-towner Andrew Landry, whose stag party includes about 30 cops and prostitutes, hoping to lure officers to New Mexico even from his jail cell. A disturbance at an all night diner leads to the arrest of Gilbert Doyle (Michael Tucci, last of four), Vincent Royer (Michael Alaimo, last of three), and Edward Crenshaw (Jed Mills), released from Riker's Island just an hour before. Philip Bruns (last of four) plays Gordon Kaiser from NYC's Department of Corrections, who tries to explain the situation to an incredulous Barney (Kaiser: "what with Riker's being so hopelessly overcrowded as it is, we decided that it would be a very innovative concept to prune back on our misdemeanor offenders...purse snatchers, petty thieves, etc. and thereby making valuable cell space available for the far more despicable and deserving criminals!" Barney: "if it's such a great idea, why'd you sneak 'em out in the middle of the night?" Kaiser: "sentimental reasons?"). Levitt is disappointed that his Medal of Valor has been turned down due to politics, but changes his mind after Barney blasts Kaiser's program, "watching a bunch of punks laughing their way through the system...we should all just pack up and get outta here, leave this stinking city to go to hell and a hand basket because, let's face it, we're in the way!" Out of character but effective (Levitt: "makes the whole wacky ball of wax worthwhile!").
"Screen Snapshots: Laguna U.S.A" was a 1947 Columbia short filmed at Laguna Beach, where a number of Hollywood performers have gathered at the Griffin Players Theater for a revival of John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men." No one is actually shown on stage, as the entire 9 1/2 minutes remain on the sunny beach, with the entirely uncredited cast relaxing in their swimsuits, rehearsing their lines, or dining at lunchtime. Completely shot silent, Art Baker's narration keeping things lighthearted, we see in order of appearance: Dane Clark, Lon Chaney, Barbara Read, Brian Aherne, Marian Carr, Eddie Bracken, Barbara Freking, Fred Clark, Michael (formerly Ted) North ("Charlie Chan in Rio"), Benay Venuta (the future Mrs. Fred Clark), Connie Nickerson (Mrs. Eddie Bracken), and William Henry (the juvenile bookworm in 1934's "The Thin Man"). It's a fascinating lineup, but most of the footage is taken up by the frenetic Eddie Bracken, whose screen career only extended another six years (his pretty wife, as indeed all the other actresses, looks incredible in those period bathing suits). The 41 year old Chaney had only recently returned to the stage, and would later appear with Barbara Freking in 1954's "Casanova's Big Night," while Marian Carr, having already played Frank Albertson's wife in the Frank Capra classic "It's a Wonderful Life," would be Lon's leading lady in one of her last roles, in 1955's "Indestructible Man."
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