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Hard to go wrong with Culp and McQueen, 25 August 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

TRACKDOWN "The Brothers" 1957

This is the sixth episode of the 1957 to 1959 western series, TRACKDOWN. Robert Culp stars a Texas Ranger who wanders the State putting the grab on the wanted. The series ran for a total of 70 episodes.

Culp is bedding down for the night when he is held up and relieved of his gun, badge, papers and horse. He then gets a gun barrel across the back of the head and put to sleep.

The next day, he carries his saddle the 10 miles to the next town. He stashes his saddle and bedroll at the local stable. He finds his horse tied up inside and asks the stable owner, Richard Devon about it. Devon says the horse was there when he arrived in the morning.

Culp as it so happens was on his way to this very town to pick up a prisoner. Culp pays the Sheriff, Ian MacDonald a call. MacDonald tells Culp he does not believe his story of being robbed. A Texas Ranger with all the proper papers has already showed and taken the prisoner. The Sheriff strongly suggests Culp leave town.

Culp of is not about to do this. He has a look in the saloon and sees his man, Steve McQueen. It turns out though that the wanted man is really McQueen's twin brother. A girl, Rebecca Welles, is now introduced to the tale in order let the viewer in on the gag.

There is of course one good brother, and one bad brother. The good one had relieved Culp of his papers etc in order to get his brother out of jail. He does not believe that the brother is a killer. Needless to say the nasty sibling is exactly that. After a bit of confusion, Culp, with the help of the stable owner, has a showdown with the proper brother. He is forced to deposit some lead in his carcass when he fails to come along quietly.

There are a couple of minor bumps in the story, but the quick pace covers these up nicely. Veteran television man, Don McDougall sits in the director's chair.

Veteran writer, D.D. Beauchamp could turn out stuff like this in his sleep. Beauchamp is best known for the story or screenplays for the big screen dusters, RAILS INTO LARAMIE, GUNSMOKE, RIDE CLEAR OF DIABLO, THE MAN FROM THE ALAMO and LAW AND ORDER.

The episode itself is quite sharp looking, with another big screen vet, Guy Roe handling the cinematography. Roe is well known to film noir fans for his work on, RAILROADED, WHISPERING CITY, TRAPPED, ARMORED CAR ROBBERY and THE SOUND OF FURY.

Steve McQueen would do another guest spot on the series as bounty hunter, Josh Randall. This episode would be spun off as the pilot for the popular western series, WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE, which ran for 94 episodes between 1958 and 1961. It was interesting to see Richard Devon in a non-villain role for a change.

The Reds Need some Cash, 24 August 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I LED 3 LIVES "Commie Dies" 1953

This is episode 37 from season 2 of the 3 year and 115 episode run, of the Red Scare series, I LED THREE LIVES. This 1953 to 1956 series is based on the exploits of, Herbert A. Philbrick. Philbrick spent 9 years undercover for the FBI keeping tabs on the Communist party. Richard Carlson plays the title role.

Carlson is contacted by his Commie Cell leader, Jeanne Bates about a new assignment. Bates wants Carlson to contact a long-time party member who has become gravely ill. The man, Victor Rodman, was in charge of a phony charity used to raise funds for the party. Bates and the party want these funds turned over before Rodman dies.

They are having problems getting the info for the 25,000 plus in cash Rodman has stashed. Carlson is to approach the man and try and sweet talk the man into turning over the funds. Carlson lets his FBI handler, John Zaremba in on the plot. Maybe the FBI can find the cash.

Carlson has second thoughts about the job when he finds that Rodman has found god. Rodman has decided that the Reds are no good. He wants Carlson to call in a priest for some last rites. Rodman then makes arrangements for the church to get the funds.

Carlson does not pass this info to the party. He hopes that Comrade Bates will be in hot water with the higher ups of the party once Rodman dies.

This is a rather lacklustre episode with no action involved at all. It looks like the production was made in one or two days in a single room. (Knowing the series producers, ZIV, it would not surprise me)

Showgirl and the Murderer, 23 August 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***


This one is a b-film from bottom feeder studio, Producer's Releasing Corporation.

Veda Ann Borg is a show girl hitchhiking to a possible job in New York City. She is clipped by a car while thumbing for a ride. She wakes up with a busted up ankle in the mansion of, Charles Arnt. Arnt is a wealthy art collector, who along with his wife, Fay Helm and daughter, Jo Ann Marlowe, live at the house.

Arnt insists that Borg stay at the house while she recuperates. Arnt's wife, Helm, is ill and suffers from severe bouts of pain. These bouts cause her to scream in agony at all hours of the day and night. The young daughter, Marlowe, takes a shine to Borg and they become friends. Also in the mix here is Helm's brother, Richard Powers, and the man servant, John Rogers.

Now the film slips into sort of an old dark house mystery with various people skulking about at night. Miss Borg soon believes that something nasty is afoot with Helm's sickness. A spot of poisoning is going on she believes. She also has time to work in a bit of romance with Richard Powers. It turns out that the two had meet during the war at one of her shows.

Needless to say, Borg's suspicions about murder turn out to be correct, as Miss Helm, and the servant, Rogers, are knocked off. It seems that Arnt has been bumping off people that stand in his way of a big inheritance. Miss Borg comes within a few seconds of joining the morgue brigade herself. It is only the timely arrival of her new love, Powers that saves the day.

While not a barn-burner by any means, it does pass the time well enough. The 60 minute run-time helps. It is sort of an old style mystery with a smattering of film noir mixed in.

Veteran second unit man, Vernon Keays, shows why he was seldom offered the lead director's chair. A better hand at the controls would have helped.

The screenplay was by one time Oscar nominated, Martin Goldsmith. Goldsmith is best known for his work on the noir, DETOUR, SHAKEDOWN, HELL'S ISLAND and THE NARROW MARGIN.

Long-time B-film cinematographer, James S Brown Jr handles the look of the film. Brown's best work was probably the noir, THE GREAT FLAMARION, THE WHISTLER, KILLER AT LARGE and THE COUNTERFEITERS.

Superb Little Western, 22 August 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Hotel de Paree: "The Man who believed in Law" 1959

Hotel de Paree was a western series that ran between 1959 and 1960. The series ran for 32 episodes and starred, Earl Holliman, Jeannette Nolan, Judi Meredith and Strother Martin. Headliner Holliman plays a gunslinger named "Sundance", who is just out of prison and wants to turn over a new leaf. He ends up in Georgetown, Colorado, where he buys into a small hotel ran by Nolan and Meredith. Though he wants to avoid gun play, it has a way of creeping up on the man.

In this episode, the 9th of the series, a hard as nails Charles McGraw hits town to become the new Sheriff. The town council had heard that the man had cleaned up several other troubled towns. First day in and he has killed two men, one over an 11 dollar hotel bill, and another for being drunk.

McGraw now spends the next few days putting up plenty of "No guns allowed in town" signs all over the place. It seems like a great idea, till McGraw shoots and kills the shotgun guard on the just arrived stagecoach. "The man had his guns on." Says McGraw.

The town's people start to wonder if McGraw is a bit too harsh in his application of the law. A traveller in town, Hank Patterson, tells "Sundance" (Earl Holliman) about how McGraw had killed various men in his home town. He tells Holliman that the longer McGraw is here, the more death there will be.

The town council decides to terminate McGraw's contract. Problem here is that McGraw has no intention of quitting, till he "thinks" the job is done. This forces ex-gunman Holliman to slip on his iron for a more forceful talk with McGraw.

The two men line up on the street. McGraw tells Holliman to drop the gun-belt. Holliman shakes his head in the negative. McGraw tells Holliman that he will count to three and then draw. He makes it to the count of two, then a shot rings out. McGraw drops to the dirt with a large hole in his back. The widow of one of the men McGraw killed has exacted some payback.

This is a damn fine bit of television with excellent work from the cast and crew. McGraw really shines as the unsmiling Lawman with his own code.

The crew is top notch with actress turned producer and director, Ida Lupino at the controls. The woman is talented. The story is by big screen man, Francis M. Cockrell. His film work includes, THE RAID, DARK WATERS and INFERNO. The director of photography was the one time Oscar nominated, Frank V. Phillips.

Look close and you will see long time western fixture, Bob Steele in a small bit.

Love and Murder, 20 August 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***


TALES OF WELLS FARGO was a western series than ran for a total of 200 episodes between 1957 and 1962. Dale Robertson plays the lead as Jim Hardee. Hardee is an agent for the stage and cargo hauling outfit. When something goes wrong he is the man they send to fix it.

This episode is the 20th of the series.

Welles Fargo man Robertson in trying to arrange passage for a stage line through a rancher's land. The man, Harry Mackin, is however in a feud with another local, Ted de Corcia. The fight is over water, de Corcia has it, and Mackie needs it. Mackie is forced to haul water from ten miles away to keep his stock alive.

Also in the mix here are the grown children of both men. King Donovan can't wait for his dad, de Corcia to die. He wants to control the ranch. De Corcia's other son, Ron Hagerthy, is madly in love with Mackie's daughter, Jackie Blanchard.

Donovan decides to rush matters and kills off one of his cousins and tries to frame one of Mackie's kin. Wells Fargo detective Robertson sees through the frame and spills the beans. Now Donovan is really peeved and heads off to kill the girl, Blanchard. Robertson and Donovan's father, de Corcia give chase and capture the swine first.

The two families make up and a wedding is soon planned between the two clans.

This is a quick and to the point episode with Donovan in particular, shining as the murdering lowlife. This is a nice looking episode with some great location work and nary a sound stage in sight.

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All Actions Justified, 20 August 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

THE SANDBAGGERS "Is Your Journey Really Necessary?" 1978

The SANDBAGGERS was a UK series set during the Cold War. The series follows a small unit of the SIS, which deals with various intelligence gathering problems. (Or eliminating said problems) The cast includes Roy Marsden, Ray Lennon, David Glyder, Liz Bennett, Richard Vernon, Bob Sherman and Jerome Willis. The series ran for 20 episodes between 1978 and 1980.This is the third episode of the production run.

Roy Marsden is in charge of a covert action section of the UK Secret Service, the SIS.

This one starts with an SIS operation that goes terribly wrong. Marsden has had one of his "Sandbaggers" on a covert mission in the Eastern Bloc as a favour to the CIA. The agent, David Glyder has been tumbled by the Reds and cornered just short of the border. There is no way he can reach safety. Marsden sends out the order to another agent who is set up just inside the west. He uses a sniper rifle and terminates Glyder. The man had too much valuable information that could not fall to the Soviets.

This causes more than a few heads further up the chain of command to wag. Marsden will be lucky if he keeps his job. At the same time, info has arrived that a diplomat at the Paris embassy is a possible blackmail target of the Reds. The man is in a gay romance with a French citizen. The rub here is that the diplomat is the brother of an up and coming opposition candidate for UK Prime Minister.

Further muddying the waters for Marsden is the agent, Steve Grives, who had been the man ordered to kill his fellow agent, wants to quit the unit. Marsden, through some fast footwork manages to keep his job. Now he must figure out how to deal with the Paris problem, as well as keep Grives in play as an agent.

Marsden is ordered to get photos etc of the diplomat in Paris. As for Grives, it seems that the man wants to get married and wants a safer job. Marsden has the security boys do a background check on Grives' girl. Marsden then pays a call on the woman, and "hints" he will manufacture evidence etc of her having an affair and other shady things if she does not stop seeing Grives.

The photos taken in Paris by the SIS are used, not against the diplomat, but against his brother, the up and coming leader of the government opposition party. Agent Grives's girl takes herself out of the picture with a bottle of Scotch and several handfuls of pills. It turns out to be a moot point though, as Grives is killed in a car crash the same day.

This is a much better episode than I am making it sound like.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Western set Thriller, 19 August 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

SCHLITZ PLAYHOUSE "No Compromise" 1953

One of the more popular anthology series of early television, was, SCHLITZ PLAYHOUSE. The long running, 1951 to 1959 series pumped out over 360 episodes. Every week there was a new story starring many of the biggest stars of Hollywood. One week would be a comedy, and the next week could be a war, drama, crime or western themed episode. This particular episode is the 15th of the 3rd season. The episode is a western set in the 1880's.

This one has a Texas Ranger, Stephen McNally, in Alabama looking for a man wanted for shooting another Texas Ranger. The man, Robert Strauss, happens to be a childhood friend of Ranger, McNally. McNally has info that Strauss is about to rob a local train of a payroll.

Ranger McNally boards the train and gets the drop on Strauss before he and a partner can pull the job. He captures Strauss, and kills the partner in an exchange of lead. McNally collects a painful wound in the leg during the battle. McNally and his cuffed prisoner are soon on their way to Texas. McNally wires ahead that he has the man.

At every stop through Alabama, relatives of Strauss try to spring the man from McNally's custody. These range from a county judge to various assorted gun bearing cousins. McNally manages to keep the bunch away by planting a revolver firmly against Strauss's head. It anybody tries anything, McNally will pull the trigger. The journey to Texas takes several days and Strauss comes close several times to getting away on his own.

The journey ends with McNally delivering his prisoner to Austin Texas. A trial, followed by a long spell in a State Prison would appear to be in Strauss's immediate future.

This is an excellent little episode with decent talent in front and behind the camera. The director is Arnold Laven. Writer, producer and director, Laven produced series like, THE RIFLEMAN and THE BIG VALLEY. As a director he helmed, WITHOUT WARNING, VICE SQUAD, DOWN THREE DARK STREETS and THE RACK.

The story and screenplay are by Les Savage. His film work includes, THE HILLS OF UTAH, RETURN TO WARBOW and BLACK HORSE CANYON.

The look of the episode is top notch with 7 time Oscar nominated cinematographer, Russell Harlan at the controls. His films include, A WALK IN THE SUN, GUN CRAZY, RED RIVER, GUILTY BYSTANDER, THE THING, BIG SKY, THE LAST HUNT, RUN SILENT RUN DEEP, RRIO BRAVO, OPERATION PETTICOAT, THE GREAT RACE and TOBRUK.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A Spot of Rescue, 17 August 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

THE SILENT SERVICE "The S-38 Story" 1958

This is the 48th episode of the U.S. war series, "The Silent Service". The series was about the exploits of the U.S. Navy's submarine fleet. Each episode is a stand-alone tale of the actions of a particular submarine. Most of the stories are about actions against the Japanese Navy and merchant fleet in the Pacific. There is also the odd tale from the Korean conflict. The series ran for 78 episodes during 1957 and 1958. The stories were all based on actual events. Some pretty good attention to detail here with the U.S Navy allowing filming on several WW 2 era Gato class subs.

Each episode started and ended with retired Real Admiral Thomas M. Dykers giving a breakdown of the action. Dykers became a writer, producer and technical adviser after leaving the service. He worked on films such as, TORPEDO ALLEY, FLAT TOP, THE FROGMEN, HELL AND HIGH WATER and SUBMARINE COMMAND.

This episode is the second episode to deal with the USS "S-38". The "S-38" was one of the oldest submarines in service with the Navy. It was based in the Philippines when the war started. After the Philippines became untenable, the submarine was sent to Java in the Dutch East Indies.

In Feb. 1942, the "S-38" was sent out on patrol to find the approaching Japanese invasion fleet. She first stopped off to do a bit of shore bombardment on a recently captured Japanese port.

Of Feb 27th the submarine could see star shell exploding on the horizon. The ship's Captain, Steve Brodie, figured the Combined Allied Fleet had met up with the Japanese. He was right. The American, British and Dutch fleet was thumped in the Battle of the Java Sea.

The next day, the "S-38" finds survivors from the Royal Navy destroyer, "HMS Electra". The 40 or so men are brought on board and the submarine heads for Java. She drops off the Royal Navy personal and heads off to Australia. The island of Java would be invaded three days later.

Sometime later, they meet some of the Royal Navy survivors in Australia. That is the ones who had been lucky enough to escape from Java.

The "S-38"was considered a rather unlucky ship with many mechanical problems popping up during her wartime patrols. These would cause the ship to return early from most wartime patrols. The ship was finally decommissioned in 1944 and expended as an aircraft target in Feb 1945.

Besides Steve Brodie, the cast includes, Robin Hughes, Patrick Waltz, Steve Mitchell and Barry Marvin.

Check out episode 15 for an earlier tale of this particular submarine.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A Double Standard for Death, 17 August 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

THE SANDBAGGERS "A Proper Function of Government" 1978

The SANDBAGGERS was a UK series set during the Cold War. The series follows a small unit of the SIS, which deals with various intelligence gathering problems. (Or eliminating said problems) The cast includes Roy Marsden, Ray Lennon, David Glyder, Liz Bennett, Richard Vernon, Bob Sherman and Jerome Willis. The series ran for 20 episodes between 1978 and 1980.This is the second episode of the production run.

Roy Marsden is in charge of a covert action section of the UK Secret Service, the SIS.

The lead man at Vienna station, reports that a top UK science type has been sighted in town. Alarm bells go off as the scientist, Laurence Payne, is thought to be in Scotland on a fishing holiday. Is it a possible defection? Marsden reports up the chain of command about Payne.

The Government types refuse to believe that Payne could be defecting. "He plays golf with the Prime Minister." and such is their response. Marsden now finds out that there is also a top Soviet agent in Vienna. The Soviet is known as an expert in helping defectors make it into the Eastern Bloc.

While all this is going on, there is an incident in East Africa. A tin pot dictator has killed a British journalist and claimed afterwards that he was a spy for the UK. The dictator is in Marsden's bad books for an incident years before. The dictator was responsible for the murder of a SIS man.

Marsden asks for permission to send some men to collect the scientist. At the same time, he asks for an okay to eliminate the East African swine. Permission is granted on the first, but the second request is refused. The PM's office wants nothing to do with assassination etc.

Marsden points out that he has permission to rub out the science type, Payne, if needed. His defection could bring down the Government and make the PM look bad Marsden is told. But they are willing to ignore the East African swine killing UK citizens. Marsden is annoyed with the ruling, but he follows orders. The Vienna job goes off without a hitch and Payne is returned for a "forced retirement".

This is an excellent bit of television. The Brits seem able to produce these types of series and films better than anyone else. The stories are never over the top, and the violence is usually implied, rather than shown. Good writing and top acting abound here. The writer, Ian Mackintosh, was a former officer in the Royal Navy.

Michael Ferguson again directs. Ferguson worked on series like, DR WHO, Z-CARS, COLDITZ and THE BILL.

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Prison suits Him, 17 August 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***


This is the 29th episode of the 39 episode run of the 1954 to 1956 series, ADVENTURES OF THE FALCON. Film noir icon Charles McGraw headlines as Mike Waring, an agent of the U.S. Government. The series follows McGraw as he travels the world putting the kibosh on various criminals and foreign agents. The series is loosely based on the FALCON series of films of the 1940's.

The U.S. Government sends agent Mike Waring (Charles McGraw) to help out with a problem. Big-time rackets boss, Robert Armstrong is about to be deported back to the old country. Armstrong is just finishing a long bit in Federal prison. Once that is done, it is on the boat and out of the country. Armstrong is not at all happy with this idea. He has more than a few enemies back home.

His girl, Linda Stirling, arranges to have several guns smuggled into Armstrong. He and several pals can then pull a break. He has enough cash stashed away to lay low for years.

Armstrong and his men, Denver Pyle and I. Stanford Jolley, make their move just as our man McGraw is at the prison. Armstrong tells the warden and such that it will be a bullet through McGraw's brain pan if the prison gates are not opened.

Needless to say our man McGraw manages to throw a large monkey wrench into Armstrong's plans. Jolley and Pyle are the first to get re-captured while Armstrong makes it to the prison yard. A few blasts from a guard's Thompson machine gun, soon persuades Armstrong to surrender. After Armstrong is deposited on the boat out of the country, the Feds swoop in and corral Miss Stirling for a long holiday on the Feds dime.

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