6.3/10
962
24 user 10 critic

They Only Kill Their Masters (1972)

California small town police chief investigates a suspicious death involving the victim's own dog that presumably killed its owner.

Director:

James Goldstone

Writer:

Lane Slate
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693 ( 25,916)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
James Garner ... Abel Marsh
Katharine Ross ... Kate Bingham
Hal Holbrook ... Dr. Warren G. Watkins
Harry Guardino ... Capt. Daniel Streeter
June Allyson ... Mrs. Watkins
Christopher Connelly ... John
Tom Ewell ... Walter
Peter Lawford ... Lee Campbell
Edmond O'Brien ... George
Arthur O'Connell ... Ernie
Ann Rutherford ... Gloria
Art Metrano ... Malcolm
Harry Basch ... Mayor Wendell
Jenifer Shaw Jenifer Shaw ... Diana
Jason Wingreen ... Mallory
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Storyline

An enigmatic young woman has been murdered in a small California coast town. The investigation by the local sheriff uncovers a complex web of relationships centering on the victim; the scattered trail of evidence ranges from a mysterious photograph to the victim's own dog. During the investigation, the sheriff meets and becomes romantically involved with a woman whose connection to the murder is ambiguous. Written by Elisabeth Pruitt <foosi@global.california.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Was the murderer a man... or man's best friend?


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The word 'neat' is said 14 times in the movie. See more »

Goofs

When Abel Marsh is leaving the dog at the Vet's Dog & Cat Hospital, he climbs in his car and drives in a circle in the parking lot, pausing to look at the lonely Doberman, "Murphy", waiting in his pen for another command. As he brings the car to a stop, the bright gold reflection of sunlight suddenly illuminates his face inside the car. The crew had a hard time training the reflector on his moving face as the car swung around and only managed to pick him up once the car had stopped moving. See more »

Quotes

Abel Marsh: It's true what they say about Dobermans. I guess that's why they say it.
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User Reviews

 
Just saw this on TCM
24 October 2009 | by eye3See all my reviews

It was better than it should have been. It seems like it was first slated as a movie-of-the-week but then an fading MGM figured to score some box office bucks with the gimmick of this being one of their last movies shot on a studio lot. Casting MGM veterans in small parts helped some but, this being a detective movie, Jim Garner has to carry it all the way. Which he does with his usual aplomb.

It's a movie of its time. It's a small-town murder mystery with a back story which might have come from a Playboy or Penthouse fiction piece; the type no major studio would have looked at just three years earlier (it was made in 1972), let alone in MGM's heyday.

Faults aside, this movie has its interesting plot twists ratcheting up what little tension there is, so I was hooked until the end. But a loose-end or two are never answered - where did the fresh water come from? And if it was from the bath tub, was any fluoridation found? What happened to Peter Lawford's girlfriend? In one scene she's waving hello with her generous bust; in the next - a crucial one involving PL's character - there's patently no trace of her nor does anyone ask. Eh?

Hal Holbrook and Katherine Ross form the remainder of the troika of leads; Holbrook as the county vet and Ross as his long-haired, long-legged assistant from New York. In other words, she's really there to become romantically involved with Garner's character (a cinematic must.)

Harry Guardino's county sheriff brings in his boys when things get tricky but to no any real effect except the last scene. Garner's character never feels the case slipping away from him or the noose tightening as with Humphrey Bogart's Sam Spade in 'The Maltese Falcon.'

June Allyson has a cameo, bringing in yet another plot twist. A better screenwriter and/or director would have put her in more of the picture. Her brief presence lights up the screen far more than the rest of the cast combined - maybe she should have played the detective.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

26 May 1973 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

Anha fagat mikoshand See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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