6.3/10
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22 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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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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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
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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

Goofs

Abel Marsh says he voted for Harry Truman, but he also says he is 40 years old. Assuming that the movie takes place in 1972 when it was released, he would have been 16 years old in 1948 when Truman was elected, too young to vote in any state of the Union. See more »

Quotes

Mrs. Watkins: She was a bitch!
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Best Part are the Movie Vets
5 October 2013 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

A woman is murdered in a small seaside town. The cops investigate but are hampered by bureaucratic infighting, complicated relationships, and a vicious Doberman Pincher.

Looks to me like the script was on a hurry-up schedule. Nonetheless, the movie's got its compensations. Unfortunately, the whodunit part, which is supposed to be the core, is developed in pretty ragged fashion with a number of hanging threads (who is it in the nude photo; what role did the sheriff have, etc.).

The movie's appeal really comes from its unsparing and often humorous look at small town life, particularly the semi-competent 3-man police force. Plus, there are the town characters, generally cameos from movie vets getting a few minutes back in the spotlight. Nonetheless, it's an uncharacteristically grouchy Jim Garner as the chief. But no wonder he's grumpy, since his two underlings are bumblers, at best, while he has to contend with a county sheriff (Guardino) who wants to cut in on the investigation for suspicious reasons. Then too, catch the naughty innuendo that's not supposed to typify small town life. And, on a different note, that burning beach house is a real Technicolor inferno and a movie highpoint.

The movie's also a payday for a number of movie vets who get the amusing small town parts. (Except for Tom Ewell as a badly out of shape cop.) But who could have guessed that the wonderfully preserved June Allyson was all of 55 in her role here; ditto Ann Rutherford, also 55. For old movie fans, these nostalgic glimpses were a treat.

All in all, it's an entertaining movie, even with a ragged script. Then too, judging from the Malibu location, plus the timing, I wouldn't be surprised that the movie inspired Garner's TV hit, The Rockford Files (1974-1980). But it's a much more typically amiable Garner in the Rockford role than he is here. Anyway, I hope they paid Murphy double biscuits since he's a good enough actor to compete with the many movie veterans.


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