6.3/10
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22 user 7 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

Production Co:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) See more »
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

Garner's character Abel Marsh was later portrayed by Andy Griffith in two made-for television movies, 'The Girl in the Empty Grave (1977)' and 'Deadly Game (1977)', also written by screenwriter Lane Slate. See more »

Goofs

After Abel breaks up the fight the bar tender gives him a half a pitcher of beer and bottle o liquor. When he turns and goes to the table it's become a full pitcher. See more »

Quotes

Kate Bingham: Can you imagine coming home, and your wife says she's leaving you for someone else, and you say, "Who, Phil?" and she says, "No. Phyllis."
Abel Marsh: Well, that's the ultimate put-down... to those of us who are normal heterosexuals.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Sleazy, yet sanitary mystery with name cast.
1 August 2002 | by Poseidon-3See all my reviews

One has to wonder if David Lynch was inspired by this film when developing his cult-favorite TV series "Twin Peaks". Similarities abound (dead female washes ashore, sleepy town with ugly sexual underbelly, inept police force, quirky citizens, references to pie, to name a few....) Garner plays the police chief of a small coastal town called Eden Landing (mostly represented by the MGM backlot!) When a divorcée is found along the shore with her Doberman at attendance and bite marks all over her, it is presumed that the dog killed her. However, he soon realizes that someone else is involved. Through his investigation, he interacts with quirky locals who are portrayed by a plethora of old time movie stars (some of whom hadn't worked on screen in years.) O'Brien looks really unhealthy and only worked another year or two after this. Ewell (who once flirted on screen with Marilyn Monroe) is also looking really rough. (Trivia: Evelyn Keyes played his wife in "The Seven Year Itch" and Anne Rutherford does so here, so he played husband to both of Scarlett O'Hara's sisters from GWTW.) Lawford is rail thin and knee-deep in the "mod" look he would later take even further. The worst injustice is saved for Allyson. Her character is completely, totally unbelievable and underdeveloped. Things had definitely changed since she and Lawford filmed "Good News" on the same backlot! Garner is aided somewhat by veterinarian Ross (whose lab coat is longer than her mini-skirts) and to a lesser degree by bumbling Connelly and Guardino as a trigger happy state police captain. Holbrook gives another one of his wonderful performances in which it's impossible to tell if he's good or bad. The script is trashy and occasionally meandering. If anyone wants to hear Garner and Ross toss around words like "faggot" and "dyke", here's the chance. Or try a drinking game. Every time someone says "neat", do a shot. Most folks will be under the table by half time. Nearly everyone who doesn't live in Eden Landing is presented as either a troublemaker or a sex fiend. This gives the film a certain oddity value. Not only do the characters think of outsiders as freaks, but the filmmakers seem to feel that way too! (Witness Lawford's girlfriend and the bizarre barroom brawl started by two out of town punks, one of whom actually wears a huge measure of chain around his neck!) The film also serves as a time capsule for horrible '70's decor. Check out the beach house's kitchen and its foil wallpapered bathroom!


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