The Capricorn Murders

Production Code: 3812
Airdate: CBS as “The New Tuesday Night Movie”; Tuesday 29 January, 1974; 9:30-11:00PM ET
Writer:  Ellis Marcus
Director:  Allen Reisner

Cast: Richard Roundtree (John Shaft), Ed Barth (Lt Al Rossi), Don Knight (J L Teague), David Hedison (Gil Kirkwood), Arthur O’Connell (Frank Lucas), Cathy Lee Crosby (Joanna Kirkwood), Robert Phillips (Harry Praeger), Candice Rialson (Myrna), Thelma Pelish (Carol), Gil Perkins (Gunther), Jo Ella Deffenbaugh (Nicky), June Dayton (Bank Clerk), Dean Harens (Bank Officer).

Gil Kirkwood, a financier in deep corporate trouble, fakes his own death in a fire which was also meant to kill his wife, Joanna, who is independently wealthy. With his wife dead, and himself presumed dead, Kirkwood had hoped to escape to South America with $3 million in diamonds from her safe deposit box. But when Joanna is rescued from the fire she hires Shaft, who has previously worked for her father, to investigate.


  • The last episode into production saw Ellis Marcus provide his second script for the series (following The Killing). The final script was delivered on 15 October 1973.
  • Former athlete Cathy Lee Crosby played Hedison’s wife, Joanna Kirkwood. She would later date Roundtree for the next four years, with whom she shared a love of tennis.

One of the better episodes in the series with a good balance of action and intrigue. Whilst Marcus’ script may suffer from some illogical plot progression devices – most involving Phillips’ attempts to kill Crosby – it does also make the most of a familiar premise and introduces a stronger set of characters than most of the other episodes in the series.

“As is the case with all of these Shaft telefilms, the tone is lighter and toned down compared to the theatrical films, but The Capricorn Murders offers a lot for Shaft fans to like.” –, 20 October 2017