The Kidnapping

Production Code: 3806
Airdate: CBS as “The New Tuesday Night Movie”; Tuesday 11 December, 1973; 9:30-11:00PM ET
Writer: William Read Woodfield & Allan Balter
Director: Alexander Singer

Cast: Richard Roundtree (John Shaft), Ed Barth (Lt Al Rossi), Paul Burke (Elliot Williamson), Karen Carlson (Nancy Williamson), Vic Brandt (Leo), Timothy Scott (Hayden), Frank Marth (Sheriff Bradley), Nicholas Beauvy (Matthew Potter), Greg Mullavey (Beck), Jayne Kennedy (Debbie), Philip Kenneally (Deputy Waiter), Erik Holland (Deputy Daley), Frank Whiteman (Deputy Milton), Stephen Koit (Mr Tolliver), Richard Stahl (Father), Joseph Petrullo (Cab Driver), Robert Casper (Man in Bank).

Three kidnappers, disguised as black men, break into Williamson’s house in a small upstate town and kidnap Nancy and leave the banker bound and gagged. They demand a ransom of $250,000 be delivered by John Shaft the next day.


  • Although broadcast fourth in sequence, this was actually the first episode filmed. The episode was also issued in advance of series broadcast to reviewers at TV Guide, America’s major TV magazine.
  • The 77-page script had an original draft dated 18 July, 1973 with revisions of 26 July through 6 August.
  • The edited footage of the chase from the end of Shaft’s Big Score! used to open the episode provided a link to the movie series despite being used in a different context.
  • Shaft reflects on a relationship gone wrong. Although there is no further detail on this it may refer to the old flame we meet in The Killing.

Whilst The Kidnapping is little more than standard TV fare, its individual elements lift it above other more modest entries in the TV series and as it is frequently shown as the opening episode in syndicated runs of the series is a good introduction for TV audiences to a more family-friendly John Shaft.

The Kidnapping puts a nice new spin on the approach used in these Shaft telefilms, so if you ever wanted to see Shaft tackle the rural world, this is your chance.” –, 18 October 2017