TV Review – IRONSIDE (1967)

IRONSIDE (TV) (1967, USA, 98m, PG) ***
Crime, Drama, Mystery
dist. National Broadcasting Company (NBC) (USA), BBC (UK); pr co. Harbour Productions Unlimited / Universal Television; d. James Goldstone; w. Don Mankiewicz (based on a story by Collier Young); pr. Collier Young; ph. John F. Warren (Technicolor | 1.33:1); m. Quincy Jones; ed. Edward W. Williams; ad. Loyd S. Papez.
cast: Raymond Burr (Robert Ironside), Geraldine Brooks (Honor Thompson), Wally Cox (Scoutmaster), Kim Darby (Ellen Wells), David Sheiner (Doctor), Lilia Skala (Sister Agatha), Gene Lyons (Commissioner Dennis Randall), Don Galloway (Det. Sgt. Ed Brown), Barbara Anderson (Eve Whitfield), Don Mitchell (Mark Sanger), Joel Fabiani (Dr. Schley), Ayllene Gibbons (Baby Peggy Marvel), Terrence O’Flaherty (Announcer), Eddie Firestone (Wheels Montana), Tony Dante (Pressman Bar), Nicholas Colasanto (Mr. Matling (uncredited)), Antonio Fargas (T.D. Harris (uncredited)), Stuart Margolin (News Show Staff (uncredited)), Tiny Tim (Art House Performer (uncredited)), Grace Lee Whitney (Stripper (uncredited)).
Pilot movie for the TV series which ran for eight seasons from 1967 to 1975. Character actor and former Perry Mason star Raymond Burr gives an imposing performance as the San Francisco Chief of Detectives paralysed by a gunshot wound. He is then given the role of consultant to the police commissioner with his own small team and his first remit is to track down the person who shot him. Goldstone directs the story a little frenetically, with fast cuts and tight shots, and the tone shifts jarringly from time to time. The 1960s vibe is very much in evidence, notably in the segment exploring the arts scene, in which Tiny Tim has a truly bizarre cameo. The lack of location shooting (the shots of San Francisco are limited to stock footage) gives the film a studio set base that narrows its scope. The mystery elements are also perfunctory. Where the film scores is in the characterisation of Ironside and his team (Galloway, Anderson and Mitchell), all of whom would return for the full series. The theme music and score is by Quincy Jones.
EN: Outstanding Single Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Drama (Raymond Burr); Outstanding Writing Achievement in Drama (Don Mankiewicz).

TV Review – THE VIRGINIAN: THE CHALLENGE (1966)

THE VIRGINIAN: THE CHALLENGE (1966, USA) ***
Western
net. National Broadcasting Company (NBC); pr co. Universal Television; d. Don McDougall; w. Joy Dexter, Harry Kronman (based on a story by Joy Dexter); exec pr. Frank Price; pr. Joel Rogosin; ph. Enzo A. Martinelli (Technicolor. 35mm. Spherical. 1.33:1); m. Jack Hayes, Leo Shuken; m sup. Stanley Wilson; th. Percy Faith; ed. Michael R. McAdam; ad. George Patrick; set d. John McCarthy Jr., James M. Walters Sr.; cos. Vincent Dee; m/up. Bud Westmore, Larry Germain; sd. Earl Crain Jr. (Mono); tr. 19 October 1966; r/t. 75m.

cast: James Drury (The Virginian), Charles Bickford (John Grainger), Doug McClure (Trampas), Don Quine (Stacey Grainger), Sara Lane (Elizabeth Grainger), Dan Duryea (Ben Crayton), Don Galloway (Jim Tyson), Michael Burns (Bobby Crayton), Barbara Anderson (Sarah Crayton), Ed Peck (Sheriff Milt Hayle), Bing Russell (Sam Fuller), Hal Bokar (Hank Logan), Grant Woods (Walt Sturgess), Clay Tanner (Station Agent), Byron Keith (Dr. Manning), Clyde Howdy (Marshal Coons), Lew Brown (Deputy Hart Ellis).

(s. 5 ep. 6) After a stagecoach holdup and accident, Trampas (McClure) stumbles into a farm with a concussion and amnesia. The farmer (Duryea) and his two kids (Anderson and Burns) tend to Trampas but the white-handled gun he is carrying puts him into danger from the law and the outlaws. Loss of memory and implication in some crime is a well-worn plot device, so there are not many surprises in this familiar tale. The story is tight and well-acted by a strong cast, with McClure getting to explore his range a bit more. It is competently made and the story retains interest throughout. Galloway and Anderson (here making her TV debut) would go on to work together on the popular crime drama Ironside (1967-75).