ALIAS SMITH & JONES: THE MCCREEDY BUST: GOING, GOING, GONE (1972, USA) ****
net. American Broadcasting Company (ABC); pr co. Roy Huggins-Public Arts Productions / Universal Studios; d. Alexander Singer; w. Nicholas E. Baehr (based on a story by Roy Huggins (as John Thomas James)); exec pr. Roy Huggins; pr. Glen A. Larson; ass pr. Nicholas E. Baehr, Jo Swerling Jr.; ph. William Cronjager (Technicolor. 35mm. Spherical. 1.33:1); m. John Andrew Tartaglia; th. Billy Goldenberg; ed. Richard Bracken; ad. Phillip Bennett; set d. Bert Allen; sd. Earl Crain Jr. (Mono); tr. 14 February 1972; r/t. 50m.
cast: Pete Duel (Hannibal Heyes (alias Joshua Smith)), Ben Murphy (Jed ‘Kid’ Curry (alias Thaddeus Jones)), Lee Majors (Joe Briggs), Burl Ives (Big Mac McCreedy), Bradford Dillman (Spencer), Cesar Romero (Armendariz), Ted Gehring (Seth Griffin), Bing Russell (Sheriff), Paul Micale (Little Man), Robert P. Lieb (Auctioneer), Jimmie Booth (Stage Driver (uncredited)), Nick Borgani (Townsman (uncredited)), Roger Davis (Narrator (uncredited)), Rudy Doucette (Barfly (uncredited)), Harold ‘Hal’ Frizzell (Bartender (uncredited)), Jerry Harper (Poker Player #1 (uncredited)), Lars Hensen (Barfly (uncredited)), Primo López (Auction Guest (uncredited)), Daniel Francis Martin (Dealer (uncredited)), Clyde McLeod (Auction Guest (uncredited)), Hal Needham (Duke (uncredited)), John Rayner (Man (uncredited)), Edwin Rochelle (Auction Clerk (uncredited)), John Zimeas (Barfly (uncredited)).
(s. 2 ep. 16) Big Mac’ McCreedy (Ives) hires Smith and Jones (Duel and Murphy) to steal it (again ) – the Cesar’s bust from Armendariz (Romero) but Heyes refuses (but agrees to teach one of McCreedy’s men how to do it instead.) Heyes and Curry agree to escort the bust from a pre-arranged going spite too San Fransisco, where is to be auctioned. Whilst Heyes and Curry wait at the town near three deep-spot, they meet the town bully (Majors). Though they keep backing down, the bully keeps pushing, and Curry starts losing his temper. This sequel to the previous season’s The McCreedy Bust is a superb example of the easy-going nature of the series, but also with some dramatic tension and philosophical messaging. Duel and Murphy are on top of their game here, bickering as they try to avoid hired gunman Majors whilst seeing through their job for Ives. Dillman offers a sensitive portrayal of a clergyman turning to alcohol through his lack of faith. His interplay with Murphy, notably in the finale is memorable. Majors is all arrogance as the heavy. The final twist leaves the story open.
ALIAS SMITH & JONES: DREADFUL SORRY, CLEMENTINE (1971, USA) ****
net. American Broadcasting Company (ABC); pr co. Roy Huggins-Public Arts / Universal Television; d. Barry Shear; w. Glen A. Larson (based on a story by Roy Huggins); exec pr. Roy Huggins; pr. Glen A. Larson; ass pr. Nicholas E. Baehr, Jo Swerling Jr.; ph. William Cronjager (Technicolor. 35mm. Spherical. 1.33:1); m. John Andrew Tartaglia; th. Billy Goldenberg; ed. Byron ‘Buzz’ Brandt; ad. Phillip Bennett; set d. Bert Allen; sd. Earl Crain Jr. (Mono); tr. 27 December 1971; r/t. 50m.
cast: Pete Duel (Hannibal Heyes (alias Joshua Smith)), Ben Murphy (Jed ‘Kid’ Curry (alias Thaddeus Jones)), Rudy Vallee (Winford Fletcher), Keenan Wynn (Horace Wingate), Don Ameche (Diamond Jim Guffy), Sally Field (Clementine Hale), Jackie Coogan (Crawford), Buddy Lester (Drunk), Ken Scott (Toomey), Stuart Randall (Hawkins), William ‘Billy’ Benedict (Janitor (uncredited)), Ken DuMain (Townsman (uncredited)), Maurice Marks (Townsman (uncredited)), Edwin Rochelle (Ticket Clerk (uncredited)).
(s.2 ep. 10) Clementine Hale (Field), a friend of Heyes and Curry (Duel and Murphy) since they grew up together in Kansas, meets the boys in Denver and shows them a group photograph they all posed for not too long ago. The photo is invaluable to lawmen who want to arrest Heyes and Curry, and Clementine waves it at the boys in an attempt to get them to go along with her larcenous scheme. Years earlier, banker Winford Fletcher (Vallee) had stolen $50,000 from the bank where Clementine’s father worked, then framed him for the theft and sent him up the river. The boys ride into Fletcher’s home town and pose as land grabbers, convincing Fletcher to buy up all the land he can get hold of and paying through the nose. This delightful episode has a strong cast and a clever script (playing another “sting” scenario) by Larson and Huggins. Field is quirky and her interaction with Duel and Murphy feels natural and unforced. Vallee is perfect as the greedy property agent, who is the target of Field’s scheme and Ameche has a brief cameo as “Diamond Jim”, another of the series’ larger than life master con-men.
THE ROCKFORD FILES: DEVIL ON MY DOORSTEP (1998) ***
by Stuart M. Kaminsky
This paperback edition published by Forge, May 2001, 304pp
First published in March 1998
© MCA Publishing Rights, 1998
Based on the Universal Television series The Rockford Files created by Roy Huggins and Stephen J. Cannell
Blurb: Jim Rockford is in one hell of a mess–the credit companies are after his stuff, his buddy Angel has cooked up another scheme that is a sure thing (sure enough to get them both killed), and he’s way behind on everything. When a beautiful young girl shows up at his door claiming to be the daughter of an old flame, he’s dubious. When she claims that she’s his daughter, all the bells go off. She’s on the run, scared, and tells Jim that she thinks someone has killed her mother…and that someone is her stepfather. Whatever the outcome, Jim will do what it takes to find the truth, no matter how painful it may be. And he’ll even try not to get killed in the process.
Comment: Kaminsky delivers a thoroughly competent novel based on the popular ’70s TV show The Rockford Files, or more accurately the ’90s revival TV movies – the period in which this story is set. This is the second of two novels Kaminsky wrote featuring private eye Jim Rockford, the first being The Green Bottle in 1996. The author is obviously a connoisseur of the series and gets the characterisations of the regulars spot on. Whilst relaying the story in the first person is par for the genre, it is an interesting approach given the series was not geared that way. It gives us the opportunity to see everything that happens in this convoluted tale through Rockford’s eyes. The approach works very well in keeping the reader hooked on the mystery elements as Rockford plays off the gangsters and the Feds as he tries to discover the truth about the disappearance of an old flame and the girl who claims to be his daughter. Whilst the plot feels a little overplayed at times the writing is good and the dialogue entertaining – notably the banter between Rockford and con-man Angel. Kaminsky also introduces an eccentric assassin who quotes classic poetry. The rest of the gangster plot is standard stuff. It’s a shame Kaminsky’s series stalled after just two books – for whatever reason – as Rockford is one of the most engaging modern private eyes and the charisma of James Garner from the TV series bleeds through onto the written page.