Film Review – SHARKS! (TV) (1975)

Sharks! (TV) (1975; USA; Technicolor; 98m) **½  d. E.W. Swackhamer; w. Lou Shaw, Stephen Lord; ph. Ben Colman; m. Stu Phillips.  Cast: Dennis Weaver, J. D. Cannon, Terry Carter, Christopher George, Lynda Day George, A Martinez, Dick Haymes, Herb Jefferson, Jr., Pat Hingle. McCloud disobeys a lieutenant to investigate a loan shark he suspects of murder. Good use of NYC locations in this McCloud entry. Story runs out of steam in its final act with protracted plane chase, but Weaver’s easy-going charm and a strong cast make the most of the routine situations. [PG]

Film Review – THE 42ND STREET CAVALRY (TV) (1974)

42nd Street Cavalry, The (TV) (1974; USA; Technicolor; 96m) ***  d. Jerry Jameson; w. Michael Gleason; ph. Ben Colman, Sol Negrin; m. Stu Phillips.  Cast: Dennis Weaver, J. D. Cannon, Terry Carter, Julie Sommars, Peter Mark Richman, Rafael Campos, Victor Campos, Michael Parks. The mounted patrol, McCloud and a sergeant probe a weapons robbery and death. Neatly packaged entry in the McCloud series mixing action and humour alongside Weaver’s laconic charm. Transition from location to studio footage sometimes jars, but the cast work hard. Richman played McCloud’s boss, Chief Clifford, in the original pilot before Cannon took the role for the series. [PG]

Film Review – THIS MUST BE THE ALAMO (TV) (1974)

This Must Be the Alamo (TV) (1974; USA; Technicolor; 96m) ***½  d. Bruce Kessler; w. Glen A. Larson; ph. Alric Edens; m. Stu Phillips.  Cast: Dennis Weaver, J. D. Cannon, Terry Carter, Van Johnson, Laraine Stephens, Ray Danton, Eugene Roche, Della Reese, Jack Kelly, Gregory Sierra, Ken Lynch, Teri Garr, Sidney Klute. A football gambling operation begins eliminating witnesses and clues, leading to an attack on police headquarters. One of the best entries in the McCloud series with a witty script and a strong ensemble cast. The formula would be repeated in RETURN TO THE ALAMO the following year. [PG]

Film Review – THE DISPOSAL MAN (TV) (1971)

Disposal Man, The (TV) (1971; USA; Technicolor; 76m) **½  d. Boris Sagal; w. Mel Arrighi, Dean Hargrove; ph. William Margulies; m. Billy Goldenberg.  Cast: Dennis Weaver, J. D. Cannon, Patrick O’Neal, James Olson, Jack Carter, Arthur O’Connell, Nita Talbot, Diana Muldaur, James McEachin. McCloud protects an executive who refuses to believe he is in danger from a killer. This entry in the McCloud series is drawn out and lacks the edge of the series at its best. Olson is a distinctive hit-man, but the plot lacks tension. [PG]

Film Review – THE COLORADO CATTLE CAPER (TV) (1974)

Colorado Cattle Caper, The (TV) (1974; USA; Technicolor; 75m) ***  d. Robert Day; w. Michael Gleason; ph. Alric Edens; m. Frank De Vol.  Cast: Dennis Weaver, J. D. Cannon, Terry Carter, Claude Akins, Patrick Wayne, John Denver, Ed Ames, Robert Sampson, Farrah Fawcett, Vic Tayback, Austin Stoker. In Colorado to pick up a suspect, McCloud helps a local sheriff catch cattle rustlers. Enjoyable entry in the McCloud series reverses the concept of the series by having NYC cops Cannon and Carter ship out west. A deft blend of action and humour with a strong support cast including an early role for Fawcett as well as Denver as a singing deputy. [PG]

Film Review – THE NEW MEXICAN CONNECTION (TV) (1972)

New Mexican Connection, The (TV) (1972; USA; Technicolor; 75m) ***  d. Russ Mayberry, Hy Averback; w. Glen A. Larson; ph. William Cronjager; m. John Andrew Tartaglia.  Cast: Dennis Weaver, J. D. Cannon, Ricky Nelson, Gilbert Roland, Jackie Cooper, Murray Hamilton, Diana Muldaur, Terry Carter, Ray Danton, Ken Lynch, Sharon Gless. A TV reporter decrying police brutality criticizes McCloud’s reaction to kidnapping threats. Entertaining entry in the McCloud series with Weaver making maximum use of some good dialogue. The plot is perfunctory, but the character interaction and a strong guest cast take this up a notch. [PG]

Film Review – ISLAND OF LOST SOULS (1932)

Island of Lost Souls (1932; USA; B&W; 70m) ****  d. Erle C. Kenton; w. Waldemar Young, Philip Wylie; ph. Karl Struss; m. Arthur Johnston, Sigmund Krumgold.  Cast: Charles Laughton, Bela Lugosi, Richard Arlen, Leila Hyams, Kathleen Burke, Stanley Fields, Arthur Hohl, Paul Hurst, George Irving, Tetsu Komai, Hans Steinke. An obsessed scientist conducts profane experiments in evolution, eventually establishing himself as the self-styled demigod to a race of mutated, half-human abominations. Laughton is terrific in this creepy and atmospheric horror movie. It may seem a little creaky by today’s standards and tension would have been built even more with a full music score, but this remains an unsettling and memorable viewing experience. Special nod goes to make-up man Wally Westmore for his creations. Burke is billed at “The Panther Woman”. It was not passed for release by British censors until 1958 – and even then, with cuts. Based on the novel “The Island of Dr. Moreau” by H.G. Wells. Remade in 1977 and 1996. [PG]

TV Review – STRIKE: THE SILKWORM (2017)

Strike: The Silkworm (TV) (2017; UK; Colour; 2x60m) ***½  pr. Jackie Larkin; d. Kieron Hawkes; w. Tom Edge; ph. Gary Shaw; m. Adrian Johnston.  Cast: Tom Burke, Holliday Grainger, Kerr Logan, Monica Dolan, Sarah Gordy, Dominic Mafham, Peter Sullivan, Tim McInnerny, Lia Williams, Sargon Yelda, Caitlin Innes Edwards, Ian Attard, Joey Batey, Natasha O’Keeffe, Jeremy Swift.  Strike is approached by Leonora Quine with a plea to locate her husband, the notorious writer Owen Quine, who has disappeared without a trace. The plot, dealing with literature used as a sadistic weapon for revenge was never going to be easy to adapt for TV and whilst the first book stretched to a 3-hour adaptation, here Robert Galbraith’s (J.K. Rowling) second Cormoran Strike novel is condensed into 2 hours. Whilst this creates some necessary tightening of the plot, it does make for demanding viewing in trying to keep up with its intricacies. Those who do so will be rewarded with a strong variation on the traditional whodunit. Burke and Grainger again excel in their lead roles and the support acting all round is strong. The series will return in 2018 with an adaptation of the third novel in the series, “Career of Evil”. [15]

Film Review – SHOWDOWN AT THE END OF THE WORLD (TV) (1973)

Showdown at the End of the World (TV) (1973; USA; Technicolor; 74m) ***  d. Lou Antonio; w. Robert Hamner; ph. William Cronjager; m. Lee Holdridge.  Cast: Dennis Weaver, J. D. Cannon, Bradford Dillman, Lee J. Cobb, Eddie Egan, Jaclyn Smith, Terry Carter. McCloud falls for model smuggling drugs to find a missing roommate. Strong entry in the McCloud series with an excellent guest cast and good use of NYC locations – including a finale at the disused observatory towers from 1964/5’s World Fare. [PG]

Film Review – LADY ON THE RUN (TV) (1975)

Lady on the Run (TV) (1975; USA; Technicolor; 97m) **½  d. Russ Mayberry; w. Gilbert Edd; ph. Ben Colman, Gilbert Torres; m. Stu Phillips.  Cast: Dennis Weaver, J. D. Cannon, Terry Carter, Mariette Hartley, Clu Gulager, Ken Lynch. A dead woman’s vengeful sister pursues her brother-in-law to Mexico City, but an assassin finds him first. McCloud entry is one long chase and travelogue. A slight (and old) plot of mistaken identity provides an excuse for fugitive pursuit through the city. Filmed on location in Mexico City, with many fine day and night interiors and exteriors centred around the Grand Hotel. [PG]