Film Review – CANNON: HE WHO DIGS A GRAVE (TV) (1973)

Cannon (1971)CANNON: HE WHO DIGS A GRAVE (TV) (1973, USA) ***
Action, Crime, Mystery
dist. Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS); pr co. Quinn Martin Productions (QM); d. Richard Donner; w. Stephen Kandel (based on the novel “He Who Digs a Grave” by David Delman); exec pr. Quinn Martin; pr. Adrian Samish; ph. Jack Swain (Colour. 35mm. Spherical. 1.33:1); th m. John Carl Parker; m sup. John Elizalde; ed. Ray Daniels, Jerry Young; ad. Bill Kenney; set d. Frank Lombardo; rel. 12 September 1973 (USA); cert: PG; r/t. 100m.

cast: William Conrad (Frank Cannon), Anne Baxter (Mayor Helen Blyth), Barry Sullivan (Sheriff Jesse Luke), David Janssen (Ian Kirk), Murray Hamilton (Arthur Gibson), Tim O’Connor (Martin Ross), Louise Troy (Louise Gibson), Lee Purcell (Marion Luke), Martine Bartlett (Hanna Freel), Royal Dano (Doctor), Robert Hogan (Deputy Coleman), R.G. Armstrong (Banner), Dabbs Greer (Windom Salter), Jerry Ayres (Deputy Reber), Lenore Kasdorf (Sherry Benson), Cathy Lee Crosby (Irene Kirk), Dennis Rucker (Wade Gibson), Virginia Gregg (Dr. Emma Savonka), Bill Quinn (Ben Salter).

Cannon  (Conrad) travels to the quiet, remote town of Mercer, California to help his friend Ian Kirk (Janssen, in a rare late career guest slot) who is suspected of murdering his rich wife (Crosby) and her paramour Wade Gibson (Rucker). As Cannon tries to prove his friend’s innocence, he gets help from the mayor (Baxter) but is stymied in his efforts by the sheriff (Sullivan)’s office. Several other viable suspects present themselves, people who had reason to hate Wade, including his stepfather (Hamilton) and the sheriff’s daughter (Purcell). This feature-length opener to season three of the popular TV series is a more complex mystery than the standard TV fare, reflecting its literary roots (it was based on a novel by David Delman). There is a great role for Baxter as the small town’s mayor who seems to be the only one in turn willing to give Conrad a fair crack of the whip. The action scenes are well-mounted, and Donner works the script well, but the camera work is largely unimaginative, lacking the hand-held realism of the pilot film. Nevertheless, the strong cast and script make this an enjoyable episode. Shot on location in Grass Valley, northern California.

Film Review – THE GREEN BERETS (1968)

Image result for the green berets 1968Green Berets, The (1969; USA; Technicolor; 142m) **  d. Ray Kellogg, John Wayne; w. James Lee Barrett; ph. Winton C. Hoch; m. Miklós Rózsa.  Cast: John Wayne, David Janssen, Jim Hutton, Aldo Ray, Raymond St. Jacques, Bruce Cabot, Jack Soo, George Takai, Patrick Wayne, Luke Askew, Irene Tsu, Edward Faulkner, Jason Evers, Mike Henry, Vera Miles. A US army colonel picks two teams of crack Green Berets for a mission in South Vietnam. First off is to build and control a camp that is trying to be taken by the enemy the second mission is to kidnap a North Vietnamese General. Misguided attempt to justify US involvement in Vietnam War by serving it up with genre heroics seen in many flag-waving WWII movies. Wayne gives his usually competent square-jawed performance, but he is not well served by a long-winded and sloppy script plus uneven supporting performances. Based on the novel by Robin Moore. [12]

Film Review – SUCH DUST AS DREAMS ARE MADE ON (TV) (1973)

Image result for such dust as dreams are made onSuch Dust as Dreams Are Made On (TV) (1973; USA; Colour; 76m) ***  d. Jerry Thorpe; w. Howard Rodman; ph. Jack Woolf; m. Billy Goldenberg.  Cast: David Janssen, Martin Sheen, Margot Kidder, Will Geer, Marianna Hill, Sal Mineo, Mel Stewart, Kathleen Lloyd, Lawrence Cook, Karen Lamm, Les Lannom, S. John Launer, Bill McLean, Cheryl Ladd, Joe Hoover. A private detective is hired by a slightly wacky female to find her brother, who is AWOL from the navy. Janssen is excellent as the dour PI Harry Orwell, Whilst the character and script lacked the wry narration that would make the subsequent series so enjoyable, this is still a professionally packaged tale. Sheen and Mineo head a strong supporting cast in this made-for-TV movie was the first pilot for Harry O (1974-6). For some reason this pilot didn’t sell the show, but someone at ABC saw enough in it that a second pilot was made seven months later: SMILE JENNY, YOU’RE DEAD (1974). [15]

Film Review – SMILE JENNY, YOU’RE DEAD (TV) (1974)

Image result for smile jenny you're deadSmile Jenny, You’re Dead (TV) (1974; USA; Colour; 96m) ***½  d. Jerry Thorpe; w. Howard Rodman; ph. Jack Woolf; m. Billy Goldenberg.  Cast: David Janssen, Andrea Marcovicci, John Anderson, Jodie Foster, Howard Da Silva, Tim McIntire, Zalman King, Clu Gulager, Martin Gabel, Barbara Leigh, Victor Argo, Ellen Weston, Harvey Jason, Chet Winfield, Bill McLean. An ex-cop protects his ex-partner’s supermodel daughter when she becomes the target of an psychopath who kills the men intimately involved with her. Second pilot for Janssen’s Harry O TV series is a classy detective thriller built around themes of obsession, with King giving a truly creepy performance. A strong script, tight direction and a moody score add to the atmosphere. Look out for a young Jodie Foster as a pre-teen runaway. [PG]