McCLOUD: ENCOUNTER WITH ARIES (TV) (1971, USA) ***½
Crime, Drama, Mystery
Network: NATIONAL BROADCASTING COMPANY (NBC) (USA); production company: UNIVERSAL TELEVISION; director: RUSS MAYBERRY; writer: PETER ALLAN FIELDS; producer: DEAN HARGROVE; associate producer: PETER ALLAN FIELDS; director of photography: WILLIAM MARGULIES (Technicolor | 35mm | Spherical | 1.37:1); music: DICK DEBENEDICTIS; film editor: BYRON ‘BUZZ’ BRANDT; art director: WILLIAM H. TUNTKE; set decorator: JOSEPH J. STONE; costumes: GRADY HUNT; sound: EDWIN S. HALL (Mono); broadcast date: 22 SEPTEMBER 1971 (USA); BBFC cert: PG; running time: 76 MINS.
Cast: DENNIS WEAVER (Sam McCloud), J.D. CANNON (Peter B. Clifford), SEBASTIAN CABOT (Sidney Cantrell), PETER HASKELL (Richard Stevens), SUSAN STRASBERG (Lorraine), LOUISE LATHAM (Emily Cantrell), ALAN OPPENHEIMER (Mervin Simmons), TERRY CARTER (Det. Joe Broadhurst), ROBERT HOGAN (Detective Finnegan), JILL JARESS (Gloria), BOOTH COLMAN (Hines), WOODROW PARFREY (Elmer), ELISHA COOK JR. (Mr. Rafer), FORREST LEWIS (Old Man), FRED HOLLIDAY (Intern), ELIZABETH LANE (Nurse), ATHENA LORDE (Floor Nurse), NANCY JERIS (Marie), JAMES GAVIN (Policeman).
The kidnapping of a woman (Latham) who is married to a wealthy astrologer (Cabot) — and the appearance of her kidnapper (Haskell), who claims she is being held in a room with a ticking time bomb — spur the woman’s husband to bash in the kidnapper’s head with a vase. This leaves McCloud (Weaver) with a limited time to determine where the woman is and who is really behind the kidnapping. This was the first episode following the transition of McCloud from its one-hour slot as part of the Four-in-One wheel to a regular rotation as part of the NBC Mystery Movie series. The story is a strong one with elements of mystery and humour. By now the role of McCloud fits the charming Weaver as well as his cowboy boots and his sparring with Cannon is always a joy to watch. A good script by Fields, tight direction from Mayberry and the casting of Cabot as the astrologer also help make this an above average mystery movie.
TEN WANTED MEN (USA, 1955) **½
Distributor: Columbia Pictures; Production Company: Columbia Pictures Corporation / Ranown Pictures Corp.; Release Date: 1 February 1955; Filming Dates: 17 April 1954 – 7 May 1954; Running Time: 80m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono (Western Electric Recording); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: U.
Director: H. Bruce Humberstone; Writer: Kenneth Gamet (based on a story by Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank Jr.); Producer: Harry Joe Brown; Associate Producer: Randolph Scott; Director of Photography: Wilfred M. Cline; Music Composer: Paul Sawtell; Film Editor: Gene Havlick; Art Director: Edward L. Ilou; Set Decorator: Frank Tuttle; Sound: John P. Livadary, Jack A. Goodrich.
Cast: Randolph Scott (John Stewart), Jocelyn Brando (Corinne Michaels), Richard Boone (Wick Campbell), Alfonso Bedoya (Hermando), Donna Martell (Maria Segura), Skip Homeier (Howie Stewart), Clem Bevans (Tod Grinnel), Leo Gordon (Frank Scavo), Minor Watson (Jason Carr), Lester Matthews (Adam Stewart), Tom Powers (Henry Green), Dennis Weaver (Sheriff Clyde Gibbons), Lee Van Cleef (Al Drucker), Kathleen Crowley (Marva Gibbons (uncredited)), Louis Jean Heydt (Tom Baines (uncredited)), Edna Holland (Ann (uncredited)), Francis McDonald (Deputy Warner (uncredited)), Boyd ‘Red’ Morgan (Red Dawes (uncredited)), Denver Pyle (Dave Weed (uncredited)).
Synopsis: When his ward seeks protection with a rival cattleman an embittered, jealous rancher hires ten outlaws to help him seize power in the territory.
Comment: This routine B-Western is one of the lesser examples of Scott and Brown’s productions through the 1950s. The story is a familiar tale of a range war between Scott and Boone following Boone’s ward resisting his advances and running to Scott’s nephew, Homeier. Shot on location at Old Tucson the film suffers from weak direction by Humberstone and some hammy performances – notably Homeier. Scott looks too classy for the material, but gamely makes the most of a by-the-numbers script whilst Boone, early in his career, is still finding his range. Some of the doubling stunt work is obvious and there are technical continuity errors that hint at the rushed nature of the production. Despite its faults, this is still a reasonably diverting entertainment.
Give My Regrets to Broadway (TV) (1972; USA; Technicolor; 75m) **½ d. Lou Antonio; w. Peter Allan Fields; ph. Harry L. Wolf; m. Billy Goldenberg. Cast: Dennis Weaver, J. D. Cannon, Milton Berle, Barbara Rush, Janette Lane Bradbury, Diana Muldaur, Terry Carter, Eric Christmas, Vic Tayback. An explosion kills an officer filling in for McCloud. The plot here is routine in this McCloud series entry and there is plenty of filler with a musical number for Weaver and also Bradbury. Berle has a guest role as a Broadway producer. [PG]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]