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.
ALIAS SMITH AND JONES (TV) (USA, 1971) ***½
Distributor: American Broadcasting Company (ABC); Production Company: Universal Television; Release Date: 5 January 1971 (USA), 19 April 1971 (UK); Filming Dates: 8-28 October 1970; Running Time: 74m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1; BBFC Cert: PG.
Director: Gene Levitt; Writer: Glen A. Larson, Douglas Heyes (based on a story by Glen A. Larson); Executive Producer: Frank Price; Producer: Glen A. Larson; Director of Photography: John M. Stephens; Music Composer: Billy Goldenberg; Film Editor: Bob Kagey; Art Director: George C. Webb; Set Decorator: Mickey S. Michaels; Costumes: Grady Hunt; Make-up: Bud Westmore, Larry Germain; Sound: Melvin M. Metcalfe Sr.
Cast: Pete Duel (Hannibal Heyes (alias Joshua Smith)), Ben Murphy (Jed ‘Kid’ Curry (alias Thaddeus Jones)), Forrest Tucker (Deputy Harker Wilkins), Susan Saint James (Miss Porter), James Drury (Sheriff Lom Trevors), Jeanette Nolan (Miss Birdie Pickett), Earl Holliman (Wheat), Dennis Fimple (Kyle), Bill Fletcher (Kane), John Russell (Marshall), Charles Dierkop (Shields), Bill McKinney (Lobo), Sid Haig (Outlaw), Jerry Harper (Outlaw), Jon Shank (Outlaw), Peter Brocco (Pincus), Harry Hickox (Bartender), Owen Bush (Engineer), Julie Cobb (Young Girl).
Synopsis: A pair of outlaws seeking amnesty from the Governor must stay incognito and out of trouble in a town while a friend pleads their case. The wait is complicated by a lovely bank manager and the arrival of members of their former gang.
Comment: Light-hearted spin on BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID (1969) coasts on the charm of Duel and Murphy who are backed by a strong guest cast. Duel and Murphy play Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry, two outlaws who are seeking amnesty as technology and improved communication systems put their train and bank robbing days behind them. The rest of their gang, led by the excellent Holliman, arrive in a town where Duel and Murphy have taken on honest jobs working as security in Saint James’ bank whilst Sheriff Drury puts their case to the governor. Tucker also scores as Drury’s dim-witted deputy, whilst Larson and Howard’s script is witty and entertaining. Levitt directs with a good feel for the tone required. This was the pilot for the subsequent TV series (1971-73), which ran for three seasons and 50 episodes with Roger Davis replacing Duel midway through the second season following the actor’s tragic suicide.
McCLOUD #3: THE KILLING by DAVID WILSON (1974, Award, 156pp) ***
Blurb: The killing started with a heist. Five men, masked as marauders from the past, knocked off an armoured car. They left no trace, save for a single silver spur. The plot was fiendishly clever, conceived by a money-hungry genius, executed by a brutal gang of desperate thieves. McCloud tracked down the band of robbers. But to stop them he had to keep them from committing another murder – his own!
Having re-watched many of the McCloud TV movies from the 1970s I bought the six paperback novelisations that were published between 1973 and 1975 by Award books. Having seen four of the six stories on screen, I picked this novelisation of Glen A. Larson’s script for “Butch Cassidy Rides Again” as the start point. This is one of four of the six to be attributed to author “David Wilson” – reported to be a pseudonym for at least one writer – maybe more judging by the stylistic differences between the books.
Reading the blurb you would think this was a dark, tense and violent thriller. It is not. What we have is a fairly straight-forward adaptation of Larson’s light script full of his trademark ironic humour. Larson (who worked as producer on the series) knows his main characters well, so all Wilson has to do is to let their witty dialogue tell the story and it flows through the book with little need for long descriptive passages. As such the book is a fast easy read and enjoyable, if more than a little far-fetched.