Book Review – McCLOUD #3: THE KILLING (1974) by David Wilson

McCLOUD #3: THE KILLING by DAVID WILSON (1974, Award, 156pp) ***

BlurbThe 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.

Film Review – GIVE MY REGRETS TO BROADWAY (TV) (1972)

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]

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 – 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]