|John Cassavetes as Johnny Staccato|
JOHNNY STACCATO 1959 television series.
Johnny Staccato (John Cassavetes) is a "jazz detective" because he's not only a private eye, but plays piano in a jazz combo at Waldo's. There were 27 black and white half hour episodes. Waldo was played by Eduardo Ciannelli. Cassavetes was excellent as a different type of slightly brooding detective. Halfway through the series, the piano playing opening was replaced with a more action-oriented sequence. Among some of the more memorable episodes: "Night of Jeopardy" -- a mob counterfeiter thinks Johnny has possession of a certain package; "Double Feature" -- Johnny's exact double is a deadly hit man; "Swinging Long Hair" -- an Iron Curtain pianist and his wife run from murderous agents; "Nice Little Town" -- a powerful episode in which a soldier who broke under torture is called a communist and murdered; "The Mask of Jason" -- a disfigured man (Bert Remsen) tries to reconnect with his horrible beauty queen ex-wife (Mary Tyler Moore); "Piece of Paradise" -- a jockey (a superb Walter Burke) is accused of strangling a dance hall girl; "Solomon" -- a defense attorney (an overacting Elisha Cook Jr.) wants Johnny to perjure himself for his client (an excellent Cloris Leachman); "The Wild Reed" -- a troubled saxophonist (Harry Guardino) with a drug problem; "List of Death" -- Johnny is hired by a dying mobster with a new face (Paul Stewart); "Murder for Credit" -- who killed a singer making a comeback, with memorable performances by Martin Landau, Charles McGraw and Marilyn Clark. Generally well-scripted and always well-acted, Johnny Staccato was a fine addition to the private eye television genre.
Verdict: Cool, man, cool. ***.