Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, October 3, 2013


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. ***.

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