M-SQUAD – The Golden Look -1957
This is the first episode of the 1957-1960 crime series, M SQUAD. The series ran for 117 episodes and featured Lee Marvin as the headliner. Marvin is a lieutenant with the elite M-Squad unit of the Chicago Police.
Two men (Ken Lynch and Henry Brandon) enter a check cashing office. It is just after a large cash drop off from an armored car outfit. The two pull weapons and "ask" for the cash that has just been delivered. One of the clerks hits the alarm button which panics the would-be hold-up men. Lynch and Brandon empty their pistols into the clerks and hotfoot it out.
They jump in their car and floor it. Several blocks later they have a head on with another car killing the driver and passenger. Lynch is also killed in the collision. As a crowd gathers, Brandon pulls his gun and forces his way through the crowd and escapes.
Police Lt. Frank Ballinger (Lee Marvin) gets the call to attend the robbery scene. The collision up the street is soon tied in. Marvin and fellow detective Bruce Gordon hit that location as well for a look-see. They are just hauling off the bodies. Marvin and Gordon talk to the witnesses for an i.d. on the man who got away. All anyone can tell them is that the man has a scalp gash, and a mouthful of gold teeth.
Now another call comes in about a car being taken at gunpoint several blocks away. The victim says that the guilty person had a head wound and a mouthful of gold teeth. Marvin has the uniform types out looking for the stolen car.
Fingerprints soon identify Lynch as an ex-sailor with a prison record. The known associates file is pulled for a look through. At the same time a bulletin is sent off to local hospitals and doctors about the head wound. The car used in the robbery is now traced back to a worker (Frank Richards) in the stockyards. This goes nowhere as it seems that the car had been stolen without Richards' knowledge.
A fingerprint lifted off the car has the detectives rousting a service station owner (Tyler McVey). It seems McVey sold the bandits gas that morning. He recalled because he noticed that the car was hot-wired. He also mentions that both were dressed as sailors. The search is now directed towards the waterfront.
Marvin and Gordon check out the small medical clinics around the area. They hit pay dirt as a doctor recalls working on a head wound. He did not call the Police because the man did not have any gold teeth. So he figured it was not the man they wanted. Marvin plays a hunch and asks for the man's name etc. He also collects the blood type etc on the patient. It turns out the man is who they are looking for. A quick drive to the dock and a visit to Brandon's ship is now made.
The ship's First Mate (John Mitchum) shows Marvin to Brandon's bunk where Marvin does a quick search. He does not find a gun, but he does discover a bunch of gold foil. The foil was used as a disguise to throw off the Police. Brandon soon shows, but is not willing to come quietly. A first rate round of flying fists is needed before the matter is settled. Brandon is now off to jail and a date with the judge.
Thus is a decent first effort. While mostly shot on the back lot, there are plenty of Chicago shot exteriors. This of course helps with the overall look of the show. An interesting tidbit about the exteriors was given by Lee Marvin, in an interview several years after the series. The crew and Marvin would fly into Chicago then spend a day or two just driving around town. They would shoot a whole series of Marvin standing on various street corners, in front of famous buildings, landmarks etc. Then they would just as fast leave town. It was all done on the sly since they could not get city permits to film.
The director here is long-time television veteran Bernard Girard. The d of p was long-time Republic Pictures cinematographer William Bradford. The only film of note he worked on was THE FIGHTING SEEBEES starring John Wayne.
The main villain, Henry Brandon, is one of those actors whose name might not ring a bell, but their face will. He played the Indian Scar in the John Ford western, THE SEARCHERS.