How Long Is Yours?

February 20, 2014

On Monday The A.V. Club ran a piece called Beyond True Detective: 17 Long Takes Worth Your Attention, to which I contributed two capsules.  They aren’t bylined individually, but I wrote the bit on the John Frankenheimer Climax episode and the one on Peyton Place, in which I managed to work in yet another plug for the amazing imagery of episodic director Walter Doniger.

This article was inspired by a single, climactic shot in the fourth episode of the HBO drama True Detective.  That shot garnered a lot of attention: it staged a complex, six-minute action sequence without a single cut, and it went “viral” in a way that was a little surprising.  For most of the year television critics usually can’t be bothered to focus on television as a visual medium: it’s all plot, plot, plot, and occasionally some notes on the acting.  All of a sudden, we spent a week thinking about television formally.

As encouraging as that is, it has a down side.  For one thing, we’re not even used to talking about the form of television.  The A.V. Club piece is a case in point: even after some useful dickering on Twitter over the distinctions between a long take and a tracking shot and a handheld or Steadicam shot and a sequence shot (the most accurate term for what was being listed there, although it’s not used much outside of film school), someone made an editorial decision to use “long shot” as an umbrella term for all of the above.  But “long shot” actually means something different: it describes an unrelated type of composition in which the camera is a certain distance from the subject of the shot.

As the tentativeness of the first paragraph suggests, it’s hard to pin down just what kind of long take we’re interested in discussing.  A long take can also be completely static, and as such it’s likely to convey a very different (even diametrically opposite) meaning than the frenetic True Detective shot.  In Frankenheimer’s Playhouse 90 “Days of Wine and Roses,” the scene in which the two principal characters fall in love runs for seven minutes and five seconds, with only a handful of subtle camera moves.  The emphasis is on the actors; the purpose of the duration is let them perform without interruptions, and to prevent cuts from distracting viewers from the subtlety of their work.  The True Detective-style long take poses a wholly different set of challenges for the actors, more technical than emotional: the priorities are timing and hitting marks with precision.  On Peyton Place, where Doniger tried on a regular basis to execute scenes in a single takes, the actors were sharply split in their preference for his method versus the more traditional approach of carving the action into smaller pieces.

When the subject of long takes in television first came up, I grew frustrated at how ill-equipped I was to write about them on short notice.  I do have a personal roster of favorite early TV directors who regularly mounted this kind of ambitious, exuberant filmmaking within the tight time and money constraints of episodic television: not just Frankenheimer and Doniger, about whom I’ve written at length, but also sixties action masters Walter Grauman, Sutton Roley, and John Peyser.  If I’d had better notes or more time, I would have loved to get in one of a handheld shot from one of Peyser’s (or Vic Morrow’s) Combat episodes, or a tracking shot from a Mannix or a QM show signed by Roley.  And I didn’t recall until the eleventh hour the fondness that Elliot Silverstein expressed for long takes when I interviewed him.  Silverstein described a long, complicated master that he did for Dr. Kildare – and his fury when he discovered that the editors inserted freeze-frames into it, in keeping with the show’s house style for its opening act credits.

Long takes were rare in early filmed television, because of the kind of obstacle Rosenberg encountered.  Producers often competed with their directors for control over how a show looked.  Even if a director staged scenes in a single master, the producer and the editors could cut away from it in post production.  To ensure that a long take (or any other kind of adventurous set-up) was the only take that could be used, a director had to be forceful enough to resist a producer’s or a studio’s demands for more coverage (that is, more shots of the same action from different angles).  Silverstein made a concerted effort to insert himself into the editing process (the DGA guaranteed a TV director’s right to supervise the initial cut of his episodes), but he was an exception.  Apart from the question of whether or not the director was welcome in the editing room, many directors simply couldn’t afford to pass up an assignment on another episode just to hang around the editing room on the previous one.

Originally, I opened that blurb on Climax with this quote from Frankenheimer: “What can I do that’s going to be startling, that’s going to call attention to this show as opposed to every other piece of crap they’ve done on this thing?”  What’s significant about that line is Frankenheimer’s bluntness about using the long take purely as an attention-getting device – a stunt.  Confronted with material he didn’t like, Frankenheimer chose to overpower it with style.  When I polled a few colleagues about possible shots to use in this discussion, Jonah Horwitz (a PhD candidate specializing in film and early television at UW-Madison) took issue with the whole premise.  “I find the whole ‘my long take can beat your long take’ topic macho and boring,” he wrote.  Long takes can be a kind of dick-measuring contest between competitive, egocentric filmmakers (a description that certainly applies to the live TV anthology group).  The more complex the shot, the more it invites a spectator to disengage from the art and marvel at the technique – which is exactly what happened with that True Detective shot.  As with many of Breaking Bad’s stylistic choices, the goal seems to be awesomeness rather than rigor or seriousness.

But I don’t share Horwitz’s exasperation with long take mania, and not just because I enjoy the most gonzo shots as their own spectacle.  Another contributor to the A.V. Club piece mentioned “The Stingiest Man in Town,” the Alcoa Hour Christmas story directed by Daniel Petrie, and wrote this: “Many programs in the Golden Age Of Television were filmed in long takes for one simple reason: Filmed live as they were, editing had to be kept at a minimum, and anything too complicated (such as a massive musical number that also wanted to give close-ups of the singers) had to be carefully choreographed, the actors and cameramen moving in tandem with each other to achieve the maximum effect.”  The problem with that is the part about editing.  While there were some limitations (like studio space) that made long takes appealing to live television directors, editing wasn’t one of them.  Directors understood quickly how much of their power to guide the viewer’s eye across a small, monochrome screen came out of those cuts from one perspective to another.  And cutting stroked the ego as much as any showy long take: no director ever felt more directorial than when he was standing in the control room, snapping out the show’s rhythm with his fingers as he called out each cut from one camera to another: “Take one, take two, take one, take three….”  The conditions of live television were more hospitable toward long takes than they were on film, and they are common on Danger and Climax and to a lesser extent Playhouse 90.  But the long take was never a default mode in anthology drama – it was always one of an array of stylistic choices.

The popularization of the Steadicam in the eighties meant something of a resurgence in long takes on television (as it did in the cinema, where Scorsese and DePalma fetishized them).  If handheld photography had originally been a consistent stylistic component mainly in series like Combat and The Senator, which cultivated a documentary-style realism, the Steadicam made it possible for handheld work to be more smoothly integrated with fixed-camera shots.  Steadicam photography was faster and more versatile than tracking shots could be; most television shows’ sets weren’t built to accommodate the laying of track or the passage of the camera through every nook and cranny.  (If you study the Walter Doniger sequence that’s embedded in the A.V. Club piece, you’ll notice that the camera doesn’t actually have the mobility to follow the actors very far into the set.  Doniger covers for that limitation ably with a lot of lateral movement, and by pushing in and out repeatedly.)  Director Thomas Schlamme’s fabled “walk and talk” aesthetic, tailored to put Aaron Sorkin’s verbose dialogue on its feet, defined The West Wing and has carried over somewhat into Sorkin’s current endeavor, The Newsroom, via Greg Mottola and other directors.  And John Wells, the perennially underrated auteur who succeeded Sorkin as The West Wing’s showrunner, has made even more extensive use of the long-take Steadicam look, which became ER’s signature technique for conveying the bustle of a busy hospital.  Wells’s Third Watch did an episode in which each act was a single take.  The A.V. Club piece, and some of the readers’ comments, cover these recent works in detail.  One of the unstated takeaways from that list is, perhaps, that that one True Detective isn’t such a big deal after all.

Mia2

Mia1

In the early days of 1966, a seismic event rocked the soundstages of one of the most popular television series of the time, and, eventually, the pages of the gossip magazines.

Mia Farrow cut off all her hair.

Farrow, the twenty year-old breakout star of ABC’s smash prime-time serial Peyton Place, had become famous not just for her work on the series, but also for her romance with Frank Sinatra (who was two and a half times her age) and for the trend-setting long blond locks that hung down almost to her waist.

One morning, in the middle of a shooting day, Farrow took a pair of scissors and chopped off nearly all of those locks.  Eventually, her androgynous new ’do would become just as much of a fashion statement as the old one.  But, in the short term, the writers and production crew scrambled to fix the gigantic continuity problem that their mercurial star had suddenly created.  It wasn’t the first time they’d had to scramble to accommodate Farrow’s whims: a few months earlier, her insistence on joining Sinatra for a vacation on a private yacht off Martha’s Vineyard had forced the writers to abruptly put Farrow’s character, Alison Mackenzie, into a coma following a hit-and-run accident.

Ultimately, the episode in production during the infamous haircut- number 182 – took a self-reflexive turn.  A petulant Alison attempts to defend her shearing to a skeptical Dr. Rossi (Ed Nelson), in whose care she has remained after awakening from the coma.  Rossi guesses that Alison is acting out because of recent upheavals in her family life (specifically, she has learned that her birth occurred out of wedlock).  “You know what it really means, Doctor? It really means that I got tired of my long hair.  Simple,” is Alison’s final word on the matter.  Well, nearly final: as other characters saw Alison and reacted over the next few episodes, the writers worked in a few more barbs about the short hair.

This was Peyton Place’s JFK assassination moment, and its Rashomon – everyone who was present remembered it, and all of them remembered it differently.  Over the years, as I did the research that became the basis for my A.V. Club piece on the series, I came to see the incident of Mia’s hair as the ultimate example of both the value and the peril of oral history.  If the accuracy of any single source’s memory must be subject to doubt, the cross-section of incompatible impressions nevertheless captures the essence of the moment in dramatic detail. 

 

Ed Nelson (actor, “Dr. Michael Rossi”): One time she had been on a cruise with Sinatra and Claudette Colbert, on Claudette’s yacht down in the Caribbean.  When she came back, she was in a scene where she had been in bed and I had to help her walk.  And she wouldn’t look at me in any of the dialogue.  In between rehearsals, I said, “What’s the deal?  You’re not looking at me.”  She says, “Well, Claudette told me, ‘Never look at the man that much.  Let him look at you.’”  I said, “Oh.”  So when she got up to walk and I was supposed to grab her when she almost fell, I let her go and she fell.  She got up and started pounding on my chest: “You let me fall!”  I said, “If I’d let you fall as far as you should, you’d have gone to China!”  She was very, very upset ….

Patricia Morrow (actress, “Rita Jacks”): That’s so cute, because Mia, long before she went on a cruise, she knew more from her dad and her mom than anybody that there was a way for everyone’s attention to be [on her].  I was cracking up, because I loved her.  She was just so unique and one of a kind.  But in every scene, everybody’s eyes would gravitate to Mia on film.  It was because she was playing around with the makeup.  Bob Hauser, the director of photography, would say, “She can’t do that!”  He’d go to the makeup man and say, “You’ve got to do this and that,” and Mia always found ways around it.  She was so smart in her guts about what was attention-getting.

Richard DeRoy (executive script consultant): I’m not the earliest riser in the world, particularly in those days, and Paul [Monash, the executive producer] called one morning.  My wife Jewel comes into the bedroom and [says], “It’s Paul!”  I’m groggy.  What could he be calling me about?  He says, “Dick!  Mia cut off her hair in the middle of an episode!”  

I said, “Paul, we’ll deal with it.”  And hung up.  I don’t even remember what we did.

Del Reisman (associate producer): That was one of those times when Paul called me and said, “Get down on the set, fast.  Mia cut her hair.”  So I went down on the set with two or three other people, maybe Sonya [Roberts, a staff writer], and she had indeed cut her hair.  Well, film has to match.  You can’t have a girl with blonde hair down to her hips, and then the next scene there’s nothing.

Everett Chambers (producer): We went through the haircutting of Mia Farrow.  I got a call from the assistant director, who says, “You’d better come down on the stage.  Mia’s just cut her hair off.”  

I said, “What are you talking about?”  

He said, “She cut her hair!”  

“What do you mean?”  

She cut her hair off.”  

So I go down there and she’s in the makeup room with no hair, right?  And I said, “Holy shit.  What is shooting?”  And they shot this scene, and they shot that scene, and they were supposed to shoot another one that was supposed to before the ones that she just did.  I said, “Uh-oh.  We’re in trouble.  How are we going to work that out?”  So I said to the hairdresser, “I dunno how you do it, put her hair back on!  I’ll be back.”  

I went up to Paul Monash’s office.  I said, “Paul, we got a problem.”  

“What is it?”  

I said, “Mia just cut her hair off.”  

He looked at me for a minute and he said, “You know, I just bought this book.  Takes place in Singapore.  It’s about this guy….”  He starts telling me all about that book.  Nothing to do with this problem.

I said, “Okay, Paul.  Thank you!”  

So I went into my office, looked at the script, saw we would have to change this and this, and then reverse this scene and put it here and add a couple of lines over here so it’ll make sense that she did it in between scenes.  So I worked that out, and we had to then get a writer to fix it and put the pages through and get it down on the stage.  That’s how we dealt with that.

Ed Nelson: I think she cut it herself, because it was whacked up originally.  Of course everybody knew nothing about it.  We were shooting and all of a sudden we found out.  So I went over to [makeup department head] Ben Nye and I had him put me on a bald head.  Bill Hole was our [associate producer], and I had him go in front of me and say, “Yeah, I know about Mia, but have you seen Nelson?”  And I went into the set and they went crazy!  They all laughed.  They even shot a couple of feet of film of Mia and I, which I wish I had.

Patricia Morrow: Ed is the one who actually made the situation much less tense on the set because all the producers and the broadcast people were there.  It was a nightmare.  All of us were just tiptoeing around on eggshells.  And it was such a relief to laugh.

Walter Doniger (series director, shooting or preparing another episode while 182 was being filmed): You know the story of her cutting her hair, don’t you?  Mia had beautiful long hair, and one day I’m walking down the street and I feel a [tense] vibration in the air.  I asked someone who worked on the show, “What the hell is going on?”  

“Mia cut her hair!”  

I said, “What?  In the middle of the day?”  

Paul Monash asked me to talk to her, and I went in to her and said, “What happened, Mia?”  She said, “It’s Barbara [Parkins, who played Alison's on-screen rival Betty Anderson].  She looks in mirrors all the time.  I couldn’t stand it.  I decided I didn’t want to be that way myself, so I cut my hair.”  Barbara was a sweet girl, but very self-adoring.

Jeffrey Hayden (director of episode 182; from his Archive of American Television interview, conducted by the author)Mia was lovely – very young, very malleable, very eager to make it.  She, at a certain point, was going out with Frank Sinatra.  I knew Frank Sinatra; I’d met him a few times.  She came to me one day and said, “Oh, Jeff, I’m so excited.  I’m going to go out with Frank tonight, and we’re going to go here and there….”  This was early in the relationship.

I said, “Mia.  You’re in the first shot tomorrow morning, and I know Sinatra.  He’s going to keep you out, if he can, till three o’clock in the morning, with his date at the club, and he’s going to be singing, and he’s going to want to go out with his buddies.  And you’re going to go with him, and it’ll be four in the morning, and Mia – you’re in the first shot tomorrow morning.  Please.  You’ve got to be here on time, we gotta go.  It’s a big day’s work ahead of us, and I want to see you not bleary-eyed first thing in the morning, first shot.”

“Okay, Jeff, okay.  Don’t worry, don’t worry.”  

Next morning, seven o’clock, seven-thirty, no Mia.  Eight o’clock, no Mia.  I start shooting inserts, keeping the crew busy.  Nine o’clock, she’s not there.  She walks in [at] ten o’clock.  I said, “Mia, do you realize – you know, I’m shooting inserts so they don’t bother me from the front office.  But we have,” whatever it was, “ten pages to do today.  It’s ten o’clock.  Get to that makeup table.  Stop this little girl stuff!  You’re an actress.  You’re a mature person.  You’ve got a crew of seventy-five people waiting to shoot your scenes.”  

She left.  She walked over to the makeup table.  I’m now setting up the camera for her first shot.  She came a minute, a minute and a half later, she walked over to me, held up her hand, full of the hair from the back of her head, and she said, “Jeff, no more little girl stuff.”  And handed me all her hair.  

I said, “Mia.  We’ve gotta match your last scene from yesterday’s shooting.  What’ll we do?”

“Well, I don’t know,” she said.  “I just wanted you to know: I’m growing up.  No more little girl.”  

Del Reisman: She was, or had been, involved with Sinatra, and Nancy Sinatra, the wife or ex-wife of Sinatra, threw a birthday party for him.  It was his fiftieth birthday.  [Mia] was definitely not invited, and he [Sinatra] would not take her.  And she was so angry that she did this to herself.

Everett Chambers: After she did it, I had a meeting with her and understood that she was in some pain, with this relationship – with Sinatra.  She told me he didn’t invite her to his birthday party.  Then, of course, they get married [six months] later.

Del Reisman: The whole writing group met in my office: “Okay, what are we going to do?”  We decided that off-stage, she had had some kind of an emotional breakdown, because it was easy with that character to suggest that.  We had Dr. Rossi come in to the room, and the scene was this: Dr. Rossi, very angry, saying, “Why have you done this to yourself?  You’ve done a terrible thing.  You’ve hurt your mother, you’ve really heart a lot of people by mutilating yourself.”  He had a huge speech, which a number of us worked on, and it was kind of our annoyance, the writing staff’s annoyance, at the fact that she messed us up.

Mia Farrow (from What Falls Away: A Memoir, 1997): It amazed me that girls my own age so often wrote about my hair, which in those days of “flips” and “bubbles” hung loose to my waist, solely because I was lazy and had never given much thought to it. The sudden focus on my looks and all the attention my hair was receiving was not entirely unpleasant, and that in itself made me wary.  The horror of vanity instilled in convent school – the same fear of pride that had let me to bury the rosary beads I had made from acorns – compelled me to cut my hair.

I waited for a moment in the Peyton Place storyline when it would fit; Alison’s nervous breakdown was perfect.  I didn’t ask for permission because I knew I wouldn’t get it: they would certainly oppose my changing any ingredient in a successful series.  So one morning before work, in the makeup room, I picked up a pair of scissors and cut my hair to less than an inch in length, laid it in a plastic Glad bag, and turned to the mirror.  It looked fine to me.  But the hairdresser was aghast, and the producers were upset, and people with wigs were summoned, and there were stern lectures about responsibility, and I apologized a lot, but privately I couldn’t see a problem.

There must have been nothing going on in the world that week, because my haircut got an absurd amount of press coverage.  There was wild speculation as to why I’d done it: some said it was to spite Frank, and back in New York, Dali, never one to minimize, labeled it “mythical suicide.”  But there was no drama, no fight with Frank, he loved my hair the minute he saw it, so I kept it short for years.

Hessler Credit

Gordon Hessler, the British-born director who was best known for his horror films but who had a longer career as a producer and director of American episodic television, died on January 19 at the age of 87.  Although mainstream outlets have yet to announce Hessler’s death, it has been confirmed by his wife Yvonne (via historian Tom Weaver) and a friend.

Hessler, with his sheepish grin and self-effacing air, was a genial and always accessible friend to film historians.  He came across as so quintessential an English gentleman to Americans that I fear Hessler’s quiet ambition, and his attitudinal kinship with the “angry young man” generation of his countrymen, have been overlooked in accounts of his career.

Hessler was born in Berlin, to an English mother and a Danish father, in 1926.  His father died when he was three and Hessler, whose first language was German (but only “kinderdeutsch,” he said), moved back to England with his mother as “things got a little steamy there” in Germany.  As a teenager he studied aeronautical engineering, and “at the tail end” of World War II he was conscripted into the British Army, although the war ended before Hessler saw combat.

At this point during our 1997 interview I started counting on my fingers, because every reference source gave Hessler’s date of birth as December 12, 1930.  Hessler conceded that, having sensed the film industry’s potential for ageism early on, he had subtracted four years from his age at the start of his career.

The end of the war meant that Hessler was entering the workforce just as thousands of servicemen came home to reclaim their old jobs.  While still in the Army, Hessler knocked on doors in the film industry, working as an extra (somewhere in the background of Bonnie Prince Charlie and Duvivier’s Anna Karenina, he lurks) and talking his way into a meeting with Alexander Korda’s right-hand man.  But he observed that “there was a depression in England in the film business.  It was pretty tough – you couldn’t get financing.”  Hessler opted to emigrate to the United States, figuring he’d have a better chance to break into filmmaking there.

In New York, he took a night shift job at an automat (possibly the famous Horn and Hardart) while looking for movie work during the day.  Warner-Pathe News hired him as a driver, “which was perfect for me,” Hessler said.  “I took the film to all the editors, and each editor I met, [I’d ask], ‘Could you hire me?’  Finally I got hired in the documentary business.”

Hessler worked as an editor first for a company called Films For Industry and then for Fordel Films, in the Bronx.  “I had no formal education on editing,” said Hessler, who scrambled to learn the trade from anyone who would show him.  The first film he was assigned was directed by Jack Arnold, who would soon go to Hollywood to make pictures like The Creature From the Black Lagoon.  “I couldn’t put the thing together!” Hessler remembered.  “The film looked awful.  I went to the optical lab and said, ‘You’ve got to help me.  It’s my first picture.’  They said, ‘Jack Arnold shot the whole thing incorrectly.  He didn’t know what he was doing.’  All the pieces were facing the wrong way.  All I could do to make it work was flip the film.”

Fordel Films employed some fellow English expatriates, and Hessler worked his way up to “running the company, [as] sort of a vice president of directing pictures,” Hessler said.  He made documentaries in Atlanta (about the school system) and Annapolis (about St. John’s College).  The TV listings of the May 20, 1956 edition of The New York Herald Tribune contain a photograph of Hessler with one of the subjects of “The Child Behind the Wall,” a documentary about emotionally disturbed children in a Philadelphia hospital, which was shown on NBC under the March of Medicine umbrella.

“I was making really a tremendous amount of money at that time for a young guy, and I gave it all up to come to Los Angeles,” Hessler recalled.  I’d had awards with my documentaries.  I thought, ‘God, this is going to be easy, taking these pictures and showing them to [executives].”  Nobody was slightest bit interested in even looking at them!  No matter what awards I’d won.”

Hessler was out of work for a year before MCA, which was expanding in conjunction with its acquisition of Universal Studios, hired him in June of 1958, initially as an assistant to story editor Mae Livingston.  He became one of four or five people who “floated around the lot,” assigned to various producers (including, in Hessler’s case, former Studio One impresario Felix Jackson, reduced to producing half-hour Westerns like Cimarron City and The Restless Gun) and tasked with coming up with ideas for series to pitch to the networks.

After a year or so, Hessler was assigned to the quaint Shamley Productions unit, a small and largely isolated unit that created Alfred Hitchcock Presents under the legendary director’s banner.  The hands-on producers were Joan Harrison, who was English, and New Jersey-born Norman Lloyd, whose erudition was so cultivated that he was often taken for an Englishman.  Hessler assumed that he got the job simply because his accent fit in. 

Most episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents were adaptations of short stories, and as “story editor” Hessler was essentially a glorified reader.  He did talk his way into directing a single Hitchcock episode in 1961, as well as actors’ screen tests for the studio.  (Hessler didn’t get a regular screen credit until 1962, when the series expanded into The Alfred Hitchcock Hour – which meant he had to binge-read novels instead of short stories.)  Hessler also directed theater productions in his spare time.  But at Universal, competent producers were in shorter supply than directors, and the studio consistently (and rather cruelly) blocked Hessler’s attempts to transition into directing, even though he made it clear to anyone who would listen that that was his goal.  Following Harrison’s departure in 1963, Hessler was promoted to producer, but even then he was seen as a junior staffer, subordinate not only to Lloyd (now the showrunner, and with whom Hessler had a good and lasting relationship; he cast Lloyd in his final film, Shogun Mayeda, twenty-some years later) but to various other producers who were assigned batches of Hitchcock episodes during the final two seasons.

“I was so arrogant in those days,” laughed Hessler, who felt keenly the generational divide between himself and the established producers and directors for whom he worked.  “I was assigned to Paul Henreid as sort of a gofer.  They’d say to look after him, so I would go over there, take him to lunch, and make sure he had everything.  I thought, ‘Oh, God, when can I get away from this old duffer?’  Now, if I knew the guy, I could talk to him about Casablanca!” 

When Hitchcock went off the air in 1965, Hessler was still under contract to Universal and left more or less to fend for himself in terms of attaching himself to existing shows or developing new properties and getting the studio to green-light them.  (Lloyd found himself in a similar limbo, and ended up producing a few early TV movies and some episodes of The Name of the Game – something of a comedown from the prestigious association with Hitchcock.)  Hessler worked on the first season of Run For Your Life, as a producer under Roy Huggins, and then on a few segments of The Chrysler Theater in its final (1966-1967) season, under executive producer Gordon Oliver.  At least two of those, “The Fatal Mistake” and “Blind Man’s Bluff,” were English-flavored suspense pieces that deliberately sought to recapture the Hitchcock flavor, and thus bore Hessler’s clear fingerprints.  He also got to direct “Blind Man’s Bluff” – six years later, it was his second episodic television credit as director. 

(In between them, during the penultimate season of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Hessler had taken a hiatus in England to direct a low-budget horror film, The Woman Who Wouldn’t Die, which also bore some DNA from his regular job: The film was based on a novel – Jay Bennett’s Catacombs – rejected for Hitchcock, and Hessler brought in Joel Murcott, one of the series’ regular writers, to do an uncredited rewrite of Daniel Mainwaring’s screenplay.)

“I hated the studio system,” Hessler told me flatly.  “I was not cut out for it.  I liked to freelance.”  Leaving Universal after his Chrysler Theater assignment, he picked up a directorial assignment from producer Steve Broidy, for a Western feature called God’s High Table, to star Clint Walker and Suzanne Pleshette.  That production was cancelled at the last minute and Hessler moved immediately to another indie, The Last Shot You Hear, an adaptation of a British play that was a more close continuation of his Hitchcock/Chrysler drawing-room suspense niche.  This, his second feature, was filmed at the end of 1967 but released two years later.  By that time, Hessler had taken a job at AIP, in what appeared to be another staff producing role; but it quickly evolved into an opportunity to direct a series of English horror pictures that starred the genre icons of the day (Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing).  Those four films became the works for which Hessler is best remembered: The Oblong Box, Scream and Scream Again, Cry of the Banshee, and The Murders in the Rue Morgue.

Although he directed clusters of little-known features in both the early seventies and late eighties, Hessler spent much of the time in between directing American movies of the week and series episodes.  Of the former, the best known fall, fittingly, into the horror genre: 1973’s Scream, Pretty Peggy (with Bette Davis, and co-written by Hammer Films veteran Jimmy Sangster, also self-exiled to US television by that time), 1977’s The Strange Possession of Mrs. Oliver (with Karen Black, and scripted by Richard Matheson), and the cross-over cult item KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park (1978).  (Oddly, a Fangoria post with tributes to Hessler from two KISS members appeared ahead of any confirmation of his death.)  Of the episodic work, Hessler contributed to some good shows: Lucas Tanner, Hawaii Five-O, and a one-off for Kolchak: The Night Stalker (“The Spanish Moss Murders”) that is routinely cited as the best of its twenty episodes.  But he directed more for CHiPs than any other series, perhaps a definitive signal that Hessler’s enthusiasm and good taste didn’t align with first-rate opportunities as often as he, or his admirers, might have hoped.

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On a personal note, Hessler was one of the first people I interviewed at length when I was a film school undergraduate in Los Angeles.  He invited me up to his lovely home overlooking Sunset Boulevard not once, but twice, enduring many of the same questions a second time after I discovered that mysterious tape recorder malfunction wiped out most of the first go-round.  Gordon also generously brokered introductions to Norman Lloyd and Ray Bradbury, both of whom probably would have been otherwise inaccessible to me at that point.  How, I ask, can you not hold in special esteem the person who brings Ray Bradbury into your life?  

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Ralph Woolsey was born before World War I.

Woolsey, who turned 100 on January 1, is best known the cinematographer on more than a dozen cult and exploitation movies of the 1970s, some of them outliers in the New Hollywood movement of innovative, European-influenced studio filmmaking: The Lawyer; The Strawberry Statement; Little Fauss and Big Halsy; Deadhead Miles; The Culpepper Cattle Co.; The New Centurions; Dirty Little Billy; Rafferty and the Gold Dust Twins; Lifeguard; Mother, Jugs & Speed; and The Great Santini.  Woolsey photographed The Mack as well as The Pack, and two features for John Frankenheimer, The Iceman Cometh and 99 44/100% Dead.

Before he transitioned into features, though, Woolsey was a prolific director of photography in television.  He made a comparatively late entry into the medium via Warner Bros., which needed a large corps of DPs to churn out the suddenly popular Westerns and private eye shows that put its TV department on the map in the late fifties.  Fast and cheap, the Warners shows attracted a mix of newcomers and veterans, many of them favored more for speed than talent.

After Warner’s television department faltered in the mid-sixties, Woolsey followed 77 Sunset Strip producer Howie Horwitz to Fox, where he became the original director of photography for Batman.  Next Woolsey moved to Universal, where he worked on It Takes a Thief (for which he won an Emmy) and The Name of the Game.

In June of 2012, I spoke with Woolsey about his career by telephone.  Although many of the shows and the stars (especially at Warners, where DPs rotated among a dozen different shows instead of settling in on just one) were a blur, Woolsey had some fascinating, detailed recollections of the nuts and bolts of his profession and of many of the directors with whom he worked.

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How did you get involved with Warner Bros. in the early days of its television operation?

The first show was Maverick.  Basically, I was a freelance cinematographer, while I was teaching in the cinema department at USC.  I did commercials and things like that.  I had an agent who, one day, got me a fill-in job at Warner Bros.  I had never worked at Warner Bros., and it seemed like I was just a short replacement for somebody who was sick.  I went out there, and Warner Bros. was practically shut down at that time.  There wasn’t much going.  Television was just getting started.  There was sort of a legend around there that television was like poison, and they didn’t want anything to do with it.  There were stories about Jack Warner firing actors when he found out that they had TV sets in their dressing rooms.

But anyway, they were at the point that they weren’t making any features.  They were gearing up to do some television shows.  The reason that I got this call was that the cameraman who was going to shoot it – he was a well-known Hollywood guy – was sick.  Not only that, the director, who was another well-known Hollywood guy, also got sick.  So my job was to replace the cameraman, and the guy who was to replace the director was a well-known figure named Howard W. Koch.  He had quite a career at Paramount.  

Now, all the people were hired and the sets were built and the actors were ready and the makeup people were all geared up to go on my say-so.  This was the situation that I stepped in to.  So we went to work and everything went along very smoothly.  Howard Koch was extremely knowledgeable and didn’t waste any time.  As a matter of fact, we were going home on time, which was by most standards of that time was early.

Of course, the camera crew tested me like they would a stranger.  The new boss steps in and takes over, which meant that I had to deal with the art director and the sets that he had arranged and all the other stuff.  But the crew was top-notch and as you might expect at a major studio, the equipment was as good as you could ask for.

Then you started working there full time?

Well, the way it turned out, yes.  We went ahead and finished that show and started another one.  On about the fourth day, my agent, whom I hadn’t seen yet at all, didn’t even know the guy, he showed up on the set.  He came over and he said, “What the hell are you doing here?”  I was puzzled.  I wondered if he had heard some negative comment or complaint or something.  I said, “What do you mean?”  Well, he says, “I don’t know, excepting that the studio wants to sign you for five years.”

And it went on from there.  I did a lot more, but that particular show happened to be Maverick, and that was Warners’ lead show in the television market.  It was a big success.  We were using feature picture sets, which actually made some of the very first shows look fantastic.  On the other hand, you paid a price, because it took longer to work with those sets.  They were more elaborate, took more lighting, and all that.  Eventually, of course, they built sets on separate stages just for the television division.

Did you get to know the producer of Maverick, Roy Huggins?

Well, obviously, he was an organizer.  We people in production didn’t actually brush up against [series producers] that much.  We didn’t have much personal contact with those guys.  Maybe sometimes when you walked out of the screening room you would pass like ships in the night.  As long as everything was going fine, you’d never hear from any of them.  Which was just as well.

At Warners, weren’t you rotated among the different shows rather than staying with a single series for every episode?

That’s true.  Now, you may have had preferences, like I had, for working with certain directors, and I’m sure that some of the directors had the same experience.  Everybody had their favorites.  They scheduled everything out, and it was always fun if you were teamed up with a director that you liked, because that director probably would be more inventive.  

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Which directors did you like working with?  Let me mention a few: Leslie H. Martinson?

Les Martinson made good shows, and I enjoyed the results from working with Les.  But he was one of these guys who was always crying about things are taking too long, or [something else].  It was a yes or no situation.  You liked to work with him because he got good shows.  They were assigned to him and they usually turned out pretty well, but you had to go through a certain amount of hand-holding and all that stuff with him.  Like, one day, he said to the assembled group: “I wanted to do this shot but Mr. Woolsey didn’t think it would be a good idea.”  I don’t know what effect my – he was just looking for an excuse not to make the shot himself.  But that was kind of petty stuff, you know.

Why couldn’t he make that shot?

I can’t remember the details, but he – early on, while we were using the big sets that were left over from the features, he would see a beautiful staircase in like a hotel lobby and would immediately want to have several people be featured coming down the staircase.  Later on, on a television set, there wouldn’t be such a thing at all, because everybody knows it’s a time-consuming element for lighting and action and everything else.  So you don’t put that into shows where you want to make some time.

He did funny things.  He was kind of a crybaby about getting his stuff.  Like, he hit his thumb with a hammer one day in a little fit of temper.  It almost seemed deliberate, because it swelled up and over the weekend it was worse.  Monday morning, instead of having gone to a doctor over the weekend or something, he brought it to the set looking absolutely horrible, [to] reinforce the terrible state that he described himself in.  

There were some people that [if they] heard they were going to be teamed up with someone, they would refuse to do it.

It sounds as if that was a difficult relationship with Martinson.

One time I was working at another studio later on when my contract was up, and he was doing a show and he actually asked them to get me.  But as soon as I got to do the show, he was the same old guy.  However, we respected each other’s limitations, I guess.

Douglas Heyes?

Oh, Doug Heyes was one of my favorites.  He a talented writer, because he wrote some of the best shows we ever did.  He was top-notch.  He was a lot of fun.  On a personal level, we got along very well, and we sometimes would see each other outside of work.

He was always very sure of himself.  For instance, when he was directing something like some of the Warner Bros. TV shows, he would come in late, with an armload of doughnuts or cookies or something like that for the crew.  But he would always be late.  The studio production guys didn’t like this at all, and they would lie in wait for him, so when he came into the studio they would have all the lights turned out or something, and then start trying to teach him: “We like what you’re doing, but you’ve got to be on time!”

Did things like that put you in between the director and the production department?

Not really, but of course if they get behind, they’d look for anybody that they could blame.  If, say, the producer came over and said, “What the hell is taking so long?” you would be an idiot if you said, “Well, the director just goes on and on and on, doing rehearsals and this and that.”  Because there is a true saying that of the entire production, the crew and everybody, only the director and the cameraman are in every shot, and you and the director had better get along.

Arthur Lubin?

I enjoyed working with Arthur.  He was particularly talented working with actors.

Richard L. Bare?

Yeah, he was good.  Workmanlike.  Nothing flashy.  Just did the job.

George waGGner?

He would probably be my top favorite.  We used to call him George Wag-ig-ner, because of the double G.  He got into directing films accidentally.  He came to Hollywood from somewhere up north, and he said, “I didn’t even know this was going on.”  But George was a very thorough director.  He gave a lot of attention to every detail.  The sets and the decor, and interesting ways to open a sequence.

So you were aware of some of the regular Warners directors as being more visually creative than others?

Oh, yeah.  That’s certainly true.  There were some where you could do a scene in six different ways and they would be just as happy.  But somebody like George who would have a definite way he would want to open the scene, by looking through some piece of architecture or maybe a bit of closeup action.  Just kicking it off in a more spicy way.

Did the directors mainly leave the lighting to you, or did some of them have input into that?

The directors had nothing to do with the lighting.  No, the lighting was the cinematographer’s bailiwick.  And at Warners we had crews who had been working on pictures for years.  So sometimes they would tend to be a little too fancy or elaborate for a television show.  In other words, you had to say, forget the frosting on the cake and let’s take care of the meat and potatoes first.  But there’s always an opportunity where you can make a set sort of perform on its own.

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Did you prefer some of the Warners shows to the others?

Well, first of all, you had to take the attitude that whatever the assignment was for the next two weeks, that’s your favorite show.  If they said you had to shoot only these shows for the rest of your life, which ones would they be?  You’d probably pick the ones with the most interesting actors.  [Or] the longest schedules, which give you more opportunity to concoct something interesting.

Which was your favorite among the Warners shows?

Probably Maverick.

Tell me about your departure from Warner Bros.

I shot the first color [TV] show there at Warners, Mister Roberts.  That was our first color show.  [Then] I went over with the producer of Sunset Strip started a show – well, that was Batman.  I went over and started that.  I think I shot a dozen shows.

Did you like doing Batman?

Yeah.  Mainly because it was something different.  We had split-screen situations, with this character Mister Freeze, for instance.  Half of the screen would be frigid and the other half of the screen would be normal.  And it was always fun working with those actors, because they knew the characters that they portrayed.  People like Burgess Meredith, for instance, who played the Penguin, was outstanding.  

I borrowed the Penguin’s whistle, and he used to blow it with a sort of “honk, honk” sound that everybody knew.  I brought it home and blew it for my kids.  The other kids heard about it and they all came over and they were nuts about it.  Naturally, I had a hard time keeping it from getting stolen, and I had been warned that if that whistle did not come back the next day, I was in deep trouble!

Why did you leave Batman?

Because I got fired.  

Why?

I think we did a dozen or so.  They hadn’t been on the air yet, and everybody was running scared about this or that.  There was some talk about taking too much time preparing some of the shots.  Well, it later turned out they had some prop guys who were drunk half the time, and they were supposed to be preparing or fixing some of the tech-y props that were used on the show.  And you had to wait for them really much too long.  So somebody had to go, and it happened to be me that time.  Fortunately, there was a job [waiting].  I went right back to Warner Bros.  Howard Schwartz came in and took it over.  So I can claim the first dozen or so of Batman.  But people, even today, associate me with Batman.

Were you instrumental in devising the visual signature visual of Batman – the extreme tilted camera angles?

I don’t know, I was not so crazy about it.  I know what they were trying to do – they were trying to give an off-kilter look to the show.  But compared to doing things like that later on, just a few years later we had equipment that would make it much easier to do that.  It was very clumsy, making those few shots.

Do you have any memories of Adam West and Burt Ward?

Well, everybody on the crew used to say, “Those two should save their money.”

Then you shot the pilot for It Takes a Thief.

That grew out of a [made-for-television] feature that we shot up in Montreal during the Expo, with Robert Wagner.  We went up to the Expo and shot the picture for Universal, and it was sold to one of the networks as a pilot for what turned out to be the series It Takes a Thief.

And you stayed with the show.

Yeah, I did maybe a dozen or so, along with some segments of some other TV shows they had going there.

What do you remember about It Takes a Thief?

The Montreal location for the movie was very enjoyable.  Leslie Stevens was the creator and the director.  We were friends to begin with, so we could tell each other if something was lousy, or whether we loved it.  Talk about ideas, you know.

What was he like as a director and producer?

A very creative guy.  Stoney Burke was one he did, and The Outer Limits.  Conrad Hall worked on that, on both of those in fact, and before him, Leslie hired a great cameraman whom we both admired a great deal, Ted McCord.

Right, McCord was Conrad Hall’s mentor, I think.

That’s correct, because Connie was his operator, and he took over when Ted more or less retired.  Connie had graduated from USC Cinema just a year before I started teaching there, so we met a few times but I didn’t get to know him personally too well until somewhat later.

Did you expect to become a cinematographer, or had you planned to remain a teacher?

I think the teaching came accidentally.  I was a cinematographer.  During World War II, I was shooting training films for the U.S. Air Force.  I was not in the military; I was working for an aircraft company, Bell Aircraft.  They were developing the first helicopter.  Before we were in World War II, they were selling planes to Russia, and we were making training films as to how you took care of the planes and serviced them.  So when we got into the war, that program just got magnified.  That’s what I had been doing, so at the end of the war I could call myself a cinematographer.  In fact, I was the head of the unit.

I came to California, and how I got to USC – let’s see, I knew some people who were shooting non-theatrical films.  My working at USC was sort of an accident.  I went down there to see the head of the department about something else, and while I was there the head of the department invited me to do some temporary work.  There were a bunch of servicemen, Navy people, who were using the G.I. Bill.  They had to go back to service and they weren’t getting done, and they hired me and a guy named Irving Lerner to direct these things.  The two of us finished all of the projects for these servicemen.  Just shot them ourselves, and then Irving edited them.  Then the guy who was teaching camera had to leave for some commitment, and they offered me the job of teaching his class.  So I did.  But I had an arrangement where I could shoot stuff on the side.

You won an Emmy for It Takes a Thief.

Yeah, that’s true.  That was the pilot.

What about your work on that show caused it to win, do you think?

Well, do you want me to be truthful or inventive?  I think if the show is different in its concept or its location, the way the location is used, I think that does a long way to making it of great interest to the nominating [committee].  And of course, that show was shot as a movie.  So there was a lot more spent on it.

Do you mean it was a feature film, or a made-for-TV movie?

[It was] meant for TV, but we did shoot it in a rather sketchy way.  In other words, we went there with inadequate lighting for some of the night shots that we did, so we had to get inventive.  We pulled off some pretty good night shooting, and I think had some special processing done on the negative, which of course the studio and the camera department fought me on tooth and nail.

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In the 1970s you moved exclusively into shooting feature films.  How did that differ from the work you did in television?

There are things that I could and did do in shooting television that I wouldn’t do in shooting a feature.  In other words, I could experiment more, and I did.  When I was shooting some of these black-and-white Warner Bros. westerns, like Maverick, I fooled around and I even used what some of the people in the production department thought were my secrets.  At least, I never told them how I did some of the things to get a certain kind of look.  

For instance, all the old buildings, the wooden buildings in the backlot that you’d use in a western, like the western street.  If you look at real old black-and-white pictures, the buildings all had a certain kind of a look, and it was because the film was colorblind.  The sky would be white and anything blue would be pretty white, and anything red would be pretty dark.  The more common film, orthochromatic, was sensitive to blue and green but not red.  

A lot of the old pictures, even some of the early movies, were shot with that kind of film.  That had the property of making all the reds look dark.  For instance, you would be crazy if you shoot close-ups of a woman with that kind of film, because her lips would go black, or very dark.  But there were advantages in getting that look, too.  The old buildings really looked old.  In the western street scenes, I used a filter combination to get that look.  And I didn’t tell anybody what it was.  I’d put it in the camera myself, and take it back home with me at night.  And in the camera department, they were furious.  They wanted to know what it was.  Of course, for scenes where I’d shoot close-ups of women, I wouldn’t use it.  But it did lend a very authentic kind of an old-time look to the buildings.  

And there was another big problem: the streets were always photographing extremely light or even white because they were yellow.  Every now and then they’d bring in a truckload of [dirt] and smooth out the street, and it was yellow.  To make it darken down, they used to run a water wagon through the set before anybody worked on it.  They’d create a little mud, and that made it unpleasant to work on.  But with my system, they didn’t have to do that.  People would say, “How come you got those streets darkened down and we didn’t have to water it?”

Who do you remember among the many other cinematographers working at Warner Bros. at that time?

Harold Stine had previously worked in special effects at Paramount or one of those studios, so he was really an expert on the technology.  He gave me one of my best compliments one time.  We actually used to compliment each other, because they would bring some of these guys in and some of their work really was pretty lousy.  But if they had a reputation of being fast, that was evidently how they got the job.  Anyway, Hal said to me one day as we were laughing about that: “Well, one thing about your work: It always looks finished, right up to the corners.”  He said, “Some of these guys, they just light the center and let the rest go.”

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The images above are taken from the three first season episodes of Maverick that Woolsey photographed and the pilot for It Takes a Thief.

Yes, that’s right.  I’ve decided to Upworthy-ize the blog!

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But seriously – anyone out there recognize the obscure series from which these frame grabs were taken?  It’s not quite like anything else that was on TV at the time, and I’m probably going to write more about it soon.

It’s been over a month (!) since my last entry here, and obviously I’m still vamping with picture posts.  But I’ll have some meatier pieces here soon, as well as more for The A.V. Club in the near future.  In the meantime I’ve also started contributing to my old friend Stuart Galbraith IV’s new film website, World Cinema Paradise, starting with this survey of some obscure ’70s exploitation films.  There’s some good writing there; check it out!

 

 

So have you been diving into your new DVD set of the complete Naked City, or are you saving it for Christmas vacation?  As I suspected when I was researching last year’s article about the complicated, unhappy journey taken by the rights to producer Herbert B. Leonard’s series, the new-to-DVD episodes have been given the low-budget treatment.  But the grotty sourced-from-16-millimeter transfers still look better than any bootlegs I’d managed to get my hands on over the years, so I can’t complain.  Much.

Two years ago I used the original DVDs to illustrate a three-part look at some of the many familiar faces who decorated the edges of the Naked City – faces who were too new to warrant screen credit for their early bit roles.  At the time, I left out the half-hour first season, just because I didn’t have a good source from which to derive screen grabs.  Well, now I do.  So we can reprise that feature and look at some of the noteworthy uncredited actors from Naked City‘s one fifties-lensed season, many of them not yet mentioned anywhere in print or on the internet in connection with these early appearances.

In fact, let’s take it a step further.  Here, taken from the Herbert B. Leonard archives at UCLA, are transcripts of the first season cast credits in their entirety, including all of the uncredited actors.  Along with the handful of future celebs are dozens of forgotten names who never went on to substantial acting careers, including a cadre of bit players and stuntmen (Harold Gaetano, James Little, Frank Downing, Edd Simon) who formed a kind of invisible Naked City repertory company.  Whatever happened to all these people?

(1) “Meridian” (9/30/58)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by Jerry Hopper.
Guest Stars Suzanne Storrs (Janet Halloran), Alison Marshall (Debbie Halloran), Joey Walsh (Lefty), Pat De Simone (Arturo Gutierrez), Harry Kadison (Arcaro), William Zuckert (Captain Donohue), Frank Downing (McGregor), Al Hodge (Johnson), Barbara Banks (Sylvia Simpkins), Miriam Acevedo (Mrs. Gutierrez).

(2) “Nickel Ride” (10/7/58)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by Douglas Heyes.
Guest Stars Cameron Prud’homme (Captain Adam Flint), John Seven (Hood), Ralph Stantley (Hagerson), Harry Holcombe (Police Commissioner), Robert Burr (Armored Car Driver), Ray Singer (Armored Car Guard), Peter Dawson (Bronson).
Uncredited Lawrence R. Dutchyshyn (Deckhand), Don Gonzales (Assistant Engineer), Doyle Brooks (Fireman), Steve DePalma (Man on phone), Stella Robinson (Secretary).

(3) “Line of Duty” (10/14/58)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by Stuart Rosenberg.
Guest Stars Eugenie Leontovich (Kotina), Suzanne Storrs (Janet Halloran), Diane Ladd (Yanice), Paul Lipson (Bartender), Alison Marshall (Debbie Halloran), Andrew Gerado (Peter), Nora Ferris (Baby Sitter), William A. Forester (Bailiff).

(4) “The Sidewalk Fisherman” (10/21/58)
Teleplay by Stirling Silliphant.  From a New Yorker story by Meyer Berger.  Directed by Douglas Heyes.
Guest Stars Jay Novello (Gio Bartolo), Tarry Green (Jocko), Leonardo Cimino (Shellshock), Mark Burkan (Laddie), Gary Morgan (Paulie), Ruth Altman (Mother Superior), Joanna Heyes (Nun), Allen Nourse (Mr. Thompson).
Uncredited Chris Vallon (Plip), Anthony Tuttle (Ernie), Loney Lewis (Newsvendor), Frank Downing (Patrolman), James Little (Sergeant), Edd Simon (Patrolman), George McCoy (Husband).

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The psych ward-set “The Violent Circle” featured a Cuckoo’s Nest-worthy ensemble of offbeat New York faces as the mental patients, including the great Roberts Blossom (right, with James Franciscus), who would make his credited debut on the show a few weeks later in the brilliant Christmas episode “And Merry Christmas to the Force on Patrol.”

(5) “The Violent Circle” (10/28/58)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by Douglas Heyes.
Guest Stars Suzanne Storrs (Janet Halloran), House Jameson (Dr. Morgan), Earl Rowe (Hanson), Robert F. Weil (Crane), Mark Allen (Green), Donald Moffat (Brickwell), Janice Mars (Miss Kaufman), Helm Lyon (Romaine), Jeno Mate (Parker), Alison Marshall (Debbie Halloran).
Uncredited Howard Wierum (Dr. Miller), Roberts Blossom (Brissen), Natalie Priest (Woman Attendant), Roger Quinlan (Elderly Man), Laura Pritkovits (Wife), Doyle Brooks (Silent Attendant).

(6) “Stakeout” (11/4/58)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by Stuart Rosenberg.
Guest Stars Michael Tolan (Alan Keller), Irene Kane (Betty Keller), Horace McMahon (Chief), Matt Crowley (Commissioner O’Donnell), Jan Miner (Mrs. Rogan), Nina Reader (Janie Rogan), Donald Cohen (Ely).
Uncredited Elliot Sullivan (Ben Reilly), Doyle Brooks (Jacobs), Mike O’Dowd (Vinnie), Frank Downing (Patrolman), Sid Raymond (Shoe Clerk).

(7) “No More Rumbles” (11/11/58)
Written by Sam Ross.  Directed by William Beaudine.
Guest Stars Suzanne Storrs (Janet Halloran), David Winters (Marty Nemo), Frank Dana (Packy), Sandy Smith (Lucy), Arny Freeman (Mr. Cienzi), David Challis (Little Poncho), Julia McMillan (Model), Harry Davis (Foreman), Alison Marshall (Debbie Halloran).
Uncredited Erny Costaldo (Ramrod), Bobby Nick (Cosy), Lawrence Whitman (Pedey), Bob Towner (Photo Double for David Winters).

(8) “Belvedere Tower” (11/18/58)
Written by Robert Sylvester & John Mackenzie.  Directed by William Beaudine.
Guest Stars Paul Spencer [Paul Schirn] (Mitchell Pierce), Tom Ahearne (Bellows), Dean Almquist (Dodds), Dorothy Dollivar (Evie), Bo Enivel (Mizotti).
Uncredited Ken Kenopka (Milkman), Fred Herrick (Elevator Man), Brooks Rogers (Patrolman), Harry Bergman (Stoddard), Frank Downing (Cop).

(9) “The Bird Guard” (11/25/58)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by William Beaudine.
Guest Stars Diana Van Der Vlis (Linda Stevenson), John McQuade (Cassidy), Jock MacGregor (Andrew Stevenson), Don Supinski (Sick Arch), John Lawrence (Grubber), John Seven (Brick), Lester Mack (Mr. Freeman).
Uncredited Ray Parker (Dapper Eddie), Donald Cohen (Eli), Sy Travers (Superintendent), Natalie Priest (Cashier).

(10) “The Other Face of Goodness” (12/2/58)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  From a story by Charles Jackson.  Directed by Stuart Rosenberg.
Guest Stars Arnold Merritt (Jimmy), Loretta Leversee (Nora), Gerald Gordon (Walt), David J. Stewart (Professor), John Gibson (City Editor), Frank Campanella (Cameraman).
Uncredited Marty Greene (Newsvendor), Allan Frank (1st Man), Martin Newman (2nd Man).

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James Dukas was a big, working-class type who had a major role as one of the criminals in the heist flick The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery (1958), with a young Steve McQueen, and small parts in The Hustler, Coogan’s Bluff, God Told Me To, and The Amityville Horror.  He appeared briefly as a rooftop sniper in the climax of “Ladybug, Ladybug..”

(11) “Lady Bug, Lady Bug . .” (12/9/58)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by Stuart Rosenberg.
Guest Stars Leon B. Stevens (Eddie Stober), Peter Votrian (Bobby Stober), Daniel Ocko (Julio Marsatti), Arthur Wenzel (Butler), Peter Falk (Extortionist).
Uncredited James Dukas (Rifleman), Doug Reid (Plainclothesman).

(12) “Susquehanna 4-7598” (12/16/58)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by William Beaudine.
Guest Stars Sandy Robinson (Carol Thomas), William Clemens (Johnny), Paul Valentine (Larry), Frank Campanella (Mr. Viola).

(13) “And Merry Christmas to the Force on Patrol” (12/23/58)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by Stuart Rosenberg.
Guest Stars Frank Sutton (Marco), Suzanne Storrs (Janet Halloran), Michael Strong (Det. Hal Perleman), Rudy Bond (Lt. Daniels), Richard Kronold (Det. Dutton), Roberts Blossom (Quint), Mary Boylan (Marie), James Little (Sgt. Daniels).
Uncredited Martin Newman (Butcher), Tom Nello (Slug Passer), Wyrley Birch (Burr), Harry Davis (1st Liquor Store Owner), Al Leberfeld (2nd Liquor Store Owner), Grant Code (Reynolds), Tom Ahearne (Van Driver), Helen Waters (Italian Wife), Leslie Woolf (Italian Husband).

(14) “The Explosive Heart” (12/30/58)
Written by Jesse Lasky, Jr.  Directed by William Beaudine.
Guest Stars Barbara Lord (Laurie White Garcia), Noel Leslie (Commodore White), Cliff Carnell (Billy Garcia), Grant Gordon (Dr. Randy Colt), Maggie O’Byrne (May).
Uncredited Eva Gerson (Woman in hall), Scott Moore (Porter), Opal Baker (Nurse on boat), Natalie Priest (Nurse in hospital), Mitchell Lear (Tim Gariss), Loney Lewis (Vendor), Richard Kronold (Dutton), Helen Waters (Woman Vendor).

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Ronnie Haran (left, with Harry Bellaver) was part of the sixties rock scene in Los Angeles after a brief career as a TV ingénue, with leads in episodes of Ben Casey and The Fugitive.  Before all that, she had a tiny role as a teenager in trouble in “The Manhole.”

(15) “The Manhole” (1/6/59)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by John Brahm.
Guest Stars Will Kuluva (Papa Strokirch), George Maharis (“Stroke” Strokirch), John Karlen (Chunk), Victor Werber (Leo), James Little (Higgins), Richard Kronold (Dutton), Dirk Kooiman (Skeet), Don Gonzales (Tico), Ronald Maccone (Rider), Raymond A. Singer (Lansing).
Uncredited Lilian Field (Nurse), Ronnie Haran (Ethel), Roger Quinlan (Diamond Merchant), Jim Kenny (2nd Clerk), Anthony Garrett (Walk-on).

(16) “Even Crows Sing Good” (1/13/59)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by John Brahm.
Guest Stars Lee Philips (Larry Hine), Diana Douglas (Hilda Wallace), Bernard Fein (Dasher), Robert Weil (Happy), Frieda Altman (Mrs. Hine), James Little (Sgt. Higgins), Joanne Courtney (Nurse), Allan Frank (Citizen), Jean Martin (Young Woman).

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Among the witnesses to an inexplicable mass murder committed by oddball Woodrow Parfrey in “Burst of Passion” was Maria Gambarelli (right), a once-renowned Metropolitan Opera ballerina who did small acting parts in commercials (plus a few Italian films, including Antonioni’s Le Amiche) later in her career.  Also visible in the background here, as the druggist, is Albert Linville, a stage actor who originated the role of Vernon in the Broadway and film versions of Damn Yankees!

(17) “Burst of Passion” (1/20/59)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by Stuart Rosenberg.
Guest Stars Woodrow Parfrey (Andrew Eisert), Suzanne Storrs (Janet Halloran), Guy Spaul (Reverend Thomason), Dorothy Peterson (Mrs. Crother), Kirk Alyn (Sgt. Muller), Matt Crowley (Commissioner O’Donnell), Richard Kronold (Dutton), John C. Becher (First Man).
Uncredited Shawn Donahue (Debbie Halloran), Ben Yaffee (Mr. Bell), Nina Hansen (Mrs. Harris), Rudd Lowry (Dr. Evans), Bob Smith (Mr. Hansen), Maria Gambarelli (1st Woman), Marin Riley (Weeping Woman), Jesse Jacobs (Milkman), Robert Dryden (Man in TV door), Albert Linville (Druggist).

(18) “Goodbye, My Lady Love” (1/27/59)
[Original title: “And Through Fields of Clover.”]
Teleplay by Stirling Silliphant.  Based on a story by Edmund G. Love & Robert Esson.  Directed by John Brahm.
Guest Stars James Barton (Matty), William Edmonson (Chain), Louis Guss (Skull), Guy Raymond (Augie), Pat Malone (Harrison), William Baron (Wiper), Gilbert Mack (Mr. Lombardi), Edd Simon (Recorder).
Uncredited Ed Bruce (Citizen Agent), Ray Parker (D.A.’s Man), Ed Dorsey (Bartender).

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Briefly visible in “The Shield” was Michael Conrad (top) as a firing range instructor, already telling the other cops to be careful out there.  Also in small parts in this episode were Lou Antonio (center, right) as one of wannabe cop Vic Morrow’s pals, and Peyton Place‘s Henry Beckman (above, with John McIntyre and Jack Klugman) as a priest.

(19) “The Shield” (2/3/59)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by John Brahm.
Guest Stars Jack Klugman (Officer Greco), Gino Ardito (The Sneaker), Marguerite Lenert (Mrs. Greco), Sheldon Koretz (Husband), Lester Mack (Civil Service Examiner), Walter Kinsella (Markham), Vincent Van Lynn (Ted), Vic Morrow (David Greco).
Uncredited Michael Conrad (Firing Range Instructor), Carl Low (Medical Examiner), Frank Downing (Patrolman), Paul Alberts (Pawnbroker), Edd Simon (Recorder), Lou Antonio (Young Man), Grant Code (Police Doctor), Henry Beckman (Priest).

(20) “One to Get Lost” (2/10/59)
Written by Sam Ross.  Directed by John Brahm.
Guest Stars Kent Smith (George Blake), Lawrence Tierney (Mike Jensen), Jeanette Nolan (Kate Blake), Norma Crane (Fay), Charles Gaines (Coroner), William Daprato (Janitor), Richard Barrows (Union Representative), Florence Anglim (Blake’s Secretary), Teri Scott (Union Secretary). 
Uncredited Austin Hay (Photographer), Pete Gumeny (Organizer), Tom Geraghty (Starter), Margie King (Woman Passenger), Chris Barbery (Newsboy).

(21) “Hey, Teach!” (2/17/59)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by Stuart Rosenberg.
Guest Stars Robert Morris (Fred “Flip” Weller), Suzanne Storrs (Janet Halloran), Jose Alcarez (Luis), Jean Muir (Mrs. Klinn), Bernard Kates (Mr. Madison), Anthony Franke (Mark).

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Whoever typed up the end credits for “Ticker Tape” must not have seen the episode beforehand, since he or she omitted the episode’s guest lead while finding room for several bit players.  The actor who starred as the Olympic star feted in the titular parade (top, with Beverly Bentley, soon to be Mrs. Norman Mailer) can be revealed after fifty years as Ed Fury, a bodybuilder about to embark on a brief career as a star of Italian sword-and-sandal movies.  Also uncredited in the episode are Clement Fowler, in the first of many Naked City appearances, as a police operator and Buck Kartalian (bottom, right) as a sanitation worker.

(22) “Ticker Tape” (2/24/59)
Teleplay by Stirling Silliphant.  From a story by Cal Berkeley.  Directed by Stuart Rosenberg.
Guest Stars Ernest Sarracino (Anton Marshak), Beverly Bentley (Arline), Paul Alberts (Kettleman), George Lambert (Hanson), Adrienne Moore (Mother), Tana Manners (Child).
Uncredited Clement Fowler (Rizzo), Charles Stewart (Petersen), Bob Alvin (Captain Gold), Harold Gaetano (Patrolman #1), Ed Fury (Mason Conway), Kelly McCormick (Sergeant on Horse), Mike Keene (Commissioner), Buck Kartalian (Sanitation Department Foreman), Mitchell Lear (Sgt. Faber), Frank Downing (Patrolman #2), Bob Oran (Jackson).

(23) “Fire Island” (3/3/59)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by Norman Tokar.
Guest Stars Henry Hull (Alky), George Maharis (Lundy), Michael Conrad (Hartog), Guy Raymond (Boz), Will Hussung (Lab Man), Philip Huston (Lee).

(24) “Ten Cent Dreams” (3/10/59)
Written by Sam Ross.  Directed by John Brahm.
Guest Stars Ross Martin (Carlo Ramirez), Kay Chaqué (Maria Ramirez), Richard X. Slattery (Solid), Al Lewis (Harry Pike), Thelma Pelish (Mrs. Pike).
Uncredited Henry Casso (Runner), Eleanor Eaton (Blowsy Woman), William Conn (Controller), Howard Mann (Comptometer), Alberto Monte (Juan), Mario DeLara (Max), Stanley Simmonds (Guard), Bob Allen (Executive), Arthur Hammer (Teller).

(25) “The Bumper” (3/17/59)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by John Brahm.
Guest Stars Suzanne Storrs (Janet Halloran), Matt Crowley (Police Commissioner), Clement D. Fowler (The Bumper), Doyle Brooks (Garage Man), Sam Gray (Thomas Doyle), Al Henderson (Landers), Michael Strong (Det. Nate Perlman), Richard Kronold (Det. Dutton).

(26) “A Running of Bulls” (3/24/59)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by Stuart Rosenberg.
Guest Stars Michael Ansara (Rafael Valente), Michel Ray (Felipe), Felice Orlandi (Luis), Gloria Marlow (Castana).

(27) “Fallen Star” (3/31/59)
Written by Sam Ross.  Directed by John Brahm.
Guest Stars Robert Alda (Jess Burton), Arnold Merritt (Larry Peters), Rocky Graziano (Lou Curtis), Al Morgenstern (Al McBride), Guy Sorel (Harry Weeks), Bruno Damon (Manager).

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Barbara Wilkin (left), star of The Flesh Eaters (1964), pops up for a few seconds as a runway model in “Beyond Truth.”

(28) “Beyond Truth” (4/7/59)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by John Brahm.
Guest Stars Martin Balsam (Arnold Fleischman), Suzanne Storrs (Janet Halloran), Shawn Donahue (Debbie Halloran), Phyllis Hill (Betty Fleischman), Gerald Price (Max Buchwald), Sloan Simpson (Shirley Buchwald), Romo Vincent (Teddy Simpson), Pat Tobin (Commentator).
Uncredited Sam Hanna (Handcuffed Man), Barbara Wilkin (Model), Patsie de Souza (Nervous Woman), Joseph Boley (Nervous Man).

(29) “Baker’s Dozen” (4/14/59)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by George Sherman.
Guest Stars Joseph Ruskin (“Count” Baker), Richard Jaeckel (Lance), Vincent Gardenia (Crudelli), Carlos Montalban (Frank Baker), Alex Dayna (Stubleman), Al Ward (Clerk), Edd Simon [Ed Siani] (Recorder), Herb Oscar Anderson (Disc Jockey Voice).

(30) “The Rebirth” (4/21/59)
Teleplay by Stirling Silliphant.  Story by Sam Ross.  Directed by Stuart Rosenberg.
Guest Stars Betty Sinclair (Ruth Barnaby), Maureen Delany (Scrubwoman #1), John Becher (Bank Teller), Anna Appel (Mrs. Levinsky), Rebecca Darke (Woman with baby), Ludwig Donath (Pawnshop Owner), Crahan Denton (Superindentent).

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After a large role in “And a Merry Christmas to the Force on Patrol,” Frank “Sergeant Carter” Sutton (top, with a female extra) returned for an unbilled cameo as a drug dealer in “Four Sweet Corners,” a sort-of back-door pilot for Route 66.  His stooge, misidentified by the Internet Movie Database as the similar-looking Jan Merlin, was played by Rayford Barnes (above, right), seen here with Robert Morris, whose early death may have prevented him from taking the Martin Milner role in Route 66.

(31) “Four Sweet Corners” (4/28/59)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by Stuart Rosenberg.
Guest Stars George Maharis (Johnny Gary), Robert Morris (Link Ridgeway), Irene Dailey (Amy Gary), Rochelle Oliver (Cora Gary), Mary Perry (Mrs. Gamby), Martha Greenhouse (Evelyn Roth), Patrick J. Kelly (Thin Man).
Uncredited Frank Sutton (Aces), Rayford Barnes (Tough).

(32) “The Sandman” (5/5/59)
Written by Louis Salaman.  Directed by John Brahm.
Guest Stars Mike Kellin (Ketch), Will Kuluva (Farmer), Fred Irving Lewis (Mr. Moretti), Vincent Van Lynn (Robbins), Gordon G. Peters (Technician).

(33) “Turn of Events” (5/12/59)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by John Brahm.
Guest Stars Jan Miner (Elsie Knolf), Melville Ruick (John Harding), Eugenia Rawls (Mrs. Harding), Kay Doubleday (Laura Harding), Irene Cowan (Mrs. Miles).

(34) “A Little of the Action” (5/19/59)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by Stuart Rosenberg.
Guest Stars James Barton (Bo Giles), Johnny Seven (Al), Simon Oakland (Duke), Jan Norris (Doris Giles), Ben Yaffee (Mr. Watkins), Jonathan Gilmore (Jimmy).

(35) “The Bloodhounds” (5/26/59)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by Stuart Rosenberg.
Guest Stars Phyllis Hill (Jane Whitmore), Byron Sanders (Charles Whitmore), Rudy Bond (Lt. Springer), Janice Manzo (Lynn Whitmore), Richard Kronold (Det. Dutton), James Little (Sgt. Higgins), Louis Nye (Drunk).

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What was it about shooting range officers?  In “The Scorpion Sting,” it’s the wonderful Clifton James (right, with Nehemiah Persoff) who did a small turn in that function.

(36) “The Scorpion Sting” (6/2/59)
Teleplay by Stirling Silliphant.  Based on a story by Alfred Bester.  Directed by John Brahm.
Guest Stars Nehemiah Persoff (Barney Peters), Tamara Daykarhanova (Mrs. Petraloff), Diana Douglas (Meg Peters), William Meigs (Matty Dixon), Marvin Kline (Charley Schwartz).
Uncredited Clifton James (Shooting Range Officer).

(37) “Saw My Baby There” (6/9/59)
Written by L. I. [Louis] Salaman.  Directed by Stuart Rosenberg.
Guest Stars Harold J. Stone (Simon Becker), Mark Rydell (Ralph Harris), Rochelle Oliver (Katie Harris), Arny Freeman (Klutz), Robert Dryden (Morgue Attendant), Angelo Pirozzi (Harry).

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Remade as the hour-long episode “Five Cranks For Winter … Ten Cranks For Spring,” “The Canvas Bullet” featured Harry Guardino and Diane Ladd as a punchy boxer and his wife (played by Robert Duvall and Shirley Knight in the remake).  Also present were William Edmonson (top, left, with the ubiquitous Clement Fowler), an African-American actor who played in Oscar Micheaux’s films and made an impression in two Twilight Zones, as a cut man; the blacklisted character actor Gilbert Green (center, right) as manager to boxer Rocky Graziano; and Al “Grandpa Munster” Lewis (above, center) as a bookie.  And yes, that’s Vincent Gardenia on the right in the last image.  Could this be the only time those two sharp-featured comedic actors shared a frame?

(38) “The Canvas Bullet” (6/16/59)
Teleplay by Stirling Silliphant.  From a story by Ed Lacy.  Directed by Stuart Rosenberg.
Guest Stars Harry Guardino (Johnny Mills), Diane Ladd (Kathie Mills), Clement Fowler (Gus Slack), House Jameson (Doc Nearing), Vincent Gardenia (Musso), Rocky Graziano (Eddie Gibbs). 
Uncredited Al Lewis (Bookie), William Edmonson (Cut Man), Gilbert Green (Gibbs’ Manager), James Little (Sgt. Higgins).

(39) “A Wood of Thorns” (6/23/59)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by Stuart Rosenberg.
Guest Star Cara Williams (Lois Heller).

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He only played one decent-sized role in a movie, but critic Jonathan Rosenbaum called that performance “unforgettable.”  In John Cassavetes’s sophomore film, Too Late Blues, the villain, a weaselly musician’s agent named Benny Flowers, is played by a casting director and fledgling producer named Everett Chambers.  Crewcut, compact, and contained, Chambers is truly terrifying as a cunning manipulator of fragile egos who seems to be just barely in control of a nearly psychopathic rage.

But Chambers himself thought Too Late Blues was “self-indulgent,” and his own independent films as director (a short, The Kiss, and two features, Run Across the River and The Lollipop Cover) received little attention.  The cinema’s loss was television’s gain, as Chambers became the primary non-writing producer of a succession of smart, well-made series: Johnny Staccato, Target: The Corrupters, The Lloyd Bridges Show, Peyton Place, and Columbo, not to mention an infamous unsold pilot (Calhoun: County Agent, the subject of writer Merle Miller’s mocking, juicy book Only You, Dick Daring) and a number of worthy made-for-television movies.

In a 2005 telephone interview, Chambers shared some candid and often very funny memories from his four-year stint as the producer of Peyton Place.

Tell me about your transition from in front of the camera to behind it.

I started first as an actor in New York in live television, and then I worked on Broadway, Off-Broadway.  I wanted to be a director; I didn’t want to be an actor.  But when I got out of drama school I looked like I was twelve years old, and I played twelve years old until I was about twenty-two.  Eventually I went to work as a casting director, first as an assistant to Fred Coe’s casting director on Philco Playhouse [and] Mister Peepers.  I worked there with Paddy Chayefsky and Delbert Mann and Arthur Penn and Tad Mosel – all these people who were working on Philco Playhouse.  Fred Coe was the premiere live television producer at the time.

I came out from New York.  John Cassavetes did that, brought me out to produce Johnny Staccato.  Forced me onto Revue/MCA, and they did it.  I stayed with that for the year, and then I stayed in California and got a divorce.  Why not?  I did other things, and then Paul Monash called me a couple of times.  He called me before Felix Feist [the second producer of Peyton Place], and didn’t hire me, and then when Feist died, he did.

What you did on Peyton Place, relative to Paul Monash and the other members of the production staff?

First of all, I’m doing all of the casting, all the hiring of the actors.  Most of the time we had the same revolving directors, but from time to time I would change them.  I cut all of the pictures with the editors, and we did three of them a week most of the time.  When we cut to [broadcasting] two a week, I still convinced them to shoot three, so that we could all get some time off.

Did you institute any major changes when you first came in on the show?

Well, there were some rocky things.  The sound quality of the show wasn’t very good.  It was cut, I think, very slow.  The style in which it was shot, which was a lot of camera movement up and down and sideways, and a lot of dolly shots and masters of maybe five, six, seven, eight, ten pages.  On the stages at Fox, which were very old, that was noisy.  They put up with it by bringing the people back and having them loop the lines, which to me was very expensive.  So I integrated new carpets on all the sets to kill the sound.  And started using radio mics, which they hadn’t used before, and instituted a lot of lighter weight modern equipment, because we were all using this antiquated equipment that was there as part of the facilities of Twentieth Century-Fox.  They didn’t want to buy new lighting equipment and stuff, but eventually we did.  Then we went from black and white to color, and we segued.  Every week, as we were getting to know when we were going to broadcast in color, I would change three or four sets, until we had them all in color.  All of that was part of my responsibility.  

Paul was also making movies and making a couple of other pilots and shows.  That’s why eventually, when [writing producer] Dick DeRoy left and [story editor] Del Reisman moved up, instead of bringing somebody in he said, “You do it.”  So I went down and I plotted it out with them and worked on that.  I didn’t do any of the writing; I just plotted.

When you came in, was there a sense that Mia Farrow was the breakout star of the show?

Mia was probably the most popular one on the show, next to then Ryan [O’Neal] and then Rita, who was played by Pat Morrow, and then the other guy, the brother [Christopher Connelly].  Wherever they would go, they were mobbed.

Did the network, or Monash, direct you to place a greater emphasis on the younger characters?

No.

Who were some of the actors you cast personally in the show?

Well, I was watching The Long Hot Summer when I saw this gorgeous Lana Wood.  We had a Christmas party, and she was dancing, and holy shit, look at that!  So I manipulated them getting a part for her.  I can’t remember how that all happened, but I got her in there.  Then there was also this – Myrna Fahey, I thought she was gorgeous.  I thought she looked like Elizabeth Taylor.  I got her in there in a part, and I used her a few times later.  I thought both of them would be bigger than they were.  Stephen Oliver, I found in an interview.  I brought in Leigh Taylor-Young.  I found her.  Then she and Ryan started messing around, and he knocked her up.  He was married to Joanna Moore.  That was a problem to work out.  When Mia left, we had a number of different women come in to kind of replace [her]: Joyce Jillson, Tippy Walker.  Leigh Taylor-Young was the most interesting one.

Leslie Nielsen came in for a while and played a double part.  Susan Oliver came in.  I don’t know if you know who Don Gordon [the star and co-writer of Chambers's 1965 film The Lollipop Cover] is, but he came in for a while.  Then of course Lee Grant, and there was John Kellogg.  He was a character actor, a bad guy from the thirties and forties.  Dan Duryea, we brought in for a while.  Generally, we didn’t lock them in.  Gena Rowlands I had to lock in, because she only wanted to work until so-and-so, and then I said, “Okay, you’ll just do this amount of episodes and then out.”  Some of them were just [bit players] – Richard Dreyfuss used to play the newspaper boy!  There was a black policeman, Sergeant Walker: Morris Buchanan.  And then there was a guy that ran the lobster thing on the pier, Frankie London.

Ah, now I’m seeing a pattern – not just Gena Rowlands but Buchanan and London were all actors who had worked often with Cassavetes, as you had.

Yeah, Frank was one of John’s.  He was in Too Late Blues, as I was.  

To what extent did Paul Monash give you a free hand in producing Peyton Place?

Generally, as he had confidence in me, after about six months, then he just let me alone.  You didn’t need to run any casting [by him], except major people like Gena or when Susan Oliver came in.  [For those roles] I would tell him who I would like.

Did you have much to do with the network?

No, I did not have much to do with the network.  At that time the guy responsible for us was Tony Barr.  I talked to him every week.  He would want to know what’s going on – who’s this, what’s that.  And we would clear things with him.  We were so much in advance – we were ten weeks, probably, filmed in advance.  So that means our material was even more weeks [ahead] than that.  So they knew where we were going way ahead of airtime.  If there was any red flags, we would get them early.  But it was too successful to have much problem.  In those days, there weren’t as many people muddling in everything.  I’ve been on flops where they’d beat your head in every day.  On Johnny Staccato, Lew Wasserman wanted a forty share.  We couldn’t get there, so he was on my neck all the time.

Whereas on Peyton Place….

It was already in there!  I mean, in the summertime, we were one, two, and three [in the ratings].  So you don’t mess around with success too much.  Now, they meddle in everything, even if you’re successful.

Was it a good experience for you?

It was terrific!  From my background, it wasn’t the most exciting kind of drama.  About the sixth or seventh month of working on the show, I came out of the dailies one day and say, “Well, that was a pretty good show.  That was pretty good stuff I saw there today.”  I says, “Uh-oh.  I’m in trouble!”  I mean, I had just come from Fred Coe, with Paddy Chayefsky and Delbert Mann.  You have a sense of value and quality that’s a little different.  But you learn to adjust: hey, wait a minute, it’s a soap opera.  It’s television.  You do the best you can.  And that I did, then, for the rest of my career.  I would do the best I could with what I had.

Tell me about how the writing staff functioned.

They had a deal with the Writers Guild that was complicated.  They had about nine writers, right?  How did they get credit?  So what they did is that we would plot these things out, and Nina [Laemmle] would alternate with Del [Reisman], writing up the plot.  Nina would do one act and Del would do the other act.  Then they would give that outline to a writer, whoever it was.  They would write it.  Doesn’t mean that they got the credit on that episode.  Just everybody got credits, but they didn’t always write what was there.  Sometimes somebody’s name would be on something that somebody else wrote.  But I would know who wrote what.  And I was most impressed by – Carol Sobieski was very good, but Lee [Lionel E.] Siegel was the best of all of them.

What do you remember about Peyton Place’s directors?

Ted Post was my first directing teacher, back in New York.  He and Walter Doniger had the same technique.  Walter was much more rigid than Ted.  Ted was the kind of director, no matter what it was, you said, “We’ve got this thing we’ve got to shoot here, these twelve pages over here, Teddy….”

“Well, I haven’t read ’em….”

“Well, it starts over here….”

“Okay, thank you!”  And he just goes and does it.  He could do anything.

I really admired the long takes and elaborate compositions in Doniger’s episodes.

Well, that wasn’t Walter’s style.  It was the style of the show.  Teddy Post shot that way.  It was actually a live television look.  If you went back to the soaps and things of live television, they had a lot of movement in a single camera.  And that became part of the style, mixed, of course, with the film technique.  So we had a lot of movement.  Sometimes 23 or 24 or 25 moves in one scene.  They would be in a two-shot, move to a close-up, move to an over-the-shoulder.  Not the actors, the camera is doing it.

I’m getting the sense that you were not a big admirer of Walter Doniger.

Walter knew nothing about acting.  He would say to the actors one thing: “Don’t do anything!  Don’t do anything!  Don’t feel anything, don’t do anything.”  That was his direction.  Teddy was more Method-oriented.

I have a Walter Doniger story you may not like, but….  Walter was a very rigid control freak.  I had talked Gena Rowlands into coming in to play a part for ninety episodes.  She would come in in episode so-and-so and ninety episodes later she would leave, because she was [at] the beginning of a movie career.  But I happened to know John needed the money to finish one of his pictures [Faces, 1968].  I knew her from New York, before, with John.

Anyway, her first day happens to be with Walter Doniger.  Now, I have had my problems with Walter Doniger from time to time, when I would ask him to do something specifically and he wouldn’t do it.  It would annoy me, but I wouldn’t come down on him.  I would get annoyed and the next time something would happen I would bring it up, but he would do what he wanted to do when he wanted to do it.  It wasn’t that big a deal, but this became a big deal.  

Gena’s first day.  Now she’s a friend of mine, right?  It’s about a six, seven, eight-page scene.  So they start shooting it.  I’m not there; I’m in the office.  Somewhere, Gena goes up.  Now, she wasn’t used to doing seven or eight page masters.  She was used to doing a piece of a master and then maybe some coverage, then another piece of a master.  But she wasn’t used to doing seven, eight, nine moves, ten moves, fifteen.  It was a whole new technique and she was just starting, right?  So she did it and stopped.  Then he started all over again.  And then did it again, stopped.  Maybe they did that three or four times, and then finally she said, “Couldn’t you just print and pick up?”

He said, “Who’s the director, you or me?”  

She says, “Oh, okay.”  She said, “Excuse me, I have to go to my dressing room.”  

She went to her dressing room and called me.  Now, Gena is a lady.  She is the daughter of a state senator.  Her mother is elegant.  You don’t swear in front of Gena, right?  She got on the phone and she said, “Everett, I’ve got to talk to you right now about this prick, Walter Doniger.”

Oh.

She said, “I’ll be in my dressing room.  Come.  And my agent is coming, and my press agent is coming.”

So I went in to Paul and I said, “Paul, we’ve got a small problem.”  

He said, “Go down and talk to her.”  

So eventually what happened is that I went up to the set and said, “Walter, you’ve got to go down there and eat some crow.  Because she’s going home.”  I think we called him up to the office, as I recall, because Walter and Paul and I were [all talking].  

So I took him down to Gena and took her into the dressing room, and by then her agent, Jack Gilardi, had arrived.  They went in, and [Gilardi] and I went out to the end of the corridor and sat down on the steps and we heard Gena ream … his … ass.  “You son of a bitch, you no-good fuck, you….”  [Laughs]  She really worked him over the coals.  Then, when that was done, he ate some crow, and she went back on the set and finished.  

But Walter Doniger and I didn’t cut it from then on, and I replaced him.  

Really?  Is it accurate to say that you fired him?

When you replace somebody that’s been with a show for about three years, I would think so.

When I interviewed him, Doniger made it sound like he’d left of his own volition.

No, he did not.  When his option or whatever it was came up, I told Paul I don’t want to work with him any more.  Because that was just one incident on top of these other little ones.

One other thing about Walter Doniger: every day he sent his dailies to Dick Zanuck’s screening room, hoping that Zanuck would like the dailies and give him a movie.

Some of the other actors on the show found Walter charming, though.

Well, he could be that too.  It’s just that when you’re a control freak, and I’m a control freak, something’s gotta give.  Who’s gonna run the show, is what that comes down to.  And it was kind of a battle from time to time about who was.  A dear friend of mine is Jeffrey Hayden, and we had the same problem.  It was about wardrobe with Barbara Parkins.  We had decided what we wanted her to wear and he changed it.  I had it [with Hayden] on The Lloyd Bridges Show, also; it was something to do with [guest star] Diane Baker.

So you hired Jeff Hayden after having worked with him on that series.

I did indeed.  John Newland was the third director when I came on, and I looked at a couple of his shows and I thought they were shitty.  I knew John, also, from New York, so I went down on the set and I said, “John, could you and I have a conversation please?” 

He says, “This is all crap!  The show is crap!  Everything about it is crap!  Don’t talk to me about it, it’s crap.”  

“John, that’s a bad attitude.  I want your best.  If you can’t do your best, you can’t do it.”  

He said, “Then I don’t do it!”  

So he left and Jeff came in.

I’ve talked to some talented people from Peyton Place (like Franklin Barton, one of the original writers) who looked down on it.  They just couldn’t wrap their minds around doing a soap opera.

All television is soap opera.  We’ve tried to make it look like something else, but it isn’t.

Who were you closest to among the cast?

Well, I hung out a lot with Ryan.  And there was a guy, William Allyn, who was the associate producer.  He and I knew each other; he was an actor in New York.  He and I and Ryan would go to lunch a lot.  And Ryan is very funny.  We really had a lot of laughs with him.  After he got out and started making movies, I ran into him once and it was like he didn’t know me.

Were there others among the actors with whom you didn’t get along?

I did have some run-ins with Barbara Parkins.  Her agent, and I can’t think of his name now, they were very pissy.  She and Lee Grant were both nominated for an Emmy, and the Emmy committee called and said, “Would you pick a film for them to show to the Actors’ [Branch], so they could vote for them.”  You know, you send material over, the actors look at the material, and then they vote.  So I picked an episode that both of them had real good stuff in.  Then one day I get a call from her agent and he said, “We want to sit down with Barbara and pick out material.”  

I said, “Well, you can’t, because it’s gone.  It was three weeks ago they asked for it.”

“What do you mean, they asked for it?”

“Well, they asked for it.  I sent the material.”  

Well, she had a fit.  She didn’t speak to me until I was working on Columbo, and she was over there on some movie of the week or something.

She really didn’t speak to you again during the entire run of Peyton Place?

She didn’t speak to me for at least two years.  Well, I directed some [episodes], so she had to talk to me at that time.

One other thing was: Dorothy Malone was never on time.  Never.  Never did her hair.  She would come in and not have her roots done, and we’d have to stop and fix her roots and do her hair.  And one of the stand-ins was her spy.  If she had an eight o’clock call, or a ten o’clock call, he would see where they were and call her: “Don’t worry, they’re not going to get to you till eleven.”  And so she wouldn’t come in.  And then she got sick and I replaced her for a while with Lola Albright, and Mr. Peyton got sick, George Macready, and I replaced him for a while with Wilfrid Hyde-White.

Macready was terrific in that part.

Yeah, he was terrific.  And he was never one of my favorite actors, but I really liked him [on Peyton Place].

Peyton Place went through some interesting changes during its last year on the air.

We were [on] during the Vietnam War, but we were in limbo, never-never-land, in terms of reality.  The war was never spoken of.  And in the fifth year, [the ratings] may have been weakening a little bit, so Paul and I had a meeting and decided to get into something more contemporary.  He came back and wanted to introduce a black family.  I said, “Okay, if we do that, are we going to introduce the war, are we going to introduce rock and roll, something more contemporary with the kids?”

“Yes.”  

So we started to make a transition.  Paul put out a press release about the black family coming in, with a son who’s in love with a white girl.  Hate mail came.  This is 1968, right?  Hate mail.  One letter I got said that if you have this black boy with this white girl, I will nail you up to my garage door.  And I was very uncomfortable with that myself.  I said to Paul, “Let us get a black sociologist or psychologist, or somebody, to advise us.”  Because we were totally lily-white.  Everybody on the show was lily-white.  We cast Ruby Dee and Percy Rodriguez and Glynn Turman and another girl [Judy Pace].

Did you keep the interracial relationship angle?

Absolutely not.  First of all, I knew Ruby Dee and her husband [Ossie Davis] from New York, and when she got the job both of them came out and wanted to talk about where we were going.  Both of them were very oriented in not making it look bad, not making the black family look ridiculous.  It was ridiculous enough that we made him a brain surgeon, [of] which there were only nine in the United States!  Nine black neurosurgeons at the time.  We had an interview with one of them, who came to talk to us.  Anyway, eventually, I was able to stop the black-white [interracial romance] thing, bring in a doctor of psychology, get a couple of black writers.  We had rap sessions every week with the writers about what could be done with the black family to keep it from being distasteful and [depicted as] white fantasies, which is what it would have been if we’d have continued it without that kind of help.

It seems like the look of the show got a little more contemporary — more “mod,” so to speak — in the final year.

Yes, it did.  We put in a disco.  We had a rock and roll band in the disco, called The Pillory.  Jerry Moss at A&M Records was a friend of mine, so I said, “Can you put together a group for me?”  So he sent over a bunch of groups and we auditioned them.  One of them was The Carpenters.  And I said no, I cannot see a rock and roll band with a female drummer.  Needless to say….  Anyway, we put together an ad hoc band and they would do all the music, and then we’d just send it over and do it to playback.

Did you get to know Paul Monash well personally?

Yeah, sure.  I mean, I spent four years with him.  He was a strange, mercurial man.  He was very ego-oriented.  When I came in there, I was working at the time at a place called International Productions, with Robert Brandt, who was Janet Leigh’s husband.  When I left, he just dissolved the company.  We had a PR firm working with us, and I said, “Well, we have this commitment and I’ll take it with me.”  

I called Paul, because I knew he was PR-oriented.  You always saw his name [in the press] about whatever happened on Peyton Place.  He got his name there first.  I said, “Is it all right if I use [a publicist]?”  

He says, “It’s okay.  I’ve gotten all the publicity I need.”  

Right?  And then when he starts seeing my name casting so-and-so, and my name doing this, he got pissed.  In fact, they did a special with him moderating it about Peyton Place.  He never mentioned anybody but him.  Not one of the directors.  Not one of the producers.  Nothing.  It was all him.  So, knowing that, and having worked with Aaron Spelling, who was the same kind of PR-oriented person, you don’t infringe.  You just stay cool.

Did you think Monash was talented?

Oh, he was the best writer on the show.  The best.  He also was a good director.  He did one episode.  He would rewrite stuff, and write stuff, yeah.  He never took any credit for it.  He would just do it.  Once in a while they would get stuck and he would do something.

Someone else who worked for him intimated that Monash would avail himself of the casting couch.

Oh, he was fucking everything that walked.  Everything.  Truck drivers, if they were female – anything.  He was just terrible.  One of my friends I got on there as a secretary, and they used our beach house once.  She said, “He’s like a rabbit.”  You know, Fox has another gate on the west side of the lot.  It was a temporary gate, but mostly it was a set.  He had an apartment over there, right across the street.

I guess that wasn’t uncommon at that time.

I guess, but it was like a cliche.  He was, in his own way, very insecure.  He had, I believe, a very dominant father, who never gave him any recognition.  He was a little driven by that.  And he was married to this one woman when we were doing that show, then later he married a writer, Merrit Malloy, who had one hand.  Lee Philips, who was in the original Peyton Place [movie], was also a buddy of mine; I had brought him in in the later years as one of the directors.  Then Paul was making movies at CBS, and he gave Merrit some of these movies to write or something, and then Lee became one of the directors.  Lee and Merrit became an item, and Lee’s wife found out and she threw him out.  They got a divorce.  He came and stayed with me, because I was single at the time.  It was a mess.  And Paul found about it – he was chasing all over town looking for Lee Philips.

I think the photography on Peyton Place is gorgeous, and I neglected to ask you about the cinematographer, Robert Hauser.

Yeah, he was a wonderful cameraman.  Bill Cronjager was the operator.  After Bob Hauser left, I made him the cameraman.  And he worked with me also on Columbo, and Partners in Crime.  We shot it in San Francisco, with Loni Anderson and Lynda Carter.  I used to call the show Cagney and Cleavage.  It was a terrible show.

It seems like people of your generation had fewer opportunities to do meaningful work in the seventies and eighties than in the years before.

It started to flatten out a bit.  It got so controlled by the networks that I quit and moved back to New York in 1980, for four years.  I couldn’t take one more meeting with one more twenty-four year-old Wharton School of Business executive telling me how you do drama.  Now it’s worse.

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Above: Everett Chambers in Too Late Blues (1961).

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