Monday, January 17, 2011

The Canon Review of Two Rockford Files

So the Golden Globes were on tonight. In honor of the ocassion, I have decided to watch former Golden Globe nominated actor James Garner in the 1970s detective series The Rockford Files. In The Rockford Files, Garner plays private eye Jim Rockford, a former Korean War vet and an ex-con, as he served five years for a crime he didn't commit. After that, Rockford moved to a trailer located on the beach around Los Angeles, California, and pays his bills by risking life and limb as a private investigator with the help of a few colorful friends. So, on with the show.

Episode 1: Tall Woman in Red Wagon (season 1, episode 6)

The episode starts with Jim Rockford ordering two cemetery workers to dig up a grave. That has to be illegal, and I guess it is because two men come after Rockford and after a struggle, one of them shoots Jim in the head. Luckily, Jim wakes up and starts repeating the name Charlotte to the doctors. Then we cut back to another scene where Rockford meets a local crime reporter named Sandra Terkel (Sian Barbara Allen), who hires Jim to look for her friend Charlotte Duskey (Susan Damante-Shaw), although she insists that she will be handling most of the investigating while Rockford will be more of an enforcer. At first, Jim turns down the job, but Sandra's persistence pays off and the two work the case. Since Sandra found out that she was headed to Elmira, California, they head there, and are told that Charlotte has died of a heart attack. Well, that explanation doesn't wash with the two, so they talk to the doctor that pronounced her dead and learn that her body has been shipped off on a train. From there, they go to a train station, and all the while a man is following Rockford. After getting some information about the casket's whereabouts, Jim has a run-in with the man following him, whom as it turns out is a U.S. Treasury Agent named Harry Stoner (George DiCenzo). The three have a conversation, and as it turns out Charlotte's not the person Sandra thinks she is, as she was once the ladyfriend of a mobster named Joe Barron, ans stole $1.2 million from his estate after his death, much to the displeasure of his son Joe Jr. Rockford calls up Joe Jr., and learns that Stoner is not a federal agent but rather a disgruntled ex-employee. Well then. The three meet up on a train to the town where Charlotte is buried, and eventually Stoner is disposed of. The morning after, Rockford and Terkel (wearing the same clothes as the day before) get the cemetary owner to open up the casket of Charlotte, only to discover that it's filled with bags of dirt.

Rockford is given an address, so he and Sandra fly off to Minneapolis to meet with Charlotte (once again wearing the exact same outfits they were at the beginning of the show), where they find Charlotte injured, but not dead. So off to the hospital, where Sandra tries to convince Charlotte to come back to Longview and there's a weird quasi-romantic scene between Rockford and Sandra that goes nowhere, as Rockford is not interested in marriage. Rockford then goes back to the gravesite to find the money, and so we come full circle as the scene at the beginning is repeated, and Rockford is shot in the head, as it turns out, it was two of Joe Barron Jr's men that were after Rockford. Two weeks later, Rockford is released, and Stoner is waiting for him. Rockford gives him some story about the cemetery owner running off with the money, and Stoner takes off. Back home, Sandra is waiting on Rockford and wants to hire him to find Charlotte again, but Rockford advises Sandra to drop it as Charlotte is nothing more than a fortune seeker, and informs her that it was Barron that has the money. At the end, nobody, not even Rockford, knows where the money went. I bet it was the man at the train station that took it. Well, this wasn't too bad, although some of the guest actors performances such as the actors that played Charlotte and Stoner weren't too convincing. I'd give this episode a 7.2 out of 10.

Episode 2: A Portrait of Elizabeth (Season 2: Episode 16)

This episode guest stars John Saxon from Mitchell. Also, Saxon was in Enter the Dragon, but I choose to remember him from Mitchell. Anyway, Saxon plays a lawyer turned corporate executive named Dave Delaroux who hires Rockford thanks to the recommendation of his gal pal lawyer Elizabeth Davenport (Gretchen Corbett). In this case, Rockford is supposed to investigate Delaroux's cousin Tom, head of the L.A. office of Delaroux's company, who is suspected of stealing cashiers checks'. So Rockford goes down and finds out that none of the cashiers checks have been stolen, much to the relief of Delaroux, who changes his previous plans of going to the opera with Beth to take care of business elsewhere. Meanwhile, it is Rockford that goes to the opera with Beth, and none too happily, as he's beginning to suspect Dave's true intention. Dave has dinner at a lady friend's house, and the woman's ex husband shows up and challenges Dave to a fight. However, the ex doesn't know that John Saxon knows karate, so he gets his clock cleaned and swears revenge. He and his bodyguard follow Dave, who for some reason goes to Rockwell's house and starts digging around for something. That something is a gun, which he uses to kill the unsuspecting ex in a plan hatched by Dave and the bodyguard. To show his thanks, Dave shoots the bodyguard as well.

Rockford returns from a tumultuous night at the opera with Beth to find two dead men in his ransacked home. Naturally, this raises the ire of the local police force, as they try to pin the murder on Rockford. The FBI then gets involved, and charge Rockford with murder and attempted fraud of the U.S. Government and bank fraud, among other things. To make matters worse, Beth, as Dave's attorney, can not incriminate Dave by law. John Saxon is one clever man, I tell you what. The feds ask Rockford about a bank in San Diego, and we later learn that a Rod Fitzpatrick set up a bank account there using 2 million dollars worth of stolen cashiers checks, and that Fitzpatrick is a known dining companion of one David Delaroux. Eventually, Rockford passes a lie detector test and is free to go. Meanwhile, the revelation of Delaroux as a world class scumbag does not please Beth, as she really liked Dave, so she pouts over how wrong she was. After consoling her, Beth discovers that Dave has taken her car to supposedly leave it at the airport. But Rockford is ahead of the game, and the duo eventually learn of Dave's apartment/painting studio in L.A., where they go to confront him. Rockford is also unaware of John Saxon's martial arts expertise, so Dave is able to escape and tries to take Beth with him. However, Rockford has already blocked the driveway with his car, and catches up to Dave and slows him down by throwing blue paint at the windshield. Eventually, Dave stops to get out, but Rockford literally slams the door on him and the cops come to arrest him. Afterward, Davenport expresses disappointment that Dave never painted a portrait of her, unlike all his other girlfriends, which gets Rockford to thinking, and sure enough, there was a portrait of Beth painted on a 2 million dollar Federal Bearer's Bond. While John Saxon is quite clever, at the end he's just not good enough to beat Jim Rockwell. Good episode, but not great, as Beth's whining came of became annoying. I'd give it a 6.5 out of 10.

Well, that's it for now. Hopefully, I'll have a few things done in the next few days, so keep on the lookout. In the meantime, if you have any thoughts about this or other posts, or ideas for future posts, than let me know them either by leaving a comment or by sending me an e-mail at

No comments:

Post a Comment