Kiss of Death Girl – Episode Review

By Episode Review, Season 2

KISS OF DEATH GIRL

Airdate: December 8th, 1960
Written by Harry Kronman
Directed by John Peyser
Produced by Alan Armer
Director of Photography Charles Straumer
Special Guest Star Jan Sterling
Co-starring Mickey Shaughnessy, Robert H. Harris, and David J. Stewart. Featuring John Conte, Lester Miller, Joseph Ferrante, Celia Lovsky, Baruch Lumet, Wesley Lau

“On the night of September 8th, 1932, four trucks crossed the Canadian border at a remote spot and headed for Chicago. They carried a thousand cases of scotch, the McCoy. Value: over one hundred thousand dollars. Acting on word from a Canadian agent, Eliot Ness and the Untouchables were covering the highway outside of town. And seven or eight miles up ahead of Ness, someone else was waiting: Phil Corbin, owner of Chicago’s Club Continental. A man with ambition, tonight, he was expanding his operation. In charge of the convoy was a small-time mobster, Whitey Barrows, running the whiskey in for his boss, Lou ‘the Rooster’ Scalisi. Scalisi was a new power in Chicago. During the past year, he had cut himself a juicy slice of what used to be Capone’s personal pie.”

Convinced he can corner the market in high quality imported Scotch, small-time club Phil Corbin (Robert H. Harris) owner hijacks a shipment intended for his supplier, Lou “The Rooster” Scalese (David J. Stewart), and attempts to win the affections of a Francie McKay (Jan Sterling) who is known to frequently lose boyfriends to underworld catfights.

“Henny Combs did make it. Two months later, he was well enough to open a small cleaning establishment with Francie; Francie McKay, who used to be called the kiss of death girl.”

REVIEW

Jan Sterling would seem like the perfect actress to grace The Untouchables, but she is wasted by a first-draft screenplay.

Jan Sterling guest stars in this wannabe heart breaker in which she roams sadly about, losing boyfriends as fast as they can be shot up for one reason or another, complaining how her men are only interested in her for her pretty face while displaying one seriously without charm. It is the eternal double-cross that does in the principle characters who, apart from Lou “The Rooster” Scalisi, are not particularly enthralling.

This episode feels like a first draft badly in need of a rewrite and highlights that it doesn’t matter how many hoods are running around if none of them are particularly interesting, dramatic, or cunning. This episode completely wastes the award-winning Sterling, who was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in The High in the Mighty (1954) and appeared in numerous film noirs a decade earlier as “cheap floozies, hard-bitten dames, and lethal schemers.”

While there are a few good lines in Harry Kronman’s script (Ness duping Scalese in his phone call is hilarious), this is the only one-star episode in the entire Second Season. Nonetheless, Kronman will quickly adapt to The Untouchables and author 17 episodes. Apart from Kiss of Death Girl, the rest of Kronman’s scripts are exceedingly memorable. His ultimate contribution will come in the form of the Second Season’s powerhouse season finale 90-Proof Dame.

QUOTES

CORBIN: You got no respect for the dead.
NESS: Sometimes even less than the living.

OBSERVATIONS

At the conclusion of each hour, The Untouchables teased each new episode with exciting trailers. These expensive little previews had their own theme music, often featured alternate takes of scenes, and sadly were completely absent in the so-called Columbia House’s “Collectors Edition” of The Untouchables on VHS and the subsequent DVD releases. Here, Stuart Fanning has preserved the ending of The Untouchables as it originally aired, complete with bumpers, commercials, and the trailer for “The Larry Fay Story.”

As a part of The Untouchables Retrospective, we’ll be archiving and publishing the trailers we can locate from the remaining 16mm prints of The Untouchables.

HISTORICAL NOTES

While there’s no record of a “Kiss of Death Girl” in American crime, the title was bestowed to a woman named Nellie Cameron, an Australian prostitute who consorted with various undesirables in Sydney in the 1920s and 30s, five of whom were targeted for assassination. What a heartbreaker.

GALLERY

The Purple Gang – Episode Review

By Episode Review, Season 2

THE PURPLE GANG

Airdates: December 1st, 1960 and July 27th, 1961 
Written by John Mantley
Directed by Walter E. Grauman
Produced by Lloyd Richards
Director of Photography Charles Straumer
Co-starring Bruce Gordon, Werner Klemperer, Ilka Windish
Special Guest Star Steve Cochran
Featuring Carl Milletaire, Paul Lambert, Steven Geray, James Flavin, Rayford Barnes

“By early 1932, with the increasing pressure of law enforcement agencies against their liquor outlets and sources of supply and the repeal of prohibition imminent, the underworld began to look for new ways of exploiting the age-old principles of extortion and murder. Inspiration was not long in coming. 

“Emboldened by the amateurish but successful kidnapping of the Lindbergh child, the underworld moved swiftly to put the ugly crime of kidnapping on a professional basis. Detroit’s blood-stained Purple Gang, long a synonym for terrorism in beer, booze, labor, and prostitution, quietly avowed their own version of the snatch racket. Their victims were other members of the underworld who could hardly go to police for help. By late August 1932, the Purple Gang had completed nine successful kidnappings for a total take of almost one hundred thousand dollars. 

“The brains behind the Purple Gang’s long record of successful operation: Eddie Fletcher, ex-bank robber, murderer. A man who had proven himself so shrewd and so ruthless that even the powerful Capone organization had left him strictly alone. “
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A Seat On The Fence – Episode Review

By Episode Review, Season 2

A SEAT ON THE FENCE

Airdate: November 24th, 1960
Written by William Templeton
Produced and Directed by Walter E. Grauman
Director of Photography Charles Straumer
Co-starring Joseph Anthony, Gene Lyons, Frank Silvera
Special Guest Star John McIntire
Featuring Val Avery, Frank Salinas, Olan Soule, Dan Barton, John Anderson, Arlene Sax, Len Lesser

“In late summer 1932, the underworld organized to compensate for the stemming of its supply of narcotics from Asia and southern Europe. Greedy for revenue derived from Chicago’s more than five thousand dope addicts, the syndicate had turned to the systematic robbery of retail druggists, doctor’s offices, and wholesale drug houses for its source of narcotics. The thefts were increasing ominously and becoming more daring. Though Eliot Ness was able to recognize the signatures of most of Chicago’s mobster leaders, he was not familiar with the technique of the mastermind behind this new outbreak of evil.”

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The Mark of Cain – Episode Review

By Episode Review, Season 2

THE MARK OF CAIN

Airdates: November 17th, 1960
Written by David Z. Goodman
Directed by Walter E. Grauman
Produced by Josef Shaftel
Director of Photography Charles Straumer
Co-starring Will Kaluva, Conrad Janis, Eduardo Cianelli. Special Guest Star Henry Silva. Featuring Joyce Taylor, Vic Perrin, and Paula Raymond.

“In the late Spring of 1932, it became evident through the protest of irate citizens whose families had become victimized that drug addiction in Chicago was reaching alarming proportions. Prior to the Spring of 1932,  the distribution of narcotics had been a haphazard affair, a small-time business, in the hands of unorganized, small-time thugs. But under the cunning leadership of Little Charlie Sabastino, the narcotics racket had been amalgamated into one organized empire, with Little Charlie as its emperor.”

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The Waxey Gordon Story – Episode Review

By Episode Review, Season 2

THE WAXEY GORDON STORY

Airdates: November 10th, 1960 and June 22nd, 1961
Written by Joseph Petracca
Directed by John Peyser
Produced by Josef Shaftel
Director of Photography Charles Straumer
Co-starring Frank De Kova. Special Guest Star Nehemiah Persoff. Featuring Elizabeth Hush, Terry Huntington, Sam Gilman, Adam Becker, Walter Reed, Edgar Stehli.

“On the night of April 16th, 1931, Waxey Gordon, public enemy number one, the unchallenged beer boss of New York, began his campaign to take over the illegal beer traffic in the entire State of New Jersey. It was controlled by Frankie Dunn, Bugs Donovan, and Roger Wyden.”

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Nicky – Episode Review

By Episode Review, Season 2

NICKY

Airdates: November 3rd, 1960 and January 25th, 1962
Story by Joseph Petracca
Teleplay by Joseph Petracca and Harry Essex
Directed by Walter E. Grauman
Produced by Josef Shaftel
Director of Photography Charles Straumer
Costarring Micheal Ansara, Philip Pine, Joe DeSantis. Special Guest Star Luther Adler. Featuring Mario Roccuzzo, Malcolm Atterbury, A.G. Vitanza, Renata Vanni, Vincent Barbi, George Greco, Ronnie Haran.

“By the middle of 1933, Eliot Ness and his squad of Untouchables had almost checked the manufacture and sale of Illicit whiskey in Chicago. Yet, despite their success, one of the biggest and shrewdest operators continued to elude them. Through elaborate schemes and machinations, he continued to procure alcohol and process it. His name was Gus Marco, alias Guiseppe Marconi. On the surface, running a respectable taxi garage, but below the surface, under the cement floor of the garage, Gus Marco operated the largest illegal bottling and cutting plant in the country. A former gambler, he had been ruled off several race tracks for attempting a fix, Gus Marco had carried his habits into his current business. He believed in the payoff, the schmear, Gus was always one to put out a buck to make two.”

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Jack “Legs” Diamond – Episode Review

By Episode Review, Season 2

JACK “LEGS” DIAMOND

Airdates: October 20th, 1960 and May 15th, 1961
Story by Harry Essex
Teleplay by Charles O’Neal
Directed by John Peyser
Produced by Josef Shaftel
Director of Photography Charles Straumer
Co-Starring Steven Hill, Norman Crane and Suzanne Storrs.  Featuring Lawrence Dobkin, Robert Carricart, Peter Whitney, Oscar Beregi, Ted Berger, Lee Patrick, Tony Carbone.

“By 1931, the country’s era of wonderful nonsense was over. The Great Depression was steadily sinking its fangs deeper into the nation’s economic life with each passing day. Unaffected by the growing unemployment, gangster owned and operated speakeasies and nightclubs continued to flourish. Prohibition had spawned a new mobster aristocracy. Hoodlums with money had become knights of the submachine gun. One such prominent mobster was Jack “Legs” Diamond, known to the mobs as the Clay Pigeon, because of the great number of times he had been shot at and survived. Legs had a wife, but most of his time now was spent in the company of Dawn Dolan, young and glamorous nightclub canary.” Read More

I Call On “Mr. Untouchable” – The Saturday Evening Post

By Vintage Archives

Handsome Bob Stack tells why even PTA groups approve of the violence in his sensational cops-and-robber show. He also discloses some of his pet TV hates.

By Pete Martin

Robert Stack is a thinking man’s thinking man – with sex appeal. He can also act. But he doesn’t make with the one-liners, the stand-up comedy bits, the cute anecdotes. He is not a cutup. His thought processes travel through his mind with all the immediacy of a 1920-1930 gangster’s automobile screeching around a Chicago corner on two wheels, just as the ancient crates in his television show, The Untouchables, reel round the corners they turn.

I’d gone to see Stack because The Untouch­ables is now rated the No. 2 TV show in the country, close on the heels of Gunsmoke. It’s a phenomenal thing for a TV show to become No. 2 during its first year. I Love Lucy did it, but the normal pattern is a build-up of two or three years before a show reaches such heights of popularity. 

To anyone interested in peeling back the layers of outer covering to get at the core of what makes a smash TV success, Stack is the right man. As he and I talked, it seemed to me that we came close to doping the answer as to what made The Untouch­ables the biggest hit among the new TV series of the 1959-60 season. Stack was concerned with the reasons behind the resounding success with which he happened to be connected. “Maybe,” he told me, “if I know the whys, I can help keep them that way.”  Read More

The Frank Nitti Story – Episode Review

By Episode Review, Season 1

THE FRANK NITTI STORY

Airdate: April 28th and September 22nd, 1960
Story by Harry Essex
Written by Lee Blair Scott
Directed by Howard W. Koch
Produced by Josef Shaftel
Director of Photography Charles Straumer and Robert B. Hauser
Co-starring Richard Anderson, Myron McCormick, Dick Foran
Special Guest Star Bruce Gordon
Featuring Frank de Kova, Phyllis Coates, Alex Gerry, Frank Wilcox,
Frank Albertson, Harry Harvey, Sr.

“In 1934, Prohibition had been repealed, and the Capone mob, without its leader, serving tune at Alcatraz Prison, was desperate for new sources of revenue. With the instincts of jackals for an easy kill, they picked the nation’s small theater owners for their prey. The type of operation used, was one they knew best: extortion.

“On a quiet street in Oak Park, Illinois, suburb of Chicago, Harold Coldman was closing his theater. Coldman was the owner and operator of two small motion picture houses. He thought he hadn’t an enemy in the world. But he was soon to learn that he was mistaken. To put their extortion plan into operation, the Capone mob had chosen Frank Nitti, long-time enforcer for Scarface Al Capone, and Nitti’s shadow and triggerman, Louis Campangna.” Read More

Head of Fire – Feet of Clay – Episode Review

By Episode Review, Season 1

HEAD OF FIRE – FEET OF CLAY

Airdate: April 21st and September 29th, 1960 
Written by Ben Maddow 
Directed by Walter E. Grauman
Produced by Charles Russell
Director of Photography Charles Straumer 
Special Guest Star Jack Warden
Co-starring Nehemiah Persoff, Madeline Rhue
Featuring Leo Gordon, Virginia Christine, Adrienne Marden, Norm Alden, Lawrence Maldonado, George Chirello, Patsy Kelly

“Eliot Ness, chief of the special unit known as the Untouchables, had not eaten in twelve hours. These were the twelve hours that the jury had been out deciding the case that Ness had prepared so carefully against a mobster named Johnny Fortunato. At 9 p.m., the jury came back and delivered its verdict: not guilty.” Read More