Airdate: December 7th, 1961
Written by Sy Salkowitz
Directed by Stuart Rosenberg
Executive Producer Alan Armer
Director of Photography Charles Straumer
Special Guest Star Ruth Roman
Co-starring Bruce Gordon, Anne Helm
Featuring Grant Richards, Mario Gallo, Mario Alcalde, Jay Adler, Joe Scott
”In July of 1934, acting on a series of telephone tips, Eliot Ness and the Untouchables, with the cooperation of local police, moved in on Chicago’s narcotics racket. The illegal sale of dope was slowly being strangled. Despite the continued fall-off in sales, on August 4th, Frank Nitti prepared to receive fifteen kilos of heroin, the largest shipment of narcotics ever to be imported at a single time.”
In a scheme to use taxi cabs as distribution points for junkies wishing to pursue their habit, an aggressive businesswoman sets up an elaborate, nationwide system only to find that Frank Nitti has little interest in letting a woman muscle in.
“Within forty-eight hours Eliot Ness and the Untouchables had destroyed the entire narcotics web that threatened to strangle the country. Georgie Drake was sentenced to life imprisonment, while Frank Nitti impressed his lieutenants with the folly of doing business with a woman.”
Grant Richards, usually portraying one of Capone’s emissaries who serves warnings to recalcitrant mobsters, gets a bigger role as an indifferent husband and cab company owner – at least, for about fifteen minutes until he is dispatched for infidelity.
For all of its worthwhile attempts to turn the tables with a female antagonist, Man Killer is a less than absorbing hour that also features one-time big-screen actress Ruth Roman arriving to do television. Her performance is unremarkable, and except for a clever line at the end, she is given clumsy dialogue that sounds like a rehearsal for the senior class play. In a way, Man Killer is the far lesser sibling of The Rusty Heller Story, but this time the femme fatale targets Frank Nitti instead of Eliot Ness. Unfortunately, this episode can’t decide whether Georgiana is conniving or jealous of other women, whereas at least Rusty Heller manager to keep her pride. On one hand, it’s great to see a female antagonist trouble Frank Nitti and have several of his goons knocked off (though we never see her commit the act herself), but on the other hand, she’s sexually frustrated and insecure, which aren’t compelling traits for any character, regardless of gender.
The topic of drug use continues to surface in the Third Season of The Untouchables, and the scene where Ness shows Marian Keyes (Anne Helm) a hospital ward rife with suffering addicts is the closest the series has come to topical messaging thus far. If you replaced Ness, it could have very well been a public service announcement.
While this program remains one of the few relatively mediocre moments in the Third Season, the last lines are memorable
Her crime spree ended, an exasperated Georgiana Drake, asks: “To everybody, I was just a businessman. Am I a businessman to you, Mr. Ness, or a woman?”
“You’re a killer, Georgie,” replies Ness, driving the stake through her heart.
• A single Winchell outtake somehow survived: Ruth Roman’s character is Georgianna Drake. Winchell clearly says Georgianna Blake in one of his takes. Getting Winchell to do retakes was probably more trouble than it was worth.
• As the duration of end credits changes to accommodate the creators, so does the music – and Man Killer’s end credits begin a slightly differently edited version of the traditional credits theme.