THE Bugle’s popular feature on old TV programmes has more long forgotten favourites to share with its readers this week as Alan Keeling continues to dig deep into his chest of archive material, keeping us in step with yesterday’s television.
"The classic black and white crime series "Naked City" was filmed in the streets of New York, and told of the gruelling day-to-day activities of the police detectives assigned to Manhattan’s 65th precinct. Based on a 1948 feature film of the same name created by Sterling Silliphant, the series was produced by Shelle Productions for Screen Gems and made in two formats.
Format one ran from 1958/59 with 39 half hour episodes and starred James Franciscus as Detective Jim Halloran, with John McIntire as Detective Lieutenant Dan Muldoon. The theme tune for this first series was by Billy May. Format two ran from 1960/63 with Paul Burke as Detective Adam Flint and Horace McMahon as Detective Mike Parker, with a new theme tune written by Nelson Riddle. It ran for 99 hour long episodes, and at the end of each one the narrator made the following statement in a typical low, gravely, New York voice. "There are 8 million stories in the Naked City, this has been just one of them!"
The actors who took part in the series were a mixture of well known stars and up-and-coming hopefuls :- Vic Morrow, Peter Falk, Eli Wallach, Eric Portman, Claude Rains, Telly Savalas, Jack Lord, Walter Matthau, James Caan, Roddy McDowell, Robert Redford, Glynis Johns, Mickey Rooney, George Segal, William Shatner, Gene Hackman and Dustin Hoffman, a star studded roll call if ever there was one. Here in the Black Country and the wider West Midlands, ATV broadcast the hour long second series from 1963, with further screenings on Channel 4 from 1972.
We step a little further back in time to mention the 1950’s children’s adventure story, "Captain Gallant of the Foreign Legion." In the 1930’s and 40’s Larry (Buster) Crabbe’s Hollywood career had included a spate of B-Westerns and serials such as "Flash Gordon" and "Buck Rogers." But in the mid 50’s he turned his attention to television and landed the role of Captain Gallant in 78 monochrome half-hour shows, produced by Telepictures of Morocco.
Crabbe, as Captain Michael Gallant, was commander of the North African Division of the Foreign Legion, with his real life son Cullen Crabbe, playing a young orphan named Cuffy Sanders. There was also a comic sidekick in the shape of Fuzzy Knight, who played himself as a private, together with Gilles Queant as Sergeant Duval and Roger Trevielle as the Colonel. The series’ production was assisted by the French Minister of National Defence, the Commanding General of French Troops in Morocco, and also the officers and men of the Legion outposts at Zagora, Rabat, Marrakech and Agadir, all of which provided superb backdrops for each episode.
For series two of Captain Gallant, filming moved to Libya, Tripoli and Italy, under the guidance of future James Bond producer Harry Saltzman, mainly because the political climate was less hostile. Episode titles included "Veils of Death," and "Dagger of Judah," and there was even a compilation film produced, edited from three episodes, entitled "Desert Outpost," which ran for 70 minutes which was intended for cinema showings. Unfortunately this series wasn’t broadcast here in Britain when it was first released, but when Orbit Films took over distribution rights in the 1980’s every country in Europe was given access to it via satellite and cable television. Along the way a "Captain Gallant of the Foreign Legion" comic was produced which some Bugle readers may have come across and still remember."
As a result of Alan’s seven cowboys in a row quiz question which appeared in the Bugle a couple of weeks ago, we have received two further letters; from Malcolm Palmer (Perton) and Betty May (Weoley Castle).
Malcolm writes, "Warner’s TV Westerns 1955-1962 were indeed classics and bring back many happy memories for me. The photo of the Warner’s "Magnificent Seven" should have been "Magnificent Eight" because Clint Walker, who played Cheyenne Bodie, was missing from the line-up. Now the Maverick episode mentioned was called "Hadley’s Hunters" and starred Jack Kelly as Bart Maverick and Edgar Buchanan as Sheriff Horace Hadley. There were cameo roles in it for Will Hutchins (Sugarfoot), Clint Walker (Cheyenne), Ty Hardin (Bronco), John Russell and Peter Brown (Lawman). However, James Garner (Bret Maverick) and Wayde Preston (Christopher Holt) did not feature.
In this day and age, when almost everything that appeared on film is now on DVD, wouldn’t it be nice if these Warner Bros. Westerns were also made available in our neck of the woods."
Betty May from Weoley Castle has a brother-in-law who is also a fan of the old Westerns. "Thank you for showing the photo of the seven cowboys, it was terrific, but do any Bugle readers know where my brother-in-law could buy photos of the old TV cowboys?"
Alan Keeling has told us that the B-Western convention is taking place at the Mencap Club in Price Street, Smethwick, on 14th June, and reckons there may be an opportunity to buy some cowboy photos at that event.