Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Crime does not pay (as well as it used to) #7


In December of last year, I had accumulated a few bonus points at Rakuten.com (formerly Buy.com) and had planned to use them to get a bodacious deal on the Warner Archive set Crime Does Not Pay: The Complete Shorts Collection (1935-1947).  I was really looking forward to acquiring this collection at a sweet price because in the past, I’ve dissected a few of these MGM shorts with the same amount of snark you’ve come to expect from Mayberry Mondays, Serial Saturdays and Doris Day(s).

Sadly, the purchase did not come to pass.  I got an e-mail a couple of days after I placed the order, saying the item was no longer in stock.  I got the same response for two replacement orders (one of them was going to be the set with the Joe McDoakes comedies…and I forget what the other was), and when I sent them an e-mail asking what the deal was, the answer I got was that it was the holiday season, and their vendors probably ran out of stock, and just bite us, fat boy.  (I wound up surrendering the bonus points to my Dad, who got my mom a nice cookbook for their anniversary.)

So after a three-year hiatus (seriously—the last one of these I did was in October 2011), Thrilling Days of Yesteryear is proud to present another episode in the Crime Does Not Pay series…


…which, if the above screen capture is any indication, seems to have been filmed on location in the offices of True the Vote.  The MGM Crime Reporter Guy then introduces us to this severe-looking individual, who’s got a damn good lawsuit against the cosmetic surgeon who attached that permanent sour expression on his face…


…he’s “Edward Gibbon, attorney general of a great inland state”—and though the CDNP shorts use “fictitious names” for “obvious reasons,” we here at TDOY are not bound by that kind of silly confidentiality rule, so I’ll tell you right now he’s actor Robert Elliott.

Of all the crimes that afflict our nation, election fraud is the most dangerous and inexcusable.  Dangerous because it opens the way to every other lawlessness.  Inexcusable because it can only flourish when you, the people, neglect your simple duties.  The last presidential campaign brought out a record-breaking vote…but to vote once every four years is not enough.  Every municipal, county and state election is just as vital to the unity and strength of the nation.  Seldom has the case been clearer than recently in a certain large city in my jurisdiction…

And with that, we are whisked away through the magic of motion pictures to an auditorium, where Frank Y. Carter, a Clean Government candidate for Mayor, is giving a speech to prospective voters…


…Great Caesar’s Ghost!  It’s John Hamilton!  Incidentally, the two political parties in this short are referred to as “Clean Government” and “Graft”—probably because Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer didn’t want to risk pissing anyone off if they used the real designations.  (I will let you decide who is who, particularly since there is some editorializing ahead in this essay.)

CARTER: …the issue…is not whether I shall replace the present mayor…the real issue in this campaign is the crooked political boss John Bailey…against honest, everyday citizens…racketeers…against struggling workers and shopkeepers…


As Carter continues to drone on and on and on, a shadowy figure can be seen lurking backstage.  It’s not The Whistler—it’s an unidentified individual who’s decided that Carter has bloviated long enough, and it’s time to cut his mike.

The auditorium is plunged into darkness, and there’s the usual pandemonium that results from these situations—people starting hauling ass and elbows toward the exits.  Carter’s pleas for the crowd to be calm fall on deaf ears, and outside the auditorium a camera zooms in for a close-up on the word “graft,” which we previously viewed on one of Carter’s campaign posters (“Clean Government vs. Graft”).


The close-up is a tell that we’re about to meet some of the dramatis personae in the Graft party as they listen to the tail end of Carter’s interrupted broadcast (an announcer is kind enough to let us know that due to the interruption, the station will present a musical interlude).  The dyspeptic-looking man seated is the incumbent mayor, James W. 'Jim' Wheelock (Paul Everton), and the man hovering over the radio is none other than the infamous “Boss” Jim Bailey (C. Henry Gordon), whose machine holds this fragile town in its tight, sweaty grip.

WHEELOCK: The voters will blame us for this…
BAILEY: Now, Mayor—you’re not to blame because your supporters like to play a joke on the Clean Government League?  Come on…get a good rest…

Wheelock gets out of his chair and heads toward the door for an exit line: “Bailey…I disapprove heartily of such tricks…it was unnecessary, dangerous and dishonest.”  (Kind of like your administration, eh, Mayor?)

Bailey responds by telling Wheelock to go home “and let us get you re-elected.”  Bailey’s henchman (Norman Willis) then remarks to his boss once Mayor Wheelock has taken a powder: “Unnecessary, dangerous and dishonest—who does that old hypocrite think he’s kidding?”

“Himself…and the voters,” replies “Boss” Bailey as the two of them enter a side room where much political chicanery is taking place.  Many people are milling about in this smoke-filled room, in particular a man who is apparently in charge of keeping track of Wheelock’s slush fund.  He informs Bailey that a contributor hasn’t ponied up enough dark money to the mayor’s campaign, so Bailey decides the personal touch is in order.

BAILEY (grabbing the phone): Hello, this is Bailey…
ASSISTANT: Here’s the file on him…
BAILEY: Uh…say, Walker…one of the city’s chemists claims…that the concrete used in paving Fourth Street…was way below city specifications…
WALKER (on the other end): What?!!  You tell that chemist he’s crazy!  (Rest is inaudible)
BAILEY: What?  Oh, yes—impossible?  Exactly what I told him…I said, “Listen, Pete…if a man can afford to donate $20,000 to the mayor’s campaign fund…he’s not going to risk jail for a few sacks of cement…”  Yes…I knew that you’d appreciate that…what?  No, he’s probably a fifth columnist or something…yeah…thanks…goodbye…

“We’ll get his check tomorrow,” Bailey assures his flunky.  You have to admit—that man is smooth.  Bailey then walks over to an elevated platform in the room to give his machine a little pep talk.

BAILEY: Boys… (The hubbub dies down as they all strain to listen) You’re all doing a good job…but let’s not kid ourselves…you birds can work overtime buying votes, influencing election clerks and stuffing ballot boxes…and we’ll still be lucky—if we get one-third of the total vote!  Now that means…that Clean Government voters who stay home…are just as important as machine voters who go to the polls!  Clean Government voters who stay home on Election Day…are the same as a vote for us!  And don’t forget that!  We’ll have to plaster this town with the idea…that nobody’s single vote counts!  That Carter—is a hypocritical fake…and that it makes no difference who wins anyway!


The man on the left who’s listening to Bailey’s stirring oratory is easily recognized as Raymond Bailey, the future Milburn Drysdale on The Beverly Hillbillies.  As we witnessed in one of our earlier CDNP presentations, Sucker List (1941), Mr. D had quite a checkered career before going into banking…though a more cynical person than myself might remark that it functioned pretty much as a promotion.

Bailey is one of several henchmen whose job it is to depress voter turnout—and this is done the old-fashioned way, by making individuals who plan to cast a ballot unenthusiastic about the candidates.  Some parties, notably the Democratic Party, still use these older methods (as witnessed in the recent mid-terms).  But back in 1940, these quaint methods were in force because the idea of passing voter I.D. laws to keep the browns, the blahs and the poors from exercising their right to vote hadn’t yet caught fire with the GOP.

We witness a couple of scenarios with a dissolve: Drysdale and his pal pontificate loudly on a subway car (where a gullible voter can heard them) that the Clean Government’s “a fake” and that “Boss” Bailey is actually backing both candidates simply to hedge his bets.  That same gullible fool then engages his fellow boarding house residents in a dinner table conversation that Wheelock and Carter are two peas in a pod-uh.  Another dissolve, and Mr. Drysdale is seen entering a liquor store (run by actor Henry Roquemore) with Graft Party posters, looking to hang one in the window.

OWNER: Hey, you—none of that junk in here!
DRYSDALE: That’s funny…I got you down for a ten buck donation…
OWNER: Ten bucks?  Say, I wouldn’t give you five cents
DRYSDALE: Look…the machine is for you little guys…now f’rinstance—supposing someone got sore at you and tried to clamp down on your license?  Or rule this joint was a fire hazard?
OWNER: This is an honest business!  And you crooks can’t touch me!
DRYSDALE: Okay…see you about it after election…

The insecure store owner then stops Drysdale, and hands him a sawbuck from the till.  “You racketeers will have a lot to answer for if Carter wins,” he warns him.  But Drysdale has all the answers—the machine is backing Carter, too!  “No sense you guys going to the polls and voting,” he assures the donor.  (In the words of Akim Tamiroff in The Great McGinty: “In this town, I’m all the parties…do you think I’m going to starve every time they change administrations?”)

The scene shifts to City Hall.  Bailey’s henchman—the one we saw in the earlier scene with Mayor Wheelock—approaches a custodial engineer (William Edmunds) named Louie, and tells him not to sweat it; he’s got the janitor down for “a day’s pay” to contribute to Wheelock’s campaign.

LOUIE: Ah, Joe…I vote for the other guy
JOE: Louie…an alien like you has to be careful in this country…
LOUIE: Say—I’m a citizen now!
JOE: …it’s full of mean people who figure a guy like you, washing windows for the City Hall…
LOUIE: Hey, Joe—you no like it here…you go back where I come from!

Louie has quite a chortle at his little joke, but Joe is not playing beanbag.  “A day’s pay by noon tomorrow” he tells the intimidated Louie if he wants to keep his job.  (As Joe walks off, Louie mutters something in a language with which I’m not acquainted—but I have a feeling it doesn’t translate as “Bless you, my friend, and may your wife have many masculine male children who do not grow up to be hairdressers.”)

Joe then makes his way down to an office where we hear a nameless civil servant in the act of challenging his supervisor about an order that looks rather hinky.  Actually, this civil servant does have a name—it’s William “Bill” Wright (Byron Shores), and unfortunately for us he’s the hero of this short despite his colorless demeanor and pizazz deficit.

BILL: I don’t understand this order, sir…fifty temporary clerks—how come?
ROBERTS: Put it through and don’t bother me…
BILL: I won’t accept the responsibility, Mr. Roberts…I don’t think they’re clerks at all…I think it’s a gag to dish more city money out to Bailey’s election workers
ROBERTS: Bill…it’s time you learned to be realistic

“Get your ticket for the gravy train, son—there’s plenty of room for everybody on this trip!  And the club car has an open bar!”  Incidentally, the actor playing Supervisor Roberts is one of our favorite character thesps here at TDOY—none other than OTR veteran Will Wright (not to be confused with the hero of this story).


BILL: Some people would call this dishonest
ROBERTS: That’s enough!  You can put this work order through or take the consequences!

Since there is no Door Number Three, Bill decides to go with the consequences—smug in his knowledge that “only the Commission can fire me.”

ROBERTS: You’ve been insubordinatecareless…you’ve neglected your duties to take part in the political campaign of the Reform candidate for mayor… (Picking up phone receiver) Miss Smith…suspend William Wright at once…and schedule a hearing before the Civil Service Commission…one month from today!

Ya burnt, Billy!  The election will be over by then!  Wright tries to save face by announcing that he’s going to go home and write up his report to the Commission…and then he’s going to take a copy over to the Clean Government League.

JOE: I wouldn’t do that…you probably got a girl or a wife…I’d think of her in my future…jobs are scarce…
BILL: Well…one of Bailey’s storm troopers…I’ll mention you, too!

“And for your information, women refuse to have anything to do with me!  So suck on that, storm trooper!”  After making his dramatic exit out of Roberts’ office, Bill runs into a co-worker who answers to Albert “Perky” Perkins—played by Matt McHugh, the lesser-known brother of Frank McHugh, who you’ve seen in a million Warner Brothers movies from the 1930s…because it was a federal law at the time.

PERKY: Hey, Bill—can he make it stick?
BILL: Yeah…
PERKY: He’ll change his mind when he hears some of the dirt I can spill on him!
BILL: Nix…you’ll get canned soon enough without sticking your neck out for me…
PERKY: So?  What have I got to lose?
BILL: Forget it, Perk…but thanks…

Perky also reveals that they cadged a day’s pay off of him to donate to Wheeler…and warns his pal that Bailey’s boys can make plenty of trouble.  “They won’t take a chance so close to election,” Bill assures his friend.  And with that, we fade to…


…yes, Perry White is making another speech on the radio about crooked politicians and it’s each citizens’ duty and argle bargle argle bargle.  Candidate Carter is supposed to have a special guest on his paid political broadcast, but he appears to be running a bit late.  And then it’s revealed…


…that it’s none other than our pal Bill, who looks like forty miles of bad road.  Asked by Perky who gave him the beatdown, Bill responds “Three guesses…”  But here’s the interesting twist in this scenario—he asks the other gentleman, a jamoke named Sanders (John Dilson), to “deputize” him so he can go after the miscreants what mussed his looks.  Keep this in mind if you’re ever canned from a civil service job—all you have to do is ask to be a special deputy, and your worries as to where your next meal is coming from are over!

Even though he does not have a written excuse for his tardiness, Bill is shown the microphone and he addresses the vast listening audience:

BILL: I have just been beaten up because I don’t believe in fake public jobs for hoodlums…that is something that isn’t supposed to happen here…but it happened to me tonight…and unless you wake up, it can happen to any one of you…only instead of a smashed face—your tough luck might be worse…maybe a child run down because the city’s broke and can’t afford enough traffic officers…maybe a job or business wrecked by racketeers…but you don’t have to give time or money to prevent it…all you have to do is vote!  Vote…send Boss Bailey and Mayor Wheelock…and their fellow crooks to jail for their crimes…for extortion…for graft…for false vote registrations from vacant lots and empty buildings…just make up your minds and go to the polls and vote!

Wake up, sheeple!  At the mention of Bailey and Wheelock, the action shifts to the two men listening to Bill’s spiel over a radio in the offices of Graft, Ltd.  Both the Boss and the Mayor are a little hurt by the sting of our hero’s words.

WHEELOCK: I’ll go on the radio and denounce that fellow as a phony!
BAILEY: The voters won’t listen to that stuff…

“After all, they were stupid enough to elect you to higher office, weren’t they?”  No, Bailey demonstrates to his political patron what the people are really interested in as he tunes into various stations on the radio dial: “Swing bands…comedians…prizefights…and on Election Day—they’ll do everything but go to the polls and vote!”

Bailey seems quite smugly certain of himself, as if he were auditioning to be a villain in the next Bond film.  “Oh, they’ll get in their morning game of golf…their type of beauty treatments…mob the bargain sales…worry about their business…throw their weekly bridge parties, and take time off for ballgames—but they will not go to the polls and vote!  They just don’t care that much!”  Sweet guinea pig of Winnipeg—this guy is even more cynical than I am!


A montage follows, with a diligent plasterer changing a sign that formerly read “Vote Tomorrow” to “Vote Today.”  Over this montage, we hear the urbane tones of Boss Bailey observing how the voters got in their golf games, went to the salon, did their shopping, etc.  To drive this point home further, we fade up on a counterman (played by Frank Orth) and a working stiff who’s addressed as “Pete”…but who we know and fear as Hugh Beaumont, later to play TV’s saddest excuse for a father on Leave it to Beaver.

PETE: Are you votin’ today?
COUNTERMAN: Nope…too busy…
PETE: Whaddya mean?  Nobody’s too busy to vote—especially not you
COUNTERMAN: Aw, one vote don’t mean nothin’ in a city this size
PETE: Well, it’d be swell if we all felt that way about it, wouldn’t it?  We could kiss everything we got over here goodbye

“I know something of mine you can kiss…and it’s not a goodbye.”

PETE (dropping money on the counter): Maybe you wouldn’t care, but I would—plenty

In contrast to the counterman’s “I’ve-run-out-of-craps-to-give” attitude, the scene shifts to City Hall, where our pal Perky tells a co-worker off-screen: “You bet I’m voting—in about five minutes!”  But Perk is distracted by a sight just outside the office window:


Holy hanging chads, Batman!  Those guys are threatening to tamper with ballot boxes—and I don’t think they’re with the Chris McDaniel campaign!  The quick-thinking Perky copies down the license plate number of the truck, and in the next scene fills Bill in on the shenanigans…who, in turn, contacts the proper authorities because he’s a special deputy now, damn it.  (I’m not making this up—he even gives his badge number over the phone.)  It’s not going to be easy for Special Deputy Wright (especially since there’s another seven-and-a-half minutes in this short) because the prefix of the license number indicates that it’s a rental.


We then shift to a scene of three men strolling down the street, and we can hear one of them grouse: “Oh, baloney—how can anyone steal an election these days?  Maybe it was different when your father was a kid…”  The guy’s voice trails off as he and his friend continue walking—but the third man splits off and descends a flight of stairs to enter a basement room where we find two Bailey goons seated at a table.  The man hands the two “poll workers” a blank ballot, and after receiving some monetary compensation he heads out the door at the same time another man walks in.  One of the goons makes marks besides the names of the machine candidates and hands it to the newcomer.


HENCHMAN: You ever voted a chain ballot before?  (The man shakes his head) Well, just so you can’t cheat us—this ballot’s already marked…the only way you can get your two bucks is to vote it and bring back the clean one they give ya so we can mark it for the next guy…now don’t crumple it…


“Oh, and have a blessed day.”  Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if Brian Donlevy was the next mook to show up in that place.  The other gentleman hands him a registration and receipt, telling him to “use that name and address and step on it.”

We then fade in to Graft Headquarters.  Boss Bailey and his thugs are listening to election night returns on the radio, and with twenty-one precincts reporting the tally is Wheelock 6,251…Carter 6,463.

HENCHMAN: Not so good…more honest suckers voted than we figured…
BAILEY: No, but not enough—twenty or thirty strong precincts…will wipe out their whole lead… (Glancing at his watch) And the boys aren’t exactly asleep just now…

No indeedy, they are not.  The action shifts to one precinct where the ballots are about to be counted…and a jovial man (Harry Burns) announces to the workers that there are sandwiches and java for everyone before they start to work.  With everyone out to the kitchen for a nosh, the “gracious host” unlocks the ballot box…and then ushers a pair of Bailey’s henchmen (one of whom is Mr. Drysdale) in, who proceed to empty the box and replace the legitimate votes with their fake ballots.  One of the goons (Dick Rich) takes special notice that this is the last of the precinct boxes, and that they need to hurry up so that they can “get back to the joint and burn these.”

In the meantime, Special Deputy Bill continues his investigation into the rental vehicle license plate.  Assisted by his faithful Indian companion Perky, the two men locate the address that was on the rental form and they sneak inside a darkened print shop to investigate.


Shazam!  A printing press with the precise ballot form template!  Bill quickly inks up the press and taking one of the paper ballots, fires it up to make a quick copy as evidence of this crooked election.  Perky hears a truck pulling up outside, and Bill sends him out to their car to start it up.  Just as Bill completes his task, Drysdale and two other gorillas enter the business in time to spot him running out the back door…on the street, he hops into the car with Perky and the two of them begin to drive away.  Drysdale draws his pistola and fires at the car, and as they turn a corner on two wheels, Bill has nothing but praise for his pal.  “Nice work, Perky!”


Hoo boy.  Looks like they got Perky.  As Perk draws his final breath, Bill hears a newsboy in the distance—Wheelock has been re-elected in a race that went down to the wire.

I know what you’re thinking—“What a horrible, horrible ending!”  And though our civic-minded pal Pete might be disappointed with the election results (“Those dirty crooks!”), Special Deputy Bill has presented the faux ballot to the office of Attorney General Sourpuss, and one of his men is demonstrating to candidate Carter, Bill and a few others the discrepancies in the two ballots.  A.G. Grouchface then gets buzzed on the intercom: they’ve extracted the bullet from dead hero Perky, and if they can locate the gun with the matching markings it’s just a hop, skip and a jump to the killer.  The Attorney General swings into action, notifying one of his deputies that they need to hie to the Twelfth Street warehouse where the ballots are stored…and that Bailey is going to throw a fit when he learns the A.G.’s office is on to him.  (Personally, I think Bailey’s days in the election fixing business are just about over—so it really doesn’t matter much.)


Back at Graft Headquarters, re-elected Mayor Wheelock is greeted by partygoers and well-wishers as he enters the building.  Bailey?  A word in your ear?

WHEELOCK: You know they found the print shop…they’re sure to question the election—suppose they inspect the ballots?
BAILEY: Well, suppose they can’t find them?

Bailey takes Wheelock out on the patio and suggests that he look far off into the distance.  They can see the warehouse from where they stand, but if the Mayor also sees a raging inferno shortly…that means Bailey’s men have destroyed all of the evidence of that naughty old crooked election.

WHEELOCK: The Perkins killing was cold-blooded murder
BAILEY: Well, we just won the election—we’re judge, jury and executioner in this town!  It’s all ours!  The streets, the buildings, the people…we own it all

At the Twelfth Street Warehouse, several of Bailey’s henchmen are ready to torch the ballots and burn that mutha to the ground.  The two-fisted Molotov cocktail guy on the left…


…has just one line of dialogue—“Okay?”—but his unmistakable voice reveals him to be OTR’s own Ken Christy.  The Bailey gang start the blaze, but Special Deputy Bill and his coterie arrive on the scene in time to douse the fire with water hoses…which leads to this predictable denouement:


The counterman is most cynical about this turn of events.  “There’s democracy for ya,” he gripes.  His pal Pete has a few questions for him.

PETE: Did you vote against the men?
COUNTERMAN: The whole system’s rotten, clear through!
PETE: Did you vote?
COUNTERMAN: And there’s only one way to clean it up, and that’s the way they done it in Europe—with a strong man!
PETE (grabbing his collar): What do you think Boss Bailey was?  He rewrote plenty of laws…he faked elections…he pushed people around…that’s why we ran him out!  Now—did you vote?
COUNTERMAN (sheepishly): No…
PETE: Then just shut up…and stay shut up…

I wish we could have seen more of this Hugh Beaumont on Beaver, by the way.  (“Beav—you’re never going to be as gifted as Wally or as popular…so how about having a nice, piping-hot bowl of STFU?  And try not to fall into it, ferchrissake…”)

Okay—one more lecture from Attorney General Vinegar Face and then we’re done.

Today, democracy is on trial…and the outcome depends far less on the spies and fifth columnists of hostile nations…than how well we cherish our great distinguishing right…the free and secret ballot.  If ever your one vote seems not to mean very much—just pause and reflect…that for millions elsewhere who felt the same way…government of the people, by the people and for the people…has perished from the earth.

That’s a wrap—happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Doris Day(s) #31: “Married for a Day” (10/06/69, prod. no #0410)


In our last installment of Doris Day(s), “A Frog Called Harold,” the episode’s coda revealed that Doris was being treated to lunch at her favorite Frisco restaurant (Alberto’s) by her boss Michael Nicholson (McLean Stevenson)—a reward for patching up a rather embarrassing amphibian incident with the president of the bank what does business with Today’s World (The NOW Magazine).  (I would be remiss, of course, if I did not point out that the frog shenanigans were mostly Dor’s fault in the first place.)  So in the opening scenes of “Married for a Day,” we learn that anytime you want to pat The Widder Martin on the head for a job well done…all you have to do is get a reservation for two at Alberto’s (and if you’re adventurous, a few bottles of vino).  That is where we find Nick and Doris as our story begins.


DORIS (as she’s served by the waiter): What a beautiful salad!
NICK: Mm-hmm…
DORIS: Even the lobster should be proud to be there…

Let me get this straight: you previously stormed out of Alberto’s because some jamoke ordered frog’s legs…but you have no problem tucking into a lobster salad.  Did you learn nothing from It Happened to Jane (1959)?

NICK: Well, I thought you deserved a special treat…you know, we put in a pretty good morning’s work and you’ve been a big help…
DORIS: All I did was take dictation…

Oh, I’ll just bet that’s all you did…nudge nudge wink wink…

NICK: No…you came up with some good ideas…you know what?  I guess I’m a little rusty—it’s been ages since I’ve written an article…
DORIS: Oh, I think it’s coming along great!
NICK: Well…dig in!

And that’s when our Guest Star Early Warning Bell activates…’cause guess who just walked into Alberto’s?


“Julie Adams!” as they say on radio.  Yes, it’s the actress born Betty May Adams in Waterloo, IA (saaaalute!) on October 17, 1926…which means she celebrated birthday #88 a month ago, and TDOY wishes her continued good health and warmest felicitations.  Adams began her motion picture career in the late 1940s appearing (as Betty Adams) in a number of B-Westerns but by the 1950s she was an ingénue at Universal, where she graced such favorites as Bright Victory (1951), Bend of the River (1952), The Lawless Breed (1952) and The Man from the Alamo (1953).  Her best remembered film role is unquestionably that of the bathing suit-clad beauty menaced by the titular menace in Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954).  With a list of movie and TV credits as long as your arm (for example, she played wife to James Stewart in his failed bid for sitcom stardom, The Jimmy Stewart Show), why is it that I always seem to think of a soap opera she was on when I start to mentally calculate her show business gigs?  That would be Capitol, by the way, a short-lived daytime drama that my mother watched only to get to As the World Turns.  It was campy as all get out, and featured a cast of past-their-sell-by-date thespians such as Constance Towers, Carolyn Jones, Richard Egan, Rory Calhoun and Ed Nelson.

Julie’s arrival in the restaurant provokes a look of sheer terror on Nicholson’s face…as if he’s just been informed of an IRS audit.  He holds one of the restaurant’s menus up to his face to hide behind it.

NICK (sotto voce): Doris!  That woman over there…
DORIS: Where?
NICK: The one that just came in!
(The two of them watch as a waiter greets the lady and shows her to a table)
DORIS: What about her?
NICK: Don’t look over there!  I don’t want her to see me!  She mustn’t see me—I don’t want to attract her attention!

Yeah, she’ll never notice a panicky guy trying to hide behind a gi-normous cardboard menu.  Good call, Nick.

DORIS: Is it the one in the reddish-orange dress?
NICK: Yes—I’ll explain later, but we have got to get out of here…
DORIS: Right now?
NICK: Doris…you’ve got to help me… (As Doris starts stuffing food in her mouth) Now when we get up, you go out first…and in front of me…


I was mildly tickled by the fact that Dodo appears to be having a major food orgasm with the lobster salad and that she really would rather not leave until she achieves gustatory climax, thank-you-very-much.  Nick is insistent that they amscray-usterbay.  “Can I take a doggie bag?” she asks optimistically.

So Doris takes one last forlorn look at her meal, and the two of them vacate Alberto’s in fire-drill fashion—Nick keeps the menu up to his face, and a waiter grabs it as the two of them exit out the door.  Back in the office, as the two of them make do with what appears to be items from a cafeteria nosh, Nicholson explains why it was necessary to make himself scarce.

NICK: …and that’s the story…if Karen ever finds me, I am a goner
DORIS: That’s incredible!  I think you must be exaggerating
NICK: I am not!  She is known as the beautiful barracuda…and once she starts swimming around you, that’s it…

“’Sell me sell you’ the porpoise said/Dive down deep to save my head…”

DORIS: Yes, but how do you know that she came to San Francisco just to see you?
NICK: Well, what other reason?  She was just recently divorced…now she’s looking for another victim

“She does something to me,” Nicholson explains to his favorite Gal Friday when she expresses skepticism about Karen’s predatory powers of persuasion.  However, as it’s been four years since Nick has had contact with Kar, maybe he should relax a little.  “Yeah, I’m sure she doesn’t know I’m here,” he confesses just before the telephone rings,

NICK: Don’t answer that!
DORIS: Mr. Nicholson…you’re so nervous…it could be a hundred other people, you know… (Phone rings a second time) It could be important…
NICK (picking up the phone): Okay, answer it…

It could be a hundred other people…provided it was not a lame sitcom plot.  As you’ve already guessed, it’s Barracuda Karen on the other end, and she’d very much like to speak with “Nicky.”  Doris manages to stammer out the excuse that Nicholson is on special assignment in Africa.  “I don’t know what to tell you,” she lies, “except that if he calls in from a safari, I’ll give him your message.”  Karen apparently buys Doris’ story, and we know, of course, that this was a difficult thing for Doris to do because every time Doris Day tells a lie a baby kitten is put to sleep.

Doris and Nicholson get back to work on his article…and the phone rings again.  Without thinking, Nicholson grabs the receiver and says “Hello?”…and then slams it down as if it were on fire.  “It’s her again!  I knew she’d never buy that safari story!”  It’s only a matter of time before she turns up at the Today’s World offices, so Nicholson has to beat a hasty retreat.  But Doris reminds him he also has an article to finish.

NICK: I’ve got it!  We’ll go to a hotel!  Just the two of us!  We can check in under an assumed name… (After seeing Doris’ expression of disapproval) That’s not such a good idea…
DORIS (brightening): Hey!  My place!
NICK: Your place?
DORIS: It’s perfect!  Out in the country—she’d never know you were there!
NICK: Oh, that is brilliant!

Yay Doris!  You’ll be ordering another lobster salad in no time!  So while Doris works on the logistics of Nicholson hiding out at Rancho Webb, Nick approaches the magazine’s assistant editor, Ron Harvey (Paul Smith), to let him know he’ll be in charge in Nicholson’s absence.  It wasn’t too hard for Nick to locate Ron, as Mr. H was macking on one of the secretaries during work hours.


NICK: Look…Doris and I are going to spend the rest of the day at her place…
RON: Oh… (After a beat) Her place?
NICK: Yes, I’ve got a lot of dictation to give her…
RON: Oh…at her place…?
NICK: Look, Ron—I haven’t got time to explain…but I want you to handle things here…


Nicholson is going to wish he took the time to fill his second-in-command on the details of the Barracuda situation, because a simple “Whatever you do—don’t tell anybody where we are” is not going to cut it.  As expected, once Ron takes up temporary residence in Nicholson’s office, an intercom buzzes…and he’s about to get a visitor in Karen Carruthers.

(I should probably point out—Karen would not get as far as she does in this episode if Myrna Gibbons [Rose Marie] were around.  Sadly, Myrna’s absence goes unexplained.)

RON (babbling): Well, well, well, hello, hello, hello…
KAREN: I was hoping to find Mr. Nicholson…
RON: Well…he’s not in…I’m Ron Harvey—and I’m in charge…well…maybe I can help you…
KAREN: Yes, maybe you can…

Karen would like to know where she can find Mr. Nicholson…and though Ron does get an “A” for effort trying to keep the secret, he eventually succumbs to Karen’s stupefying charms—because after a short scene in which she purrs at Ron to divulge all he knows, we find her pulling her car up in front of the house of stately Webb Manor.


NICK: Coming out here was a great idea…
DORIS: See?  How about…
(Doorbell rings)
NICK: Are you expecting anyone?
DORIS: No!  Not that I know of…

Doris goes to the door…and we’ll have countdown to shenanigans in 3…2…1…

KAREN: Would you tell Mr. Nicholson that Karen Carruthers would like to see him, please?
DORIS: Uh…Mr. Nicholson?

During all this, McLean Stevenson does an amusing bit of physical comedy in which he frantically looks for a place to hide; he tries the stairs as a last-minute bid for freedom but Karen is already made herself to home.

KAREN: Well?  Aren’t you glad to see me?
NICK: Oh…I am…I am…I’m…I’m just so surprised…I didn’t know you were in town!
KAREN: Well, I just got in this morning…and my first thought was to look up my oldest and dearest friend… (She kisses him on the cheek)
NICK: Well—how did you know where to find me?
KAREN: Oh, well…I went to your office…and your associate…Mr. Harvey…was kind enough to tell me where to find you…
NICK: Oh…Mr. Harvey…wasn’t that nice of him…

Karen then starts in with the flirting (“You haven’t changed a bit…you know, I’ve never really been able to get you out of my mind…”) so Doris decides to excuse herself and bolt into the kitchen for a Rocky Road ice cream binge.  But Nicholson has decided that she needs to share his Karen discomfort, so he calls her back.

NICK: Now, I’m being rude…Doris?  Doris?  Wouldn’t you like to come back and meet Karen Carruthers?  (Doris mouths “no,” but eventually walks back to where Nick is standing by the stairs)  Doris…this is Karen…Karen…this is my wife


Cue the sad trombone!

KAREN: I had no idea!  When did this happen?
NICK: Well…uh…just a few years ago…uh…shortly after you left…
KAREN: Well…congratulations!  She’s…uh…very pretty…
NICK: Well, I think so…


It’s a little hard to describe how Julie Adams plays this part—perhaps the most accurate way is that she looks upon Doris with barely-concealed contempt—but because Karen telegraphs from the beginning that she doesn’t buy any of Nick’s bullsh*t about he and Doris being manacled together in holy matrimony, it sort of makes what follows in the second act anti-climactic: she knows it’s all a sham, and she’s just marking time before Nick and Doris give the game away.  In true Three’s Company fashion, Doris ropes Nick into going out with her to the kitchen to fix some coffee for Karen, because The Barracuda has declared her intentions of sticking around a while and getting caught up (she’s most interested in hearing about his African trip).

DORIS: Will you tell me why you said a thing like that?!!
NICK: I’m sorry—it just popped out!  I was desperate!
DORIS: But it’s crazy!
NICK: Well, it’s…only for a little while…she’ll leave as soon as she has her coffee!
DORIS: Well, she’s gonna get instant!

So Nick and Doris carry out a tray with coffee and baked goods, calling each other “dear” and “darling” the entire time—heck, no wonder Karen’s not buying any of this; what married couple still does that?

KAREN: Now…you must tell me all about it…how did you two meet…and where?
DORIS (after a pause): Well, Nicky loves to tell that story…don’t you, darling?
NICK: Oh, yes!  Well…it was just a…uh…sort of a chance meeting…a once in a lifetime thing… (Forced laugh) I’ll never forget it…will you, dear?
DORIS (pouring it on): No, sweetheart…
NICK: Yes, sir…it was…really very romantic…yes, sir…


We then hear a door open and slam, followed by the unmistakable screech of Doris’ oldest rugrat, Billy (Philip Brown), calling out “Hi, Mom!”—and Nicholson’s reaction to this is quite funny; he does a mini Danny Thomas spit-take.  Normally, the presence of young William and his cheese-obsessed brother Toby (Tod Starke) would produce ear-shattering wails of anguish from yours truly…but in this case, it’s actually quite funny because now Doris has to explain their new “daddy.”  “What are you doing home from school?” Doris asks her brood.

“School’s out,” explains Billy.  “We always get out at this time.”  Toby starts to greet Nicholson with a “Hi, Mr. Nich…” but Doris clasps her hand around his mouth and quickly shoos them out toward the kitchen.  “You go in and eat a lot and long,” she tells them…which did make me laugh out loud.

KAREN: Two children?
NICK: Well…yeah…yeah, they’re Doris’…I adopted them right after we were married…great little guys…sure was a lucky day when I met Doris…
DORIS (sweetly): Oh…
NICK: …not only got a wonderful wife but two swell kids
BUCK: Oh—hi, everybody!
NICK: …and a grandfather, too!

Doris makes a game try at explaining to her pop (Denver Pyle) Karen’s presence, that she’s “an old friend of Nick’s.”  “She knew him before he and I got married,” she continues. 

BUCK: Oh, that’s…
NICK: Care to play checkers again tonight, Gramps?
DORIS: Oh, you know he wants to play!  Every night he wants to play checkers!  Say, Buck—the kids are out in the kitchen having a snack…
BUCK: But…
DORIS: Would you see if they need any help?

Doris gets Buck out in the kitchen.

BUCK: Doris, what in tarnation is goin’ on?
DORIS: We’re playing a little game…
TOBY: Can we play too, Mom?

Doris hasn’t time to explain the wackiness—she just asks her family to stay in the kitchen.  After a dissolve, Karen is in her car and ready to motor off to her next destination as the “Nicholsons” bid her a fond adieu.

DORIS: It was nice meeting you, Karen…
NICK: Goodbye and drive carefully…

“Don’t run over any land mines…”

KAREN: Again, the best of luck to both of you…and by the way…
DORIS: Boy, you’d better get going…the traffic’s terrible at 5:00 on the freeway…
NICK: Oh…bumper-to-bumper all the way…

And so Karen drives off, accompanied by sighs of relief from Doris and Nick.  Nick, who still has his arm around Doris, gets a look from her that says “She’s-gone-now” and he quickly moves it away.  Another dissolve, and the two of them have finished explaining all the WTF to Buck.

NICK: …so you can see it was all my fault, Mr. Webb…I just couldn’t figure any other way out of it…
BUCK: Well, that seems like an awful long ways to go just to discourage a woman…now, when I was your age and ran across a woman like that—I’d just flat out say ‘no’!  ‘Course, they suffered a lot…but they eventually got over it…I recollect there was this one woman come through with Chautauqua…did imitations of President’s wives…and I’m tellin’ you, when she was in the…
DORIS: Well, anyway—it worked, right?

Doris knows that although it might seem rude, cutting off her father’s story was the smart thing to do in the long run before it veered off into Abe Simpson territory.  (“Like the time I took the ferry to Shelbyville…I needed a new heel for my shoe so I decided to go to Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville in those days…”)  Speaking of work, both Doris and her ex-husband realize they still have a lot of work to do on that article—especially since the deadline is tomorrow.  “Would it be all right if I stayed for dinner?” Nick asks, since they’ll have to work on it that evening.

“Sure!” chirps Doris.  “We always have an extra place for my former husbands.”  Doris heads off in the direction of the kitchen (that tiramisu toffee trifle pie is not going to bake itself, you know!) and she’s interrupted by the doorbell ringing.  Guess who?


KAREN: Oh, the most exasperating thing—just about a mile from here my car broke down, and the mechanic at your local garage says it can’t be fixed until tomorrow!  And it would be silly to go all the way to town, then come all the way back out here tomorrow to pick it up…so I was wondering—would I be imposing if I stayed here overnight?

There’s a simple answer to that: “Yes, you would!”  The curtain, however, falls on Act One…which is a major miscalculation on the part of writers Jack Elinson and Norman Paul (veterans of The Real McCoys and The Danny Thomas Show, and also producers of Doris’ show in the second and third seasons) because this awkward turn of events would have made for a better punchline; again, it’s all anti-climactic from here on out, folks.

So I’m just going to concentrate on the remaining highlights in this one, beginning with a few amusing bits as Nick, Buck and Karen chew the fat in the living room.

KAREN: You know—I…I still can’t quite comprehend it…I mean you married, and settled down with children…and living on a farm
NICK: Well, it’s the only life…the only life…

Land spreading out so far and wide…keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside.

NICK: Why, on weekends—I even help out with the chores…right, Gramps?
BUCK: Yeah…yeah, you’re a big help…
(Doris comes downstairs)
DORIS: Well…the boys are all tucked in…
NICK: Oh, that’s good—did you give them my regards?  I mean, love and kisses?
DORIS: Yes, dear…
BUCK: Well, it’s gettin’ late…I think I’ll go up myself…we get up early around here!  Goodnight…
KAREN: Goodnight…
NICK: Goodnight, Gramps!
BUCK (shooting him a look): Goodnight, son

As Buck heads toward his bedroom, Doris stops him and explains that because the sleeping arrangements are going to be a bit hinky—Nick is going to have to bunk with him.  “All right,” scowls Buck, “he can sleep with me—but on one condition…that he quits calling me ‘Gramps’.

Karen is insistent to hear the story of the Nicholsons’ whirlwind courtship, so before Nick puts his foot in his mouth again Doris is able to postpone the embarrassment by announcing it’s 9pm…and everybody has to go to bed, because country folk “go to bed with the chickens and up with the roosters.”

DORIS (as she turns off lights in the living room): Oh, besides—we have a million things to do tomorrow…don’t we, dear?
NICK: Yeah…a million…
DORIS: Oh, I’ve got to get the kids off to school, and the shopping…and Nicky has to milk the cows and slop those hogs…
NICK: And dip the sheep

It takes a bit of coaxing to get Karen to call it a night, since she’s not used to sleeping in the country—but after some stalling, she is finally shoved into her bedroom.  Doris is ready to call it a day as well—however, she and Nicholson still have that article that needs to be completed, so Doris suggests they dope it out in her bedroom.  There’s some pretend hilarity as Nick is clearly uncomfortable being in Doris’ boudoir (“I’ve never dictated in a woman’s bedroom before”) but when they finally get down to completing the piece Karen raps on the bedroom door, necessitating that Nick get into the bed and pretend to be asleep.

KAREN: I’m sorry to disturb you, Doris…
DORIS (placing a finger to her lips): Shh!  He’s asleep…
KAREN: Oh…well, I’m having a little trouble getting to sleep so early…and I was wondering—do you have something that might relax me?


“Sure…let me grab this polo mallet…”

DORIS: Yes, I’ll get you something… (She has to keep Karen from entering the room, so she closes the door; to Nicholson) She is so pushy!
(Doris grabs a bottle of pills from a cabinet, and heads back to the door to handle them to Karen)
KAREN: Oh, here…I just need one…
DORIS: Oh, take the bottle…they’re mild…goodnight…

Doris and Nick finally finish the article.  Both of them are drained.  To add insult to injury, Nick has to sneak down the hall to where he’s bedding down for the night—in Buck’s room.


It’s not Buck’s snoring that’s so bad—it’s the fact that he keeps muttering “Leroy” in his sleep.  Nick is going to have to get some rest, so he tiptoes out of the room and towards the stairwell…


…where he executes a pratfall down the stairs (he even stops momentarily at the landing) that would make Colonel Henry Blake salute.  On top of that, he activates the alarm clock that was in his hands.

Doris emerges from her bedroom to find Nicholson unconscious at the bottom of the stairs.  And so does Karen, who after hearing Dor refer to her hubby as “Mr. Nicholson” before correcting herself announces that the charade is over: “You can stop that ‘Nicky darling’ routine—your little game never fooled me for a minute.”


To compound being such a bitch, Karen reveals that her car is not in a state of disrepair—she merely parked it down the road, and now she wants Nicholson to get dressed so that the two of them can go out and get a drink.  Doris is dumbfounded by such rudeness…but not Nick.

NICK: Karen…I am not going anywhere with you…and we have nothing to talk about…
KAREN: But, Nick…
NICK: Don’t ‘But, Nick’ me…I have had it with you!  Why don’t you just go find another victim?  Look…I’m a happy bachelor…and I don’t intend to have you change that condition!

So go, Karen…before someone drops a house on you, too!  Doris congratulates Nick on his testicles finally dropping, and as she gives him an “attaboy” punch he passes out on the floor once more.

Coda time!  Doris and Nick are back at Alberto’s, where Doris has taken Nick up on a “rain check” for a lobster salad.  They are both quite giddy…but none so more than Nicholson, who has finally managed to edit Karen the Barracuda out of his life.


DORIS (chuckling): I’ll never forget her face when she stormed out of that house… (Laughing and jabbing at her salad) I’ll bet you’re the first one who ever wriggled off the hook!
NICK: Hmm…I guess so…
DORIS: I just wonder who her next victim will be—don’t you…?

Well, Doris won’t have long to wait—a casual glance across the restaurant reveals this horrifying picture:


Holy soul-sucking succubus, Ron!  Run fast, run far!  (Doris: “The barracuda finally caught a guppy.”)

We probably shouldn’t breathe too much of a sigh of relief…because Julie Adams will make a return trip to The Doris Day Show in the series’ final season (though not as the same character) in the episode “The Press Secretary.”  But since that will be a long way off (particularly since I have not been particularly diligent in making sure these get done on a weekly basis), let’s concentrate on the episode for next time—which will feature one of the stars of the popular ABC-TV private eye drama Hawaiian Eye.  Join me for “The Woman Hater”—pretty please?