Tuesday, April 27, 2010

AN APPLE A DAY - July 1965 (The Fugitive)

AN APPLE A DAY was my third flight with THE FUGITIVE. But when I did my last posting, I chose to skip over it and go onto the fourth and final show I directed of that series. Quite frankly my intentions were that I would not be returning to report on the APPLE. But I’ve been thinking; just because i don’t remember the show too fondly, just because I consider it something of a misfire doesn’t mean it can’t provide some added insights into that early period in television production.

THE FUGITIVE was the only Quinn Martin series that used a climactic scene from the film as its teaser. There was a reason for doing that. All programs started on the hour or the half hour. It was considered imperative to grab the audience’s attention early and completely to discourage people changing channels. And most THE FUGITIVE scripts had quiet openings; no exciting committing of crimes like those that began episodes on THE FBI. So without further ado and before you decide to change channels, let’s get on with it.

Oddly, this was that rare episode that had an opening sequence that would have been strong enough to start the show.

THE FUGITIVE and THE FBI (which I would start directing later that season) both benefited by being produced in Southern California. The scripts for both series called for locations all over the United States. Southern California could supply the coast (east or west), the desert, the mountains, the flat plains of the midwest or any area of any city, large or small. And all within short driving distance from the studio. This episode was set in Colorado; we filmed it in the west end of the Valley -- I think it was Topanga Canyon. We had two and a half days of filming at the Hope Ranch and this opening sequence was shot in the hills near that location.

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you, David’s fall down the steep hill was done by his stunt double.

The farm lady (Mrs. Crandall) who comes to Kimble’s aid was one of my closest friends, Amzie Strickland. She and I arrived in Los Angeles at almost the same time -- the fall of 1954. I met Amzie in January, 1955 when I was in rehearsal for MY THREE ANGELS. She and Claudia Bryar had been schoolmates in Oklahoma, and she came to the Players Ring to audition for their following production of PICNIC (she got the part). She, the Bryars and I lunched at famous Barney’s Beanery just down the street from the theatre. I have to tell you my favorite story about Amzie. She came from New York where she had a very successful career acting in radio. Being a New Yorker, she didn’t know how to drive, and we all know you cannot survive in Los Angeles without being able to drive. So a friend, and I’m positive it was the writer Richard Breen, graciously agreed to teach her. And he did. Amzie bought a car and came the day when she took her test for her driver’s license. When she finished the test, she hopped in her car and sped over to Breen’s house, where she crashed through the fence on his property. He came rushing out of his house to hear Amzie proudly proclaim, “Dick, I PASSED THE TEST.”

My first contact with Arthur O’Connell was thirteen years prior to this in 1952 when I had my first professional job as assistant director at the Chevy Chase Summer Theatre in Wheeling, Illinois. The very first production was CHARLEY’S AUNT starring Robert Q. Lewis. Now if you ask, “Who is Robert Q. Lewis?” I will understand. But I don’t think you are going to ask that about some of the supporting cast. Arthur O’Connell. Tom Poston. Tom Bosley.

I hope by now you’re asking, “Why was he complaining about the quality of this show? I don’t think it’s that bad.” And that’s why I’m glad I’m putting it out. I don’t think it comes as a surprise that I am a big fan of actors . And I was continually amazed at their ability to flesh out not necessarily bad material, but script writing that was --let’s put it kindly -- bland!

Sheree North was such a good actress, an underrated actress. She was under contract to 20th Century Fox in the fifties, mainly as a backup for the studio for their recalcitrant Marilyn Monroe. Later in television she was given the chance to reveal the breadth of her talent. I remember that at the time we did this film, she had a slight quivering reminiscent of Katharine Hepburn’s Parkinson disease affliction. I don’t remember whether she and I discussed it; I’m not sure where the information came from. But I do remember I was very careful in checking to be sure that no take was infected by it. There were takes where the shaking would appear and I would look at her knowingly and say, “Let’s do it again, Sheree.” And she did. What a pro. I shudder to think how this role would have been acted in an Aaron Spelling production. As written I considered it the standard cliche film femme fatale. Shereee avoided playing just the sexuality of Marianne; she implied it with a fine sense of teasing humor.

As I stated earlier, we filmed the exterior of Josephus Adams’ residence at Nine Pines, the Bob Hope Ranch. Guess why they called it Nine Pines. Because there were nine tall pine tress on the property. And it was conveniently a honey producing establishment, which of course is why we chose it as our location.

The intent of this script was commendable. It purported to deal with the conflict between natural medicine and the medical profession. My own feelings were (and are) that those dealings tended to be superficial. It was a subject worthy of being explored in a social drama. The format for THE FUGITIVE prevented it from being no more than the background for the coming melodrama.

NIne Pines was a real honey producing operation. And our actors, clothed in the wardrobe of the workers at such an establishment, were dealing with REAL BEES.

This was Kim Darby’s first role after she turned eighteen and no longer had to go to school on the set and no longer had to be accompanied by an adult. Four years later she appeared with John Wayne in his Oscar-winning TRUE GRIT. And as I said, those were real bees on the combs in that scene. Between takes once, when Kim had taken off her gloves, a bee landed on her finger. She got slightly excited, but the bee was encouraged to depart before doing any damage.

The breakup in the film in the next clip is not your problem. It’s the fault of the old tape I’m using. We’re lucky it is limited to just that one instance.

The season before when I worked on TWELVE O’CLOCK HIGH, I was very impressed with the sets designed for the productions. I was to learn that high quality would be a part of all Quinn’s productions. That was what he demanded. The interior of the ground floor of the Adams’ house was an example. At any other studio I’m sure there would have been a set for the living room with an entrance hall and a separate set for Josephus’ medical office. The set provided for me was one large connected set -- the entrance area with a large stairway to the second floor, then the large living room with a fireplace and connected to that was the outer and inner rooms where patients were seen. That set gave me the opportunity to stage Kimble’s exit as you will witness in the next clip.

I realize now that a key scene was missing from this script. At this point in the shooting script, KImble first has a conversation near the bus stop with a patient of Josephus; then he visits the county coroner who was a real medical doctor who had not been able to compete with Josephus' practice of natural medicine. Two talky scenes of exposition. How much more effective if these scenes could have been curtailed, and a scene included of the funeral service where Sharon breaks down emotionally as described by Marianne in the next clip.

The next clip is the complete sequence from which the teaser was extracted.

I wrote earlier of Quinn’s insistence on using process photography for cars in transit. I wanted a shot in the next sequence shooting across KImble at the wheel of his speeding truck as the police car catches up to him. The only way I could get that shot was to do it live. And since I was doing that live, I filmed the whole sequence live. I don’t remember any objections from the front office when the film was viewed.

And now a quiet ending for what has basically been a quiet show..

Friday, April 23, 2010

WHEN THE WIND BLOWS - August 1965 (The Fugitive)

In the olden days of early sixties television (and I’m positive at this late date that’s what they should be called) the producer and story editor of a dramatic series were the ones responsible for producing scripts. There were no large writing staffs such as I believe exist today. They interviewed free lance writers who came in to pitch story ideas. The rules of the Writers Guild were that the pitch should be no more than a long sentence. (I was not a member of the Writers Guild, so this is what I learned from writer friends and what I remember today of what I gleaned then.) If the pitch seemed potential, the writer would be given the go ahead to develop the idea into a full story. If the story proved satisfactory the writer would be given the go ahead to write the script. I bring all of this up because I think that is one of the reasons that a series like THE FUGITIVE could veer off into so many interesting and different directions. Sure there would be many of the usual variations on Les Miserables; but then occasionally someone would show up with an idea for an unusual relationship for Richard Kimble. I think that’s what happened to produce the story I’m presenting on this posting. So let’s go back to Piru, the location where I filmed part of my last posting, THE FAMILY NOBODY WANTED. But this is Piru nine years before that; this is Piru the first time I filmed there.

I consider film directing to be more complex than just putting the actors in their positions, shooting a wide angle master to establish where everyone is and then covering each actor with his close-up. My theatre training taught me to at least give the star an “entrance”. Plays in the past were written to do just that. I will never forget Katharine Cornell’s entrance in THAT LADY about sixty years ago. There was a large archway up center stage and after the exposition had been established in the first part of Act I, Miss Cornell swept into the archway opening, stopped and turned upstage to look over the balcony, then turned back to come into the archway, begowned to the hilt and with a black patch over one eye. THAT was an entrance! I couldn’t quite do that with David in this piece. But I didn’t want him to be seen as just a part of the establishing master shot. So he was conveniently seated hidden behind the cash register. The second shot in the sequence was from behind him to the cook. Finally his “entrance” into the story was the next shot -- a closeup of Richard Kimble.

Did you notice that cash register? And eggs, toast and coffee only cost sixty-one cents!

After my blog published the first two THE FUGITIVES, I received the following e-mail:

Mr. Senensky,

Looking forward to your 1965 episodes.

Passed thru Piru today with my wife.

Thought you'd like this photo comparison. Funny to note that a small film crew was toiling around the same intersection as you put Janssen thru his paces almost 45 years ago.

The suspension bridge from the episode is still there but is now blocked off and detoured around.


For you THE FUGITIVE fans (and anyone else interested in Classic Television) I recommend you visit

THE DAVID JANSSEN ARCHIVE at http://www.davidjanssen.net

There were two requirements for Richard Kimble each week in order for the story to commence: a new name and a job.

And now we meet the reason this was an unusual episode.

And it was different in another way; my first two episodes had both been very dark -- in character and in the look of the films. This one was definitely lighter -- at least for now.

And now we have the final element in our story. In the absence of Barry Morse’s Lieutenant Gerard in pursuit of Kimble (and I never did get a chance to do an episode that involved Gerard), we have this story’s arm of the law in pursuit of him, this week's version of the original Javert from Les Miserables.

Those who have followed these postings astutely should recognize the cook, Don Hanmer. He was the dog trainer in SHADOW OF A STARLESS NIGHT on BREAKING POINT. The deputy is Harry Townes, another fine actor whose resume is almost a history of Classic Television -- live and film. Watching these two veterans can be a lesson in screen acting; notice their interplay BETWEEN the lines of dialogue.

According to the Internet Movie Data Base this was only Johnny Jensen’s fourth or fifth screen appearance. He worked as a child actor for a few more years and then disappeared from the profession. There is a Johnny Jensen on that data base listed as a current director of photography, but a little research showed they are different Johnny Jensens.

David deserves a lot of the credit for the believability in Johnny’s performance. When dealing with child actors, the goal is to keep them from acting. Just be yourself. Just say the words like you would say them. And LISTEN to the other actor. David’s overpowering charisma in a scene I think reenforced the youngster’s listening.

When working with child actors I did the same thing I often did with adult performers. In filming a closeup if the actor’s performance didn’t come alive emotionally until midway through the scene, rather than calling “cut” at the end and doing the next take, I would keep the camera rolling and have the actor start at the beginning. It worked for adults and it worked with the kids. One time on another production I did that while filming the closeup of the young boy. The adult man in the scene (who was playing off camera) questioned the necessity. He didn't like the extended take. I told him I wasn’t doing it to accommodate him, I was doing it for the boy. David never questioned that procedure.

The next plot requirement was when the law started closing in, someone had to justifiably help him.

And now the lighter look, both thematic and visual, starts to darken. Kenny’s cave was the conduit to make the transition.

The fourth day of filming started at the Highway Bus Stop sequence (it’s coming up) where we filmed two and an eighth pages. We moved back to Lois’ living room at the Goldwyn studio for two and seven eighths pages. There was an additional short scene of deputy Russ on the phone that didn’t get filmed that day. We ran out of time. The next day was a heavy scheduled shoot -- nine pages, which ended with a short night sequence off the lot. I remember I had Fred Ahern, the wonderful production manager, totally perplexed. The final sequence on stage was the following scene (the part in Kenny's cave), which was the longest scene of the day. The problem was we finished too early. There was too long a gap before it got dark, and Quinn refused to shoot day for night. I wrote before that I thought David, like Mickey Rooney, had a photographic memory. I remember before we started this sequence, David took the script and quickly looked it over. Then he and Georgann Johnson proceded to do the master and the two closeups in one take each. Fred’s perplexity came from the fact the day before we couldn’t finish six and a half pages in a full twelve hours and this day we finished almost nine pages in about seven hours.

Then we got to the part where young Johnny Jensen had to do some fairly difficult physical activity.

Have you ever wondered when viewing a scene like this, how did that young boy know the exact moment to open the door? There was a cue light right beside him. The wire of that light ran (out of the eye of the camera) right into my hand. When the proper moment arrived, I clicked on the button at my end of the wire, the light lit up at Johnny’s end and Kenny opened the door.

No, that wasn’t young Johnny Jensen jumping off of the moving truck. It was a stunt double.

The original script called for there to be a shack nearby that Kimble and Kenny would enter. When we scouted the location I saw the nearby abandoned gas station and saw that it was a more convenient substitution for what the script requested. The interior of course was constructed back at the studio. The interior of the abandoned station and the approaching nightfall provided the needed visual darkness for the rest of our story.

I’m afraid my references to the producers of the shows I did were not always favorable. That may have been a built-in factor of the director-producer relationship. But let me do a little straightening out of the facts here. Producers of television series had a tremendous responsibility. They not only had to feed the scripts into the pipeline, they were responsible for seeing that the scripts met the requirements of the series’ needs. One of the needs for this series was that once the snare around Richard Kimble seemed to insure his eventual capture, a reasonable escape from that entrapment had to be provided. I don’t think anyone fulfilled his overseeing of a series’ needs better than Alan Armer.

Ages ago I wrote: “It was said of Irving Thalberg: He didn’t make movies for people to see. He made movies for people to feel. Boy, do I believe in that!”

That was about my first television film direction in 1961. Four years later I had not changed my mind.

Johnny Jensen, wherever you are, you are now a man in his mid-fifties. Just know you still have a very devoted fan.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


I had seen James Olsen in a production at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles. He was a powerhouse onstage in contrast to the rather bland actor I had considered him to be based on the roles he was given in films -- feature and television. Working with him on this production, I realized his range was even greater than I had anticipated.

The lesson I learned while directing A DREAM FOR CHRISTMAS certainly came in handy on this production. As I related when I did the posting on that show, there was a scene with a crying baby. The actors in the scene and I did everything short of child abuse to get the infant to cry, but all we got was giggles. The welfare worker on the set (and there always is one when children are working) took me aside and told me how to accomplish the deed. If someone quietly makes crying sounds near the baby, the infant then will start to cry. What I also discovered was that it didn’t work if I did it; it needed to be done by a woman -- I guess it was the higher pitch of her voice as compared to the male voice. So in the baby crying scenes in this film (and there were a lot of them) Shirley Jones inherited the task. She would get the baby crying, then move to her starting position to do her own emotional preparation for the scene. When she was ready, she would give me a nod and I would call action.

I directed many productions with child actors, but never did I have as many as in this production. Not counting Andy, the baby, there were eleven of them. As a result I didn’t really get to give them individually the attention I usually would. The only two that I did connect with were Willy Ames and Ernest Esparza (Donny and Rick), but I had worked with each of them before when they did guest spots on THE WALTONS. The reason I bring this up is even without that special attention, I think the kids did some remarkable work.

I wonder how many of you have realized the similarities between this story and A DREAM FOR CHRISTMAS, which I had filmed just a year before. The next clip is almost a replay of a scene I had directed with Hari Rhodes and Lynn Hamilton in the previous film.

I had a dinner table scene with Carl and all twelve kids. I requested that since the family was so financially strapped, the dinner plates should be varied, not a set. I wanted them all to be different colors. I realized this would add to the chores of the script supervisor, since for editing purposes the action from take to take had to match. I don’t know why, but I took a special glee in planning this. And once again I want to call attention to the young actors. Their discipline, their concentration -- "mob" scenes like the next clip can be frustratingly difficult. This one wasn't.

Beeson Carroll (Mr. Collins) had also guest starred for me before on THE WALTONS. In fact he was in the same episode as Willy Ames; he played Willy’s father.

For all my carping about Universal, I admit this time there didn’t seem to be their usual reticence with the pocketbook; in fact I think we mounted a very respectable production. The setting for the bazaar was on their back lot, and I certainly couldn’t complain about the number of extras to people the festivities.

Lindsay Workman (Judge) was another repeat performer for me. He had appeared in one of my favorite productions, THE MARATHON on THE WALTONS.

It seemed every studio’s backlot had an exterior courthouse with tall stone columns and wide steps. The fact that the Universal courthouse was far more imposing than our small community of Franklinburg would probably have had couldn’t matter. In television as far as courthouses went, one-size-fits-all.

Memo from Producer William Kayden

It is said that art imitates life. Wouldn't it be nice sometimes if it could be the other way around -- that life would imitate art, that everyone would live happily ever after, like in the movies. After the twelve children were grown Helen Doss and Carl Doss were divorced.

Friday, April 16, 2010


I wonder if it was a coincidence that after directing THE WALTONS in 1973, ensuing assignments included THE FAMILY KOVACK, THE FAMILY NOBODY WANTED, THE FAMILY HOLVAK and just plain FAMILY. I don’t think so.

THE FAMILY NOBODY WANTED was a 1954 memoir by Helen Doss relating the story of how she and her husband, Carl Doss, a minister, adopted twelve unadoptable children. The book was adapted into a PLAYHOUSE 90 in 1956; directed by John Frankenheimer it starred Lew Ayres and Nanette Fabray as the Doss couple. A further adventure of the Doss family was written in 1974 as a movie of the week. I was not involved with the earlier first season PLAYHOUSE 90 version; I didn’t join the company until its second season. As you are about to find out, I was very involved with the later incarnation.

We went to Piru, a quaint small community north of Los Angeles (where I had filmed portions of my last THE FUGITIVE) for the Doss family station wagon's arrival in Franklinburg. However the church they pass was in North Hollywood and the exterior of the parsonage was on the backlot of Universal studio. Finally the parsonage interior was on Stage 14.

This was a reunion for Shirley Jones and me. We had previously worked together on the seven PARTRIDGE FAMILY episodes I directed. And it was another outing for me and Claudia Bryar. I had met Claudia and husband, Paul Bryar (of whom I have already written extensively) in 1955 when they auditioned for a production of MY THREE ANGELS at the Players Ring Theatre in Hollywood. They performed in that play and the following year we joined forces again to do DEATH OF A SALESMAN at a small theatre in Santa Monica. I had been able to cast Claudia in several television films; this time I was thrilled that the role matched her capabilities. As you will see, Claudia is a magnificent actress.

This was the first (and unfortunately the only) time I worked with Woodrow Parfrey. His role walked such a fine line. He is the racist of the film. What must be remembered is that this story takes place in 1947, just two years after the war with Japan ended. If Elmer Franklin’s attitude to the children is difficult to condone, difficult to justify, I think it can at least be understood. What is more difficult for me is to realize that sixty-three years later, there are still so many Elmer Franklins around.

This was another reunion -- this time with Willie Ames, who played Donny. Earlier that season Willie had guest starred for me in an episode of THE WALTONS. Later we would work together again when he was one of the EIGHT IS ENOUGH.

The exterior and interior of the church was filmed on location at a First Christian Church on Saticoy Avenue in North Hollywood.

But before going to the church, let’s look at the script. (Tap on the image twice to enlarge it; tap the return to previous arrow in the upper left hand corner after you’ve finished). You will see filmed scene 19-A ended up on the cutting room floor. And in the church, I decided something visual was needed during the singing.

I have to take a moment here to comment on the kids in the Doss family. (I have a vague recollection that we had a last minute crisis and had to recast; I think the roles were Aram and Angela.) But those nine beautiful, young, innocent faces that so willingly and completely immersed themselves in the situations and LISTENED.

The director of photography for this production was Jack Woolf. This was the beginning of a long-running friendship; Jack and his wife, Lee, became close personal friends. Jack believed in heavy shadows in his photography. In fact he took pride that many of his closeups had half-lit faces.

Six years before I learned a valuable lesson. I was directing an episode of THE COURTSHIP OF EDDIE’S FATHER with six year old Jodie Foster guest starring as a tomboy. (I will discuss this eventuallly in my posting, but I have to refer to it here because of its relevance to the next sequence.) Something unexpected, but very funny, happened during the filming of a scene and I burst out laughing loudly as did the rest of the crew. Later in the editing room I realized had the take not been spoiled by the off camera laughter and my abrupt calling, “Cut,” I could have used the take if I adjusted the following activity with some changes. Now see if you can spot what I’m talking about.

Did you spot it? It was of course little Tina’s falling when she ran over the wet wallpaper. That wasn’t supposed to happen; the kids just ran through the scene. But once she fell, I added a shot of Helen on the ladder reacting and then filmed Carl’s picking up the crying child as he comforted her. It’s those unexpected accidents that add reality and entertainment to film. There is no way I would ever try to stage that kind of a fall with a child.

I’ve discussed this before, but I think it bears repeating. Not all film has to be doled out in short takes. I for one like to do extended masters. The following is an example of two very talented professionals playing the entire scene in one continuous shot. Only when Helen sits on the bed was a reverse angle filmed to be intercut with the master shot.

Ann Doran, the head of the orphanage, was another in that Hollywood army of performers who seemed to be in every other movie produced. During a career that spanned FIFTY-FOUR years (not counting a childhood appearance in a silent film) she acted in over five hundred films and a thousand television shows. She lived in Hollywood on the first street west of Ogden; her backyard abutted the backyard of Claudia Bryar, Mrs. Franklin in this production.

I can just hear you all thinking, “What happened to Ralph? Was he sick? Is he sick? He hasn’t found one thing about this production to beef about.” Well fasten your seat belts; here it comes. This film was long when I turned my director’s cut over to the producer. I would not have been permitted to make major cuts in the film at that time. I was stunned when I viewed the final cut that you just viewed. It was the final answer print and it was too late to make any additional changes. What I considered an obligatory scene had been excised. Here is that scene. (Start with scene 49. Again, tap on the image to enlarge; tap on the return arrow in the upper left hand corner to return.)

I knew there was a better way to solve the over length problem. I have not included the film clips here of two long scenes between Mrs. Bittner, a social worker (you saw her sit down in the church as Carl Doss was speaking), who came to the Doss home and in two scenes with Helen questioned at length the compulsive reasons for her adopting so many children. In addition there was a very long scene on the same topic between Helen and Carl. Those scenes could have been carefully shortened to provide the two minutes needed to retain the bus station scene. The inclusion of this scene would have shown that Helen had brought home three children instead of just a baby. It still comes as a shock to me when in the following scene Rick walks in with Donny. And poor Lynette gets lost; later (as in the next clip) when she does appear, the viewer can’t be blamed for not knowing who she is.

To be continued

Thursday, April 8, 2010

DETOUR ON A ROAD GOING NOWHERE - October 1964 (The Fugitive)

In 1932 MGM produced the first all-star cast film, GRAND HOTEL. It was a true innovation. At the box office any of the five stars of the film (Greta Garbo, John Barrymore, Joan Crawford, Wallace Beery, Lionel Barrymore) could carry the weight of a film alone. DETOUR ON A ROAD GOING NOWHERE, my second outing on THE FUGITIVE, had the same multi-character format as GRAND HOTEL. I thought the show could have been subtitled “mini-GRAND BUS.” And if the cast didn’t quite reach the dazzling heights of the Metro film, I think for television in 1964 it was pretty high-powered. Headed by series star, David Janssen the guest stars were Geraldine Brooks, a star since her 1947 breakthrough performance in POSSESSED, one of Joan Crawford’s most impressive films; Lee Bowman, a Hollywood fixture since his film debut in 1937 and leading man at some time to Jean Arthur, Rosalind Russell, Doris Day and a host of Hollywood beauties; and Phyllis Thaxter, who had been around since 1944, when she came to Hollywood after playing the title role Dorothy Maguire had played on Broadway in the national touring company of CLAUDIA.

What was it about knives that so upset the network continuity acceptance departments. On my first show, JOHNNY TEMPLE on DR. KILDARE, there was no fuss when the script called for young Johnny to SHOOT his father, but since it was established that Johnny had an obsession with knives and it was decided the injury to the father should be by a knife, the concern bells started clanging. On DETOUR... Dorothy Brown at ABC didn’t feel the need to descend on the production office as she had done for THE BULL ROARER episode of BREAKING POINT, but she did send some warnings to Alan Armer which he relayed on to me.

When we get to the three film clips involved, I’ll discuss this further.

As I wrote in the previous posting of THE FUGITIVE, one of the attractions of the series was the varieties of film genre it presented. WHEN THE BOUGH BREAKS had been an intense interior drama with Kimble involved mainly with only one character. And aside from the opening railroad yard sequence, the settings also were mainly interior. This episode, like GRAND HOTEL, was a multi-character melange and it also gave the possibility of being almost entirely a location shoot. In fact, if this story were being filmed today, I would bet it would be filmed on location. But since more than half the script was at night, the television schedule and budget couldn’t accommodate that. It was decided that once the bus had broken down, the balance of the show would be filmed at the studio on a green set. That was to be another major first for me, and one that had me a trifle concerned.

The film started at Indian Lake Lodge. That was easy. I just returned to the girl scout camp in Bronson canyon I had used earlier that year for the Guide Dog School setting on BREAKING POINT.

A year before I had directed Geraldine Brooks in A HERO FOR OUR TIME on SUSPENSE THEATRE. (See archives to the right.) I liked working with actors I had directed before, so she was cast to play Louanne. But then her agents notified us that she had been offered the role of co-star to Robert Taylor in a feature film, JOHNNY TIGER; so as was the custom we released her from the commitment. In casting Elizabeth Allen to replace her, visually we were cloning her appearance.

The camera crew didn’t object too strenuousy, but they weren’t too happy with my choice of this site for the scene. You’ll notice it was at the top of a long stairway. The heavy camera had to be carried up that stairway. But I thought it was such a good angle for the opening shot of Kimble ascending.

The young Doll was Lana Wood, Natalie Wood’s kid sister.

I loved Walter Brooke. He was such a fine actor. This was our first film collaboration, but I had met Walter twelve years earlier. I was the assistant director at the Chevy Chase Summer Theatre in Wheeling, Illinois, a suburb north of Chicago. I was assigned to stage manage an incoming package production of THE SECOND MAN starring Franchot Tone with Betsy von Furstenburg, Irene Manning and Walter Brooke. Walter told me then that the previous year he had been a final contender for the role of Biff in the film production of DEATH OF A SALESMAN. It all depended on who would be cast as Willy Loman. When Fredric March was cast, Kevin McCarthy, who looked more like he could be his son, got the role. Walter also told me Franchot Tone had confessed to him that he in his early years was the great white hope of Broadway. But regretfully he had not lived up to that promise. I remember during the first performance of THE SECOND MAN there was a scene where Tone and Walter broke up in laughter. The audience went wild. Only later when they did it night after night did I realize it was not a breakup, it was part of the staging. Walter also told me the champagne used in the scene was real champagne; Franchot Tone didn’t like the laste of ginger ale, which was usually used. Walter is the manager of the Lodge.

The girl scout camp location for the Lodge gave us an added benefit -- it was in Bronson Canyon where we could also film the scenes of the bus in transit. As for the scenes in the interior of the moving bus, they would be filmed the final day at the studio in process. This was strict Quinn Martin policy; all such sequences had to be filmed in process. We did not film them in the actual bus; rather a mock-up set of a bus was used. Again I think if this were being filmed today, the moving shots inside the bus would be done on location. A decade later that was the way I filmed the moving interior scenes on the old Los Angeles red car for A DREAM FOR CHRISTMAS (see archives to the right).

The bus driver was Barry Cahill. As I discussed in a posting of THE FBI much earlier, that was the role that I had wanted Paul Bryar to play, but he was on Quinn Martin’s ‘don’t use’ list because on a production of THE UNTOUCHABLES Quinn had thought his behavior on the set was frivolous. It wasn’t, of course and the following season John Conwell, casting director and assistant to Quinn was able to convince Quinn that Paul Bryar was a seasoned professional. Barry worked for me many times during the years and today is married to Rachel Ames. Somehow it all stays in the ‘family’.

When I wrote about filming METAMORPHOSIS, I described how we coped with having one limited cyclorama for the sky and could only shoot in one direction. The same thing applied to filming in process. There was only one process screen behind the bus on which the moving image of passing scenery was projected. But that moving image had to change. If we were looking straight back in the bus, the image was of road pulling away, exactly as if you looked out of the rear window of a real moving bus. If you looked out the side window of a moving bus, the movement is different from what you would see if you looked out the window of the opposite side of the bus. Since the process screen didn’t move, that meant the bus set had to. What I’m trying to point out is that moving the bus set is a time consuming procedure. So to avoid that, all the setups for all the sequences in any one of the three angles would be filmed at the same time. First all the angles in all the sequences shooting straight back in the bus would be filmed. The bus set would be turned and all the angles shooting toward the right side of the bus would be filmed next. And finally all the angles shooting toward the other side of the bus. I have not included clips for all of the sequences in the moving bus. Actually there were eight pages to be filmed in process. This was no major problem for me. I planned my coverage and could work my way through my shot list. It's the actors who should be commended. They could be working in five or six different sequences at the same time. To further complicate matters, the final sequences were night, which required different lighting.

Confession. We did not create a landslide for that sequence. We just angled the bus so we could shoot into the side of the canyon bordering the road. Meanwhile back at the Lodge, a nice plot twist provided by the writers. And another of Quinn’s policies; whenever a new interior scene occurred, there had to be an exterior shot of the building preceding it.

As I mentioned earlier, the decision to film the sequences after the bus breaks down in a green set had me concerned. I had never filmed in one before and I was fearful that it would look fake. In my naive inexperience I would have preferred to shoot it in the canyon where the bus stopped. But those sequences added up to over thirty-one pages. That would have meant filming from dusk to dawn. Fine for a feature film where three or four pages a night would have been acceptable. But this was television. By creating a wooded set on the stage we filmed the thirty one pages in less than two and a half days.

It was on this production that I made a discovery I was to use many times in the future -- the effect of an overheard conversation.

The business of Enid overhearing the conversation between Kimble and Louanne was not scripted. It was not something I pre-planned. It was a shot I added on the set during the filming of the scene. I felt then and I feel now that it added immeasurably to Enid’s character.

And now we come to a scene involving one of network continuity acceptance's warnings.

As you can see, I didn’t feel it was necessary to slap him even once. As for the fall that Kimble took when Langner shoved him, that was done by David’s stunt double. We couldn’t risk David doing that with his hands tied behind his back. That’s what stunt men are for.

Now the other warning from continuity acceptance had been be sure Louanne does not whisper anything to Langner. My those network minds! Lewd whispering! Double backhand slaps! Come on, guys. Stop fantasizing!

I won’t even honor with an acknowledgement the third warning that the young boy not hold the knife to anyone’s throat.

I have tremendous respect for good actors. Acting is so much more than hitting the marks and saying the dialog. Witness a couple of real pros fleshing out some good dialog with some remarkable depth.

I loved Phyllis’ delivery of her last line, “Yes, dear.”

I think David had one (or maybe two) gimpy knees. But he never complained, at least not on any of the productions I was on. And Dr. Kimble eluded the law once again, this time with the connivance of three people. And the next day the crew reported to the studio and commenced filming another episode in the flight of Richard Kimble.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

WHEN THE BOUGH BREAKS - July 1964 (The Fugitive)

When the 1964-65 season started, I was booked to return to MGM to direct my fourth DR. KILDARE, then an episode of a new series, KENTUCKY JONES starring Dennis Weaver, a return to Universal for a second SUSPENSE THEATRE and then another DR. KILDARE. I was to be gainfully employed starting in June through September. While I was prepping the DR. KILDARE (MAYBE LOVE WILL SAVE MY APARTMENT HOUSE) one of my agents called to tell me they had an offer from QM Productions for me to direct an episode of the smash hit from the previous season, THE FUGITIVE. I was reluctant to accept because there was a conflict. In that same time period I was already committed to KENTUCKY JONES, which was being produced by director Buzz Kulik, whom I knew from the first year of DR. KILDARE when I was the assistant producer. The agent persisted. He felt the introduction into the Quinn Martin company was very important to me. And he was so right. I agreed to have them get me out of the KENTUCKY JONES and accept the assignment on THE FUGITIVE.

Rock-a-bye baby on the treetop

When the wind blows, the cradle will rock

When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall

Down will come baby, cradle and all.

One of those crazy coincidences we bump into in our lives. The script for my first THE FUGITIVE was WHEN THE BOUGH BREAKS. The following season my fourth and final THE FUGITIVE assignment would be WHEN THE WIND BLOWS.

I had another exciting first on this production: the first time I filmed at that most exciting of locations -- a railroad yard.

We filmed all of the interior scenes in the boxcar at the studio on the first day. The exterior scenes at the railroad yard were filmed on the fourth day. You know, I can’t remember what I had for dinner last night, but I remember that forty-six years ago Arthur Fellows, the very knowledgeable executive in charge of postproduction, commented on the sequence where Kimble knelt by the boxcar and the next shot was his point of view of a guard walking on the other side of the train. He was impressed that the point of view panned and ended up back on the crouching Kimble. I also remember that my writer friend, Max Hodge, brought his two very young visiting nephews to the set the day we did the boxcar interiors. Years later Max told me the boys, now men, still talked about that visit and their excitement when the boxcar shook, simulating movement of the train.

I think THE FUGITIVE is one of the most classic of those early television shows now referred to as “classic television”. It was an exciting concept to turn Victor Hugo’s Jean Valjean of Les Miserables into a modern day doctor on the run from the law. I liked the anthology aspect of the series; each episode was a unique, individual story. The location could be any part of the country. Kimble was chameleon-like; his name and identity changed according to the necessities of the script. Each week he would become involved with people in trouble, his basic humanity preventing his turning away. And this involvement would then jeopardize his own safety with the threat of exposing his true identity as a convicted wife killer on the lam.

This was my first collaboration with Diana Hyland. I thought she was terrific -- beautiful and talented. I’ve already written about my unsuccessful attempt to cast her the following year in the SUSPENSE THEATRE production, THE EASTER BREACH. It would be almost a decade before we worked together again, first in a DAN AUGUST and then in THE FBI. In 1977 I was signed to direct an episode of EIGHT IS ENOUGH. Diana was playing the wife of Dick Van Patten and the mother of the eight kids. It wasn’t until I arrived at the studio that I found out Diana was not involved in the filming; she was ill with cancer. To keep the character alive, they had the mother away, but each episode she would telephone home. The studio was sending a sound crew to Diana’s home each week to record her end of the conversation. I got to speak to Diana once by telephone during my prep period. That was our last conversation; she died just before I commenced photography. She was forty-one years old.

I did not have the close relationship with David Janssen that I had later that year with Robert Lansing on TWELVE O’CLOCK HIGH. I found David to be an aloof man, but very professional. Like Mickey Rooney, I suspected that he had a photographic mind. The role of Richard Kimble was extremely demanding. There were no other running characters (except those few episodes when Barry Morse was aboard) to help carry the load. I just checked my script for this episode. There are sixty pages in the script. David was involved in scenes on forty seven of those pages. I personally feel that David was the most powerful force in the popularity of THE FUGITIVE. He was very attractive and enormously charismatic. He was a very fine actor -- and he LISTENED!

That was Jud Taylor at the piano. Jud had been one of the recurring internes on DR. KILDARE. It wasn’t too long before Jud moved behind the camera and became a successful film director.

Here is the first page from my director’s script of the next scene followed by the page with my camera instructions.

Incidentally, If there is a wavy vertical line on the shot, that means it was successfully filmed. If there are just a series of horizontal lines through the shot (as in 41x4) that means I eliminated the setup.

An interesting fact for you civilians and young aspiring directors: the opening shot of this last sequence showing Kimble coming down the street and then panning up to see through Carol’s window was really two shots filmed at different locations. Kimble coming down the street was filmed on the Goldwyn backlot and as it panned up it ended on the dark wall. The second part of the shot was filmed on the soundstage and started on the dark exterior wall of the set and panned up to see through the window. The two pieces of film were then connected in the editing room. I think I learned that from watching Hitchcock films -- he did that often.

The baby was actually a set of twins. That was usually done when babies were used and in this case was necessary because of the size of the baby’s role. There were strict limitations on how long a baby could be in front of the camera.

Many television series of this era had the freedom of the anthology, even though they were not anthologies. I wrote of the diversity of style in the stories I did on NAKED CITY. That was also true of the four shows I would direct on THE FUGITIVE. This episode to me was film noir, a style I particularly liked, but one I too seldom got to do. One of Quinn Martin’s rules was that exterior night scenes had to be filmed at night, not the cost-conscious method of so many of shooting day-for-night. That enhanced the noirish look of this production. And Meredith Nicholson’s photography certainly rose to the occasion.

The brash young man in the next scene was Eddie Guardino, Harry Guardino’s kid brother. Eddie had been in THE BULL ROARER on BREAKING POINT and had before that been in my Equity Library Theatre West production of Clifford Odets’ GOLDEN BOY.

There was a built-in trap to the format for this series. Kimble’s involvement each week when he attempted to help some person always threatened his own safety. The more he was threatened, the more dangerous his predicament became, the more exciting that episode would be. But of course each week had to find him at the end of the episode still free to continue his journey (and keep the series running on the air).

The show was scheduled for a six day shoot; it took seven days to finish. I contacted my agent after completing the show and told him I was due an added day’s salary for the overtime. He said he would check. He called back to say, yes I had the added day’s pay coming but he suggested I not pursue the matter. I said, why not; I worked for it. I guess he thought asking for the $250.00 (and that’s all it amounted to) would jeopardize my chances to work again at QM Productions. This time he was wrong. I directed five more productions during the 1964-65 season and a total of thirty-five productions in the next decade.