Monday, 6 May 2019

Thriller: One Deadly Owner

A haunted car. What a twentieth century variation on the staple of ghost stories, the haunted this, that, and the other. The use of the plot device gives this episode a lift to a more established folklore milieu from its otherwise completely 1970s setting. The use of a car also has the advantage over other haunted items, because having wheels the car can seem to develop its own sentience and move on its own. A further classy touch is given by the fact that the car isn't just any old car but a Rolls. Ironic that the one in this episode was bought for seven grand which seems nothing for a car now, and I see that a 1970s Rolls can be got for two grand now. How the mighty are fallen! - however I'm sure maintaining an elderly luxury car is never cheap. Personally I prefer the MGB GT which also features in this episode, but not in the characteristic 1970s orange colour scheme.
I started watching this show while cooking - of course I was listening, not watching, and I was very surprised to find that it does not star Peter Wynegard. I was sure he played the male lead, and I was even more surprised to find I didn't recognise the actor at all. I was yet more surprised to find that the actor was Jeremy Brett, who I felt I should have recognised from Sherlock Holmes. He both sounded and looked different. I have done some poking around on the internet and found that by the time Brett made Sherlock Holmes he was already mentally and physically ill and in fact his Wikipedia page comments on his changing appearance. I didn't realise he suffered from bipolar disorder, requiring inpatient treatment several times before his death. My surprises hadn't ended, though, because I discovered he had relationships with both men and women. I would tend to put the fact I mistook his speaking for Peter Wynegard, down to a similarity of theatrical enunciation taught before this show was made. Of course part of the reason he isn't recognisable is the quite different look from Holmes, who I'm sure would never have been seen dead with an open shirt.
Visually this episode doesn't go wrong anywhere, this is despite the fact that most of it was very obviously made in a studio. Those of us who remember the seventies will find many details nostalgic. I particularly like the decoration of the flat, and the wonderfully tacky restaurant they eat at. Foreign food, probably.
Unusually for me I don't really have a criticism of this one. The plot has a wonderful twist at the end, which I won't spoil. My only wonder is that this episode doesn't get a better rating on the internet, appreciation hovering around 60 to 70%. Perhaps it's me and my liking for weird stuff...

2 comments:

Mike Doran said...

Chicago Calling (What A Difference 40+ Years Make …):

Late last night I went to The Old DVD Wall, to dig this one out.
It seems that I recognized the leading lady here, depicted in your screen grab: a young(ish) Donna Mills, who in 1973 was just out of the starting gate here in the USA.
Her typecast at that point was pretty much what you see here: the sweet, slightly ditzy ingenue, a part she did all over primetime TV up to the turn of the '80s - when she got what turned out to be her breakthrough part in Knots Landing, a USA nighttime soap that switched her over to a more vixenish mode - but that's another story.
But we're talking here about "One Deadly Owner", which aired here in the Wide World Mystery package, after the late news on ABC.
All the shows that aired as part of that package (from New York and Hollywood as well as the Clemens Thrillers) ran heavily to damsels-in-distress (with handsome Harrys to bail them out); this was no exception.
It was few years after this that Jeremy Brett came to Hollywood to test the waters in US film and TV, not too successfully; Sherlock Holmes didn't happen until the mid-'80s, a decade after this show.
And by that time, Donna Mills was already established as a Queen-bitch on US TV, so there's that.

Cut to the present day:
A few years back, Donna Mills turned up for a brief stay on General Hospital, which has been on ABC(US) for 55 years now (and that's another story …).
Ms. Mills, now well into her 70s (but still looking quite presentable for all that), was still playing in rich bitch mode. Seeing that made me kind of nostalgic for the cute sweeties she played when she was younger - but maybe that's just me …

Please excuse the semi-relevance here; early mornings bring this out in me (especially lately).
To your next American (or semi-American) sojourn!

John said...

I love your description of her role here, it's exactly what she plays!
Not irrelevant at all, as none of your comments are, Mike. As always the counterpoint to what I say in my post.