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?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Black Widow (1947) – Chapter 5: The Spider’s Lair


Previously on Serial Saturdays’ presentation of The Black Widow, our hearts were momentarily gladdened by the prospect that exasperating gal reporter Joyce Winters (Virginia Lindley) would meet her doom trapped in a luggage trunk hurtling many miles a minute into thin air after falling out of a cargo plane co-piloted by her pretend secret boyfriend, novelist-criminologist Steve Colt (Bruce Edwards).  I’m devastated to report, however, that such a delightful scenario does not take place.  Footage that we were not privy to in Chapter 4 shows that it was an empty trunk that exited the plane a bit early.


Boo hiss.  Also, too: in the cockpit, one of the Black Widow’s goons who commandeered the plane has managed to bring pilot Andy Baldwin (Harold Landon) around after pistol-whipping him in the previous chapter (I guess upon reflection, Goon Boy realized someone has to fly the plane).  After shoving the second thug out the plane door (without a parachute, I might add), Steve returns to the cockpit just in time to wrestle with First Goon for control of his gun…and then kill him in the struggle.


STEVE: What happened, Andy?!!
ANDY: Left motor’s conked out…we’re losin’ altitude!
STEVE: Want me to take over?
ANDY: No…I can handle it…
STEVE: Well, try and hold your altitude…I’ll unload all the cargo except for the rocket motors!

I think Steve’s a tiny bit upset he doesn’t get to be the hero that safely lands the plane in this scenario.  Anyway, he goes to the back of the aircraft to start tossing out unnecessary ballast…and that’s when he finds Joyce, who’s been pounding from inside the trunk to be let out.


STEVE: What in the name of all that’s idiotic are you doing here?

What a strange, strange line.  “Don’t stay there asking foolish questions—get me out of here!” whines Joyce.  Oh, if only Steve had read Tom Godwin’s “The Cold Equations” (though it would have been tricky, since it was published in 1954)—we’d all be the better for it.

The action shifts to the offices of Professor Henry Weston (Sam Flint), who’s getting the lowdown from Steve and Joyce regarding his precious rocket motors.

STEVE: After we unloaded all the excess cargo, we were able to make a landing…
WESTON: I’m glad you were able to get the motors to the testing field…however, it’s left you without a clue…

Joyce’s inner voice: “I may be talking out of turn here, Prof…but I think Steve was clueless long before he got involved with your motors and rocket fuel.”  (They make it awfully easy sometimes.)

STEVE: No…not quite…they were trying to force Andy to fly the plane on a new course over the ridge—I’ve had aerial photographs taken of the whole territory…

“Because that’s the kind of brilliance people have come to expect from me.”

WESTON: I can’t see how that will help…?
STEVE: I’m having a map made, from which I hope to spot a secret landing field…
JOYCE: They’ll never shake Steve off the trail, Mr. Weston…

Oh, Joycie…you’re so cute when you shake those pom-poms…

JOYCE: …and what a story I’ve got for the late edition!
STEVE: The only story your paper will publish is the one I dictate…

Jawohl, mein fuehrer!  Bossy Steve then issues his proclamation to Joyce: “Have the dateline read—Phoenix, Arizona: ‘Air transport overdue…privately-owned plane missing…and believed to have been forced down somewhere in the mountains…”

We pick up the rest of this patently phony news story inside the fortunetelling hideout of the deliciously diabolical Sombra (Carol Forman), who reads aloud to her minions Nick Ward (Anthony Warde) and Dr. Z.V. Jaffa (I. Stanford Jolley):

SOMBRA: “…a report from Bisbee states that the missing plane was seen passing over there…but this is discredited, as Bisbee is far off the course of the freighter…” (She sets the newspaper down on her desk)
WARD: So…we lose the rocket motors…
SOMBRA: Not necessarily…

I love how Sombra never admits defeat in any situation.  (“True, the motors are not in our possession…but I had planned for such contingencies…”)

JAFFA: But, Madame…the authorities will certainly find the wreckage before we can hope to do so…
SOMBRA: On the contrary…they’ll be searching the regular route of the ship…they do not know, as we do, that the plane was off her course and probably did pass over Bisbee…
WARD: Right!  I think…
SOMBRA (sharply): Let me do the thinking, Mr. Ward…

Those uppity henchmen…always forgetting their place.  Sombra instructs Ward to get with yet another faceless drone in the operation (who apparently can pilot a plane), and then he’s to report to her at the mine where a Dr. Godfrey (LeRoy Mason) is preparing the rocket fuel.  Nick walks out, kind of pissed—I hope Sombra’s organization isn’t one of those places where employees can retaliate with supervisor evaluations.

The action then shifts to The Daily Clarion, where ineffectual editor John M. Walker (Gene Stutenroth) is probably wondering just where in the narrative he lost control of his newspaper empire to the increasingly brusque dictatorship of Steve Colt, who’s studying a map with a magnifying glass.

STEVE: This is all rough and rugged territory…must be someplace where a plane can make a landing…uh-oh… (Bringing the map up closer to him and Walker) Here it is…
WALKER: That doesn’t mean much to me…
STEVE: That’s a flat field, with trees around it…an ideal place for a hidden landing field!

Joyce’s inner voice: “Or maybe the perfect plot of land for you and me to build a darling little cottage so we can be married and raise a family…oh, if only he would ask me!”

JOYCE: Pretty smart, Steve!  Do we go out there?
STEVE: I do…you stay here and beat the typewriter…
JOYCE: If you go, I go!  After all, I have some standing on this newspaper!
STEVE (to Walker): Either I go alone, or you get a new man in my place!

“Girls, girls…you’re both pretty.”  So I guess it’s up to the Solomonic wisdom of Walker to ameliorate this disagreement.  “Now hold on!  I can’t have you two fighting!  You’ll have to compromise…there must be some other way…”

We then shift to a scene showing Steve and Joyce hurriedly racing to their destination.  Needless to say, the silence is awkward.  Nice compromise, John J.!

The squabbling couple eventually arrive at the landing field…and even in this brief moment of respite and solitude, Steve has to continually prove that it’s “Colt Uber Alles.”  “Keep back under the trees,” he snaps at Joyce.

JOYCE: Would you think it impertinent if I asked just what you expect to accomplish in this…cow pasture?
STEVE: I expect a visit from some of the Black Widow Gang…and I don’t want you cavorting about to let them know I’m here…

(“You’re not the boss of me!”)  “Perhaps if you’d not be so secretive…” Joyce’s voice trails off at the sound of an airplane overhead.  “All right, I’ll be the goat,” Joyce remarks, “what’s the answer?”  Steve can hardly contain his pleasure at his own cleverness: “This is the payoff on that newspaper story you had printed…and that should be some of the Black Widow Gang looking for a wrecked freighter.”


Indeed it is!  An unnamed pilot and Nick Ward are in the cockpit of the plane.  “Not a sign of it yet,” observes Ward.  “I’ll hop out and report to Sombra at the mine.”  I should say his stuntman hits the old silk, and as “Ward” plummets toward Earth an elated Steve tells Joyce: “Now we can follow him…and maybe to the Black Widow herself!”

After landing on terra cotta, Ward sheds his parachute and runs toward this cave…

…where inside, not-so-kindly Doc Godfrey demonstrates to his mistress that he has successfully whipped up a piping-hot batch of Weston’s fuel formula.


GODFREY: These two liquids, when combined, will give us the rocket fuel perfected by Professor Weston…the combination forms a highly flammable gas—a thousand times more powerful than gasoline…step back a little, please…

“I wouldn’t want you to risk scarring your intoxicating beauty with the special effects magic of Howard & Theodore Lydecker, your Malevolence…”

SOMBRA: You have done well, Godfrey…but I should think that there would be a danger of the accidental mixing of the liquids…
GODFREY: Oh, I’ve taken that precaution…a pipe extends from each of the tanks into the tunnel…


GODFREY: …in case an accident threatens, both tanks will be emptied into the tunnel under pressure…and the flames will burn themselves out…

“Excellent, my man…Godfrey…” A quick cut establishes that Ward is making his way into the cave, which triggers a warning buzzer in Godfrey’s lab.  Sombra and her pet doctor are able to watch Nick through this primitive viewer:


SOMBRA: It’s Ward…coming to report on his search for the rocket motors…open the door…

A panel in the tunnel slides open, and then Nick gets on a little vehicle similar to the kind they use to ferry old people through crowded airports.  He travels down the track in the tunnel, and eventually reaches the lab.


SOMBRA: You found nothing of the wreck, did you?
WARD: Not a trace…but how could you know?
SOMBRA: Because there is no wreck…we’ve been tricked
WARD: The newspaper said that the plane was reported flying over Bisbee!
SOMBRA: The Daily Clarion is the only paper that carried that story…Steven Colt works for the Clarion

“Then why didn’t you tell me before I flew out here, you cloth-eared bint?”

GODFREY: But he couldn’t trace us here
SOMBRA: I’m not too sure about that…

You don’t sound too sure about a lot of things, your Most Gracious Dominatrix of Doom…but, hey—even cold, calculating villainesses have an off-day.  The warning buzzer sounds after Sombra’s statement, and the three of them go over to the viewer to see…


…oh, botheration—it’s Steve and Joyce, looking to break up the party.  “We’ll settle with Colt and that meddling reporter once and for all,” declares Sombra.  She commands Godfrey to open the door, then instructs the doc and Ward and to take up stations on opposite sides of the laboratory.  “Don’t fire until I give the word,” she tells them sharply as she pulls a veil over her face to conceal her identity.


STEVE: A nice setting…though a bit theatrical…the Black Widow, huh?
SOMBRA: Clever of you to deduce that…and you, the innocent fly who’s walked into her parlor…did you hope that an insignificant storybook detective could block the plans of the greatest scientist of all time—the future ruler of the world?

Sombra, kiddo…don’t forget you kinda sorta stole that formula from another great scientist of our times who isn’t your dad.  Just sayin’.

STEVE: I don’t know the gentleman…but he sounds unpleasant…and I don’t think he’ll conquer the world—it’s been tried
SOMBRA: Drop that gun, Mr. Colt…you’re covered from both sides!

Yes, in an unusual embarkation from the same-old-same-old Republic Studio fistfight, Godfrey and Ward emerge from their hiding places and start firing at Steve, and he returns the favor.  For some odd reason, Colt runs out of ammo before they do—so he yells at Joyce to jump on the airport car.  As they make their way down the track in the tunnel, Sombra tells her henchies not to bother shooting—“Open the tanks and we’ll cremate them!”


Holy Disco Inferno, Batman!  As they get to tunnel’s end, Joyce sees that the door is closed…and she screams!