Monday, December 22, 2014

Doris Day(s) #39: “A Two-Family Christmas” (12/22/69, prod. no #0416)


Welcome to the First Annual Doris Day(s) Christmas Special!  With the Widder Martin and her family (Philip Brown, Tod Starke)!  Curmudgeonly old Buck Webb (Denver Pyle)!  Myrna Gibbons (Rose Marie)! Michael Nicholson (McLean Stevenson)!  Ron Harvey (Paul Smith)!  The World of Sid and Marty Krofft!  And Paul Lynde as Santa Claus!  (Okay…I may be fibbing about those last two…)


Because it’s the holiday season, Thrilling Days of Yesteryear is presenting this episode of The Doris Day Show out of sequence (and 45 years after its first telecast, too)…and you can probably tell that right off by the fact that Doris is sporting a new coif in this Christmas-themed episode, something that she starts in the earlier outing “Doris the Model” (11/17/69), which I haven’t yet covered on the blog.  (Believe you me—when I do, it will set the record for shortest Doris Day(s) write-up, since it’s mostly an extended fashion show with Doris posing in various outfits.  It’s really boring.)  Act One of “A Two-Family Christmas” finds Doris and Myrna in the offices of Today’s World (The NOW Magazine) decorating in anticipation for the big Christmas blow-out held every year.  Doris coaches her pal in the art of straightening the star for the top of the Christmas tree perfectly, and when they’re done they drag the ladder across the lobby…where they meet up with Myrna’s boss, Ron Harvey, who’s carrying a punch bowl the size of Rhode Island.


RON: Make way, ladies…make way…
MYRNA: Oh—there goes Candlestick Park…
DORIS: That is the biggest bowl I have ever seen!
RON (setting it down on a table): You see before you the Christmas wassail bowl…and in exactly an hour and fifteen minutes it will be brimming to the top with Ron Harvey’s special Christmas punch… (As he tosses in oranges) Which spells the difference between the ordinary Christmas party and “let’s-not-go-home-till-New-Year’s”…
DORIS: You mean we’re going to drink all that?
MYRNA: No, we don’t drink out of it—we bathe in it…

“You’d be surprised how quickly it disappears,” continues Ron.  “Finger lickin’ good…that is, if you can still find your fingers after the first dip.”  Well, that certainly sounds sanitary.  The trio’s punchy banter (sorry about that) is interrupted by our old pal Dave the Lackey (David Manzy), who informs Doris that they need more Christmas decorations.  This is Manzy’s second and final appearance on the program (his first was “A Frog Called Harold,” in which his role was a bit more substantial)—and again, he’s not to be confused with the Dave the Lackey from last week’s “The Woman Hater,” in which he was played by Johnnie Collins III.  Doris heads into her office and Myrna follows.

DORIS: Boy, this is going to be a swinging party…

Far out.

MYRNA: Well, I don’t know how we’re going to top last year
DORIS: We can have drag races in the elevators!
MYRNA: That’s what we did last year!

The phone in Doris’ office rings, and it’s Laird Buckley Webb on the other end.  They exchange Christmas pleasantries, and Doris asks about the state of her rugrats.

BUCK: They’re snoopin’ around the house tryin’ to figure out where we hid the Christmas presents…that’s what they’re doin’…hey, listen—the reason I called…I got to wonderin’…what’s the gang up there gonna do for Christmas…? You know—Mr. Harvey and Mr. Nicholson and Myrna?
DORIS: Gee, I don’t know…it’s been so hectic around here nobody’s even talked about it…I imagine they have, you know, plans…
BUCK: Well, uh…you sure?
DORIS: No…we didn’t discuss it, but…
BUCK: Well, I was thinkin’…uh…bein’ as how they’re all single they might enjoy comin’ out here and havin’ a real old-fashioned family Christmas with us…

“Hey—wouldn’t that have been fun!” gushes Doris.  Oh, yeah—there’s nothing single people enjoy more than to be reminded of the decisions they’ve made in life that have left them lonely during the holidays with no company but a house crammed with cats.  Doris has a sad because it’s probably too late to extend the invitation, but Buck counters that “there’s no harm in askin’.”

DORIS: Well, I’ll ask—but I wish you would have thought of it sooner
BUCK: Listen, I didn’t see this turkey sooner—we’ve got twenty-two pounds of turkey out here, and if we don’t get somebody to help us eat it we’re going to have turkey hash all next week…maybe into next month…

Doris promises Buck she’ll do what she can, and sends him off with her familiar “Toodle-oo!”  Myrna then emerges from Doris’ closet carrying two bags of decorations.

DORIS: Hey, Myrn…do you have any plans for Christmas?
MYRNA: Are you kidding?  You know me—I’ve always got something cooking…
DORIS: Something big, huh?
MYRNA: Yeah…six-feet-two to be exact…

I didn’t know cats could grow so big…unless it’s that damn tiger from a previous Doris Day(s) outing.

MYRNA: …I heard he’s a dreamy ski instructor at Squaw Valley…so I made reservations…
DORIS: Squaw Valley!
MYRNA: Yeah, I figured if I work my balls out right, I could become one of his squaws

I’m not sure what Myrna means by “work my balls out right”…and upon further reflection, I’ve decided I’m not all that curious to find out.  Doris explains the reason why she’s so nosy is that she was going to invite her BFF out to Webb Estates for Yuletide gaiety and merriment.  Myrna says thanks but no thanks.

Doris’ boss, Michael “Nick” Nicholson makes his way through the offices, stopping long enough to stare at Ron’s punch preparations (“Bigger than last year,” brags his associate editor) and registering mild disapproval.  He’s also not too receptive to Myrna’s “Merry Christmas, Mr. Nicholson!”  Calling Doris into his office, we soon find out why Nick is acting like someone took a dump in his figgy pudding.

DORIS: Doesn’t the office look festive?
NICK: Mm-hmm…
DORIS (admiring a decoration hanging from the ceiling): I love this…everybody’s so excited about the party—they can’t wait for it to start…
NICK: Except me…I can’t wait for it to be over

Fa-la-la-la-la…la-la-la-la!  Okay, it’s not really fair to criticize Nicholson’s pessimistic attitude toward the office Christmas bash.  He explains: “I don’t know what it is about an office party, but it always gets out of hand!”  (It wouldn’t be an office party otherwise, would it?)

DORIS: Well…they’re just filled with the holiday spirit…
NICK: Yeah, well, I’ve got the holiday spirit, too, Doris…but I mean we really get it around here when everybody dips…when everybody dips into Ron Harvey’s special spirits…and then before you know it, the whole thing…the whole thing is a shambles…all of our quiet little secretaries turn into a bunch of Raquel Welches

Is this party reserved for Today’s World staff, or can anyone show up uninvited?

NICK: And Myrna…Myrna gets up and does a twenty-minute imitation of Jimmy Durante…
DORIS: You’re kidding!
NICK: No!
DORIS: Hey—I’ll bet she’s good!

She should be—she’s had enough practice!  Fans of The Dick Van Dyke Show know that Rose Marie, as Sally Rogers, imitates the Schnozzola in the classic Yuletide installment “The Alan Brady Show Presents” (12/18/63)—which is one of several boob tube celebrations of Christmas discussed in an uproariously funny article by my Cultureshark pal Rick Brooks at ClassicFlix (the Father Knows Best stuff had me on the floor).  R.M. even fearlessly imitated Durante on a December 24, 1948 broadcast of his own radio program (co-starring Alan Young and Durante regulars Florence Halop, Candy Candido, Alan Reed, Arthur Q. Bryan and Ruby Dandridge), available on Radio Spirits’ CD collection Christmas Radio Classics.  (Jimmy has a hilarious reaction to Rho’s impression: “How do you like that—I’ve been transcribed to a more convenient body!”)

Okay, now that I’ve gotten the shamelessly brazen plugs out of the way—Nicholson continues to disparage his employees’ antics from Christmas celebrations past.  “And then Ron Harvey will corner me and tell me what I did wrong all year.  And you know something?  For the next week, nobody can look anybody else in the eye.”  But Nicholson has a plan—he’s appointing Doris hallway monitor because she’s so good and kind and has new hair.  Tell me that job isn’t going to suck egg nog.

DORIS: Oh, Mr. Nicholson…you’re asking me to be the office party pooper…I mean, I can’t tell people how many drinks they should have…
NICK: Doris…I am not asking you to be a chaperone…nor do I want to sound like Ebenezer Scrooge…I’m just asking you if you’ll help me make this a nice Christmas party…

Doris reluctantly agrees, then it’s her turn to ask a favor—she inquires of Nicholson as to what his Christmas plans are, and he brags that he’s getting away to Seoul Palm Springs for a little R&R.  “That’s good for you,” affirms his secretary, “you really need a rest.  I’ll catch you next Christmas.”

Doris still hasn’t asked Ron how he plans to make merry over the holidays, so she returns to the scene of the party preparations to find him pouring a liquor store’s worth of booze into that gi-normous punch bowl.


DORIS: How much are you putting in there?
RON: Oh, this is just the base… (Chuckling) From here I build
DORIS: Mr. Harvey…don’t you think you’re overdoing it?
RON: I may have overdone the nutmeg

Ron is asked about Christmas, and he, too, has plans—Acapulco!  “Golden beaches covered with golden girls,” he muses while continuing to pour.  Why he’s envisioning Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty on white silver sands goes unexplained, but this means he will be unable to attend Webb-a-Palooza, touched as he is by the offer.  Because Doris asked Ron if she might be the first to sample his concoction, he offers her a generous ladleful…providing this facial reaction, which may be the funniest in the show’s history:


Smooooooooooth!  With a dissolve, we find the Today’s World employees furiously frugging to hip music as Doris and Myrna watch from the sidelines.  “I think you better take it a little easy with that stuff,” scolds Doris as Myrn drains a cup of punch.

“Ohhhh I can handle it—it’s just punch,” Myrna replies, giving her bud a playful shoulder nudge.  “I think I’ll go take another dip in that beautiful pool.”  Cheese and crackers—run for the hills, men!  Myrna is tipsy and frisky!  (She’s fripsy!)  As Myrna samples some more Old Harvey, the manufacturer makes his way over for a little boss-to-secretary chat.

RON: My…beautiful…secretary…
MYRNA: Oh, boy—this punch is stronger than I thought
RON: Myrn old girl…I know that I’ve been hard on you all year…I mean, always needling you with making you work overtime…snapping at you when you misspell a word—at which, incidentally, was quite often…but this is the Christmas season…and it’s a time for love…and understanding…I want you to know that…well, maybe sometimes I appear like an ogre…but…deep down inside…I’m a wonderful, loving human being…who appreciates you…right now I want to show you my appreciation… (He puts down his glass and gives her a tender kiss)
MYRNA (after a pause): Boy, you’ll do anything to get out of giving me a Christmas present, won’t you?

Ron protests his assistant’s sarcasm.  “On my desk is a beautifully wrapped gift from me to you,” he explains.  “Really?” Myrna asks in earnest.

“It’s a dictionary to teach you how to spell,” is his snarky reply.  Ha!  Ya burnt, Myrna!  And speaking of words, the intoxicated Harvey has “a few choice ones” for the man who continues to employ him despite apparently being told off at the Christmas party each year.


Doris is on the case, though!  She quickly intercepts Ron and scolds him for not asking her to dance, so they do a turn on the floor (both looking as if some joker arranged to have fire ants dumped into their undergarments).  Their mating dance is interrupted by a dweeby-looking chap (James B. Douglas) answering to “Mr. Singer”—who, in a following bit of dialogue, reveals himself to be the office payroll clerk (he starts macking on Doris big time).  Douglas had roles in MASH (1970) and The Changeling (1980), and appeared a few times on the Showtime series Soul Food as Principal Gordon.


While Doris is trapped with Singer, Ron takes the time to unload on Nick—calling him “stodgy” and “old-fashioned” in his management of the NOW magazine.  Doris manages to fob Singer off on the horny Myrna, and breaks up Nick and Ron’s confab by reminding Nick he promised her a dance.  As Doris and Boss trip the light fantastic, Ron staggers over and asks if he can cut in; Nicholson reluctantly agrees, and Ron takes him out on the floor for a twirl.  (Yes, I did laugh at this—but only because Curly used to do that to Moe in a lot of the Stooges shorts.  “My father died dancin’…on the end of a rope.”) 


Then it’s time for Myrna’s Durante impression (“Stop da music—stop da music!”), which is quite good (she warbles a few bars of Jimmy’s signature You Gotta Start Off Each Day With a Song) until she starts insulting the staff.  “You should see my boss Ron Harvey,” she brays.  “He’s got such a big nose—he should have, he gets it in everybody’s business!”  (Physician…heal thyself!)

There’s a dissolve, and Nick walks among the party attendees with a smile on his face—presumably it hasn’t been such an obnoxious affair after all.  Doris is getting ready to motor because kids, and Nick thanks her for keeping the employees in line.  “I just wanted to tell you this is turning out to be the best office party we ever had,” he informs her.

NICK: You sure came through—what all did you do, anyway?
DORIS: Well, I watered down the punch…
NICK: I thought it tasted a little flat
DORIS (laughing): And then I got Myrna with Mr. Singer…
NICK: Mm-hmm…
DORIS: …and then I introduced Mr. Harvey to that new research assistant, you know…so that automatically quieted things down…

Doris wishes Nick a Merry Christmas in Palm Springs, and he returns the sentiment with a friendly peck on the cheek.  As Doris makes her way out of the Today’s World shindig, she passes Myrna slow dancing with her new squeeze (“Hey, Dor—he’s kind of cute!”) and presses the button for the elevator.  As the doors slide open, we find Ron snogging with the new research assistant (“Just rehearsing for Acapulco”).  (Boy, is she gonna get a surprise in nine months!)  End of Act One.

“A Two-Family Christmas”…Part the Second.  Back from commercial, we find Doris putting the young’uns to bed—soon, Billy and Toby will have dreams in which sugar plums and Gouda wedges dance in their heads.  Downstairs, Gran’pa Buck is filling stockings with apples and nuts and other baked goodies.

BUCK: Listen—I think we better wait for about a half-hour before we put those presents under the tree…let ‘em get to sleep good…
DORIS: Okay… (After a pause) Can’t wait to see Billy’s face when he sees the slot cars…he is going to flip out
BUCK: Listen—did you notice ‘em at dinnertime?  They were helpin’ with the dishes…
DORIS: They do it all the time now…you know…
BUCK: Oh, yeah…but tonight they put a little somethin’ extra in…they’re not gonna blow any chances for those presents…

I may have misjudged those kids—they’re smarter than I thought.  Doris laughs, and then asks: “Can you imagine Christmas without them?”  (You will in two more seasons, Miss Que Sera Sera.)  All snarkiness aside, I do like Buck’s answer: “They are Christmas.”  (Amen, brother.)

BUCK: As far as…well, I was kind of hopin’ your friends would come over and join us…
DORIS: Yeah…they would have loved it…but they made big plans…
BUCK: Tell me something…do you kind of wish you were going to all them fancy places?

Doris assures her father that Acapulco and Palm Springs and Squaw Valley can’t compare to what she’s got…but as I said before, things will be different when Season Four gets underway.  Then Toby appears at the top of the stairs, because he’s been doing some thinking—and that can’t be good.

TOBY: Well, Santa Claus is going to come down the chimney, isn’t he?
BUCK: Well…yeah…
TOBY: Don’t you think you better put out the fire?
DORIS: We will, honey…
BUCK: Yeah…see…he’s not due here until after midnight and…uh…uh…uh…he likes a nice warm house to come into…

Jeebus, Buck—is that the best you got?  Billy soon joins his brother on the stairs, reasoning that “if Toby gets to stay up, I get to stay up, too—I’m older.”  Doris is just about to exercise her parental veto when the family hears a group of carolers outside singing God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen.  “Who could it be?” Doris wonders.


The four of them head outside to find Nick, Ron and Myrna caroling.  (They’re not really caroling—they’re probably spiffed from the Christmas party.)  We know that Rose Marie is no slouch when it comes to singing, but both McLean Stevenson and Paul Smith do a passable job in joining in.  The three of them decided to accept Doris’ invitation after all!  (I’ll bet the Denny’s was closed.)

DORIS: What happened to your plans?
MYRNA: Well…after the office party broke up, why…we got to thinking that…Christmas was for family and friends…not…strangers in Squaw Valley…
DORIS: Yeah…but what about six-feet-two, eyes of blue?
MYRNA: Well…my kind of luck, he’d probably wind up being four-foot-three

Nick explains that a trip to Palm Springs just “didn’t seem very Christmassy,” (Doris: “It’s just too hot—that’s all!”) and Ron’s jaunt to Acapulco was scotched along similar lines.  “Why should I go all the way to Acapulco just to make a bunch of women happy?” he asks.  “Let ‘em suffer!”  Excellent proclamation, Sir Muffin of Stud.

Because they have company, Billy is able to wheedle a bit more stay-up time from his ma (score!) and as they are invited to make themselves to home, the office trio refuse any grub but will not decline Buck’s offer of a “hot toddy.”  (Miserable drunks.)

DORIS: Oh, this is great!
RON: Well…the truth is…I kind of miss a family Christmas…
MYRNA: Me, too…
NICK: Well—let’s face it, Doris…Christmas is family and…uh…none of us have any family out here…
DORIS: Well, you have now

With a dissolve, we find Ron and Myrna looking through a photo album with Billy…who points out a picture of him when he was four years old.  “Hey—you’re a handsome devil, aren’t you…heh heh?” comments Myrna.  “Do you ski?”  Doris brings in some goodies (leftovers from dinner, perhaps?) and I chuckled at Lord Nelson’s attempt to grab a few nibbles.  True story: we owned a dachshund one time who, one Christmas, helped himself to about half a box of Reese’s miniature peanut butter cups from sister Kat’s room while we were out of the house for some family function.  The look on the dog’s face when we confronted him with this vile deed is tattooed into my brain: “You…you don’t think I did this, do you?”

NICK: Hey, that’s a cute picture…the one on the bearskin rug…which one of the boys was that, Buck—Toby or Billy?
BUCK: No!  That’s Doris!
(They all laugh)
RON: Hey, you got any more of those?  I’d like one for my desk
DORIS: I’ll bring it in Monday…

Silent derp...holy derp.


Toby walks over to the family piano—which, up until this time, I was not aware it was a player piano—and starts up Silent Night, which the family and friends all join in singing until the fade out.


The coda on this one is kind of amusing…and also a bit freaky.  We see Toby and Billy having fun with Bill’s slot car set…and then the camera pulls back to reveal that it’s actually Nick and Ron futzing with it, as the boys whine about getting a turn.  (Chalk up that bit of directorial inspiration to none other than OTR vet Larry Dobkin, helming the first of two Doris Day Show episodes in the director’s chair.)  Ron is whining, too; he wants to switch from his blue car to Nick’s red car.


RON: This time I want the red car…
NICK: There’s nothing wrong with the blue car…
RON: Well, if there’s nothing wrong with the blue car how come I can’t have the red car?
NICK: Because I’m the boss…

Dor brings out hot chocolate “for whoever wants it,” and as Buck pulls roasted chestnuts out of the fire (Myrna: “I always thought that was the lyrics for the song—I never thought people actually did that!”) for family and guests, Doris turns to the camera and “breaks the fourth wall”:


Well…this is our Christmas…and as you can see, it’s been a very special one…so from all of us here…to all of you there…we wish you happiness and peace…and much, much love…good night…Merry Christmas…

I don’t have to tell you I was kind of freaked out by this the first time I watched it…only because you never saw that sort of thing on Mayberry R.F.D.  (“I’m not really an inept fix-it man…I just play one on this here show!”)

I hope you all enjoyed our temporary Doris Day(s) detour to spotlight an episode that focuses on the spirit of the holiday season.  I know I poke a lot of merciless fun at Dor and Company (and many times rightfully so), but I don’t disagree with this episode’s premise that family is all a part of Christmas.  Fortunately, Los Parentes Yesteryear and myself will get to spend some quality kin time with my sister Debbie and her husband and daughter starting tomorrow…so that might explain things if it gets a little slow on the blog in the interim.  Next time, we’ll return to our regular Doris Day(s) rotation with an amusing little playlet entitled “The Chocolate Bar War.”  (Seriously, this one has a good laugh or two, and appearances from OTR vets like Amzie Strickland and Howard Culver.)  Please make a sticky-note to join me, and in case I don’t shout at you in the meantime: Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Black Widow (1947) – Chapter 8: False Information


Last week on The Black Widow (1947), novelist-criminologist Steve Colt (Bruce Edwards) was about to use his phenomenally underwhelming sleuthing powers to reveal the true identity of the titular villainess, whom we know and worship as evil fortuneteller Madame Sombra (Carol Forman).  With the help of irksome gal reporter Joyce Winters (Virginia Lindley), Colt was studying a set of fingerprints found on a handbag that belonged to renowned (and now most sincerely dead) physicist Dr. Ann Curry (Virginia Carroll).  Moments from their breakthrough, our heroes got a visit from Sombra’s head henchie Nick Ward (Anthony Warde) and his lackey Hodges (Dale van Sickel)—who is surely up for recognition at the next Henchman’s Convention for his amazing leap out of a second story window (in which he risked serious injury) to stop Colt from catching up to Ward.  In the melee that followed, Colt was rendered unconscious and was about to be runned over by Ward…


…but he escaped in the nick of time.  (Or should that be Nick of time, in keeping with Ward’s first name?)

A frustrated Steve then visits the laboratory of Professor Henry Watson (Sam Flint), an inventor whose rocket motor and “sinetrone” have attracted the attention of the U.S. Government…but who apparently are unable to provide him with top-flight security, owing to severe budget cutbacks from the 1940s version of the Tea Party.

STEVE: …when Ward destroyed the fingerprints and got away with Dr. Curry’s handbag, he left us with no further clue to the Black Widow Gang…all we know is that the leader is definitely a foreigner…presumably an Asiatic…and certainly a woman…
WESTON: An ingenious woman…as deadly as the name implies…

“When I stop to think of it…I’ve been looking for such an exotic companion all my life—perhaps I should reconsider turning over my work to the government?”

WESTON: …the government wants me to continue my work on the sinetrone and rocket motor…
STEVE: But not in your laboratory, Mr. Weston…
WESTON: Because of security?
STEVE: That’s right…the Black Widow wants your motor and sinetrone, and she’ll try to get them as soon as she can…
WESTON: Can you suggest a place?
STEVE: Yes, a good one…and you can stay there until your work’s completed…after all, Weston—the Black Widow can’t move against you if she can’t find you…

We take you now to Sombra’s hideout, where she is in conference with Ward and her other associate-in-evil, Dr. Z.V. Jaffa (I. Stanford Jolley).

SOMBRA: Have you located Weston yet?
WARD: No luck…he’s completely disappeared!

“What’s worse, he didn’t even have the common courtesy to leave a forwarding address!”

WARD: There’s been no trace of him anywhere in the past three days—his laboratory’s closed up tighter than a drum…can’t see how Weston got by the men…
SOMBRA: Are your men watching Colt?
WARD: Yes…
SOMBRA: He must be forced to lead us to Weston…
JAFFA: But how, Madame?


Oh, foolish Jaffa—Madame Sombra sees all…knows all!  She starts to outline her nefarious scheme, which leads to a dissolve and the front of The Daily Clarion building.  Ward watches Joyce get into her car, and as our plucky journalmalist puts her key into the starter and switches on the ignition, a plume of gas fumes begins to spew forth…making Joycie very sleepy.  Ward then slides her unconscious body over to the passenger side and drives off…


Joyce awakens to find herself bound and gagged to a chair located inside a strange apartment.  In the next room, Ward plays poker with another thug named Jack, which marks ace stuntman Tom Steele’s second appearance in Widow.  Joyce finds it remarkably easy to free herself from her bonds—yet she doesn’t realize that this has been a faux kidnapping, and Ward relies on his experience in summer stock to convince her that the gang have captured Weston with a phony phone call from the next room.

WARD: Hello?  This is Ward…you found Weston?  Where?  Sure…right away!  What about the girl?  Okay…I’ll take care of her after I’ve worked Weston over…yeah…goodbye… (He hangs up the phone; to Jack) They’ve found Weston so we don’t have to make the girl talk…now you watch her while I get some of the men and grab Weston!  (He gives Jack a big wink)

Armed with this “false information,” Joyce escapes out the apartment window and subsequently returns to the Clarion, where her relaying of what she knows falls deaf upon the jerkwad ears of her boyfriend Steve.

JOYCE: …I heard Ward say they found Weston, and then Ward left…and I slipped out the window and got away… (No reaction from Steve) Well, aren’t you going to do something?  Ward might kill him!
STEVE: Aw, calm down—you know, you’re liable to blow a fuse!
JOYCE: Calm down?  With Weston’s life in danger—and if you don’t do something quick the Black Widow will get the rocket…
STEVE (interrupting): Now, wait a minute…if you could only think as fast as you can talk

“That’s it—we are so breaking up!”

JOYCE: Listen, Steve Colt—I’ve heard about enough
STEVE: Now don’t get excited…suppose you listen to me for a change?

“Submit to my superior maleness, you mouthy wench!”  Another dissolve finds Ward outside the Clarion, waiting in his car.  He observes Steve tearing out of the building and hurriedly getting into his car, so he decides to follow.  Note the name of the business in the background:


No doubt a reference to actor John Merton, who appeared in such Republic serials as Drums of Fu Manchu (1940), Zorro’s Black Whip (1944) and Radar Patrol vs. Spy King (1949).  A rather prolonged chase sequence follows, with Ward taking care not to be noticed that he’s tailing Our Man Colt.  The two of them wind up in the middle of B.F.E., amidst those same rocks you’ve seen in countless Republic serials and B-westerns.  Before he gets out of his car, we observe Colt monkeying around with some sort of device that he conceals in the glove compartment of his car.  Eventually, a self-satisfied Steve gets the drop on his nemesis when Ward starts trailing him through the rocks on foot:


STEVE: I didn’t fall for that phony escape, Ward…besides—I knew no one could find Weston…now I’m going to take you to the police and you’re going to tell us who the Black Widow is and where she is…
WARD: Pretty sure of yourself—eh, Colt?
STEVE: No…but I happen to hold the whip hand…

“Only there’s a gun in it…not a whip.”  Steve marches Ward back to his car…but he either accidentally or purposely (I suspect it’s the latter) stumbles on a rock…and that gives Ward an opening to slug Steve and start running for Steve’s ride.  Colt gets to his feet and starts firing his pistola at the fleeing henchman…but that goon is gone as a goon can get.  Steve’s salvation comes in the form of his on-again-off-again girlfriend, who drives up to him in her car.

STEVE (rubbing his chin): That Ward packs a mean wallop
JOYCE: It was your idea…
STEVE: That fast backhand wasn’t…move over…

“I’m not going to tell you this again—I’m the man, I do the driving.”  Joyce notices that there’s a device similar to the one Steve placed in the other car and asks her man what it is—and he’s only too happy to oblige.  “It’s a receiver that picks up an oscillation tone signal,” he explains condescendingly.  Switching it on, Joyce squeals “It works!”

“Naturally!” he brags.  “And the oscillator I planted in that other car will lead us to wherever Ward drives…and it’s my guess it’ll be to the Black Widow…”  Don’t let him get away again, Joycie.

Ward pulls up alongside a warehouse…because we haven’t had a really good warehouse knock-down-drag-out in this serial so far.  Inside, Sombra—wearing dark glasses so she will not be recognized—issues instructions to another one of her nameless minions; both of them are surrounded by barrels conspicuously marked “linseed oil.”

SOMBRA: Make sure there are a few barrels of linseed oil and paint mixed in with the others in case someone wants to inspect the contents…
MINION: Yes, Madame Sombra…
SOMBRA: We have to have this rocket fuel ready to ship tomorrow…
WARD (entering the warehouse): Colt didn’t fall for the gag…he tried to grab me…

“He was all handsy, I swear!”  Outside the building, Steve and Joyce have arrived.

STEVE: You wait here…there might be trouble…
JOYCE: And miss a story?  Not this girl!
STEVE: I guess there’s no use arguing with you…


And with that, he whips out a pair of handcuffs and secures Joyce to the steering wheel.  Kinky!  Back inside…

WARD: …and so, I grabbed his car…and left him there to hike back to town…
SOMBRA: And we still don’t know where Weston’s hiding!
STEVE: And what’s more—you won’t!

It’s Hero Steve, entering the warehouse with his gun drawn.  “Move over and face the wall,” he barks as he grabs a length of rope.  “You, too,” he orders Sombra when she’s a little too slow to follow in Ward and Minion’s footsteps.


“Mr. Colt would not shoot a woman,” purrs Sombra.  (Yeah, but handcuffing them to steering wheels is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish.)  Sombra kicks at one of the legs at a nearby desk…


…and a trap door opens, temporarily disorienting Colt and allowing Ward & Minion to rush over and disarm him.  They pull him out of the opening, and Sombra hisses: “I regret it is necessary to kill you, Mr. Colt.”  Don’t sweat it, your Diabolicalness—he was starting to wear out his welcome anyway.


Once again, Joyce will have to come to Steve’s rescue because Sombra has ordered him to face the wall.  Trouble is, Joyce is having to lug the steering wheel with her (she’s still handcuffed to it, and this did make me laugh long and hard) but it comes in handy during the ensuing fistfight because she’s able to use it to ward off a blow from a chair Sombra wields during the donnybrook.  Joyce also socks Ward with it when she first enters the warehouse, causing him to miss Steve with his gun…but blowing a hole into one of the barrels of “linseed oil”…


For most of the fight, it’s Steve vs. Minion…though Ward manages to throw in a few good punches as well.  A lamp on the desk falls to the floor and ignites the rocket fuel that’s quickly soaking the warehouse floor…


As for Sombra, she knocks Joyce down into the trap door opening, where our heroine lays unconscious with her steering wheel.  Sombra beats a hasty retreat…followed by Ward…and then…