Thanks for joining us as we wrap up our second day of our three-day tribute to all things Bernard L. Kowalski!
He had to go through Roger Corman with Hot Car Girl, Attack of the Giant Leeches, and Night of the Blood Beast, then do TV series for the rest of the ’60s to get his shot at the major studio brass ring with Krakatoa: East of Java and Stiletto. But both of those films — as well as the David Janssen-starring western Macho Callahan — flopped at the box office, so it was back to TV for Bernard L. Kowalski. However, instead of the TV series of the ’60s, he now was in the TV movie business, in which he gave us Terror in the Sky, Black Noon, and Women in Chains. For his fourth TV movie, Kowalksi directed this script by TV series and TV movie scribe Howard Rodman (best known for the series Route 66 and the later Harry O, also the TV sci-fi flicks Exo-Man and the first Six Million Dollar Man TV movie). Was this a TV movie pilot film? Yep, you bet.
If you spent any time in front of the TV watching reruns of series from the ’60s and ’70s, and even into the ’90s, you’ll notice character actors Robert Hooks and Steven Brooks as our two cops who quit the police department to become private detectives — and come to hunt down a serial killer who has eluded the law for years. And they’re against the clock because notable western character actor Walter Brennan (John Wayne’s Rio Bravo) is out for vigilante justice to avenge the murder of a family member by the killer. And the always welcomed character actor-ness of Neville Brand as a racist, small town sheriff isn’t helping matters.
Yep, that is Richard Dreyfuss (Two Bernard L. Kolwaski flicks with future Jaws stars? Roy Scheider was in Stiletto, remember?) starting out his career. And that is the voice of the devil, Mercedes “Pazuzu” McCambridge, from The Exorcist. (Plot spoiler: she’s the killer and she’s off-the-hinges-great here; not that you don’t see that plot twist coming.) Also be on the lookout for Oscar actors Anne Revere (Supporting Actress winner for National Velvet) and her “sister” Catherine Burns (Supporting Actress nominee for Last Summer). Shelley Fabares, who did her share of car racing and Elvis flicks*, is the town’s pretty librarian girlfriend of Brooks that’s caught the creepy eye of Brand.
You can watch Two for the Money on You Tube. Grey market DVDs are easily available. It’s not that bad of TV movie thriller. Definitely not engaging TV series material in the manner of say, Starsky and Hutch (gotta go watch The Supercops from 1974 with my youth-buddy, Ron Leibman), but a serviceable TV flick, none the less.
* Of course we did all off the King’s — well, all three — racing flicks. What ensuing, trope-laden cliched movie site did you think your were surfing, here? Check out our “Drive-In Friday: Elvis Racing Nite” feature.