Movie Reviews by David L. Vineyard

   The sixties and early seventies were the heyday of the made for television movie, and while most were tired and unimaginative, a few gems did emerge. The three films I’ll be covering in a series of upcoming posts featured excellent casts, intriguing plots, and above average production values.

   As far as I know none of them have been on VHS or DVD, but that should be changed. They were all superior entertainment. All three aired originally on NBC.


HOW I SPENT MY SUMMER VACATION. Made for TV. Universal/NBC-TV; telecast 07 Jan 1967. Robert Wagner, Jill St. John, Peter Lawford, Lola Albright, Walter Pidgeon, Michael Ansara. Teleplay: Gene R. Kearney; director: William Hale.

   Aging hip graduate student Jack Washington (Wagner) is in Europe living on the fringes of the Jet Set when he meets Nikki Pine (St. John) and begins to pursue her. At first her charming father billionaire Ned Pine (Lawdord) and mother (Albright) seem like nice people, but when Jack gets serious he finds himself out on his ear, framed for a crime he didn’t commit and roughed up.

   Out of revenge he begins compiling a dossier on Pine, and soon finds himself up to his ears in trouble with a army of killers out to get him led by Pine’s top man Pucci (Ansara). Lewis Gannett (Pidgeon) the Pine’s lawyer knows where the bodies are buried — literally — and is fed up with Pine’s murderous ways, Jack hopes to use him it get the secrets of who Pine is.

   Vacation is a slight but entertaining little fable that plays heavily on the charm and skill of its cast and is rewarded by being a fast paced film much slicker and better than many that found their way to the big screen. As Wagner’s Jack changes from aging hipster to amateur James Bond, the film grows darker and ends in a nice slam bang finale that leaves Jack in the catbird seat.

   This sort of fluff can go wrong quickly, but thanks to the cast and script doesn’t. Lawford does a nice sinister turn and Albright is darker than she is painted. Even St. John shines in what could have been a throwaway role.

Coming soon:

   Run a Crooked Mile (1969), with Louis Jourdan and Mary Tyler Moore.