DARK INTRUDER. Made-for-TV movie, NBC/Universal, 1965. Pilot for a failed television series to have been called The Black Cloak. Released theatrically when deemed too violent for TV. Leslie Nielsen (Brett Kingsford), Mark Richman, Judi Meredith, Gilbert Green, Charles Bolender, Werner Klemperer, Vaughn Taylor, Peter Brocco. Screenplay by Barré Lyndon. Music by Lalo Schifrin. Director: Harvey Hart.

   Brett Kingsford (played admirably by Leslie Neilsen) is an expert on the supernatural in this failed TV pilot, and while nobody asked me at the time, I think the series that would have ensued if things had worked out differently could have been a good one.

   The story takes place in San Francisco in 1890, and Kingsford is called in by the police when a baffling series of Jack the Ripper style killings begins to take place. The victims have all been clawed to death, and left at the scene of each killing is an ivory ancient Sumerian figurine.

   When a friend of his, Robert Vandenburg (Mark Richman), begins to think he may be the one responsible, Kingsford has an additional reason to be involved in the case, along with his dwarf assistant Nikola (Charles Boldender).

   The copy of this short 59 minute film I watched was a very dark print, but even so it matched the mood of the proceeding perfectly, and the movie does have a few quite scary moments. Too scary for TV in 1965? I’d have to agree.

   But it was very well done, with well above average production values and a large supporting cast. To my untrained eye, the director knew what he was doing too, with the camera moving fluidly with lots of well constructed overhead shots.

   And, in case you were wondering, while Leslie Neilsen’s sideburns looked as false as they probably were, he had the presence to carry off the rest of his role very well. I also liked the wink and nod between him and his assistant at the end when they talk about all of the strange things they’ve seen together, with a hint of more to come. Alas, it was not to be.

         BRETT: Ah, Nicola, if only the rest of the world knew what we know.

         NICOLA: If they did, sir, nobody would get a decent night’s sleep.