Sunday, August 5, 2012

ISN'T IT SHOCKING? (1973)

ISN'T IT SHOCKING? aired on Oct. 2, 1973 as part of ABC's "Movie of the Week" series and it stars a young Alan Alda as the sheriff of the small dying town of Mount Angel. The town dying because only old people live there. Alan is bored and just riding out his last few days before he takes a new police job over in the thriving metropolis of Horse Creek. Then a serial killer strikes!

Mount Angel is full of quirky characters and the script by Lane Slate (who also wrote a number of other memorable 70's TV movies, most notably THE CAR) quickly brings the town to life. Right from the start I liked this movie and the naturalistic tone of the conversations. Especially the playful banter between Alda and his secretary Louise Lasser. Alda is sleeping with a single mother who runs the local roadside motel, but Lasser knows that he's secretly (even to himself) in love with her so she just plays with him nonstop. It's a lot of fun to watch. Anyway, there's a killer on the loose, but nobody even knows it because he's using a homemade defibrillator to make it look like the elderly victims died of a heart attack. But with the bodies piling up so fast Alan thinks something is going on and he's gonna get to the bottom of it.

Quick pace, funny script, quirky town folk, nice camerawork and a excellent cast (including Ruth Gordon, Lloyd Nolan, Will Geer and Edmond O'Brien!)...I didn't want ISN'T IT SHOCKING? to end! If some TV exec back in 1973 had a brain he would have made a TV show about the adventures Sheriff Alan Alda and his town full of weirdos, but I guess Alan was already busy with "M.A.S.H.". Oh well, if you like small town mysteries then check it out.

I am curious if Woody Allen ever saw IIS?. He was married to Lasser until 1969 and she still appeared in his movies all the way until STARDUST MEMORIES in 1980 and Alda starred in Allen's biggest masterpiece CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS.