Arrangement With Terror

FILMED November 1971

There was something different about that opening. Did you catch it? ARRANGEMENT WITH TERROR was the fifteenth episode of THE FBI that I directed. It was only the second one where the criminal charged with the crime was a woman. Talk about a glass ceiling! Now I ask you, where were Gloria Steinem and the other women activists in the movement for equality in the workplace?

I worked with Roger Perry (Jim) twice in 1963 when he was a regular on ARREST AND TRIAL. He played a cop. Interestingly one of those shows was FUNNY MAN WITH A MONKEY, the story of a drug addict. Guest star Mickey Rooney played him brilliantly. In the present ARRANGEMENT, Roger had crossed over to the other side of the law. He was now the guest star doing the needling.

That was the third THE FBI I directed in which Efrem Zimbalist as Lew Erskine went undercover, this time as Lewis Randall, a management analyst. The second time was in ANATOMY OF A PRISON BREAK, when his cover was as a convict in prison. Austin Willis, the white-haired actor playing the head of the brokerage house, was also in that film. He was the warden of the prison.

On ARREST AND TRIAL Roger played the sidekick to Ben Gazzara. Actors playing sidekicks are not given a lot to do, and I’m not sure how large his salary was (television was in its infancy, and the series was produced by Universal) but there were thirty episodes, so at least the employment was steady. What I do remember was being very impressed by Roger’s charming ease when doing what little he was given to do. Trust me – that’s harder to do than playing a heavy dramatic scene

Do you realize that in the 1930’s, unlike today, half of the most revered movie stars were women? To name a few: Greta Garbo*Norma Shearer*Joan Crawford*Barbara Stanwyck*Bette Davis*Gloria Swanson*Ruth Chatterton*Loretta Young*Kay Francis*Katharine Hepburn*Ginger Rogers*Carole Lombard*Myrna Loy*Jean Harlow*Jeanette MacDonald*Irene Dunne*Marlene Dietrich*Claudette Colbert*Janet Gaynor*Mae West*Jean Arthur*Miriam Hopkins*Ann Harding*Alice Faye*Sylvia Sidney*Marie Dressler*Luise Rainer*the Bennett sisters – Constance and Joan*and possibly at the time the biggest female star of them all – Shirley Temple. Many of those stars usually had only their name above the title. If they were saddled with a co-star, their name came first.

I sincerely believe if Diana Hyland had been born thirty years earlier, her name would be on that list.

I’ve raved about art director Richard Haman before, but humor me – let me do it again. There was a sequence in ARRANGEMENT IN TERROR set on a rooftop terrace overlooking the city.

cafeteria

Richard came to me and said that rather than create a rooftop set with the required skyscraper backing, he wanted to do an interior set backed by a window looking out at a large office with personnel moving about, that activity to be provided by a film process screen. He felt the office activity in the background would be more interesting than a static skyscraper backing.

A sequence was set at a handsome dwelling overlooking a lake. Adjacent to the city of Burbank was Toluca Lake, a 1.22 square mile affluent neighborhood with a natural lake fed by the Los Angeles River. Residents of Toluca Lake included Bob Hope, William Holden, Bing Crosby, Julie Andrews and Doris Day. Since it was so close to the Warner Brothers studio, arrangements were made to schedule our sequence at one of the residences on the lake on our first day of filming.

When I was preparing FUNNY MAN WITH A MONKEY on ARREST AND TRIAL in 1963, someone on the production staff first suggested and then made arrangements for me to visit Synanon, a drug rehabilitation program based in Santa Monica. Since the drug addict Mickey Rooney was to play in the film was not involved in any rehabilitation program, I wasn’t sure why I was heading out to the beach town, but I went. It turned out to be a remarkable journey, and I spent a lot of my preparation week out there. I learned that Synanon was a self help-no doctors program. The people in charge were recovering drug addicts. There were no non-addicted people involved. All of the addicts in the program entered of their own free will; all of the addicts who resided in the establishment were assigned duties: cooking, cleaning, shopping, and they were allowed to remain only so long as they abided by the rules of the organization

I attended some evening sessions when members of the group were chastised for infractions that had occurred. The rebukes were strong, sometimes I felt even cruel. But I remember that it was all summed up as being a program of “tough love.” I felt the overpowering feeling of belonging, of sanctuary that desperate addicts must have felt as they sought out the group. I looked at those struggling individuals and saw ”real people”, not addicts. I realized that in the eyes of the law, as they reached out to drugs to ease the pain in their lives, they were committing a crime, but in the resulting situation, I wondered if maybe they were less a criminal and more a patient with a disease.

As usual with a QM Production, ARRANGEMENT WITH TERROR had a seven-day filming schedule, with three of those days on location away from the studio. What was not usual was that on days two and three, we returned to the studio to film a final sequence on a soundstage.

Our first sequence on our first day of filming was in a movie theatre. We went to one on West Magnolia Street in Burbank. From there we went to an underground garage (the scene between Jim and Eddie) in nearby North Hollywood and finished the day at the lake house in Toluca Lake.

When filming in the theatre, we did not have the Bogart film. I provided a shot of the theatre’s blank screen. The Bogart footage was matted in during postproduction.

The exterior of the Derrane house was filmed on the second day in one of my favorite Los Angeles locations – Hancock Park. We filmed other sequences that day on nearby Wilshire Boulevard and then returned to Warner Brothers studio in Burbank for one of those end-of-the-day sequences on a soundstage. The third day we went to East Los Angeles for our abandoned plant.

I worked with Diana Hyland one more time the following year when she appeared in an episode of BANYON, a QM series that didn’t make it. Diana is another of that group of supremely talented people who had fine careers, but didn’t reach the peaks they might have. Her gender had something to do with it, but then there’s the matter of just plain luck. She started acting early, and at the age of 23 she appeared on Broadway as Ed Begley’s daughter, Heavenly Finley, in Tennessee Williams’ production of SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH starring Paul Newman and Geraldine Page. It was a star-making role, but three years later when MGM filmed it, Shirley Knight played Heavenly and received an Academy Award nomination. Diana spent the 60’s and 70’s impressively performing on all of the major series emanating from the small screens of television. In 1976 she played John Travolta’s mother in the TV-movie, THE BOY IN THE PLASTIC BUBBLE and then won the regular role of Dick Van Patten’s wife and the mother of eight in the Lorimar-produced series, EIGHT IS ENOUGH. I at the time was directing the other Lorimar series, THE WALTONS, and was assigned a stint on EIGHT. Only when I reported to prepare did I find out from producer Robert Jacks that Diana would not be appearing in my production. She was ill with cancer, and her character was being continued by weekly phone calls from mother who was away. The studio sent a sound crew to Diana’s home each week to record her. I got to speak with Diana on the telephone, but did not realize how serious her condition was. She died before I began filming. Diana received a posthumous Emmy for her performance in THE BOY IN THE PLASTIC BUBBLE. She was 41 when she died.

The journey continues

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8 Responses to Arrangement With Terror

  1. GMJ says:

    About a minute into Act I, the scene where Erskine, Ward and Colby are discussing the case with another FBI agent, it sounded like that actor’s voice was dubbed. Looking at the end credits, I believe the actor’s name is Jeff Burton, who played one of the astronauts in the 1968 film “Planet of the Apes”. Any thoughts on why some voices need to be re-recorded and when is it usually determined that an additional dubbing session is needed?

    On another matter, it seems like later “F.B.I.” episodes had fewer deaths than in earlier seasons. Was it a conscious effort by network executives, the producers or the FBI consultants to keep the body count down?

    • Ralph says:

      I don’t think in this case that the actor’s voice was rerecorded. I think that was his hesitant performance. I don’t have a definitive answer about the lessening of violence in the later years of the series. I don’t think I was aware of it at the time, but I do remember in the early seventies there was public and political reaction to the violence on television. I always felt that a bonus reaction to that was the scheduling and success of THE WALTONS.

  2. Jim says:

    Great article Mr Senensky, real “who’s who” of superb 60s and 70s television actors. Roger Perry I think was in almost every series during that era and always gave a great performance. And I certainly agree that Diana Hyland had a magical quality on screen. I assume Quinn Martin thought so also as I believe she had roles on most of his shows. I can clearly remember when news of her passing was announced – a tragic loss much too early……..

  3. Phil says:

    Roger Perry was in one of my favorite first-season episodes of ‘Star Trek’. He also had a bit part in one of your ‘Nanny and the Professor’ assignments, “Back to Nature”. (Yes, that was a hint!)

    Thanks to the Internet, one can get acquainted with Diana Hyland’s more obscure projects…just watched her throw a couple of curveballs in an episode of ‘Stoney Burke’. I agree, she would have been a big star in the ’30s, although I doubt that era would have stretched her creatively, compared to her actual career.

    • Ralph says:

      Reply to the hint: I don’t have any copies of my NANNY’s and haven’t been able to download from the internet. HINT!

      • Phil says:

        You can watch most of them for free on Hulu.com, but it’s beyond my capabilities on how to download them (don’t know if it’s possible). The series has never been released on DVD. In March, someone posted on Youtube the scene where the Prof. gives his lucky putter an indoor test swing.

  4. Phil says:

    I was flipping channels last night and spotted Lindsay Workman in an episode of ‘I Dream of Jeannie’. The next show on that channel was ‘Bewitched’ and he was in that, too! On top of that, I didn’t realize he was in Ralph’s “The Marathon” from ‘The Waltons’ until I looked him up. For those who don’t know him, he was the guard at 1:13 of the 3rd video above. His comments about future computerization of stock certificates were remarkably prescient…until he said punchcard – ugh!

    ***

    The news broke earlier this month about the passing of Martha Hyer, who worked at least twice with Ralph (see Youtube). Based upon her IMDB bio, she’d be one of the 8 million stories of Hollywood.

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