When Bad People Happen to Good Movies

on July 27, 2009 by Steve Simels

So the other day my old friend and colleague Glenn Kenny, doing business over at his estimable Some Came Running blog, was having a little fun with the recent Fox Blu-ray of the 1974 all-star disaster kitsch-fest The Towering Inferno when, inevitably, the name of one of said stars -- a guy who killed his wife, if not perhaps in the legal sense -- came up.

And of course I immediately thought of a really terrific 1977 made-for-TV movie -- the ironically titled A Killing Affair, starring the wonderful Elizabeth Montgomery and that guy who killed his wife. Which will probably never be on home video, for obvious reasons, which I guess is a shame nonetheless.

The short version: Liz and that guy who killed his wife are LA cops partnered on an investigation of a particularly vicious series of murders. As the investigate, they begin to be attracted to each other, but there's a problem -- the character played by the guy who killed his wife is a) younger, b) African-American, and c) married. The inter-racial stuff made the film fairly controversial in '77, especially for television, but when I watched it at the time I thought the chemistry between the leads was palpable and kind of heart-breaking.

As I said, A Killing Affair is not on home video, nor is it likely to be, but a couple of chunks of it have turned up on YouTube, so you you be the judge. Here's the opening ten minutes.

And here, also with Spanish subtitles, is part 2.

I should add at this point that time plays similar (if less morally troubling) tricks even on masterworks. Next time you watch Alfred Hitchcock's indisputably classic Psycho, pay special attention to the next to the last scene -- specifically, to the cop who closes the door on Anthony Perkins' padded cell.


psycho end.jpg
Yup -- as you can see (one hopes) from that unfortunately blurry YouTube screen capture, that's The Mary Tyler Moore Show's Ted Baxter himself, the immortal Ted Knight, as the cop. The mind boggles at the "Hi guys!" possibilities, no?


Oh, and if you're interested -- you can check out more stills from A Killing Affair, and order a possibly legal video of it, over here.

You're welcome.


Tags: The Towering Inferno, A Killing Affair, Elizabeth Montgomery, Alfred Hitchcock, Psycho, Anthony Perkins, Ted Knight

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