The Marcus-Nelson Murders
Kojak - The Marcus-Nelson Murders
Matthew Rapf, Abby Mann (executive) for Universal/CBS
directed by Joseph Sargent
starring Telly Savalas, Gene Woodbury, Marjoe Gortner, José Ferrer, Ned Beatty, Allen Garfield, Lorraine Gary, Roger Robinson, Harriet Karr, William Watson, Val Bisoglio, Antonia Rey, Chita Rivera, Bruce Kirby, Robert Walden, Robert Fields, Carolyn Nelson, Lloyd Gough, Lynn Hamilton, Lawrence Pressman, John Sylvester White, Paul Jenkins, Helen Page Camp, Ellen Moss, George Savalas, Alan Manson, Fred Holliday, Henry Brown jr, Joshua Shelley, Patricia O'Connell, Alex Colon, Ben Hammer, Tol Avery, Bill Zuckert, Elizabeth Berger, Lora Kaye, Steve Gravers
screenplay by Abby Mann, suggested by the book by Selvyn Raab, music by Billy Goldenberg
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Two girls are slaughtered in Manhattan, and since one of them was a
celebrity-daughter, half of New York City's police force are soon on the
job - much to the dismay of Lt Kojak (Telly Savalas), the man initially
assigned to the case. Soon enough, a culprit is found, Afro-American Lewis
Humes (Gene Woodbury), who was arrested for a rape he didn't commit, and
the photograph of one of the girls was found on him. He even confesses to
the crime, and thus practically grants the cops involved in his capture
and interrogation (Ned Beatty, William Watson, Val Bisoglio) promotions.
Lewis Humes though is nothing but an unemployed bum who might be a bit
slow, and he finds out what he's accused of (and has confessed to) only at
the court hearing.
Kojak never believed in the boy's guilt, and after
learning from Humes that the confession was tortured out of him, he
collects evidence proving the boy's innocence, starting with the
photograph that got him in the hot seat in the first place - and that is
soon to be proven to show someone else and not the murdered girl at all.
But while Kojak is still out there trying to shake every last detail that
led to the arrest of the boy in the murder case, Hume is tried and
convicted in the rape case, a crime Kojak believes he is also innocent of,
but since it happened outside of his jurisdiction, in Brooklyn, there is
only so much he can do. Thank god then for ace lawyer Jake Weinhaus (José
Ferrer), who has the verdict annihilated for misconduct of justice,a nd
now goes after the jury, the arresting officers and even the DA (Allen
Garfield) working on the case.
Meanwhile, a drug pusher (Roger Robinson)
who has shot a latino in a fight, trades in his immunity for the identity
of the real killer in the case of the two dead girls, and since "two
white girls are obviously worth more than one latino", as Kojak
sarcastically remarks, a deal is struck, and the pusher helps Kojak make
one Teddy Hopper (Marjoe Gortner), drug addict and acquaintance of Kojak
himself, confess to the murders (he has really committed by the way).
couldn't be happier to be relieved of the murder charges, and he even
invites Kojak to a party to his mom's place, but by trying to get the kid
a fair chance, Kojak has made a lot of enemies over there in Brooklyn, and
they try to pay him back via Humes, having him convicted to five years in
prison for the rape he didn't commit ...
the fact that it was made for television, this is a very ambitious movie,
taking crooked politics and racism within the police force by the horns
while telling an engaging story about a guy whom fate has dealt a bad hand
and a policeman disgusted by his own kind. But while the movie is
ambitious, it's by no means perfect: Too often, it just falls back on the
formula of your typical police procedural and loses itself in unimportant
details while losing sight of the main narrative, and tries to tell a few
too many storylines all at once to remain wholly focused. However, every
time Telly Savalas is on screen (which is all too rarely as this wasn't
primarily about his character), he dominates the film, and it's no
surprise his character has spun off into the TV-series Kojak
within the year.
Still, for a made-for-television film, this is pretty
good, and almost a must-see for the many outside shots of Manhattan and