(from the official Darren McGavin website)
Excerpts from "The Spanish Moss Murders," written by Al Friedman & David Chase, Production # 41806, from Final Revised draft dated October 21, 1974 — a sampling of scenes that never made it into the finished episode, basically a subplot about an efficiency expert named Sunderland, come to drop the hammer on INS.
INT. INS OFFICE - DAY
As Vincenzo exits his office, carrying a huge bag of garbage and junk. Catches sight of Ron, who’s doing nothing, stares angrily.
Why don’t you get off your Ivy League buckle and help some of the others?
I volunteered but they say I just get in the way. They won’t take any of my suggestions.
Vincenzo irritably looks around for something Updyke can do. Finally, he just sets the garbage bag down.
Then I suggest you empty this garbage.
Ron unhappily rises, picks up the bag, exits with it. Vincenzo starts to re-enter his office, turns, hearing the sound of typing. Kolchak is busily at work on a story and at the same time taking bites of a piece of pound cake, dribbling crumbs all over his desk. Vincenzo crosses to him.)
Will you knock off the work? Aren’t you aware the efficiency expert is coming?
Kolchak gives him a look that expresses the absurdity of the statement. Vincenzo picks up on it, gestures around the office.
It’s just that Mr. Sunderland happens to feel that neatness and cleanliness are important to a well functioning organization. And so do I.
(only glancing up)
Then wipe the mayonnaise off your tie.
Vincenzo looks down, sees the offending blot, takes out his handkerchief and smears the stuff around.
You have a few minutes before you go to the airport. You could do something … straighten a file, clean out a cabinet.
(happens to notice Kolchak’s watch; alarmed)
You have three-thirty? My watch stopped. I’m an hour late!
The efficiency expert comes none too soon.
(looking around in panic; furiously winding watch stem)
His plane lands at four-forty five. Why aren’t you on your way to the airport?
Let him take a cab.
He happens to feel that cabs are inefficient-- a waste of company money. And so do I.
Get another rickshaw boy. I’m working.
(nervously; looking around)
Who? Miss Emily doesn’t drive. Updyke has accidents while he’s watching movies at the drive-in!
Kolchak tries to ignore him, keeps pounding at the typewriter. Vincenzo eyes him anxiously, starts fussing, straightening papers.
Carl, there’ll be delays at the airport because of construction ...
More typing as Vincenzo fusses.
Rush hour traffic’ll start soon …
Who can work in this squirrel cage anyway?
Kolchak grabs his coat and hat, storms across the office. Vincenzo hastily clears the last crumbs, follows worriedly.
Take Mr. Sunderland to his hotel first …
Under this, Updyke has re-entered and is gabbing with Emily Cowles.
It’s Colonel Sunderland, not Mister …
He’s not in the fried food business. He’s just retired Army …
They move past Ron.
I’m hoping he can pull strings and get me transferred out of my reserve unit.
Don’t you dare ask him that!
I was engaged to a West Point man…
He disappeared right about the time my father lost the last Congressional election …
Vincenzo waves this all away, chases after Kolchak.
Kolchak. Button your top button and straighten your tie …
There’s no response from Kolchak who’s already bounding down the stairs. A worried Vincenzo moves back into the office.
INT. INS OFFICE - NIGHT - SHOOTING DOWN THE STAIRS
Kolchak climbs to the first landing, deep in thought, ascends the last flight up to the office. As he reaches the corridor, he stops in his tracks, seeing:
OFFICE - HIS POINT OF VIEW
Vincenzo sweating, making unctuous apologetic gestures to Col. Matthew Sunderland, an erect, powerful, aggressive, but diminutive man, in tweed with leather elbow patches. Vincenzo seems to tower above Sunderland as they stand amid an extensive array of leather luggage.
KOLCHAK slaps his forehead, emits a groan at what he’s done, presses himself against the wall.
HIS POINT OF VIEW - VINCENZO AND SUNDERLAND
I’m - I’m terribly sorry. I sent someone out, and he’s very punctual … conscientious.
Maybe his car broke down. You know, overheated or vapor locked in this heat …
It’s a little early to chalk the Snafu off to equipment failure, isn’t it?
Well, I …
(tries to smile)
You didn’t have to take a cab, though. You should have phoned.
Sunderland moves away, starts surveying the office unsmilingly, hands clasped behind his back.
Your lines were jammed for an hour and twenty-three minutes.
I don’t know what to say. I’m very sorry this happened, Mr. Sunderland …
Colonel Sunderland … please.
Vincenzo nods hopelessly.
Kolchak winces in sympathy for Vincenzo. Hearing footsteps coming his way, he ducks into the men’s room.
INT. MEN’S ROOM - NIGHT
Kolchak enters, quietly closes the door. He doesn’t realize till after he’s part way in that Updyke is behind him, splashing water on his face.
You’re really too much, you know that? Mr. Vincenzo was furious.
Yeah. I’ll straighten it out when things cool down. Have you met Sunderland?
Met him? I had to carry his bags up from the cab, thanks to you.
Seems like he’s all spit and polish. Mostly spit.
(wiping his face)
Getting along with him just takes a little knowledgability of the military personality. I don’t think I’ll have any problem …
INT. INS DARKROOM/MEN’S ROOM - DAY
Kolchak takes a blow-up from the soup, flicks off the safe light, studies the photo. Not completely satisfied.
Suddenly the door bursts open and Vincenzo enters, just stares at Kolchak in silent rage.
Yeah. I’m sorry about the airport, Tony.
If this is what you’re like now, Kolchak, what were you like in kindergarten? Did your teacher slit her wrist or hang herself?
I can explain it all …
Not now, Carl. You and your excuses are the least of my problems. It’s Updyke. Sunderland’s got him working for him …
Ron does love efficiency …
Sunderland stays in my office going through the books. Updyke walks around on cat feet … taking notes … watching to see how long it takes to get a story out, how many minutes people spend on the phone, how long they’re in the bathroom …
(shows him beret and tin cup)
Sure, Tony. But listen. See these? These belonged to a dwarf named Morris Shapiro. I was talking to him, I was right with him when he vanished.
Dwarf? Vanished? Kolchak, haven’t you been listening to anything I’ve been saying?
Out. And start working.
Vincenzo urges a frustrated Kolchak out of the room.
INT. INS OFFICE - DAY
Emily Cowles is working at her desk with a large pasteup crossword puzzle. Updyke, at his desk, looks up as Kolchak and Vincenzo enter, notes down the time on a clipboard. He nods to Kolchak, then gets up, moves toward Vincenzo’s office and taps on the door. Sunderland is on the phone, signals for him to wait.
(sotto, to Vincenzo)
Tony, this morning, very quietly at six A.M. the police released their suspect in the Piaget murder. Know why there was no fanfare?
(leading him to his desk)
Carl. Please. I want you to finish the union graft story you were working on … finish something.
They’re keeping it hush-hush because they haven’t got another suspect. But I do. Look.
He shoves the photo at him. Vincenzo is pained.
(squints; moves it back and forth)
What is this? Salvador Dali’s Bar Mitzvah picture?
ANGLE - UPDYKE
Jotting a note as Emily Cowles stops work for a donut and cup of tea. He then moves toward Vincenzo’s office, enters, talks MOS with Sunderland who looks out.
ANGLE - KOLCHAK AND VINCENZO
(points to photo)
This is a guy named Paul Langois. Morris, this dwarf, told me all about him …
He doesn’t see Sunderland come up behind him.
Dwarf, Mister Kolchak?
Kolchak turns, tries to smile. Updyke has seated himself at his desk, pretending work. He sneaks glances.
The way I hear it, Mister Kolchak, you have an annoying tendency to operate counter to directives.
Kolchak shrugs, casts a glance at Updyke who busies himself.
Explain the foul up in transportation yesterday.
I’m sorry about that. I was --
He suddenly winces with severe pain, supports himself on the desk, favoring his leg.
What’s the problem?
Are you in pain?
It’s just this pin in my leg. It acts up in hot weather. Took a piece of shrapnel at Anzio. Yesterday, on the way to the airport, it got so bad I blacked out. I’m sorry, Colonel.
(can’t help it)
When were you at Anzio?
(snaps at Updyke)
Back off, son.
What was your unit, Kolchak?
Good outfit. But Kolchak –
(tosses paper on desk)
Where have you been the last forty-eight hours? Why haven’t you finished this union graft story?
I was trying to drink away this pain in my leg. Stupid of me. With your permission, sir, I’d like to go over to the VA. I’ll take the story with me; clean it up.
Sunderland thinks a minute. Nods tentatively.
Talk to Doc George Miles. He’s a friend of mine.
Kolchak nods, gets his things, including the photo. He smiles feebly at Vincenzo, and at Updyke as he walks out, favoring his leg.
Sunderland Watches after Kolchak, looks down, picks up the tiny beret.
ANGLE - STAIRS
Kolchak limps down the first flight, then breaks into a run, exits.
ANGLE - UPDYKE
Watches Sunderland go back into Vincenzo’s office. He picks up his phone.
I want long distance. The Military Records Center in St. Louis ...
INT. INS OFFICE - NIGHT
Kolchak starts typing again when he hears a sound, turns. Emily Cowles is entering the office.
Emily? What are you still doing here?
Isn’t it sickening? That Colonel Sunderland kept a group of us here straight through. An hour ago, he said we should break for dinner and he’d treat. We went to Manny’s. We all had to stick to cold cuts. Even the hot roast beef sandwich was verboten, the stingy windbag.
The rest of them are still down at Manny’s?
I couldn’t stomach another minute. It was Ron. I’m surprised at him. Chattering about all his notes and figures. Telling on people. Cuddling up to that big cheese like a little titmouse.
Kolchak smiles, shakes his head. Noises are heard in the corridor and Sunderland and Updyke walk in, smiling, chatting. Vincenzo brings up the rear, in obvious mental pain.
KOLCHAK He winces, spins around, starts typing busily, very efficient.
SUNDERLAND Looks over, studies him … then moves toward him, a beat … then slaps Kolchak’s shoulder.
How’s the leg, Kolchak?
Oh -- better, better. They gave me some diathermy and some pills.
I meant to call Doc Miles over there. Make sure you got A-1 treatment. Never got around to it ...
Oh that’s okay. Really. I’m fine.
Sunderland gives him a slap, moves off, opens a notebook.
Okay‚let’s take a look at the financial sector, get that out of the way. Mr. Updyke‚ may I see your output for the period July 7 to the present?
Updyke peers at him in confusion. Sunderland looks up.
July 7th is the day you came. I’ve been concentrating on helping you with the survey.
You’ve been letting your own work go by the boards?
Well, yes. Wasn’t that what you intended?
Negative. Your own mission should be of primary importance. Anything beyond that, while appreciated, is icing on the cake.
In other words, these last couple of days Updyke, you haven’t even given us the cake. Just the icing.
Updyke doesn’t know what to say. Under the above, Miss Cowles has been flitting around the periphery of the group holding a note, trying to break in. Now:
What is it, Miss Emily?
I’m sorry‚it’s a message for, Ron. The man on the phone said it was urgent and I forgot all about it.
He said that he couldn’t give you the information you wanted on the personnel of the 98th Infantry because the records were burned in a big fire.
KOLCHAK He’s been privately enjoying all the above. Now he covers his mouth with his hand.
Sunderland’s eyes narrow. He draws Updyke aside so Kolchak can’t hear.
You’re something of a troublemaker, aren’t you son? I don’t like to see that in an organization. Is that how you’ve been spending your time?
Updyke is silent, frightened. Sunderland is calm but firm.
Where were you during World War II? While he was out there ducking kraut bullets? Crying in your bib, that’s where you were. I think we’d better set you straight. I think I should have a talk with the commander of that reserve unit of yours.
He takes Updyke into Vincenzo’s office, sits him down.
KOLCHAK, looking innocent as a baby as Vincenzo approaches, regards him with hands in pockets. Finally.
I remember, Carl. Very cute. You were in St. Louis when the records center burned. You filed the story.
Kolchak shrugs, turns with a smug smile, resumes typing. He runs out of paper and his basket is empty. Opening a drawer, he reaches in without looking and suddenly screams with horror and disgust.
ANGLE - DRAWER
Lying on the typewriter paper: soggy, putrid Spanish moss.
(SEVERAL SCENES OMITTED, THEN:)
ANGLE- VINCENZO’S OFFICE
Sunderland sees the commotion, rises, comes to the door and looks out. Updyke following.
He’s existing independent of Paul Langois. Back in the sleep lab‚he heard me talk about the tupelo gum spear‚he wants to kill me first ...
Carl, sit down and explain this ...
I can’t‚I can’t stay here and be killed ...
He gets his things, staring in horror at the moss.
It killed Langois because we were going to wake him up ...
Panicked, Kolchak stumbles toward the door, looking around at everyone in terror.
Where do you find a swamp creature? In Chicago? Where could he live?
Of course they just stare at him. Breathlessly, he exits. A long beat of silence, then:
Head wounds too?
(shakes his head)
Damn shame ...
… and that’s all, folks, for the never-realized Sunderland. Fans of “The Spanish Moss Murders” will readily perceive how the material above was reworked for the finished show. The most interesting thing about this omitted byplay is the sheer nastiness of not only Updyke, but Emily! It also specifies a “tupelo gum spear” (simplified to “bayou gum” in the episode) … which is indeed one prescription for neutralizing Père Mal Fait (literally, “the father of bad doings” or “Father Evildoer; “ fait mal generally meaning “pain” or “hurt.”).
Fascinating material, David. God, what a bunch of fun characters these KOLCHAK regulars were, and so perfectly cast... Interesting to see Miss Emily with more of an edge, although honestly, I always thought she was a tell-it-like-it-is gal who took crap from nobody, in addition to being a sweet little old lady. Cool photo of our MOTW, as well.ReplyDelete
How cool to read these pages! I can see why they dropped the entire business with Sunderland, though. Great to see the specific name for the spear ("tupelo gum"). Love it!ReplyDelete