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couldron
SS novice field agent

1444 Posts

Posted - 07/30/2003 :  20:33:53  Show Profile
The Night of a Thousand Eyes
When I think about this episode, I have negative thoughts but after viewing it tonight, I do not know why. I loathe the villain by the name of Coffin (Jeff Corey). He is cruel selfish and vain. His only redeeming quality is his love for Oriana (Linda Ho) His plan to take over the “River” is not a probable situation (imho). The title is so appropriate. Coffin indeed has a thousand eyes to keep him informed but it is also ironic because the villain is blind. The first beautiful woman is Crystal (Janine Gray) who was charming in an improbable situation. Would they really keep open with only one customer? Her death surprised me. Being killed through the wall was a twist that caught me off guard. I wondered why the bullet did not go through her and hit Jim. Did anyone else notice her taking a rather deep breath after she was dead? James and Artie’s meeting of bad girl Jennifer Wingate (Diane McBain) is one of my favorite scenes. It may be asked why would Jim get side tracked when he is on a case. We have seen in previous episodes that his job comes first. Considering his wariness at the dinner, he must have suspected her from the first. Diane McBain has always been a favorite of mine but I would gladly have choked her after hearing all her darlings. Other than the “darlings” I enjoyed the cat and mouse game of the dinner table. Artie’s part almost seems an afterthought. His scenes do not advance the plot. It probably was one of the worst disguises. He does do something in this episode that I am not sure he ever does again, he kicks in a door. The bathroom scene is classic and shows the direction Artie would develop. When Artie is told that they have killed Jim, the look on his face is touching. Touching also is the performance of Oriana. Such love and devotion she shows to Coffin. Didn't you just know that Coffin would be electrocuted? Well that's what he gets for putting Jim in that cage!

Elaine
SS 1st assignment - desk job

356 Posts

Posted - 07/31/2003 :  17:33:04  Show Profile
As we recall, one of Fred Freiberger's "commandments" was have a gorgeous woman. I realize this is a matter of personal taste, but some WWW guests are more beautiful and some less. Diane McBain definately falls into the more beautiful category, with a sexy voice to boot. However, she wasn't much of a RC fan. Apparently, she played opposite him previously in Hawaiian Eye because she is quoted as saying, "Robert Conrad was short. He also wore a huge ego so that no one would ever accuse him of being short. I had to stand in a hole, which the crew dug for me every time I had to be next to Conrad during our love scenes." By the time of TNOT Thousand Eyes someone must have learned their lesson since she is sitting down in every scene with Conrad (except for the one long shot of them entering Coffin's cave).

Yvonne Craig (Ecstasy LaJoie in TNOT Grand Emir), another beauty, who met him around the time of Palm Springs Weekend recalls "...he stuck out his hand and said, 'Hi, I'm Bobby Conrad, the short James Dean.' ...I wouldn't even have paid attention [otherwise] but anyway he had a great sense of humor about it."

It should be noted that Conrad must have overcome this hang-up since the current Mrs. Conrad appears taller than RC.

I'm always surprised at the things that jump out at me. In the scene where Artie is demanding to know where Jim and Jennifer are, he refers to them as "the man" and "the girl". So many years of having gotten used to hearing the PC "woman"... Ah, the 60's. I'll have more on this when we get to TNOT Red-Eyed Madman.

I'm terrible when it comes to giving those smiley ratings, so you'll forgive me if I refrain. I enjoyed this one (and the look on my friend's face when she saw the shirtless Jim in the cage was priceless).

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n/a
deleted

101 Posts

Posted - 07/31/2003 :  17:45:10  Show Profile
This was never one of my favorite eps, and I really can't say why. Some interesting points you guys have brought up, however. One of the first rules of writing credible villians is that they have at least one redeeming quality, lest they become cardboard cutouts and your audience hates them! Coffin's is as couldron pointed out, his love for Oriana - it's the exact same reason Tony Soprano is acceptable as a lead and the reason people don't hate him for killing people - he loves his family. And Elaine, interesting point regarding "girl" vs. "woman" - things have changed a lot in the last 35 years or so....




me




"Things Artemus, are not always what they appear to be."
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AdorableBlue
SS novice field agent

948 Posts

Posted - 07/31/2003 :  17:46:58  Show Profile  Visit AdorableBlue's Homepage
quote:
Apparently, she played opposite him previously in Hawaiian Eye because she is quoted as saying, "Robert Conrad was short. He also wore a huge ego so that no one would ever accuse him of being short. I had to stand in a hole, which the crew dug for me every time I had to be next to Conrad during our love scenes." By the time of TNOT Thousand Eyes someone must have learned their lesson since she is sitting down in every scene with Conrad (except for the one long shot of them entering Coffin's cave).
I did read about that, too and I thought she was referring to TNOT Thousand Eyes and I was like, really scrutinizing DM/RC scenes to figure out which one she had to be in a hole! Thanks for clarifying, Elaine.

quote:
I enjoyed this one (and the look on my friend's face when she saw the shirtless Jim in the cage was priceless).
Was your friend "converted"?

AdorableBlue
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AdorableBlue
SS novice field agent

948 Posts

Posted - 07/31/2003 :  17:52:44  Show Profile  Visit AdorableBlue's Homepage
One of the eps I like! Though I find the villain not too interesting a character. Like Mary, ooooh, I love those scenes involving West and Jennifer , the bathroom scene where Jim and Artie reached for that soap (so cute, the two of 'em!), also the scene when Artie met that dead man's daughter, the kissy, kissy tag and that amazing feat of getting one's hands in front whilst in a dangling cage! Its hard enough being stationary.

AdorableBlue
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couldron
SS novice field agent

1444 Posts

Posted - 07/31/2003 :  18:37:02  Show Profile
quote:
the bathroom scene where Jim and Artie reached for that soap (so cute, the two of 'em!),

Did anyone else note who got the soap.
I forgot to mention one thing about this episode that was of interest to me. It has a storm. Very few episodes show any weather. Inferno has a nice rain scene and there are a few sand storms. This episode it never stops raining. I think there is only one other episode that has lightning.
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ccb
SS Quizmaster Emeritus

3908 Posts

Posted - 07/31/2003 :  20:48:50  Show Profile
As always, Our Gang has chipped in interesting observations. I'll ante up.

I watched "Sudden Death" and "A Thousand Eyes" back-to-back the other night; each seemed to turn the other inside out. The one is almost all bright, sunny, with lots of hot exterior shots; the other, endless night; rainy; mostly clammy, claustrophobic interiors. Of all "The Nights" in the series, none is more nocturnal, or wetter, than this one. Two reasons for that, I think. First, neither night nor rain shoots as well in color as in b & w. Second, as the series wore on, Bruce Lansbury ran a trimmer budget—and it takes money to create downpours (rainbirds that soak the set, drainage to carry away its water). It's interesting that they brought back Richard Sarafian to direct this one, because one the memoriable things about the pilot—his only other episode—was all those rainwashed streets and railroad station.

Another thing this episode has is, in the lingo of the 60s, is "girls." Nowadays guys would say "babes." (See how much we've evolved over forty years?) Anyway: there's Miss Whiney on the doomed Delta Belle, Crystal, Glory, Orianna, and Jennifer. Lots of beautiful eye-candy for the gentlemen; almost a full half-hour of shirtlessness for the ladies. What more could one ask?

The plot: Suitably outlandish, but seriously executed. The teaser for this episode, I think, is one of the series' most genuinely terrifying. The wrecked helm; the crew mown down by a gattling gun: These pirates mean business. We saw lots of episodes were the heavies threatened mass murder. In this one, we see it.

The villain: I'm not sure that I ever really believe that Jeff Corey is blind, but any heavy that would strangle one of his henchmen dead in center stage causes me to sit up and pay attention. (More on Corey in a moment.)

The leads: By now, things are looking up. Conrad is a wee looser in the role; he's carrying himself more stylishly. Martin knows that these episodes belong to Conrad, yet steals all the scenes he's in. Notice how, in these minimally Artemus episodes, how roguish RM played the character. His Rhett Butler on the foggy wharf is only half-acting; he's ready to pay handsomely for Miss Povey's services. Later, in the hotel bathroom, he turns on a dime and does as good a Professor Harold Hill as Robert Preston ever did. For me, the latter scene is where the character of Artemus really clicked for the first time. It's a joy to watch.

Nice touches: Have another look at the fight-scene at the Pot of Gold casino. It's a textbook example of a first-season fight, and how it differs from the other seasons'. Later, Conrad and his stunt crew would carefully choreograph all their moves, and the fights were often shot in single, continuous takes. In Act I of "Thousand Eyes," much of the choreography is done by the film editor in quick, violent cuts: A champagne goblet shatters on a marble floor. West whips his head around; Crystal is terrified. Two pirates close in. A different, higher shot of West; now Crystal has vanished. And so it goes. Listen to this fight scene. Every season had its favorite, most frequently used fight-music. This is the first season's classic fight music, composed by Richard Markowitz.

Dinner at Jennifer's: Sarafian does a nice reverse on a classic sequence in Orson Welles's Citizen Kane. There, Kane's estrangement over time with his wife is shown through a sequence of dissolves at mealtime, with Mr. and Mrs. Kane sitting farther away from each other. Here, Miss Wingate closes in on Mr. West. Another nice touch: right after Jennifer fires her derringer into West, there's a hard cut to Arnold the butler, releasing the carrier pigeon. (The very first of the series' pigeons!) The look on his face is properly calm and bemused. You can tell he's done this hundreds of times, after Jennifer has dispatched another guest.

The death of Crystal: Realistically speaking, it's nonsense. How could a bullet travel through a hotel wall into the victim's back? Why wouldn't the assassin simply step into the room and kill both her and West? Never mind: the scene is beautifully staged and scored, right down to the eerie flashes of lightning across that portrait of the minstrel with a smoking bullet hole. Wow.

This episode has high concept, small plot, and style enough for any three third-season episodes put together. "Call me Crystal." Call it

P.S. on Jeff Corey: Applaud Freiberger's and Garrison's courage in hiring and billing him as "Special Guest Star." This was only his fourth television appearance—and his most visible role—after eleven years of being unable to get an acting part. Why? From 1952-63 he was a victim of what Lillian Hellman called "Scoundrel Time": the bad old days of McCarthy and the Hollywood blacklist. To feed himself and family, Corey founded a little acting school, in which he taught youngsters like Leonard Nimoy, among others.
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n/a
deleted

72 Posts

Posted - 08/01/2003 :  06:33:28  Show Profile
This is more of a personal and general observation - I've always been partial to the first season of Wild, Wild, West, made in glorious black & white! I have always had a preference for the earlier seasons of shows in the mid to late 60's that made the transition from b&w to color. Whether it was a sci-fi show like Lost in Space or Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (where I loved the 1st seasons done in b&w and grew cold on both once they went to color); or comedies like The Andy Griffith Show; or dramas like The Fugitive, I've always preferred the b&w seasons of these shows. And WWW is no exception. I too would give Thousand Eyes a 4 out of 5.

On a similar note, I'm thrilled that Columbia House is committed to the first season on dvd. I've just been in WWW heaven for the last couple of months getting these wonderful, first seasons, shows!!

Gary
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ccb
SS Quizmaster Emeritus

3908 Posts

Posted - 08/01/2003 :  14:19:17  Show Profile
Gary: This is more of a personal and general observation - I've always been partial to the first season of Wild, Wild, West, made in glorious black & white! I have always had a preference for the earlier seasons of shows in the mid to late 60's that made the transition from b&w to color.

I agree. It is largely matter of personal taste, to be sure, but oddly the color episodes of these old series look to me less realistic than their colorized counterparts. And motion-picture cinematographers of the 30s and 40s would tell you that any camera operator could photograph in color: just flood the sets with light. It took a real artist to film in black and white. West's first-season cinematographer, Ted Voigtlander, was such an artist.
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ccb
SS Quizmaster Emeritus

3908 Posts

Posted - 08/01/2003 :  14:29:37  Show Profile
. . . but oddly the color episodes of these old series look to me less realistic than their colorized counterparts.

Sorry: I meant to say that I find the color episodes less realistic than their black-and-white counterparts.

Couldron asks:

It may be asked why would Jim get side tracked when he is on a case. We have seen in previous episodes that his job comes first.

This may have been a throwback to the Bond series in the early 60s, which West was imitating. Even with 48 hours to disarm rogues with a nuclear bomb, Sean Connery always made time for extracurricular pursuits.

Didn't you just know that Coffin would be electrocuted?

Yep, in adherence to Chekov's rule: If there's a gun mounted over the mantlepiece, the audience knows that it will go off in the final act.

Did anyone else notice her taking a rather deep breath after she was dead?

Nope, but that reminds me of character actor Edmund Gwynn's reported words on his deathbed: "Dying is easy. Comedy is hard."
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n/a
deleted

101 Posts

Posted - 08/01/2003 :  19:57:26  Show Profile
quote:
Originally posted by ccb

[i]

Sorry: I meant to say that I find the color episodes less realistic than their black-and-white counterparts.





One word for ya: technicolor. :)





"Things Artemus, are not always what they appear to be."
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Elaine
SS 1st assignment - desk job

356 Posts

Posted - 08/01/2003 :  22:33:12  Show Profile
quote:
Was your friend "converted"?


Blue, converted or not - we left our husbands discussing politics and lawnmowers (don't ask) and spent a very enjoyable evening with Jim and Artie.

We may be old enough to have seen the series in its original run, but we're not dead!
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n/a
deleted

72 Posts

Posted - 08/02/2003 :  05:29:41  Show Profile
ccb, I couldn't agree more with your thoughts on b&w vs. color! I can't pin it down as to exactly why, but those adventure shows did seem more realistic in b&w as opposed to color.

Gary
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beerbad
SS novice field agent

759 Posts

Posted - 08/02/2003 :  07:02:41  Show Profile
I agree with Gary and ccb on the b/w vs. color thread. Color can be used effectively on our old favorites, though. How about the color scene in the Twilight Zone's "Miniature"? And, technicolor does make the Wizard of Oz the classic it is. I've been watching color Lone Rangers lately and they are beautiful. Any one know why they filmed these in color when hardly any one had color sets?

But, generally the first season b/w episodes do seem more realistic.

Another reason I think the first seasons of these shows stand out is that it is all new to us at that point and the best plots are usually put up first.
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ccb
SS Quizmaster Emeritus

3908 Posts

Posted - 08/02/2003 :  10:02:18  Show Profile
Responding to beerbad:

. . . Color can be used effectively on our old favorites, though. How about the color scene in the Twilight Zone's "Miniature"? And, technicolor does make the Wizard of Oz the classic it is. . . . But, generally the first season b/w episodes do seem more realistic.

Funny you should mention Twilight Zone's classic episode, "Miniature," in this connection. For many years, there was a court order forbidding its broadcast in syndication packages. When, in the 1980s, that order was finally lifted, the new distributors (Viacom, which also owned rights of rebroadcast to The Wild Wild West) heralded the return of thatTZ episode by colorizing the scenes in the doll-house, seen only by the character Robert Duvall played. In other words, no episode's of Rod Serling's original Twilight Zone were ever filmed in color; color was only later added to that one.

The use of Technicolor in classics such as The Wizard of Oz only proves the point. The framing narrative—before and after the twister, when Dorothy is in Kansas—is shot in sepia-tinted monochrome. It's when she's dreaming—the heart of the movie—that everything is awash in Technicolor. And that's just right, because the journey to Oz is pure fantasy.

I've been watching color Lone Rangers lately and they are beautiful. Any one know why they filmed these in color when hardly any one had color sets?

In a lovingly well-researched book, Superman: From Serial to Cereal (now very hard to fine, but worth looking), Gary Grossman reports that the color episodes of The Cisco Kid, The Lone Ranger, and Adventures of Superman were the producers' and sponsors' investment in the future. They knew that, although very few homes owned color televisions in the early 50s—then, very people owned television sets, period—color was the wave of the future and would someday come into its own. So they shot some of their episodes in color, made and distributed only monochrome prints, and locked away their color negatives until the time was right. That time was about ten years later.

Another reason I think the first seasons of these shows stand out is that it is all new to us at that point and the best plots are usually put up first.

No doubt about it. Let's also remember that, when the series was young, the producers' and writers' ideas were fresh and inevitably, for the most part, better.
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JimPhelps
SS 1st assignment - desk job

USA
417 Posts

Posted - 08/04/2003 :  09:41:01  Show Profile
After three innovative and exciting episodes this one seems standard in comparison. Piracy is the name of the game and it’s the means by which Ansel Coffin plans to control the Mississippi River. It’s another grand scheme but for some reason doesn’t feel as “big” or important as the past few stories although Coffin has probably killed more innocent people than all the past villains combined, he is clearly a mass murderer. For the fourth time in a row we have an adversary with a seemingly vast network of spies and agents, the “Thousand Eyes” of the title is of course meant to be somewhat ironic (referring to Coffin’s blindness) but it also describes Coffin’s organization.

This is also one of the most atmospheric of all Wests, the black and white cinematography compliments the endless thunderstorm and night, and I like the overall feeling of gloom. I have said it in the past but because of photography like this sometimes I really wish the entire series had been shot in black and white. This may also be the first episode that actually takes place entirely at night so it is literally “The Night of…”

The women are also interesting in this episode three distinct characters stand out. The character of Crystal and her murder elicits sympathy from the audience, the “sacrificial lamb”, it’s another move straight out of the Bond playbook. Crystal is a “good” girl nominally involved with Coffin but she is more scared than anything else, her killing illustrates Coffin’s ruthless nature and puts a human face on all his victims. The actual murder itself is implausible, any bullet capable of traveling through a wall then Crystal would have gone right on through to Jim, but who cares, the bit is well done and reinforces this idea of “eyes” everywhere.

Jennifer Wingate is the femme fatale of the piece. She is a professional who in Coffin’s words “has never failed to kill.” As ccb pointed out, the dinner scene is a clever reversal of the technique used in Citizen Kane to illustrate the gulf between husband and wife, each time we return to dinner Jennifer is encroaching on Jim. Jim is very lucky that he’s such a charming fellow, it seems that’s all it takes to make Jennifer turn over a new leaf although Jim plays it careful wearing a bulletproof vest, which comes in handy. Miss Wingate should count herself among the lucky ones, the guys let her off pretty easy in the tag, as the series progresses they would not be so lenient with the opposite sex.

Then there’s Oriana, she is the only reason Coffin has any humanity whatsoever. His love for her is touching, although Coffin is deranged and has confused his love with a passion for vengeance. Her death at Coffin’s own hands is a classic tragedy set up. Jeff Corey plays this very well and Coffin comes across as more of a three-dimensional character than he normally would be. What really surprises me about the Oriana/Coffin relationship is that it’s interracial, in 1965! Under Frieberger’s watch over at Star Trek (around 1968-69) Standards & Practices practically had a heart attack over an interracial kiss in an episode featuring Michael Dunn, however a full three years earlier this marriage seems to have completely slipped under the radar of the censors. Whether by design or not West has proved itself to be a relatively progressive television show for its time.

Artie doesn’t have much to do here but the treatment of his character is getting better. He is featured in every act; his “disguise” is really more of a look used to blend in with other riverboat gambler types. Artie’s shining moment (and a small turning point for the character) occurs in Act 3 when he makes short work of a pair of Coffin’s brutal pirates. The entire scene is delightful, Artie’s enthusiastic monologue about bathing and soap, the cocky pirates glancing at each other thinking they have an easy mark. Artie turns on a dime and handles both men in his own roguish way. It’s a lot of fun and a peek of what is to come in the future.

The commercial break art is good. Once again we have a storyboard that benefits from the fact that the episode is in black and white. Whoever is responsible for the content of the Columbia House DVD’s is doing a great job. When I watched this episode on commercial television the end of Act 2 was always very dark. The scene in the cave where the pirates get the drop on Jim looked as if they were shooting through a dark filter, the scene then dissolved into the upper-right hand cell (the boot) but the entire storyboard was also very dark and it was almost impossible to see what was going on in that cell. That’s no longer a problem on the DVD’s, they have cleared up that entire scene so it is not so dark and you can actually make out the “daguerreotype” photo during the second act break.

Overall, standard fare that’s good when you’re in the mood for a darker West. I give it 2 prosthetic noses out of four.

(Regarding some of the comments I’ve read on black and white versus color. As I said in this review and before I often wish West had been filmed entirely in black and white because the commercial break art is so well detailed. B&W also seems to give the episodes more of a timeless quality. However, I must admit I enjoy the look of the color episodes especially in the second season with many rich greens, reds, and blues. The rich colors feed my fantasy impression of the Victorian times, colorful, with emerging technology just beneath the surface, similar to the film My Fair Lady)




Mr. Phelps
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n/a
deleted

243 Posts

Posted - 08/04/2003 :  18:37:54  Show Profile
quote:
I often wish West had been filmed entirely in black and white because the commercial break art is so well detailed. B&W also seems to give the episodes more of a timeless quality. However, I must admit I enjoy the look of the color episodes especially in the second season with many rich greens, reds, and blues. The rich colors feed my fantasy impression of the Victorian times, colorful, with emerging technology just beneath the surface,


That means that our favorite series was fantastic in B&W, and just as great in Technicolor; to me that's just dandy. It's hard to pick one!
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JimPhelps
SS 1st assignment - desk job

USA
417 Posts

Posted - 08/05/2003 :  05:59:34  Show Profile
quote:
[i]Originally posted by M. Spring[/i

That means that our favorite series was fantastic in B&W, and just as great in Technicolor; to me that's just dandy. It's hard to pick one![/quote]

True. Unlike “U.N.C.L.E.” or “The Avengers” West did not go down hill when it switched to color. As much as I love the b&w episodes, and they look absolutely fantastic on DVD, I think my favorite season overall is number two. I know it’ll be a while before we get to the second season but it’s going to be a lot of fun revisiting because there are so many gems.

Mr. Phelps
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n/a
deleted

58 Posts

Posted - 10/05/2003 :  09:24:30  Show Profile
Sorry I didn't read this post very well. But I do have to make a comment about the character Jennifer Windgate, she is the most beautifulest girl in this episode in my own opinion.

Juliet
Fan of Vic Morrow and COMBAT!
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