KING OF DIAMONDS was a one season private detective/crime drama with Broderick Crawford as a rough and tumble hard case. Crawford is also the head of security for a large diamond company. He goes anywhere in the world to combat jewel thieves and smugglers. He works with Ray Hamilton who does most of the leg work. The series ran for 38 episodes during 1961-62. This was Crawford's first big gig after his 1955-59 run on HIGHWAY PATROL.
In this episode, the first of series, we have it all, robbery, murder, double dealing and a gorgeous femme-fatale. This one starts with Crawford at the New York airport waiting for a flight to London. He is paged and told that he is needed back in the city. The 2 million in diamonds that Crawford had delivered earlier that day have been stolen. The new courier and his driver had been killed during the robbery.
Crawford calls up his man Hamilton to meet him at the jewel wholesaler's office. The office manager, Telly Savalas, is despondent over the murders and theft. He tells Crawford and Hamilton that no one besides the dead men and himself knew about the delivery plans. Crawford and Hamilton head out to beat the bushes for any underworld chatter on the robbery. They will also look into any local jewel fences.
The viewer is filled in on the four men who had pulled the robbery and murders. The two main thugs are Bert Freed and John Marley. We also find out that mister Savalas is not so upset with the crime as he said. In the back room of his office, he is now swapping spit with blonde bombshell, Lola Albright. The whole deal had been set up by Miss Albright.
Albright suggests that Savalas go over to Marley's apartment and collect the diamonds. Albright shows some cleavage and smiles while suggesting that Savalas take his automatic pistol along. She does not trust Marley completely she coos to Savalas. In true femme-fatale fashion, Miss Albright now gets on the horn to Marley and tells him Savalas is coming over, and intends to cut him out of his share. She mentions that she had emptied Savalas' weapon of live ammo. What Savalas and Marley don't know is that Miss Albright has also been stepping out with gang member, Bert Freed. Freed had switched fakes for the real gems during the getaway.
Marley, feeling safe knowing Savalas has no ammo, lets the man into his place. Savalas now discovers the fakes and yards his piece. Marley does not believe the diamonds are not the real deal. He figures this is Savalas making his play to cut him out of his cut. Boy is Marley surprised when the gun Savalas has, proves, to be anything but, empty.
By this time Crawford and Hamilton have narrowed the robbery suspects down to 4 or 5 men, including Marley. They arrive just as Marley is hitting the floor with the added weight of a couple of .45 slugs. They break in while Savalas is beating the feet down a handy fire escape. Meanwhile, back with our femme, Miss Albright, she is now with Freed and licking his ear and telling him he needs to bump off the diamond detective,Crawford. Then it will be a life of tall cool drinks in a nice southern climate somewhere. Albright of course has relieved Freed of the bag of diamonds. Once Freed has went out on his mission, Miss Albright heads to her place to back a bag and split without "any" male companionship.
Freed however fumbles his job and is collared by Crawford and his aide, Hamilton. By now Crawford and company have also figured out that Savalas is in the robbery mix as well. They catch Savalas and several other men coming out of his office and going to the car park. Savalas has likewise made a discovery. He knows that Albright has played him like a world class chump. He wants payback.
Crawford and Hamilton tail Savalas to Albright's place. Savalas has the pair of hired guns turn over Miss Albright's room for the stones. Albright had been a bit slow off the mark in her packing, and is now being "nicely questioned" by Savalas. Crawford and Hamilton burst in with drawn guns exchanging rounds with the two hired thugs. The two are dispatched quickly while Savalas and Albright are collared for a long stay on the State's dime.
Also in the mix with a small bit are John Anderson as a Police Detective, and Joan Tabor as a lounge piano player and info tout. (Tabor and Crawford were married at the time) Look close and you will see Richard Kiel in an early role as a club doorman. Lola Albright had just completed an 86 episode run on the popular PETER GUNN series.
The whole episode is smartly made with plenty of action and great b/w photography, supplied by the sure hand of director, Irving Lerner. Lerner is well known to noir fans as the helmsman on the excellent b-noir, MURDER BY CONTRACT and CITY OF FEAR.
The only problem here is that the series is 5-6 years too late on the air. The hard-boiled no nonsense detective phase was over on television. It was being replaced with shows like 77 SUNSET STRIP, HAWAIIAN EYE, BOURBON STREET and SURFSIDE 6. These series featured a more, shall we say, urbane take on the detective genre.
For a ZIV production it is quite good.
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