Remembering Jack Lord

Film Performances

Dreamstime  Images



Jack did not appear in many films, but his performances invariably were excellent. Here are brief summaries of a few of them. You can find a complete list of his films in his filmography.


 

Project X  a/k/a The Red Menace  a/k/a Red Bait  (1949)


Project X was a 65-minute propaganda film created to make the public aware of the insidious nature of communism in universities and the work place in those early days of the Cold War.


Steve Monahan (Keith Andes) is hired as a physicist to help create atomic energy without uranium. A former college classmate and fellow member of a campus communist organization, John Bates (Jack Lord), wants Steve to keep him posted on his research. His rationale is that, if atomic power becomes universal, the risk of war is diminished. When Steve is hesitant to share his findings, Bates threatens to expose his earlier leanings toward communism. When Steve meets with Special Agent Henderson (Robert Noe), he learns that the government already knows about his college activities under the guise of liberal intelligentsia. The government asks for Steve’s help in identifying the top dog in the communist organization.


Director: Edward J. Montagne

Production Companies: Edward Leven Productions / Transcontinental Productions

Starring: Keith Andes, Rita Colson, Jack Lord, Kit Russell, Joyce Quinlan, Harry Clark, Robert Noe, Joanne Tree, Craig Kelly, Tom Ahearne, Dorothy Renard, William Gibberson


 

Cry Murder  (1950)


Actress Norma Wayne (Carole Matthews) gives up her career to marry lawyer Michael Alden (Eugene Smith), the son of former senator (Howard Smith), who has plans for his son’s political career. The elder Alden disapproves of the match and hires a detective to follow Norma. At the post office, Norma meets lowlife and failed artist Tommy Warren (Jack Lord). She accidentally leaves her handbag at the post office, and Tommy looks inside and finds love letters between a friend of Norma’s and an old suitor. He decides to blackmail Norma. In an effort to keep the matter from her disapproving father-in-law, Norma begins paying Tommy $1,000 for each letter. She goes to his apartment to make the final payment only to be followed by Michael. You may be sure the story doesn’t end until murder, false accusation, and a reconciliation have taken place. Boy! Even from the beginning, that lived-in face put Jack in some sleazy roles.


Director: Jack Glenn

Production Company: E. L. Productions, Inc.

Starring: Carole Matthews, Eugene Smith, Howard Smith, Jack Lord, Hope Miller, Tom Pedi


 

The Tattooed Stranger (1950) 


The body of a woman is found in a car in Central Park in New York City. There is nothing to identify her, except a tattoo on her arm and a blade of grass, which is not indigenous to New York.


Jack is seen in only three scenes and is not listed in the credits in this, his third film. Still, don't be put off. It is an interesting movie, albeit a short one, running only 64 minutes. It is interesting to see basic forensic science being put to use and noting that much of what we accept as latest technology has its roots in what we see here.


Equally interesting are the scenes in New York City and Brooklyn, where our boy was born, as they appeared more than sixty years ago. He was 29 years old when this movie was made and spoke only two lines; his name does not appear in the credits.


Available on DVD

Producers: Jay Bonafield, Douglas Travers, Howard Hughes (uncredited)

Director: Edward J. Montagne

Writer: Philip H. Reisman, Jr.

Production Company: RKO Radio Pictures

Starring John Miles, Patricia Barry, Walter Kinsella, Frank Tweddell, Rod McLennan, Henry Lasko, Arthur L. Jarrett, Jack Lord (uncredited)


 

The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell   (1955)


Jack was teamed with Gary Cooper in this biography of Gen William Mitchell, USAAC. Now a hero of the Air Force, Mitchell once was considered a heretic and a rebel for his intense efforts (a/k/a bucking the system) to make aircraft safer for those who flew them. His was an idea ahead of its time, and it cost him his commission. Still, he planted the seeds. Today, of course, aviation safety is a top priority, not only in the military, but also in commercial and generation aviation. Jack portrayed LCdr Zachary Landsdowne, USN, who died in the crash of the dirigible Shenandoah in 1925.His death served to fuel Mitchell's determination to see his cause through. 


Robert F. Simon went on to appear with Jack on Hawaii Five-0. He played Hugh Tillis in "Computer Killer" (Season 7).


Available on DVD

Producer: Milton Sperling

Director: Otto Preminger

Writers: Milton Sperling, Emmet Lavery, Ben Hecht (uncredited), Dalton Trumbo (uncredited), Michael Wilson (uncredited)

Production Company: United States Pictures

Starring: Gary Cooper, Jack Lord, Elizabeth Montgomery, Charles Bickford, Ralph Bellamy, Rod Steiger, James Daly, Peter Graves, Darren McGavin, Robert F. Simon


 

The Vagabond King  (1956)


The Vagabond King was a film remake of a 1925 romantic operetta by concert violinist and composer Rudolf Friml (1879-1972). It was about “a common thief who squelches a rebellion against King Louis XI of France.” The 1925 stage production was presented in 511 performances on Broadway. Jack appeared in the 1956 film version as Ferrebouc.


Leslie Niesen went on to appear with Jack on Hawaii Five-0. He played intelligence chief Brent in "Cocoon" (Pilot) and Colonel Farraday in "We Hang Our Own" (Season 7).


Watch it on You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lq7E8kFycOc 

Producer: Pat Duggan
Director:  Michael Curtiz
Writers: Ken Englund, Noel Langley, Brian Hooker (stage production)
Composers: Johnny Burke, Rudolf Friml (stage production), Brian Hooker (stage production)
Production Company: Paramount Pictures
Starring: Kathryn Grayson, Oreste Kirkop, Rita Moreno, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Walter Hampden, Leslie Nielsen, Jack Lord, William Prince, Billy Vine, Vincent Price

Source: Kendrick, John. History of the Musical Stage - 1920s: Keep the Sun Smilin' Through. Musicals 101.com: The Cyber Encyclopedia of Musical Theater, Film & Television. http://www.musicals101.com/1920bway.htm

 


Williamsburg: The Story of a Patriot  (1957)


Jack portrayed John Fry, a fictitious Virginia planter, who was elected to represent his district in the commonwealth's House of Burgesses. He is up front and present in the debates between those loyal to King George III of England and those who would like to see the colonies become an independent nation. Originally a loyalist to the Crown, his contact with other notable Virginians - George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and others - cause him to come to favor independence. Filmed in the spring of 1956, Williamsburg: The Story of a Patriot was produced by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and has been shown in their visitors center numerous times every day since its 1957 release.

 

Available on DVD

Producers: William H. Wright, Don Roberts

Director: George Seaton

Writer: Emmet Lavery

Production Companies: Colonial Williamsburg Foundation / Paramount Pictures

Starring: Jack Lord, Leora Dana, Robert Carroll, Charles G. Martin, Frederic Warriner, John McGiver



Tip on a Dead Jockey  (1957)


Phyllis Treadman wants to know why her husband wants a divorce. Before the Korean War, they enjoyed a privileged life, for he was an airline pilot. She cannot fault him, which she must if she is to obtain a divorce. Furthermore, she does not want a divorce; she wants to know why her husband wants one. And, so, she travels to Madrid, Spain, in search of the answers.


She finds her husband, Lloyd Treadman, and his buddy, Jimmy Heldon, living the high life. On the surface, they are a couple of old flyboys, who haven’t a care in the world. Phyllis soon learns that such is not the case. Lloyd is wracked with fear and guilt over the loss of pilots under his command in the war. He is drinking and gambling heavily and is unable to be a husband to his wife.


The tide begins to turn when a horse on which he has bet it all is sabotaged, causing it to fall and lose the race. He is in desperate need of money, yet is hesitant to accept a dubious offer of exceedingly well-paid employment. It will require him to fly again. Still, if he will accept it, all he has to do is ferry a box of British currency from Egypt to Spain. When he passes on the offer, Jimmy asks to fly the mission. Jimmy is late returning, but the delay was due to bad weather, not trouble with the mission, itself.


It turns out it was not the actual mission, but a trial run. Lloyd is pretty sure the troubles won’t be limited to the weather for the actual mission. Not wanting to see Jimmy put in a deadly situation, he flies the mission, himself. The flight to Egypt is uneventful. Lloyd picks up the box of currency, as planned, but then, he learns that the currency is only one layer deep. Beneath the currency are packages of illegal drugs.


Suddenly, Lloyd is thrust into another dangerous mission, one which tests his courage and his ability to make decisions under the gun, as well as to fly. He makes the right decisions, turns the drugs and currency over to the police, and, in the process, reclaims his life and his ability to love his wife.


This is an excellent movie, although a bit slow until the flying sequences begin. Jack’s performance starts off sadly, yet it picks up as his character becomes excited about flying the mission and with his triumphant return. It’s not a Jack Lord movie, after all; it is a Robert Taylor movie. Still, I’m glad I watched it and will watch it again.


Available on DVD

Producer: Edwin H. Knopf

Director: Richard Thorpe

Writers: Charles Lederer, Irwin Shaw (from his short story)

Production Company: MGM 

Starring: Robert Taylor, Dorothy Malone, Jack Lord, Gia Scala


 

Man of the West  (1958)


Jack portrayed numerous personality types through the years, including the deranged mind. His best portrayal of the deranged mind was Coaley Tobin in Man of the West. With other members of his family, Coaley held up trains, killed, and raped with reckless abandon. He met his end when he attacked reformed outlaw Link Jones (Gary Cooper).


John Dehner went on to appear with Jack on Hawaii Five-0 as Anthony Del Vecchi in "A Bird in Hand" (Season 12).

Royal Dano went on to appear with Jack on Hawaii Five-0 as Hody Linquist in "Paniolo" (Season 3).


Available on DVD

Producer: Walter Mirisch

Director: Anthony Mann

Writers: Will C. Brown, Reginald Rose

Production Company: Ashton Productions

Starring: Gary Cooper, Jack Lord, Julie London, Lee J. Cobb, Arthur O'Connell, John Dehner, Royal Dano


 

The True Story of Lynn Stuart  (1958)


When her nephew is killed in a car crash while under the influence of drugs, Phyllis Carter volunteers as an undercover investigator to help the Santa Ana, California, police crack down on drug traffickers. She poses as Lynn Stuart, who did time in West Virginia for bank robbery and knows a woman in the drug ring. Soon, she is working as a car hop in the drive-in, where the gang hangs out. There, she meets Willie Down and soon becomes his girlfriend. He takes her to Mexico, where he murders not only the operators of a truck carrying drugs and steals the take, but he kills his partner, as well. When Willie stops at a service station, Phyllis leaves a message written in lipstick on a paper towel to let the police know what is going on. The message she left was found, and the police arrive in time to break up the drug ring and rescue Phyllis.


The things that make this story succeed are several. At the top of the list is the fact that it is a true story. Then, there is Betsy Palmer’s highly effective representation of the real-life Phyllis Carter. Jack is at his sleeziest. He’s as far from Steve McGarrett as some of the hoods he later arrests in his role as McGarrett. To add frosting to the cake, he drives Mercurys, albeit a 1958 Montclair and a 1949 classic. Sorry, no Park Lane, even though it entered production the year before.


Barry Atwater would go on to appear with Jack in two episodes of Hawaii Five-0,  "The Reunion" and "The Grandstand Play," both in Season 3.


Can be seen online through a link on YouTube.

Producer: Bryan Foy 

Director: Lewis Seiler

Writers: John Kneubuhl, Pat Michaels

Production Company: Columbia Pictures

Starring: Betsy Palmer, Jack Lord, Barry Atwater


 

God's Little Acre   (1958)


Based on Erskine Caldwell's novel, the movie tells what happens when people become so caught up in chasing their dreams that they forget to live in the here-and-now. In this case, the father (Robert Ryan) spends his and his children's time digging up their farm, looking for gold, instead of farming the land. Meanwhile, everyone and everything around them falls to ruin.


Jack portrays a man so embittered by the hopelessness of his situation that he forgets how to show love and appreciation. As a result, his wife (Tina Louise, Ginger in "Gilligan's Island") looks elsewhere for affection. That enrages Jack's character, who lashes out with a vengeance. He's ready to dismember anyone and anything who gets in his way. If ever there was a situation where a husband and wife needed to move away from family in order to live their own life, this is it.


Vic Morrow went on to appear with Jack on Hawaii Five-0. He played Edward Heron in "Two Doves and Mr. Heron" (Season 4).

Davis Roberts went on to appear with Jack on Hawaii Five-0. He played Chester Grant in "Once Upon a Time," Part 2 (Season 1).


Available on DVD.

Producer: Sidney Harmon

Director: Anthony Mann

Writers: Erskine Caldwell, Philip Yordan, Ben Maddow (uncredited)

Production Company: Security Pictures

Starring: Robert Ryan, Aldo Ray, Buddy Hackett, Jack Lord, Tina Louise, Fay Spain, Vic Morrow, Michael Landon, Davis Roberts


 

The Hangman  (1959)


Jack portrays Johnny Bishop, a robbery suspect, who is wanted by a marshal (Robert Taylor) known as "The Hangman" for his arrest record. The only problem is that the townspeople like Johnny, who is known as a kind and decent man, who helps others at every opportunity. They work together to keep the marshal from catching up with Johnny.


Available on DVD and on Amazon Video.

Producer: Frank Freeman, Jr.

Director: Michael Curtiz

Writers: Dudley Nichols, Luke Short, W. R. Burnett (uncredited)

Production Company: Paramount Pictures

Starring: Robert Taylor, Tina Louise, Fess Parker, Jack Lord, Gene Evans, Mabel Albertson



Walk Like a Dragon  (1960)

We see Jack’s compassion and sensitive nature in Walk Like a Dragon.


Set in California in the 1870s, the story involves Linc Bartlett (Jack Lord), a freight line operator, who comes across an auction of Chinese women in San Francisco. One woman, Kim Sung (Nobu McCarthy), seems especially vulnerable. Linc wants to rescue her from the indignation of it all and buys her, intending to set her free. There’s just one problem: Kim does not speak English, and she knows no one in California. She has no way to care for herself. And, so, Linc takes her home; she will become his housekeeper, helping to care for his mother and himself. That would be a good story, but it gets better. Linc and Kim fall in love, much to the disapproval of his mother and Cheng Lu (James Shigeta).


Nobu McCarthy would go on to appear with Jack in an episode of Hawaii Five-0, "Frozen Assets" (Season 10), portraying Wini Omella.

James Shigeta would go on to appear with Jack in an episode of Hawaii Five-0, "Deathwatch" (Season 1) in which he portrayed mobster Joseph Matsukino.


Watch on Amazon Video with Amazon Prime membership.

Producer – James Clavell

Director – James Clavell

Writers – James Clavell, Daniel Mainwaring

Production Companies – James Clavell Productions / Paramount Pictures

Starring: Jack Lord, Nobu McCarthy, James Shigeta, Mel Tormé, Josephine Hutchinson, Benson Fong, Lilyan Chauvin


  

Dr. No  (1962)


Our boy, Jack, was the very first actor to portray CIA agent Felix Leiter in the James Bond series. The film was Dr. No, which was set in Jamaica, giving Jack his first taste of crime fighting on a tropical island. The criminal was Dr. No (Joseph Wiseman), who used laser technology to topple American satellites being launched from Cape Canaveral.


Available on DVD.

Producers: Albert R. Broccoli, Harry Saltzman

Director: Terence Young

Writers: Richard Malbaum, Johanna Harwood, Berkely Mather, Ian Fleming

Production Company: Eon Productions

Starring: Sean Connery, Jack Lord, Ursula Andress, Joseph Wiseman, Bernard Lee, Anthony Dawson, Zena Marshall, John Kitzmiller, Eunice Gayson, Lois Maxwell



The Doomsday Flight  (1966)

When a transcontinental flight takes off with a bomb on board, FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Frank Thompson (Jack Lord) is called in to manage the case. He coordinates with airport officials, the FAA, and local police to identify and locate the bomber and bring the plane and its passengers and crew down safely. This spine-tingling chiller gives us a good look at the man, who two years later, would become Steve McGarrett.


Trivia: In the opening credits, a Boeing 707 is shown setting down, yet the landing gear belong to a B-52.


Malachi Throne also appeared with Jack on Hawaii Five-0 as Bonamo in "Bait Once, Bait Twice" (Season 4) and as Reeves in "Will the Real Mr. Winkler Please Die?" (Season 5).

Ed Asner went on to appear with Jack on Hawaii Five-0 in "Wooden Model of a Rat" (Season 9). He portrayed monumental artifact thief August March.

John Saxon went on to appear with Jack on Hawaii Five-0 in "The Bark and the Bite" (Season 11). He portrayed Harry Clive, jewel thief.

Edmund O'Brien also appeared with Jack in Leonard Freeman's failed television pilot, Grand Hotel.


Available on VHS from Amazon. 

Producer: Frank Price

Director: William A. Graham

Writer: Rod Serling

Production Company: Universal Studios

Starring: Jack Lord, Edmund O'Brien, John Saxon, Ed Asner, Van Johnson, Greg Morris, Malachi Throne


 

The Ride to Hangman's Tree  (1967)


Jack has top billing in this serio-comedy about a trio of robbers, who will hit anything from a bank to a Wells Fargo stagecoach. He's not the smartest coconut in the tree, but he does as well as the next man in staying out of jail. He, James Farentino, and Don Galloway don't trust each other, yet they invariably come to each other's aid.


They figure that, since they've been run out of every state east of California, they may as well continue moving west. It seems doubtful whether, when he said that line, Jack had any idea that, a scant seven months later, his westward expansion would extend to Hawai`i.


The whole story was played tongue-in-cheek, a rarity for Jack, who has a pretty good sense of humor behind that severe McGarrett glare. Adding spice to life was Melody Johnson's portrayal of dance hall girl Lillie Malone, who had acquired $100,000 worth of diamonds through her relationships with European royalty. Now, that would be too tempting for most robbers, yet these robbers fell for the girl, instead.


Trivia: The Ride to Hangman's Tree was filmed in only eight days!


Richard Anderson went on to appear with Jack on Hawaii Five-0 as Goodman in "The Child Stealers" (Season 5).


Producer: Howard Christie 

Director: Alan Rafkin

Writers: Luci Ward, Jack Natteford, William Bowers

Production Company: Universal, 1967

Starring: Jack Lord, Melodie Johnson, James Farentino, Don Galloway, Richard Anderson, Ed Peck


 

The Name of the Game is Kill  (1968)


Act 1, Scene 1

A man is clubbed with a Venus de Milo statue and disposed of in a furnace. Symcha Lipa (Jack Lord), a refugee from the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, is hitchhiking along a highway in the Arizona desert when a girl in a Jeep stops to give him a ride. She is Mickey Terry (Susan Strasberg). Mickey, her mother (T. C. Jones), and her sisters run a filling station. Sister Diz (Collin Wilcox, who portrayed Mayella Ewell in To Kill a Mockingbird) keeps a rattlesnake and a tarantula as pets. Sister Nan (Tisha Sterling) was expelled from school after setting a cat on fire. This is a dysfunctional family; as can be expected, the atmosphere in their house is tense.


After finding the pet rattlesnake on the floor of his room that night, Symcha sneaks away in the early morning, only to be run over by someone driving the Terrys' car. When he wakes in the hospital, the local sheriff (Mort Mills) advises him not to return to the Terry home. Every girl has been in trouble with the law, and Mrs. Terry is the strangest of them all. Sheriff Kendall also tells Symcha that Mickey's former fiancé has disappeared under mysterious circumstances (Remember the furnace?).


Symcha’s curiosity propels him to return to the Terry home. He wants to know who tried to kill him. As he questions each family member, he hears a different story about how their father/husband, Mr. Terry, died. Convinced that the sheriff was right about the family, Smycha announces that he is leaving. Mickey does everything possible to persuade Symcha to take her with him to San Francisco, which she claims is the city of her dreams. He agrees, albeit reluctantly; however, they have to return, because Mickey forgot her purse. It turns out that Diz took the purse to force them to return. When Mickey goes to get her purse, Nan tries to kill Symcha with the Venus de Milo statue, the same way she killed Mickey's fiancé. He, like Symcha,  preferred Mickey to her. Mickey and Mrs. Terry barely are able to rescue Symcha. During the fight, Nan grabs Mrs. Terry by her hair. A wig comes off to reveal that Mrs. Terry is actually Mr. Terry, the girls‘ father. He has dressed as his wife in an attempt to protect Diz, who killed the girls' mother, whom she hated.


Before Mickey and Symcha leave for the second time, Mr. Terry wishes his daughter happiness and asks her to inform the sheriff of these revelations. Then, he, Dix, and Nan return to the house, where he prepares three cups of tea. He takes three white pills from a heart-shaped locket and adds one to each cup. A fourth pill remains in the locket.

In the final scene, which takes place as Mickey and Symcha are driving down the highway, Symcha asks, "What really happened to your mother?"  Mickey looks at him in a very sinister way. The viewer is left to deduce what her answer might have been.


The Name of the Game is Kill is a comparatively short film at 84 minutes, yet it is full of suspense with a very weird atmosphere and a lot of creepy scenes. The eeriness is enhanced by the presence of at least one of the five main characters in every scene. A horror movie and thriller, combined, The Name of the Game is Kill is not for the faint of heart.


Jack's performance seems non-descript, perhaps because he is the only sane person among the four mentally unbalanced women. Even so, he changes from a shy man, who is thankful for a shower, a hot meal, and a bed to sleep in, to someone who endangers himself by asking too many questions, thereby tearing the web so carefully woven by the family.


Available on DVD through Amazon.

Producer – Robert Poore

Director – Gunnar Hellstrom

Writer – Gary Crutcher

Production Company – Poore-Todd Productions

Many thanks to SG, who wrote this synopsis.


 

Counterfeit Killer a/k/a Crackshot  (1968)

Counterfeit Killer is a movie that was adapted from an episode of the Bob Hope Chrysler Theatre entitled “The Faceless Man” (See Television / Guest Roles for more information). Jack portrays a paid agent, who goes undercover as a hit man for a counterfeiting ring.


Joseph Wiseman appeared with Jack as the title character in "Dr. No."

Shirley Knight appeared with Jack on The Bob Hope Chrysler Theatre in "The Faceless Man" from which this movie originated.

Jack Weston appeared with Jack on Stoney Burke as Harry Marsh in "A Matter of Percentage."


Available on VHS through Amazon (listed as Crackshot). 

Directors: Josef Leytes, Stuart Rosenberg

Writers:  Steven Bochco, Nocholas Colasanto

Music:  Quincy Jones

Production Company:  Universal Studios

Starring: Jack Lord, Shirley Knight, Jack Weston, Charles Drake, and Joseph Wiseman