Remembering Jack Lord

Producer/Director

 

Jack is seen directing a scene at Kapi'olani Park (Tommy Tollefson)


 

…Directing is a whole, new wonderful world. It's like painting, because, when you direct, you're responsible

for the total canvas instead of only the colors you bring to it as an actor. The concept, the execution, the

camera set-ups, the lighting...you can shape and influence them all. The director puts his stamp, his hallmark

on the product. That's why a movie directed by John Ford is called a John Ford movie.  ~ Jack Lord


 

M Station: Hawaii


Even before production of Hawaii Five-0 concluded in 1980, Jack Lord already was planning his next venture. It would be a new series, and it would be set in Hawai`i. He chose the best: Robert Janes, who had written 15 episodes of Hawaii Five-0; Morton Stevens, who had composed the Five-0 theme song, as well as many of its episodic themes; veteran actors Dana Wynter, Andrew Duggan, Jo Ann Harris, Jared Martin, and Andrew Prine; and veteran Five-0 actors Lyle Bettger, Moe Keale, and Elissa Dulce Hoopai.


Sadly, the networks did not pick it up as a series. This was Jack's last acting venture. After M Station: Hawaii, he devoted his time and efforts to his art, which would be displayed in more than forty museums around the world, to real estate investments in Hawai`i, and to his humanitarian and philanthropic efforts.


Read the complete description in Jack Lord, Actor / M Station: Hawaii.

 

Creator / Executive Producer / Director: Jack Lord

Writer: Robert Janes

Music: Morton Stevens 

Production Company: Lord & Lady Productions



Hawaii Five-0


Jack held owner interest in Hawaii Five-0. After the death of series creator and executive producer Leonard Freeman, Jack took over the role of executive producer, even though his title was never seen in the series credits. Out of respect to Mr. Freeman, Jack insisted that it never would be.


People fault Jack for being a perfectionist, yet the episodes he directed stand out as among the best. The scripts are better, the music is better, the camera angles are better, and the actors perform better. One has to wonder, what is so bad about being a perfectionist?


Jack directed the following six episodes: "Death With Father" (Season 6), "How to Steal a Masterpiece" (Season 7), "Honor is an Unmarked Grave" (Season 8), "The Bells Toll at Noon" (Season 9), "Why Won't Linda Die?" (Season 11, and "Who Says Cops Don't Cry?" (Season 12)



Jack Directs Hawaii Five-0


In addition to acting in all 284 episodes and serving as ex-officio co-executive producer, Jack directed six episodes of Hawaii Five-0, one in each of the last seven seasons, except Season 10.


Jack proved to be an excellent director. Just as he made his character Steve McGarrett larger than life, his direction made stories come to life. Several qualities stand out in his work: his art background, his use of symbolism, his use of comic relief, and his desire to teach his audience about the subject of the episode.


Jack's art background is clearly visible in his directing. In “Honor is an Unmarked Grave,” his art background shows in the way he frames the shot of the grave diggers in the greenery of surrounding trees and plants and the way he frames Agatha Henderson and Travis Marshall in bougainvillea as they meet in her garden.

Jack used symbolism very effectively. In “Honor is an Unmarked Grave,” he used vases of orchids and anthurium on a counter between McGarrett and Agatha to represent the emotional and philosophical distance between them. In "How to Steal a Masterpiece," we see the art thief not walking in, off the beach, but climbing over a tall bougainvillea, literally breaking into the Ogden Estate.

Jack used comic relief exactly when it was needed. Rich Little's mime of Sydney Greenstreet's line from The Maltese Falcon provides comedic relief in "The Bells Toll at Noon." Until then, the episode had been very dark and psychological, but even a troubled mind can have a sense of humor. In the same episode, Jorie Remus's offbeat behavior and attire as the ditsy motel manager brought a smile to our lips.

Jack used his directing efforts to teach his viewers. Jack was a wonderful teacher to those who would listen to him. In the six episodes that he directed, we learned about drug labs, art forgery, misplaced honor, films noir, schizophrenia, and grieving.


Let’s take a look at each of the six episodes to see what special touches Jack added to the scripts.


 

“Death With Father” (Season 6)


The strongest directorial feature of “Death With Father” is the casting. Who could be better than Andrew Duggan as the strong father, Cliff Morgan, resentful to have been retired early from a career in drug enforcement; Peter Strauss as the son, Tom Morgan, struggling to find himself in early adulthood; and Kwan Hi Lim and Seth Sakai, two of Hawaii Five-0’s favorite bad guys, as the Asian drug dealers? The foursome carried the story forward with just the right balance of internal and external struggles. For the Morgans, the father committed an illegal act in an effort to save his son, even while he continued to discipline him. For the Asian drug dealers, greed caused even the intimidating Song (Kwan Hi Lim) to acquiesce to the demands of the senior Morgan when it came down to who got the drugs.


Another strong point was the choice of music and composer. We knew the eerie episodic theme that played while the drugs were being prepared in the lab at the first of the episode was composed by Morton Stevens, for it bore his trademark instrumentation. So, too, the peppy arrangement of the series theme with French horns leading the way that we heard when McGarrett was driving up to the boat yard and the secondary “Hookman” theme that we heard when Cliff Morgan broke into the police evidence room and stole the confiscated drugs. Jack liked Morton Stevens and his music and would go on to hire him to compose the music for his last production, M Station: Hawaii.


Jack seemed to save the best for last. In the last scene, as Five-0 and the HPD converge on the new drug lab, the camera picks up a cloud-enshrouded sun that gives the patrolmen a silhouette effect. Clearly, this was taken at a different time of day than the rest of the scene, when the sun was higher in the sky.


The very last shots show the drug lab exploding in a huge fireball. Notice how, in the first shot (left), the explosion is framed between two trees. In the second shot (right), taken from above, debris is flying in all directions. This is the finale. Pau. “Leonard Freeman, Executive Producer.” Fade out.


 

“How to Steal a Masterpiece” (Season 7)


Jack was an artist in his own right and wanted to share his appreciation for the arts with us. We learned about the methods that artists use to ensure the authenticity of their collections, as well as to protect them from theft. We learned what happens when a masterpiece is stolen: The thief, like the owner, has an ego that makes him want to show off his possessions. Conversely, it does little good to steal a masterpiece; the thief can't display it, and he can't sell it.


The paintings on the top row in the Ogdens’ art gallery, as well as the paintings that were removed from cartons in the art appraiser’s hotel room, were Jack’s own work. Other paintings seen in the gallery, while done by other artists, came from Jack’s personal collection. The stolen Gauguin, Fatata te Miti (By the Sea), was represented by a reproduction of the original, which hangs in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.


The music was worthy of an award, even though it did not win one. The opening music was so precise that it paused when the cat burglars landed on their feet. The music that played as the limousines led Five-0 on a game of follow-the-leader around Diamond Head was perfect for the playful mood that was being set. Bravo to McGarrett for telling the Ogdens that they had caused Five-0 to waste taxpayer money with that little charade.


"The usual suspects" were assembled in McGarrett's office in that scene, yet, interestingly, no one amongst them was guilty. That was a pleasant departure from shows like Columbo, where the perpetrator was named too early. Certainly, they looked like a guilty lot.


Luther Adler was, in a sense, reprising his character in the Vashon trilogy. Granted Charles Ogden was supposed to have been a legitimate businessman, who had dealt with a few crooks, possibly of the caliber of Dominick Vashon, but he still had that air about him - arrogance, if you will. Note how his secretary read statements of appreciation, rather than his merely offering McGarrett his thanks. Until the end, that is. The death of his grandson brought him painfully down to earth, and, at the end, he not only thanked McGarrett but shook his hand, as well.


Ogden's grandson, Jeff Koestler (Michael Anderson, Jr.) seemed to know a lot about his grandfather's valuable art and the security system. Miss Forbes (Gail Strickland) looked suspect when she stood in the hallway and listened as Danno interrogated Durkin, the appraiser (George Voskovec). Durkin looked guilty by virtue of his arrogance. Durkin’s assistant, Sills Anderson (George Herman), looked as guilty as the cat that ate the canary as he lurked behind dark glasses. Even the fact that the Ogdens had had previous trouble with their security system looked suspicious.


Hints were dropped in all the right places, just waiting for us to pick up on them. Durkin shoved the real painting right under McGarrett's nose, as though he needed to show off the Gauguin he had stolen. This followed a statement that had been made twice before that one who acquires fine art has a need to show off his possession. Danno picked up on Durkin's glee and broke the case by saying, "He was laughing at us, Steve."


 

“Honor Is An Unmarked Grave” (Season 8)


Jack Lord’s knowledge of the arts showed throughout “Honor is an Unmarked Grave.” He applied the principles of photography to achieve rich, full, and deep scenes. Consider these principles and how he used them:


Framing. In the following picture, the camera has panned from the ocean to the cemetery. A shot of a Japanese structure set the scene for the Japanese influences in the episode. And, then, we saw the grave diggers framed between a stand of tall grasses and a tree with additional greenery before and behind the grave diggers. That told us that this was where we needed to focus, because this was where the story began.


Use of Color. In a play that was basically film noir, the flowers flanking the sidewalk in the Henderson garden added startling contrast. Similarly, Agatha Henderson's sunny yellow hat was a striking contrast to the black mourning clothes she wore throughout the episode, except in the flashback. As an aside, the hat belonged to Marie Lord, Jack's wife, in real life.

The use of color returned when McGarrett visited Agatha Henderson on her lanai, as she arranged flowers. Now, instead of flanking the characters, the flowers stood between McGarrett and Mrs. Henderson as if they were (1) showing the emotional and philosophical divide that existed between the two characters, (2) warding off the unpleasantness his visit represented to her, and (3) representing her lofty position over everyone and everything around her, including him.


Establishing viewpoint through camera angles. We saw this best illustrated at Koji's funeral. At first, we saw Agatha Henderson standing with another woman, who clearly was grieving. When Chin Ho arrived, however, Mrs. Henderson turned her head as though she were wondering why Five-0 was there.  A shot taken from an elevated corner in the crypt shows that, while other mourners were stricken with grief, Agatha Henderson seemed determined to remain in control.


These principles from among the twelve basic principles for creating photographs provide an example of just how much attention Jack paid to detail. His use of symbolism worked together with these principles to create an episode that was nothing short of expertly crafted by an artist who strove for perfection.



"The Bells Toll at Noon" (Season 9)

“The Bells Toll at Noon” was drawn from a short story by James Breig, assistant editor of The Evangelist, a newspaper published by the Roman Catholic Diocese in Albany, New York. Breig had written two articles about Jack Lord and Steve McGarrett (“Praise to the Lord,” March 6, 1975; and “Call to Hawaii,” May 1, 1975) that allowed the episode to begin with the advantage of having a writer who knew the character and the actor portraying him and having great respect and admiration for both.


As with Jack Lord’s other directorial efforts, artistic touches and symbolism, which only a man who had grown up in the arts, could have added made “The Bells Toll at Noon” special. Jack interwove vintage, black-and-white footage from three James Cagney movies with present-day, color footage showing the copycat crimes being committed. Jack had a 78 rpm record playing “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles” on an old Victrola, as had been seen in the vintage footage,  and allowed the sound of the record skipping at the end of the song to continue as the picture segued from the record player to the end-of-act Five-0 wave.


After the second killing, Chin told Steve, “A case like this would age anybody: no prints, no witnesses, and no nothing” to which Steve replied, “I think it’s all written out for us if we could just read the language.” He named the known movie clues, then said, “Hieroglyphics. No good without the Rosetta Stone.” Very artistic and symbolic.


Equally important were the outstanding actors, who included Rich Little, Don Knight, Milton Selzer, and Mel Ferrer, as well as beloved semi-regulars Kwan Hi Lim, Jimmy Borges, Terry Plunkett, and Jorie Remus.


Rich Little was a comedian and celebrity impressionist at the height of his career when this episode was filmed. In “The Bells Toll at Noon,” he impersonated actors from the 1930s and 1940s, specifically James Cagney, who portrayed gangsters in a number of films noir. His character, Johnny Kling, was avenging the death of a 20-year-old girl, Makamea, who had been free of drugs for a year when a drug dealer got her hooked again. Kling was determined to kill the seller of the drugs that killed her, Charles Hazard portrayed by Kevin O’Connor; the distributor, James Kellman portrayed by Milton Selzer; and the supplier, Paul Thayler portrayed by Don Knight. As if Kling’s motive wasn’t bad enough, he copied methods used in the old Cagney movies to plan and execute each killing.


In the first killing, which took place an hour before Hazard would confess all to McGarrett, Kling gunned him down on the steps of St. Agnes Church, just as James Cagney’s character, Eddie Bartlett was gunned down on the steps of a church in The Roaring Twenties (Warner Brothers, 1939). With no more than a ticket stub from a theater that showed old movies to guide him, McGarrett had to determine what was going on and why, and who was behind the killings.


In the second killing, copied from The Public Enemy (Warner Brothers, 1931), Kling shot James Kellman with a revolver, then wrapped his body like a mummy and positioned it to fall into the room when the door was opened, while the song “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles” played on a Victrola.


In the third killing, Kling went after Paul Thayler, who used his importing company to bring drugs into the islands. He forced Thayler to the top of an oil storage tank at the Aloha Refinery, mimicking Cody Jarrett’s actions in the explosive ending in White Heat (Warner Brothers, 1949).


To a viewer unfamiliar with Rich Little, the episode was chilling to the bone. To one who knew Little as a comedian, it was a fine piece of acting that showcased a broad range of talent. The final scene, when Kling broke into an imitation of James Cagney singing and dancing to “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy,” was chilling to the bone.


 

“Why Won’t Linda Die?” (Season 11)


The story line in “Why Won’t Linda Die?” wasn’t a strong one. Indeed, if the acting had been any less than superb, the episode would have been a miserable failure. The strength, therefore, lay in casting. With Sharon Farrell’s superb performance, the episode became a favorite of more than a few viewers.


Miss Farrell quite visibly reached down into her soul and pulled out strong, heart-rending portrayals that most actresses and many writers can't conjure up. Playing two sisters, one of whom she murdered for stealing her boyfriend, Sharon Farrell presented three very different personality types.


First, there was Diana, the freelance writer, who was as prim, proper, and aloof as a 19th century schoolmarm. The disconnect was that she claimed to have had relationships with a member of the Canadian Parliament and an airline pilot. Come again? Wouldn't her type typically date research scientists and librarians?


Then, there was Linda, the happy-go-lucky flight stewardess, who also had had relationships with the member of Parliament and the airline pilot. We easily could imagine that she had had relationships with many men. She was a real go-getter when it came to men.


Finally, there was Diana, the mentally ill woman, who killed the free-spirited Linda. At best, she was suffering from severely low self-esteem. At worst, as her psychiatrist (portrayed by Lyle Bettger) reported, she was borderline schizophrenic. Schizophrenia was probably the correct diagnosis, for Diana was shocked to find herself wearing Linda's stewardess uniform. Clearly, this was a case of split personality.


One might think Jack had an easy time directing "Why Won’t Linda Die?" After all, all he really had to say was, "Okay, kid. Do your thing." To his credit, he allowed the camera to roll long enough to let the emotions spill forth and develop into what they needed to reveal -- unlike emotional portrayals by other actresses, who shed only a tear or two before the scene ended.


But Jack’s directing went far beyond casting. We saw evidence of Jack’s personal life in the selection of the shopping center in Hawai‘i Kai as the setting for two scenes, a restaurant and a flower shop. Jack belonged to the hui that built that shopping center.


Similarly, Jack chose an intricate garden setting with a water feature for the death of the airline pilot. It almost seemed to say that Diana had fed Linda’s beau to the fish.


Another excellent choice of location was the small cemetery – perhaps, a native Hawaiian cemetery – where Diana visited her sister’s grave. It was a simple place, devoid of landscaping, except nature’s own, with simple crosses and headstones. Knowing Jack’s penchant for using symbolism, we might wonder if the simple cemetery represented Diana’s animosity toward her sister. Certainly, Linda did not receive an elegant grave at the Valley of the Temples or a view of the ocean at Diamond Head Cemetery. No, she was just sort of laid to rest, pine box style.


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“Who Says Cops Don’t Cry?” (Season 12)


The key to “Who Says Cops Don’t Cry?” was tight writing with a solid plot. Lori Wilson’s (Sharon Farrell) husband, soon-to-be Five-0 Detective Kevin Wilson (Frankie Stevens) was shot and killed when he happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Lori was devastated and vowed to avenge his murder. Would she become a self-styled vigilante, or would she maintain control over her emotions and let Five-0 and the HPD solve the case? Given Lori’s strong sense of determination – stubbornness, if you will – it could have gone either way. In the end, however, she remembered something McGarrett had said, “Kevin wouldn’t do it this way,” and also the fact that she was a police officer, and refrained from exacting the revenge she had been planning against the man who killed her husband, Lloyd Dawson (Darrell Fetty).


Jack appeared to have had a primary mission in directing this episode, the unification of his new Five-0 team. This was Lori’s story and showed her as a strong-willed woman, who could think for herself and conduct her own investigations. It also showed her as a woman who loved and mourned deeply. Kimo’s story, which began in “A Lion in the Streets,” would conclude several episodes later, in “Good Help is Hard to Find.”


To unify the team, Jack had McGarrett fly to San Francisco to testify in a federal court case, leaving Kimo (William Smith), Lori, and Duke (Herman Wedemeyer) to “mind the store.” If there was a weakness in this, it was that there seemed to be no other cases being investigated. The closest thing was the effort to learn when and where the perpetrators would buy a gun to replace the one they lost in the shooting. Perhaps, that was necessary if Kimo was to have the time to follow Lori to the firing range to counsel her and rush to her home to save her from the killer’s goons.


Again, Jack relied heavily upon fresh locations. The story began at Kewalo Basin on Ala Wai Boulevard, where we saw the real-life Ku‘u Huapala Fishing Company’s wharf. Kevin Wilson’s funeral was held at the Diamond Head Cemetery, where we heard the end of a Catholic Requiem Mass and saw a stone crucifix and other religious statues. It seemed appropriate for a funeral directed by a Catholic adherent.


In the next scene, McGarrett and Kimo found Lori jogging around the Dillingham Fountain at the east end of Kapiolani Park. Again, we saw the shopping center in Hawai‘i Kai, where the murderer’s brother, Ben Dawson (Alan Fudge) managed a restaurant and the criminals attempted to hold up the check cashing booth at a grocery store. From the grocery store, we saw the beauty of planned landscaping set against the backdrop of Koko Head, and from the restaurant windows, we saw Kuapa Pond with sailboats moored nearby. Very artistic.


Almost as if to let us know that not every scene was new, Jack let Lloyd Dawson live in one of the Maunalua Bay mansions overlooking Koko Head and the Portlock side of Hanauma.


We even saw a beautifully landscaped courtyard there. Clearly, Jack loved beautiful landscapes. No wonder he chose to live in Hawai‘i for the last 30 years of his life.


 

Cry Murder 


This one-hour crime drama, made in 1950, is known more for its excellent script than for the good mystery it presents, although those who have seen it fault neither.


A young actress (Carole Mathews) has given up her acting career to marry the son (Eugene Smith) of a senator (Howard I. Smith), who objects to the marriage. She is being blackmailed by a second-rate artist (Jack Lord), who stole letters from her that could be misconstrued. She is knocked unconscious, while paying him off, and regains consciousness to learn that she is the number-one suspect in a murder.


Producer - Edward Leven (shown as Edwin Leven in credits)

Associate Producer - Jack Lord 

Director - Jack Glenn

Writers - A. B. Shiffrin (play), James Carhardt (screenplay)

Production Company - Edward Leven Productions