The Rockford Files (1979) – With the French Heel Back, Can the Nehru Jacket be Far Behind? and The Battle-Ax and the Exploding Cigar

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Private investigator Jim Rockford has his hands full again with this week’s dual installment.

First up is With the French Heel Back, Can the Nehru Jacket be Far Behind? which aired 5 January, 1979 and was written by Rudolph Borchert. The phone gag this time around features a phone call from Coop (Bo Hopkins) about meeting for a card game, at the wrong address.

I was delighted with the guest stars in this episode, you have the lovely Erin Gray as Margaret ‘Alta’ Hatch and Star Trek star Rene Auberjonois as well!

Jim gets a late-night call from a friend, a fashion model, and she sounds panicked, when he races to meet her she’s gone. He decides to check on her at her place, and finds her dead.

He can’t convince Becker (Joe Santos) to help him, as he’s tied up on another case, and laments ever becoming a lieutenant, so Jim pairs up with Alta, one of the deceased’s friends. The two have great chemistry together, and they both dig into the mystery eagerly, sifting through the fashion world, and confronting Auberjonois’ fashion-designer, Masters.

As the investigation deepens, we learn that Masters has been having some serious problems with his new line, and wanted to hire two, now dead, models to help promote it, and, possibly get him out from under the thumb of a mobster who is helping finance him.

Erin Gray looks as lovely as always, and I quite like the moments that she and Jim share, Rene Auberjonois has some great dialogue as Masters, and plays him to the hilt!

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The Battle-Ax and the Exploding Cigar is up next, it first aired 12 January, 1979 and was written by Rogers Turrentine from a story by Mann Rubin and Michael I. Wagner. The phone message that launches this episode features a phone call saying that it’s the bank, and that they don’t lose checks, so please send one or they’ll be forced to foreclosed.

Jim is on his way back from a busted out trip to Vegas with a fellow, Petrankus (Sully Boyar) that he met there. Since the casino is holding Jim’s car as collateral, he’s driving Petrankus’ caddy, while the man keeps him company. Until they’re pulled over.

It’s a stolen car, and it’s trunk is filled with illegal arms.

They’re busted, but Petrankus, as he was simply ‘a passenger’ is released, and Jim finds himself mired in feuding governmental agencies, as he realizes there’s more going on here than he noticed at first glance.

With the aid of Mrs. Bateman (Marge Redmond), an old battle ax of a supervisor, who runs the local steno pool, Jim finds out that the ATF, the FBI and other acronyms are involved in a weapons deal that sees Petrankus at its center.

This one is delightfully convoluted, and features Lane Smith as Agent Donnegan, though it becomes increasingly difficult to tell which side he’s actually on.

There’s a really nice scene featuring Rocky (Noah Beery Jr.) and Mrs. Bateman, it’s fun to see Jim’s dad being so chivalrous, and a little taken with the woman.

Fun stuff this week, I wonder what Jim will get up to next week?

The Rockford Files - Season 1

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