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Matinee: 'Man With a Camera: The Killer' Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

15 October 2016

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the 157th in our series of Saturday matinees today: Man With a Camera: The Killer.

This isn't the first time we've exercised our God-given right to be silly. Sometimes you need a break from the serious side of life. A few chuckles can burn off the fat and keep your sense of humor fit.

For the fourth time, we're presenting the young Charles Bronson in the role of photographer Mike Kovac in the ABC TV series Man With A Camera. This episode -- The Killer -- was broadcast in 1959.

Kovacs gets off the plane in a little airport in Arco, Nev. There's nothing fancy about it. He has to walk to the terminal from the plane.

On the way he's greeted by a gent in glasses and a hat, suit and tie. He's not holding up a sign that says, "Mr. KOVAC," though. He's got a piece in that suit and when he confirms Kovac's identity, he shoots him.

He sets up some pillows in his bed to make it look like he's sleeping and then he retreats behind a door with his secret weapon.

Kovac rolls away and plays dead. But he got lucky. One shot through his shoulder, another just grazed his head. Makes for some cool bandages, though.

"What happened to my camera equipment?" Kovacs asked when the detectives come in to interview him. He'd been on his way to Los Angeles to shoot a job. There's realism for you.

When his attacker discovers he's still alive, he comes back to finish the job. But Kovacs is expecting him. He sets up some pillows in his bed to make it look like he's sleeping and then he retreats behind a door with his secret weapon.

Recognize it?

It's a Minox B, an aluminum subminiature camera introduced in 1958 which was "world's most famous and widely-used camera for espionage."

The Minox B shot 8x11mm frames but had good optics and 50-shot cartridges. It also had a built-in selenium cell light meter, no small feat.

Back to the story. Kovacs gets his shot and convinces the chief detective to bring a police photographer over so he can help him develop the film in the tank he stashed in his luggage.

We even see him develop the print. But, as the technical advisor for the series, we would have suggested he leave it in the fixer longer and gather everyone around it as it washed instead of passing around the limp image. Stickler for detail that we are.

There's a little political intrigue mixed into the story and a charming nurse who knows how to apologize, not to mention some complementary blood donations. All of which only takes about 25 minutes to unravel.

Kovacs does miss his plane home at the end but that's not really a problem when you befriend a whole town.

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