Monday, September 10, 2012


Adam West of ABC-TV's "Batman" fame stars in "The Specialist" (* out of ****), a bland inconsequential potboiler about inappropriate conduct between a juror and a defense counsel. He's cast as attorney Jerry Bounds, counsel for the defense in a case about a water company, where opposing counsel Pike Smith (veteran western character actor John Anderson of "Young Billy Young") is determined to have him disbarred from the trial. 

Everything starts when Smith is sacked from his job at the water company, and he wants back on the board. When the head of the water company, Arthur Farley(Chuck Boyd of "Predator 2") refuses to reinstate him, Smith hires sleazy, low-life private investigator Alec Sharkey (film director Howard Avedis masquerading as Russell Schmidt) who enlists the aid of a beautiful woman for $5-thousand to seduce Bounds and get a mistrial declared in the case. Blond Ahna Capri, a veteran TV actress that appeared in virtually every memorable 1960s' TV series from "The Wild Wild West" to "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." to "It Takes a Thief," doesn't mind displaying her ample buxom charms as Londa Weyth. People refer to her as "The Specialist" because sex is her specialty,and she sets to work to seduce Bounds. Smith arranges for Londa to serve as a juror in the case. Meanwhile,Bounds repeatedly warns her that their flirtatious affair could ruin his career. Poor Jerry Bounds is hopelessly seduced by her, and Sharkey snaps several incriminating photos of the two cavorting near a reservoir while the judge and a bailiff watch them. Bailiff Humbolt is played by none other than Alvy Moore of TV's "Green Acres" where he played Hank Kimball.

Not content with having Bounds taken off the case, Smith goes even further and tries to get Bounds disbarred. Meanwhile, Bounds' wife Elizabeth (Avedis' wife Marlene Schmidt of "They're Playing with Fire") learns that Londa moved into a house a week before the trial and was seen in public with Pike Smith's son Hardin (Harvey Jason of "Too Late the Hero"), who etches nude pictures of sexy women. This is the first surprise in this tame little thriller; the wife would rather stand by her erring husband in this predicament than divorce him. Elizabeth decides to find out how Londa became juror number six in so short a time, while Bounds confronts Londa in San Francisco with a subpoena. Sharkey eavesdrops on their conversation and contacts Pike Smith; Sharkey hits Smith up for $20-thousand, so Londa and he can clear out of the country. At the same, Smith is going to send his artist son Howard to England, because the Bounds know about his involvement in the affair. Eventually, Sharkey catches up with Smith, and they struggle in Smith's basement where the armed Sharkey tries to pick up his blackmail money. Incredibly, Sharkey—who has a revolver on him at the time—doesn't shoot Smith when he has the opportunity. Smith has Sharkey jammed in the doors of his safe room while the two struggle. Sharkey is a prime example of a stupid villain. He could have shot Smith, but he is too brainless take advantage of his one chance. The ultimate injustice comes when the Bar Association disbars Bounds despite the death of Sharkey. In the last scene, misguided, idiotic hero Jerry Bounds pursues Pike Smith outside against his wife's advice and guns him down in broad daylight with a revolver. Fade out.

Director Howard Avedis is a fan of the slow zoom out to reveal, a technique that most filmmakers embraced during the 1960s. Aside from one or two locations, everything appears to have been lensed in cramped hotel rooms. The pacing is comatose, and the music is light but cheerful. West, Anderson, and Moore are the three biggest names in this incoherent mishmash. The only thing that stands out in this movie is that the hero is doomed by his own incompetence from the start; he repeatedly warns the femme fatale that he could lose his career as a lawyer. Nevertheless, Jerry Bounds cheats on his wife and pays the consequences. Of course, we expect that the hero will clear his name and his honor, but he does neither and that makes this half-witted Crown International release look truly dim-witted and anti-climactic.

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