Friday, March 29, 2013

Pray For The Wildcats T.V. 1974

    Mid 70's made for TV madness with Capt. Kirk, Mr. Brady and a former child evangelist taking a motorcycle trip to hell & back down Baja, Mexico with a demented Sheriff Taylor (who's a LONG way from Mayberry here).  Originally premiering on ABC on Jan.23 1974 and featuring William Shatner in one of his first roles post Star Trek, Robert Reed fresh off The Brady Bunch and Marjoe ("Mary" + "Joesph") Gortner who was an ordained minister at age four. Last but not least (and best of all) is Andy Griffith in a really wild-eyed scary psycho role.
   Griffith plays Sam Farragut who runs some sort of heavy equipment company while Shatner, Reed and Gortner play the groveling ad execs trying to land him as an account for the agency where they all work. Of course everybody's got problems at home so all the soap opera stuff can get ratcheted up in the plot. Reed is having marital problems with wife Angie Dickinson (with what we now know about Reed, you can see how that marriage won't work) and Shatner is losing his job, contemplating suicide and having an affair with Angie (Yeah ! Go Captain Kirk!) while married to Lorianne Grey (Jaws). Marjoe, playing the token hippie at the ad outfit (we can tell he's a hippie because he wears a bola tie, lives with his girlfriend and says "Man" & "Right On" about every other sentence) has to deal with the unwanted pregnancy of his girlfriend while ass kissing his way up the corporate ladder.

   TV movies in the 70's are a fascinating genre. For all the tons of pure junk there is some really great stuff that came out - The Night Stalker (1972) & The Night Strangler (1973), Duel (1971) and A Cold Nights Death (1973) among them. Pray For The Wildcats is kinda hard to categorize - its poorly written in a lot of spots and some of the characters are pretty one dimensional (Reed's role really suffers from this), but there is something going on here that holds your interest - mostly seeing Andy Griffith leering away and chewing tons of scenery (plus, Angie looking gorgeous).

   Farragut talks the gang into taking a motorcycle trip down in Baja, Mexico (with their clothing eerily similar to Star Trek uniforms) and things go from bad to worse after he gets a little carried away with a hippie girl in a bar, gets in a fight with her boyfriend and later goes all homicidal on their van leaving them stranded to die in the desert (the way he snarls " "DIRTY HIPPIES" makes you wonder if there would've been a summer of love if he'd been there in '67). The other three guys then spend the rest of movie wrestling with their conscience on whether or not to drop a dime on psycho Sam to the local straight outta central casting Mexican Federales which in the end leads to the expected motorcycle duel with an Evel Knievel like climax.

   According to Shatner, Gortner spent much of the time on location getting stoned and trying to get Shatner to take LSD while Griffith went on tequila fueled rampages that had him running naked thru the set.

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