Having already written about Tony Curtis’s comedies, and about Houdini (one of my favorite show biz movies), I am startled to discover an additional occasion to write about Bernard Schwartz. This old TV Guide ad prompts yet another one.
In 1975 Curtis joined Peter Falk (Columbo), Dennis Weaver (McCloud) and Rock Hudson (McMillan and Wife), all actors of his generation, in starring in a rotating series on the NBC Sunday Mystery Movie. In McCoy, Curtis played a con man who outconned the cons in order to thwart their wrongdoing, in a manner not unlike the then-contemporary series Switch, which starred Eddie Albert and Robert Wagner. Both shows probably owe their inspiration to the 1973 movie The Sting. (The Feather and Father Gang, which premiered the following year, is yet another one). McCoy’s sidekick was a nightclub comedian, played by Roscoe Lee Browne, giving the whole thing a Sweet Smell of Success echo. Like all of the shows in the ill-fated fourth slot on the NBC Sunday Mystery Movie, McCoy was short lived. Only five episodes (one season) were shot, although when you recall that each episode was a feature length TV movie, the output was not insubstantial. It’s five installments were directed by Nicholas Colosanto, Richard Quine, and Stan Dragoti. Guest stars included John Carradine, Joanna Cassidy, Elisha Cook Jr, Jackie Coogan, John Dehner, Bob Dishy, David Doyle, Richard Dysart, Ned Glass, James Gregory, Larry Hagman, Guy Marks, Bernadette Peters, Natalie Schafer, Vito Scotti, Nita Talbot, and Brenda Vaccaro.
I find myself particularly amused however by the character’s name. They already had McCloud and McMillan. They try to add also a McCoy? At that stage, I go, “Okay, the producers are just laughing at us now.”