Mannix (1967–1975): Season 3, Episode 4 - The Playground - full transcript

Joe Mannix is called by an old friend named Rudy who is an executive with Majestic Studios, about the studio's big star, Mitch Cantrell. Cantrell is both obnoxious and reckless, but Rudy's concern is that someone has been threatening Cantrell's life -- threats that appear to have come true when someone stretched a metal wire across a road in front of Cantrell's motorcycle. When the attempts on Cantrell's life begin to multiply, Mannix tries to convince Cantrell that he needs to take precautions, but Cantrell refuses. Mannix nevertheless stays on at the studio, hoping to find the person behind the threats on Cantrell's life.

(motorcycle engine revs)

Hiya, Mitch!

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

(motorcycle engine approaching)

(woman screaming)

Mitch! Mitch!



(theme music playing)

♪ ♪

Joe Mannix.

Drive right in, sir.

Thank you.

(bell rings)

DIRECTOR: Quiet, please.

CREW MAN: All right.
Here we go. This'll be a take.

DIRECTOR: Roll the camera.

CREWMAN: Quiet. Speed.


DIRECTOR: Cut print!

CREWMAN: That's fine. That's it.

the camera, please.


CREWMAN 2: Background!

DIRECTOR: Action, Mitch!

Okay, Lou, kill it.

Hiya, Joe. Long time.

Hello, Rudy.

Yeah, not since the last time
we promised to have lunch.

What was that, about a year ago?

I remember the days we
both hit this town together.

We used to skip lunch

and not because either
of us was on a diet.

Yeah. Well, look
let's get out of here

and talk about it
over a salad, huh?

You think I called
you here for lunch?

Well, all these years
we've been threatening,

"Hey, let's have
lunch soon for sure."

Yeah. You bet, Joe.

Soon for sure.

But first, I need your
professional help.

You got trouble?

You see this morning's papers?

You mean that
motorcycle accident?

Mitch Cantrell's stunt double?

Why I sent for you, Joe.

It was no accident.

The cops figure a blowout.

No blowout, though.

Then what?

Somebody stretched a
wire right across the road.

Well, did you tell the police?

I didn't want that
kind of publicity, Joe.

We've got enough problems
with this picture as it is.

Rudy, someone tried to kill him.

Not him. Mitch Cantrell.

You see, we're about the same
size and coloring, Mitch and me.

And you put a helmet
and a face shield on us,

it's hard to tell us apart.

That still doesn't nail it down.

Pete was with Mitch last
night when someone phoned.

The caller told Mitch he
wouldn't miss the next time.

Well, what'd Cantrell do?

He just, um, hung up.

He's a funny guy, that Mitch.
I've been with him for years

and I don't really know him.

He just hung up and
he kind of laughed.

All right, Pete. Thanks.


Well, Rudy, any ideas?

Who might want to
kill Mitch Cantrell?

Anybody. Including me.

Once he knows you
need him, you're finished.

There's no satisfying him.

And he doesn't come out
and put you away like a man.

He gnaws at you like acid.

Come here, Joe.

That's his house.

Those characters hanging
around out there aren't extras,

but they're on my payroll.

His staff.

The whole studio has
become his playground.

One thing, Joe.

Don't let that famous
Cantrell smile fool you.

Hi, baby.

Cool it!

Hey, come on. I said, cool it!

You know what they say, Bud.

Protect yourself
at all times, hmm?

Mitch, Mr. Mannix has
been waiting to see you.

How you doing, Mannix?

Hey, I'm sorry about the gloves.

Sorry for keeping
you waiting, too.


This is Pete Johnson, my buddy.

And that's Bud Nicholson.

He has a tendency to
drop his left hand and break.

Of course, you know
my secretary, Mona.

Everything clears through Mona.

Even scripts.

What can I do for you, Mannix?

Mona, get the shoulder, will
you? It's bugging me again.

Well, they called from
"Western Street," Mitch.

Same spot.

But they're waiting. Go.

I said the same spot.


you really think someone
is trying to do me in?

Your double seems to think so.

Pete? No, he's been
worried about me for years.

We bummed out to
the coast together.

Pete loves me.

Somebody hates you.

Aw, what's one crank
with all the friends I've got?

I saw some of them outside.

Yeah, how much do they cost you?

Nobody needs you, Mannix.

Nobody has to worry about me.

I live on this lot.

High walls, guarded gates.

No unauthorized
people get on this lot.

What about those
who are authorized?

You trying to scare me?

Well, I-I don't scare.

Everybody does sometime.

Not me.

I do not scare.

If you say so.

Mona, tell "Western
Street" I'm on my way down.

Hey, wait. Wait, Mannix.

I'll give you a lift.

Um, the red one, Mannix.

'Bout the game, Mitch?

Be back shortly.

I have to play movie star.

Goin' out West, men.

Hey, Cash.

Call that guy in Cheyenne
and tell him I accept the rodeo.

Take care of the store.

(tires squeal)

(tires squeal)

♪ ♪

(tires squeal)

(engine revving, horn beeps)

It's a shootout, man.


(engine roaring)


How you doing, Mannix?

I think your engine's
running a little rough.

Oh, have a little
mercy, won't you, Mitch?

The whole morning's almost lost.

What's everybody
sitting around for?

Let's go, Fred.

Hey, man, I'll see you around.

Oh, I'm not leaving, "man."

You may not be
worth it, Cantrell,

but I'm going to try
and save your neck.

DIRECTOR: You ready, Pete?

Okay, I want you to walk
along the railing there

and remember, when
you make the jump,

be sure and keep your face
turned away from the camera

because we're going
to pan the jump with you.

Now, stay low and out of
sight when you hit the wagon

and, uh, Mitch will
take it from there.


Okay, Mitch, now, I want you
to hop down from the wagon

just a beat after
Pete lands in there.

Now, the gunman is
behind the wagon over there

and he spots you and he
fires his first shot and misses.

So, you head for the alley.

Now, a second shot.

He misses again, but it's
a little too close for comfort.

Now, a third shot.

You're hit!

In the shoulder.

So, you roll over into the alley

and out of camera range.


(indistinct conversation)

Put the junior over there.

I got all the names of
Mitch Cantrell's gang.

The staff.

Whatever you call them.

Check them out.

Do you really think one of
them wants to kill Mitch Cantrell?

I'm going to keep an open mind.

Oh, I had all your clothes sent
up to the dressing room suite.

Yeah, thanks, Peg.

You know something?

I was born and raised
in LA and it's the first time

I've ever stepped
foot on a movie lot.

Better stick around.

You may get discovered.

We set here?

Yes, sir.

Okay, let's make it!

All right, settle down please.


All right, here we
go, this will be a take!

Roll them.



(gun cocking)

Hold it!

You mind?


(crew groaning)

Hey, we're behind schedule now.

What do you think you're doing?

Checking out this rifle.

Well, what's there to
check? It's just a gun

from the prop department
loaded with blanks.


I told you, blanks.

(gun cocking)

This is make-believe! (gunshot)


(cocking gun, gunshot)


I loaded it myself.

Three blanks.

Two blanks, one live ammo.

There's the box I got
the cartridges from.

There's nothing live in there.

Never was.

I've been on this lot in the
prop department for 20 years.

Never handled anything live.

Only blanks.

Okay, you loaded
the gun, then what?

I handed it
straight to that actor

who shoots Mitch
Cantrell in the picture.

No stops in between?

No, sir.


I put it down near
the lunch truck.

Just to get a cup of coffee.

But it was only for
three or four minutes.


Hi. Hi.

A star is born.

Well, you see I happened
to be sitting in this drugstore.

Do you happen to have a drink?

So happens.


No, nothing, thanks.

I gave up drinking.

I just wanted to remind myself

that I'm a girl with
tremendous will power.

Mitch knows you're watching him.

He doesn't like it.

That figures.

Excuse me. Oh, relax.

They're just going
over to wardrobe.

It's Friday night, Mardi Gras.

They'll be back.

That Mitch is an
independent cat.

He looks after himself.

Resents you.

Do anything to
get you off his back.

He's already had a go at it.

Well, you didn't yell "chicken".

If I did and it got out,
it'd be bad for business.

What do you hear from
the Prop Department?

I drew a blank.


That's very funny.

It wasn't intended to be.

Well, somebody switched
that blank with a live cartridge.


Who is he?

Or she?

There's something
you should know.

There's something you've
been aching to tell me

ever since you breezed in here.

You know, Carol
Rudley, that girl who was

on the motorcycle with
Pete Joplin yesterday?

She thought Mitch
was picking her up.

That's a game they play
when Mitch has had it with a girl,

she gets passed
on to his double.

Of course, it comes as a
complete surprise to her.

There's been a long line
of those hand-me-downs.

Any one of those girls would
have good reason to kill him.

How do you like that Mitch?

How do you?

Well, he's just a boss to me.

Strictly business.

I don't fall for that
famous Cantrell smile.

The girl with
tremendous will power.

You bet.

Even this morning when
you were massaging him?

The way you warmed to the job,

wasn't what I'd call
strictly business.

You were seeing things.


A lot of will power
going down the drain.

(phone ringing)


Mona, wait.

Go ahead, Peggy.

I pick a bad time to call?

Let's say you won't get a medal.

I checked out
Mitch Cantrell first.

Since he hit town
five years ago,

he's been busy as
a bee... With girls.

So, what else is new?

What happened
before he hit town.

A girl killed herself over him.

She was married.

You get a line on the husband?

He's there on the lot.

Who is he?

Pete Joplin.

(swords clanging)




That's it!

The show is over!

How you doing, Mannix?


Well, there's
nobody up there now.

There never was.

You'd like to believe that was
an accident, too, wouldn't you?

They say that a bathtub in your
own home can be dangerous.

Hey, Mannix, I'm sorry if
that dueling bit shook you up.

You'll have to do a lot better.

I'll try.

That's a pretty cute
act you two have.

I'll take credit for that.

Pete, you know that was my idea.

You're right, Mitch.

I mean the other act.

What other act?

The buddy bit.

Considering it was your wife
who killed herself over him.

Well, if it hadn't been Mitch,

it would have been
some other guy.

That's the way she was.

You heard the man, Mannix.

you're a real winner.

And I'd like to
know what you are...

I'd like to know
what makes you tick.

What have you got
in here? Sawdust?

Your friend's wife takes
her life because of you

and you come up with
some smart remark.

Life means nothing to you, huh?

Oh, you bet life means
something to me, Mannix.

My life.

Because that's all I've got.

You make it dependent on
someone else and it's a bummer.

Man, it's throwing
it away, quitting.

You're already dead.

What happens after that?

Even suicide,
that's only technical.

You better believe life
means something to me.

Come on, let's get
out of here, Pete.

Hey, man do me a favor. Huh?

I'll join you later.

Gonna go back and
talk to him. Okay.

Do you really think
Pete's trying to kill me?

I mean, man, look, it's been
five years since all of that.

He's had plenty of
opportunities since.

Mannix, he's, um,
he's my best friend.

Besides, it was my bike he was
on when he was almost killed.

You didn't come back
here to discuss Pete.

All right, Mannix.

What about Mona?

What about her?

She was up at your
place, talking about me.

Was she telling the truth?

Man, that's her thing.

She likes to put me down.

Why do you let her hang on?

I don't let her hang
on. She just hangs in.

And you just allow it, because
of some sentimental reason.

Do you call being shot at
some sentimental reason?

Oh, yeah, Mannix, uh-huh, Mona.

It was a year ago, she went out

and she bought
herself a derringer

and she loaded it
and she pointed at me

and she pulled the trigger,
but she missed by a mile.

I did a number and made sure

there weren't any
charges pressed.

She didn't tell
you that, did she?

♪ ♪



Somebody's idea
of a hotfoot, huh?

Oh, that's a bad
joke. I'm sorry.

I'm glad you're all right.

Where's Cantrell?

You don't think Mitch

had anything to do
with this, do you?

You're the one who said he'd
do anything to get me off his back.

Well, I meant, anything
to scare you, or...

Or to embarrass
you into quitting,

but nothing like what
happened this morning.

Mitch wouldn't do
something like that.

Please believe me.

Now, what's this mother hen bit?

Last night you
had him on the pan,

this morning you're
the defender of the faith.

You're a great
quick-change artist.

Well, life is very complicated.

People play all different parts.

You play more than your share.

You don't think
I tried to kill you.

No, I'd say explosives
are way out of your line,

considering how lousy
you are with derringers.


Mitch told you about
that little incident.

I can understand why you didn't.

Well, I never
intended to kill him.

I was just trying
to frighten him.

But, well, you know,
he doesn't scare.

What was it between you two?

What's the best thing
between a man and a woman?

Everything all wrapped
up into one long weekend.

The trouble is on
Monday morning,

he doesn't remember your name.

But I wasn't like
the rest of that army

that trooped through here,

with their mini-skirts
and peanut-brains.

I wasn't about to be
passed off to any double.

But, uh, you did stick around.

Oh, sure.

You've got to be practical, too.

I've got a great job.

And you get used
to the sweet life.

Where else could I make
the kind of money he pays me?

What could I do?

You think he really cares
what I think about scripts,

or anything really
clears through me?

I'm just window dressing,
like the rest of the staff,

but I have a big habit to
support... extravagance.


You don't believe that, huh?

You're a pushy
one, you know that?


I packed my bags.

I headed for the gate.

I can't even count
how many times,

but I always turn back.

Because, somehow, you
figure it'll happen again.

It's an outside chance,

but there's still
magic in this world.

I believe that.

Do you?

Oh, look, you don't
know what it's like

once you've been
number one with Mitch.

And there've been all
kinds of comebacks.

So you wait.

What else is there to do?

You keep walking, Mona,

right through the gate.

You don't understand...

There's always that chance.

Where is he?


You know where?


The set on the back lot.

They call it the Chicago Street.

He calls it, home.


♪ ♪

♪ ♪

How ya doing, Mannix?

Man, you really hang in there.

It's a job.

When someone's trying
to blow you sky high?

Only because I'm standing
between you and them.

Hey, Mannix, what do you think?


I think you're trying
to change the subject.

You know, I used
to know a street

just like this,
except it was real.

No, no phony fronts,

real things happening inside
these windows, inside the walls.

Come back here to
remember how it used to be.

It's all different now, huh?

Everything's changed.

No, not me.

Mannix, if I had it
to do all over again,

go back there, I
wouldn't change a thing.

I know you think I'm a louse.

Everybody does.

But I'm not changing.

I know what's best for me.

You give in, you compromise,
you're through, Mannix.

That's where it's at.

Not me.

I'm right out here in the open.

No deep dark secrets.

Except maybe from yourself.

Like what?

Like something you're so
afraid of you won't even admit it.


Such as?


Aw, come on.

Your life's being threatened,

and you won't take
one step to protect it.

Because, Mannix, no
one's going to kill me.

You remind me of the guy

that keeps walking around
the edge of a volcano

and pretends it isn't there.

Don't tell me about fear.

I know all about it.

It just isn't my bag.

Once you have it like I did
as a kid, it never comes back.

I, uh, I hid in an alley
once just like that.

A gang was after me.

I waited until dark.

Mannix, I was scared to death.

I figured if they
came in that alley,

if they found me,
I'd be finished.

But they didn't find me.

I hid behind a barrel.

And they walked right past me.

And, Mannix, I've
never been scared

of anything in my life again.

Not losing a job, a friend,
the biggest deal in the movies.

It's like one of
those kids' diseases.

It never comes back again.

You grow up.

During the war, I saw
scared kids grow up.

They became heroes.

But I'm not in a war.

Aren't you?

(car approaching)

I tried to phone,
but you were out.

So I hurried over.

This just came in from
the San Francisco police.

MANNIX: Bud Nicholson.

PEGGY: One conviction.

A first offense
so he got off light.



And there's more.

Army service record...

A specialist in demolition.

Slide over.

Cantrell you stay
here until I get back.



Where's Bud Nicholson?

He's around.

What's the idea?

Where is he? Now.

How do I know?

He took off in his dune buggy.

(tires squealing)

Morning, Mr. Mannix.

Anybody drive off?

No, sir. Like you said...

Anybody tries to leave the
studio, you get called first thing.


There he is.

(engine revving)

He's dead.

That wraps it up.

That's what we're
supposed to think.

He's got a bullet hole in him.

He was dead before someone
aimed that dune buggy at us.

♪ ♪


♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

Come on. This way. No.

You've got to get out of here.

I'm not leaving.

Don't be a fool.

I know this place.

I'm okay.

I know what's right for me.

Hiding like a scared kid isn't.

I'll wait him out. He's
going to go away.

Look, Mitch, he's using a
high-powered rifle there.

He's only toying with you now.

When he's ready,
he's going to zero in.

I'm not leaving.

Sorry, Mitch, but you are.

(blow lands)


♪ ♪

I know you're in there, Mitch.

And now you know
who's gonna do it to you.

Good old Pete.

I had Bud help me along.

He strung the wire
across the road.

He dropped the
lamp from the catwalk.

The idea was to
make you squirm first.

But you didn't squirm.

Well, are you squirming
now, old pal, huh?

I got you all to myself.

You hear me, smiling boy?

You think I really
forgot about Adele?

The one thing I ever had,

the one thing I ever
got all by myself?

The one thing you
didn't pass on to me?

But you didn't have
enough, did you?

No, you had to add
her to your collection.

You had to have
everybody, everything.

Well, that's what I waited for,

that's what I've been
planning for years.

When you were
king of the mountain,

when you had everything to lose,

that's when I was gonna
snatch it all away from you.

Well, that's now,
isn't it, Mitch?


Oh, I waited five years.

I can wait another
second or two.

(Western music playing)

With a smile like that,
who can be all bad?

Yeah, well, listen, Rudy,
I'll be seeing you, huh?

I owe you, Joe.

Oh, you'll get my bill.

Hey, Joe, you know what
we're going to have to do

someday soon? Yeah. Have lunch.

Old friends like us, all
these years, you bet.

Sure, Rudy. Lunch.

(score swells dramatically)





I'm on my way.

Give you a lift?

No. I, um... I figure I should
walk out of here all on my own.

Good luck, Mona.

I'll need it.

Well, you got something
else going for you.

What's that?

You're a girl with
tremendous will power.

(motorcycle approaching)

(laughing) How ya doing, Mannix?

Not bad.

I guess you expect
me to thank you.

It's just another job.

She's tried it before.
She'll never make it.

You're losing friends, Mitch.

I'll buy a bushel more, Mannix.


You, uh, still think I'm
a louse, huh, Mannix?

You're not starting to worry
about what people think of you?

No, I told you how it is
with me. I don't change.

I know what's right for me.

Especially in alleys.


Hey, Mannix. I'm an actor!

I was just playing
a part, that's all.

Yeah. A part.

See you in the movies.

(theme music playing)