TRIBUTE TO FRANK PT. 9: 'ASSIGNMENT UNDERWATER'
As I mentioned earlier my father had a multi-faceted career, bouncing between documentaries, live TV drama, educational TV, feature scripts, novels etc. But television series per se were not among his usual works. Thus the anomaly of 'Assignment Underwater', a syndicated series shot over 1960-61 on which he functioned as a producer/story editor/credited and uncredited writer and occasional director. The show starred the stupidly named Bill Williams as a kind of 'gun for hire with a boat' guy, a single dad (wife died? Or did she leave??) raising his pretty boatnick daughter (Diana Montford) and going after bad guys on the water. The show provided work for a lot of dependable B-list directors and actors--the B movie was disappearing and thus not a reliable source of work anymore--and the shows themselves have a nice, crisp B-drive to them. The suspense is actually suspenseful, the plots are tightly constructed and--thanks to the level of studio craftsmen who directed them--the series looks well mounted and more expensive than it actually was. (Among the directors were Edward L. Bernds, Steve Sekely, R.G. 'Bud' Springsteen, Gene Fowler Jr. and a young Eliot Silverstein). Some enterprising TV geek actually put together a few DVD's of collected AU episodes and, of course, some are up on youtube. The above episode, 'The Hot Chihuaha", was directed by Gene Fowler Jr. and, though he's not credited as writer, was rewritten extensively by my father. I know because he saved everything he ever worked on and once--when I was thirteen and should have been out in the street playing stickball--I sat around and compared and contrasted the two drafts. What a geek...
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Posted by Raymond De Felitta at 4:18 PM