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JAMES GARNER & KATHARINE ROSS 'THEY ONLY KILL THEIR MASTERS'

year: 1972 Rating: ***

One of the first vehicles of the 1970's catering to the 1970's Doberman craze; although this particular pooch is more a McGuffin than pet: A friendly yet sometimes growling, possibly deadly red-herring that could provide California small town sheriff James Garner some clues... 

He plays writer Lane Slate's rural lawman, Abel Marsh, in the first of three movies (Andy Griffith took over the rest); and while this is the only one made for the big screen, with a lightweight, glossy main score it both sounds and plays like a Movie Of The Week... 

Possible Killer or maybe Red-Herring Hal Holbrook THEY ONLY KILL THEIR MASTERS

Even the town itself, the last chance audiences got see the Universal lot, is pure television, as is Garner's affable manner despite throwing around a few glib curse words and references to homosexuality... The latter concerns the woman who dies in the beginning, seeming killed by the dog, Murphy... 

And, adding to the sporadic attempts to fit into the progressive, post counter-culture era, the beach-drowned victim is the bisexual wife of classy Peter Lawford, hanging around a young, full-chested and very straight Jenifer Shaw but it's natural-beauty's natural-beauty Katharine Ross who provides Garner both an ingenue and a possible twist... One of several moments where THEY ONLY KILL THEIR MASTERS wakes up from its episodic daze and becomes the Old School Detective/Neo Noir Mystery it strives for. 

James Garner & Katherine Ross in THEY ONLY KILL THEIR MASTERS
James Garner & Katherine Ross in THEY ONLY KILL THEIR MASTERS
Jenifer Shaw, James Garner, Peter Lawford in THEY ONLY KILL THEIR MASTERS
Murphy the Doberman in THEY ONLY KILL THEIR MASTERS
Jenifer Shaw in THEY ONLY KILL THEIR MASTERS
The Universal lot from THEY ONLY KILL THEIR MASTERS

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