They Only Kill Their Masters

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They Only Kill Their Masters
They Only Kill Their Masters VideoCover.png
Directed by James Goldstone
Written by Lane Slate
Starring James Garner
Katharine Ross
Hal Holbrook
June Allyson
Tom Ewell
Peter Lawford
Distributed by MGM
Release dates
  • November 22, 1972 (1972-11-22)
Country United States
Language English
Box office $1,005,000 (US/ Canada rentals)[1]

They Only Kill Their Masters is a 1972 mystery film (released by MGM) starring James Garner and Katharine Ross, with a supporting cast featuring Hal Holbrook, June Allyson, Tom Ewell, Peter Lawford, Edmond O'Brien, and Arthur O'Connell. The title refers to Doberman dogs that might have been responsible for a woman's murder currently under investigation by the local police chief (Garner). The film was written by Lane Slate and directed by James Goldstone.


Abel Marsh is a sarcastic, thick-skinned police chief in a small West Coast seaside town — the fictional Eden Landing, located somewhere between San Francisco and Los Angeles, where everyone knows each other. When one of its citizens is killed under mysterious circumstances many rumors arise, the most notorious of them being that the victim was killed by her own Doberman Pinscher.

The police chief is initially inclined to believe this scenario, but new facts discount this hypothesis. New developments complicate the investigation, especially when crucial evidence starts to disappear. The county sheriff is also trying to take control of the investigation, igniting conflict with Chief Marsh.


Production notes[edit]

  • Filmed late July-early September 1972
  • It was the last film shot on MGM's backlot before it was sold. Several major stars accepted supporting roles in the film because it gave them the opportunity to be in the last film made on it.
  • Partially filmed at the Paradise Cove Pier, Paradise Cove in Malibu, California. Two years later (1974) when Garner started to film The Rockford Files, his trailer was located at the same location.

In popular culture[edit]

They Only Kill Their Masters was referenced in the King of the Hill episode "Bill's House".


  1. ^ "Big Rental Films of 1973", Variety, 9 January 1974 p 60

External links[edit]