Murder Ain't What it Used to Be
|"Murder Ain't What it Used to Be!"|
|Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) episode|
|Episode no.||Season 1
|Directed by||Jeremy Summers|
|Written by||Tony Williamson|
|Original air date||2 November 1969|
Murder Ain't What it Used to Be is the seventh episode of the popular 1969 ITC British television series Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) starring Mike Pratt, Kenneth Cope and Annette Andre. Directed by Jeremy Summers, the episode was first broadcast on 2 November 1969 on ITV.
Crime boss Paul Kirstner flies over to Great Britain from New York City to attend to "business" in London. Behind most of the rackets in Chicago, he hires Jeff to protect his daughter from any of his enemies whilst in London. However, Kirstner is being haunted by the white suited Bugsy "Smiler" Spanio (closely modelled on Al Capone), a man he double-crossed and murdered after they stole a million dollars' worth of alcohol before they ended Prohibition. Knowing that Jeff is being hired by Kirstner, Bugsy contacts Marty and begins to terrorise Jeannie unless Jeff kills Kirstner for him. His trademark cigar, white hat and raucous laughter is stereotypical of a Chicago gangster of the 1920s, and he appears in the mirror several times to taunt Jeannie as she is taking care of her appearance.
With Jeff constantly stalling, Bugsy changes his tactics and asks Jeff to dial a number on the telephone and tell the person on the other end that if there are any messages for Kirstner then he's with his daughter. Unbeknownst to Jeff, the man on the other end of the line is Jack Lacey, a rival criminal who also wants Kirstner dead. Lacey and his henchmen arrive at Kirstner's retreat, and they force entry and wait for Paul Kirstner to return at night fall. Shortly before he arrives, Jeff encourages Marty to make Bugsy mad by hitting him and throwing objects at him, so that Bugsy's attack on the property will distract Lacey and his armed henchman. After he does so, Kirstner arrives and gains the upper hand of the surprised enemies and leads them both outside in the dark to be murdered, planting a gun on Lacey and telling him he'll claim to the police it was self-defence. However, Kirstner is distracted by the ghost Bugsy, that only he can see and he finally gets his revenge on Kirstner by allowing Lacey to kill him.
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Themes of morality are brought up several times this episode, particularly with Jeff who initially refuses to work for crime boss at least until heavy cash is pressed into his hand and he scolds Marty for suggesting Jeannie would sleep with another man. Jeff later justifies working for Kirstner by telling Jeannie that it's due to "extenuating circumstances" (referring to Bugsy threatening Jeannie's life) and seemingly believing it. This is an example of Jeff deluding himself in order to ease his guilty conscience.
In this episode with the appearance of another ghost, it is learned that ghosts can touch each other, and it appears that they can literally share memories, as Marty is taken into a 1920s black-and-white flashback by Bugsy. Marty is also seen to move a vase by telekinesis and can manipulate objects, such as a cigar, a machine gun and a hat. It also appears that he is connected psychically with Jeannie when he hears her scream in her apartment.
Also for the first time since the debut episode, the effect of ghosts on the room atmosphere is commented on, with Paul Kirstner's sister Aunt Maddox complaining "it has turned cold" when Bugsy appears.
- Mike Pratt as Jeff Randall
- Kenneth Cope as Marty Hopkirk
- Annette Andre as Jeannie Hopkirk
- Raymond Adamson .... Jack Lacey
- Joyce Carey .... Mrs. Maddox
- Patrick Connor .... Harry
- Sue Gerrard .... Susan Kirstner
- Alan Gifford .... Paul Kirstner
- David Healy .... Bugsy Spanio
- Charles Lamb .... Hotel Porter