Kojak TV Movies

Kojak Pilot Episode

Copyright 2017 by Mike Quigley. No reproduction of any kind without permission.

WARNING: The following contains spoilers and the plot is given away!


The Marcus-Nelson Murders (Pilot Episode) ★★★★
Original air date: March 8, 1973
Director: Joseph Sargent; Writers: Abby Mann & Selwyn Raab


This 1973 pilot was based on investigative reporting by Selwyn Raab with a screen play by Abby Mann. Much of it is different than the later TV series. Kojak is not the "boss," but just a detective working out of South Manhattan, because jurisdiction for crimes on the show is shared between that precinct and Brooklyn. Based in a major way on The Career Girl Murders, the story focuses on Lewis Humes (Gene Woodbury), a young black man who is railroaded for the attempted rape of Rita Alvarez (Antonia Rey) as well as the killing of the two young women. One thing in common with the series is Kojak's persistence in investigating a crime where he feels the evidence is not right, in this case things missing from Hume's confession, which he was brutalized into making. Humes is brought to the police station after he tells a cop that he witnessed the aftermath of the rape. There, things just get worse for him as he is connected not only to the rape, but also the murder of the two young women, browbeaten by the thuggish Detective Matt Black (William Watson), fatherly Detective Jacarrino (Val Bisoglio) and the couldn't-care-less Detective Dan Corrigan (Ned Beatty). Corrigan connects a picture Humes had in his pocket with one of the two women, which is later proven by Kojak to have no connection to her at all. Kojak has a great deal of trouble making any headway in the case because of Corrigan's attitude. Humes is eventually convicted by a jury for the rape. But then bigshot lawyer Jake Weinhaus (Jose Ferrer), visited earlier by Hume's mother who he declined to help, gets interested in the rape case and has the verdict against Humes overturned after questions are raised about the attitudes of some of the jurors and evidence that the prosecuting attorney Mario Portello (Allen Garfield) had suppressed. The judge (well-known character actor Bill Zuckert) orders a new trial. As far as the pending trial for the killing of the two women is concerned, dope dealer Bobby Martin (Roger Robinson) makes an air-tight deal after being charged with an unrelated murder to reveal the real killer of the two women -- a former junkie and cat burglar Kojak knows named Teddy Harper (Marjoe Gortner). Harper's involvement with the murder is cemented only after he moves in with Martin whose apartment is seriously bugged by the police. During the retrial for rape, despite Weinhaus attacking Corrigan's racist attitude and suggesting that Alvarez identified Humes as her assailant because she wanted to profit from a reward, Humes is still found guilty and goes to jail for five to ten years. So the story does not have a happy ending. Despite this, the acting in this show is superb and it captures great ambience not only of New York but also the world of the New York police.