Created by Barbara Avedon, Barbara Corday, Barney Rozenweig, Terry Louise Fisher, Steve Brown, Clifford Hoelscher and Jean Hoelscher
“Just like in a Dick Powell movie, a gigantic black hole opened up at my feet and I dived right in…”
— B.T. Brady, in voiceover
How many people does it take to write one of these things, anyway?
In This Girl for Hire, a fluffy-not-stuffy 1983 pilot featuring cutie patootie Bess Armstrong as a private eye, there are seven (count ’em, SEVEN!) writers listed on IMDB.
Seven writers? It sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.
But it works. Not enough to give birth to an actual series, but I like it. Sorta.
B.T. BRADY is the smart ass Los Angeles dick with a serious jones for old detective movies, to the point where she (cross)dresses like a Bogart impersonator, right down to the fedora, trench coat and snub nose .38 (although bogie never had gams like that). She even has a bimbo secretary (male). Naturally, she also has the snappy patter down pat and snappy. Although all that confidence may be misplaced, given that B.T.’s not always that good at her job–and not always that smart.
She is entertaining to watch, however. AND she is undeniably cute in a kid sister kinda way, which makes her unsuccessful attempts to vamp it up all the more amusing.
Or cringe-worthy, depending on your mood. Or your kid sister.
She’s hired to look into the murder of a particularly obnoxious mystery writer (Jose Ferrer), which opens the door to a gentle lampooning of several other mystery writers who are also suspects, including an Agatha Christie type (played by Hermione Baddeley), a Mickey Spillane type, and a Leslie Charteris type (Roddy McDowall). Also on hand to add a little gumshoe cred are ace shamus signifiers Howard Duff (radio’s Sam Spade) and Elisha Cook Jr.
The wisecracks are actually worth the effort, Bess Armstrong is surprisingly good as the P.I. (including the voice-over narration), and a couple of well-placed shout-outs suggest that least one of the seven dwarves knew their way around the genre. It helped that running interference in B.T.’s life was her over-the-top mother Zandra, a former B-actress (Celeste Holm) and her boyfriend, Wolfe, who just happens to run a Hollywood memorabilia shop. Just to complement things, B.T.’s boyfriend, Phil (Cliff DeYoung), is a cop. Even Ray Walston (everyone’s favourite Martian) pops up.
Of course, your mileage may vary, but meet this film halfway.
HEY! WAIT A MINUTE!
- Was this a rip-off of the similarly titled Honey West novel? Except for the actual plot, the characters, setting, and the name are all pretty familiar to anyone who’s read This Girl For Hire by G. G. Fickling, according to David L. Vineyard and the crew at Mystery*File.
- Wolfe Macready: Your mother doesn’t want you doing anything dangerous…
B.T. Brady: It’s just a manuscript. I have to deliver it to a producer.
Wolfe Macready: Oh, well, I guess that’s ok. They only stab you in the back if you’re in the business.
- THIS GIRL FOR HIRE | Watch it now!
Original air date: November 1, 1983
Story by Barbara Avedon, Barbara Corday, Barney Rozenweig
Teleplay by Terry Louise Fisher, Steve Brown
Characters by Clifford Hoelscher, Jean Hoelscher
Directed by Jerry Jameson
Starring Bess Armstrong B.T. BRADY
Also starring Celeste Holm, Cliff De Young, Hermione Baddeley, Scott Brady, Howard Duff, José Ferrer, Beverly Garland, Roddy McDowall, Percy Rodrigues, Ray Walston, Elisha Cook Jr.