(Possibly) created by Edward J. Mason or Guy Morgan
The short-lived television show, International Detective (1959-60), followed the thrilling adventures of private detective KEN FRANKLIN, who was played by blandly handsome, future quiz show host Art Fleming (billed as “Arthur” Fleming). Whether it was planned this way or not, his character seemed to combine elements from several earlier P.I. characters, as well as from earlier non-P.I. TV shows. Specifically, Dashiell Hammett’s Continental Op, Stephen Marlowe’s Chet Drum, and the classic police procedural TV/Radio series Dragnet, with just tiny bit seemingly (but perhaps inadvertently) lifted from the popular, long-running anthology series, The Millionaire.
Franklin was an operative of a huge private detective agency, with worldwide reach (just like the Op). In Franklin’s case, the agency was not a fictionalized version of the Pinkertons, as was the case with the Op, but the Pinkertons’ main competitor, the Burns International Detective Agency, which was actually named, since that agency was cooperating with the production of this series.
Consequently (just like Chet Drum), Franklin’s cases took him all over the globe, investigating everything from armed robberies to jewel thefts, from kidnappings to missing persons, from tracking down Nazi war criminals to investigating the counterfeiting of tickets to the annual Rose Bowl football game.
During the opening credits, each episode would include the announcement, “This story is based on the files of the William J. Burns International Detective Agency, Inc. The names of the characters and locations have been changed to protect the privacy of the client.” So like the classic cop drama, Dragnet, the episodes fictionalized actual cases, and were produced with the cooperation of the agency (in this case a private company rather than an official law enforcement agency) that carried out the real-life investigations.
Finally, like Michael Anthony (Marvin Miller), who, at the beginning of each episode of The Millionaire, always got his assignments from his boss, multibillionaire John Beresford Tipton, who was always photographed from behind, seated at a desk in his office, usually with only his arm visible, Franklin got his assignments from “Mr. Burns,” who was similarly photographed in each episode.
None of it phased Franklin, though. He was one cool customer, a multilingual gourmet and all-round athlete with an appreciation for the finer things in life: food, wine, chess and bridge.
No creator’s credit was ever given, and it’s likely the show was “created” by committee, so to speak. But Edward J. Mason wrote the script for the first episode, “The Conway Case,” though it’s not altogether clear that this was the first episode filmed. And Guy Morgan wrote the script for the second episode, “The Carrington Case” (which could have just as easily been the first one filmed), was one of the most prolific of all the writers on the show (contributing scripts to five episodes in total), and was credited as the story editor for all 39 episodes of the series.
In addition to Fleming, several actors were semi-regulars on the show, playing police officials from all over the world with whom Franklin had developed a friendly working relationship. These included Anthony Jacobs, who played Inspector Cataldo of the Italian Police; Nigel Green as Montero, another Italian law enforcement official; Jean Surret as Commissaire Morand of the French Police; and Robert Arden as McNaughton, a US police contact.
Despite an American lead, and an American detective agency being dramatized, to say nothing of the occasional American settings, the series was British, produced by the Associated British Pictures Corporation, and primary filming was done at Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire, England. It was broadcast over the UK’s ABC Weekend Midlands network (the TV subsidiary of Associated British Pictures), the series was syndicated in the United States.
Although I hadn’t even heard of this show until Jim brought it to my attention, it must have been popular enough to have had spawned a few tie-ins. There was a board game, and there at least one soundtrack CD was released (albeit in 2016, possibly a re-release of an earlier album), collecting Edwin Astley’s theme for the show and other incidental music. Like many of the American detective TV shows of the time, Astley’s music from the show was full of quirky, percussive, pseudo-jazz warblings and big band drama. Astley was known for his memorable scores and incidental music for such British shows as The Adventures of Robin Hood, Danger Man, Gideon’s Way, The Baron, The Champions, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), Department S and The Saint (including that seven note ear worm).
Arthur “Art” Fleming went on to host TV game show Jeopardy! from 1964 until 1975, and again from 1978 to 1979. It earned him two Emmy Award nominations, and a studio in Burbank being named in his honour. And composer Edwin Astley was the father-in-law of Pete Townshend of The Who at one point, with whom collaborated on a few pieces.
- INTERNATIONAL DETECTIVE
39 half-hour episodes
(Possibly) created by Edward J. Mason or Guy Edwards
Writers: Lester Fuller, Guy Morgan, Gordon Wellesley, Larry Forrester, Stanley Mann, Edward J. Mason, Paul Tabori, Derek N. Twist, J.B. Williams, Peter Yeldham
Directors: A. Edward Sutherland, Jeremy Summers
Produced by Gordon L.T. Scott
Original theme by Edwin Astley
Starring Arthur Fleming as KEN FRANKLIN
With Anthony Jacobs as Inspector Cataldo (4 episodes)
Nigel Green as Montero (4 episodes)
Tony Thawnton as Pritchard (4 episodes)
Jean Surret as Commissaire Morand (3 episodes)
Robert Arden as McNaughton (3 episodes)
and George Mickell as Lempfert (3 episodes)
Guest stars: Alan Wheatley, Millicent Martin, Andre Morell, Shirley Ann Field, Alfred Burke, Stratford Johns, Patrick Troughton, Cyril Shaps, Freddie Mills, Dermot Kelly, Bernard Cribbins, Francis Matthews, Marius Goring.
- SEASON ONE
- “The Conway Case”
- “The Carrington Case”
- “The Dimitrios Case”
- “The Cumberland Case”
- “The Winthrop Case”
- “The Whitley Case”
- “The Prescott Case”
- “The Dudley Case”
- “The Rose Bowl Case”
- “The Steibel Case”
- “The Brenner Case”
- “The Dennison Case”
- “The Barnaby Case”
- “The Oakland Case”
- “The Carter Case”
- “The Marino Case”
- “The Daniels Case”
- “The Kempton Case”
- “The Stevenson Case”
- “The Raffael Case”
- “The Bristol Case”
- “The Joplin Case”
- “The Santino Case”
- “The Bismarck Case”
- “The Marlowe Case”
- “The Raschid Case”
- “The Rosario Case”
- “The Rainis Case”
- “The Medina Case”
- “The Orlando Case”
- “The Sheridan Case”
- “The Somerset Case”
- “The Anthony Case”
- “The Dolores Case”
- “The Stanton Case”
- “The Dunster Case
- “The Martos Case
- “The Washington Case
- “The Madison Case”
- International Detective Board Game
(1959, J & L Randall Ltd)
A “Merit Game” based on the TV series, made by J & L Randall Ltd, Potters Bar, England, with arrangement from ABC Television Ltd. The aim was apparently to track suspects around the world. There were the usual “clue cards,” and “evidence cards,” and the board was a partial map of the world (mostly Europe), with global hot spots of criminal activity (New York City, London, Moscow, Casablanca, and Halifax, Nova Scotia(?) conveniently marked.
- International Detective/Man From Interpol Original Soundtrack | Buy this CD
Musicby Edwin Astley
Music by Tony Crombie
This twofer combines pairs Edwin Astley’s score for International Detective with Tony Crombie’s soundtrack music for the Man from Interpol series.