Larry Dean & Chip Bronx (Two for the Money)

Created by Howard Rodman

Young patrol officer CHIP BRONX (played by Stephen Brooks) is shot while on duty, and  learns he won’t be fit for active duty when he recovers. So his partner and best friend, LARRY DEAN (played by Robert Hooks), quits the department to become a private investigator, and urges Chip to join him, rather than see his buddy re-assigned to a desk.

It’s a telling if fleeting gesture of their friendship, but one that drives Two For the Money, a 1972 made-for-television ABC Movie of the Week.

The two fledgling eyes are still moving furniture into their new office (the sign on the door promises “Personal Policework”) when they land their first client, Judith Gap, who wants the them to find her brother Morris, who’s been missing for twelve years. It seems their mother is dying, and the old lady would love to see her son before she calls it quits.

The problem is that Morris hasn’t just been missing for twelve years—he’s been a fugitive, on the lam for murdering five members of a family on the neighbouring farm. Supposedly over a high school insult a few years earlier. Or maybe not.

Dean and Bronx aren’t convinced, until Judith points out that there are several sizeable rewards still out there for Morris’ capture, and so the next thing you know, the boys are off to Kincaid, in the small town of Kincaid, “up near the Canadian border” (even though the whole thing looks like it was filmed in Los Angeles County).

From then on, it’s an modest little murder mystery, hampered only by an under-developed script and a television budget, prodded along with some nifty little scenes (Rats! Creepy old houses! Dark, stormy nights! Unfriendly townsfolk!) and a strong cast.

It was written by Howard Rodman, who would soon go on to create Harry O, and directed by industry vet Bernard L. Kowalski, and the cast included such sturdy pros as a surprisingly spry Walter Brennan, who gets to play the sole survivor of the slaughtered family as a crazy old coot intent on revenge, still waiting for Morris to reappear, and Neville Brand, the local lawman who has no use for the two “big city” detectives. Also along for the ride were Shelley Fabares, and some new kid called Richard Dreyfuss who gets to gets to share a genuinely creepy scene with a scenery-chewing Mercedes McCambridge.

Still, Larry and Dean seem capable enough. Larry’s the Black one, the more confident one, a little more cocksure, and he wears a leather jacket. Chip is the white guy in a sports coat; a shaggy-haired blond with an eye for the ladies, and that’s about all we know about the pair. But they work well together, and there’s an easy-going camaraderie between the two that suggested there might be more on the way, because the film was obviously a pilot. Sadly, nobody took the bait.

As P.I. films go, it’s no lost classic, and certainly no Hickey and Boggs, which came out the same year and also featured a Black-and-White team of private eyes. That one had an angsty intensity that Two for the Money never reaches—and never tries to. Given Rodman wrote it, it’s surprisingly underwritten, with large, gaping holes in the plot and much of the narrative left unexplained, but it’s passable and even enjoyable enough P.I. fare, the tropes of both detective fiction and seventies television slathered on (even the typographical choices of the opening credits are comfortably familiar),  but that’s all part of the fun.

At least for me.


Howard Rodman was an American screenwriters, known for his work on such critically acclaimed series such as Naked CityRoute 66, Have Gun-Will Travel and Harry O.  Other contributions to the Shamus Game include The Devlin Connection, Two for the Money,  and Fallen Angels. In 1976, he was presented with the Writers Guild’s Laurel Award for lifetime achievement in television.


  • In the beginning, when they’re cops, they’re seen driving their patrol car—with helmets on?


  • TWO FOR THE MONEY | Watch it now!
    (1972, ABC)
    90 minutes
    Premiere: February 26, 1972
    Teleplay by Howard Rodman
    Directed by Bernard L. Kowalski
    Produced by Aaron Spelling
    Starring Robert Hooks as LARRY DEAN
    and Stephen Brooks as CHIP BRONX
    Also starring Walter Brennan, Catherine Burns, Neville Brand, Shelley Fabares, Anne Revere, Mercedes McCambridge, Richard Dreyfuss, Skip Homeier, Michael Fox, Mady Maguire



  • June 6, 2023
    The Bottom Line: No lost classic, but the 1971 TV pilot TWO FOR THE MONEY is pure 70s P.I. comfort food, as it follows two ex-cops hunting down a mass murderer who’s been on the lam for twelve years
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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