THE GIRL IN THE EMPTY GRAVE (TV movie/Pilot)

9/20/1977. Tuesday, 9 pm. 2 hours.
NBC. MGM.
aka: "Abel" and "Abel Marsh."
Drama.
Code: GEG 9/1977

PLOT

Abel Marsh, mountain town police chief, comes to believe that a dead girl never died.

CREDITS

Writer: Lane Slate.
Director: Lou Antonio.

CAST

Andy Griffith as Abel Marsh
Mitzy Hoag as Gloria
James Cromwell as Deputy Malcolm
Sharon Spelman as "Doc" Dr. Susan Glasgow
Edward Winter as Dr. Peter Cabe
Jonathan Banks as Courtland "Courty" Gates, local newspaper reporter/publisher. Listed 3rd of 13 on screen (alpha list); 7th in Unsold Pilots.

CHARACTER

Courty is not too bright; has trouble getting his mechanical pencil to work. Reacts to joke "Is that the murderer?" as if it's serious. Mouth hanging open in some shots. He gets a touch sarcastic and resentful at ribbing about his usual "big" stories. Talks with mouth full of salad. Reluctant to believe sheriff when he arrests local politician.

COMMENTS

"The fourth attempt, and first of two Abel Marsh pilots, to turn the 1972 movie They Only Kill Their Masters into a TV series." Unsold Pilots.

This is another small role that JB maximizes with good use of stage business and expression. There are some nice close-ups for him, too.

COSTUME

JB’s hair is almost long in this role. Another appearance of The Cloth Cap.

CRITICS

"… writer Lane Slate undermines his clever mystery plotting with too many obnoxious, artificial characterizations. … they spend most of their time repeating each others questions. Such tedious shtickery quickly becomes a turn-off. … everyone else is just plain grating." Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times, 9/20/1977, sec.IV, p.13.

LINES

"Well, it (death) sells newspapers."

"What a bummer."

LOCATION

Big Bear Lake area, Southern California.

SCREEN TIME

2 minutes, in 3 scenes at 45 minutes, and 1 hour, 30 minutes into film.

WORKED WITH

Andy Griffith (MAPI 3/1994)