• Craig Hunter

PT - Banacek - 015 - A Million the Hard Way

Updated: Jun 5, 2019

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Show Notes


Welcome everyone to The Predictably Treacherous podcast.  Today's episode is Banacek "A Million the Hard Way".  This is episode four of season one.  This episode was directed by Bernard L. Kowalski and written by Stanley Ralph Ross.  The original air date was November 1st, 1972.

Let's get right to the episode summary. 

When a million dollars disappears from a display case in a busy casino during a commotion.  Banacek is called in to investigate by the casino's Howard Hughes type owner.  



Inside a casino.

It's busy.  

Couples visiting Vegas are lined up to get their picture taken around a display with $1 million in 5 stacks of $1000 bills by a photographer (Margot Kidder) wearing a rid glittery one-piece swimsuit.  The 5 stacks spin slowly on a velvet tabletop with a plastic dome cover.  A security guard stands next to the display watching the couples and the money.  

The first couple seems really touristy.  They make a remark about how this is the closest they'll ever get to a million dollars.  The man shamelessly flirts with the photographer, mentions that they are from Iowa, and says his wife's name, "Martha" in what appears to be an obvious attempt to get remembered by witnesses.  

When the next couple is about to have their picture taken, an alarm begins ringing.  This indicates that the slot machine "Big Betty" has been hit.  The photographer collects her camera and runs over to take a picture of the winning couple.  After she takes the picture, the man becomes irate, "you shouldn't have done that" "who told you you could do that" then he grabs her camera and throws it.  

The floor manager arrives and the photographer is understandably upset.  She returns to her station to take the next couple's picture.  The display is otherwise undisturbed but the 5 stacks of money appear to be gone.  

Banacek Intro

Banacek arrives by plane in Vegas.  Nice suit. Jay is there with a limo to greet him on the tarmac. Banacek and Jay have a discussion that fills us in on what's happening.  

Banacek was hired by a John Nathan Jackson who is like a Howard Hughes character.  Filthy rich, eccentric, and nobody has seen him in years.  Banacek will meet with one of his henchmen, Arnold Leiland.  There's some nice aerial shots of them driving and then we arrive at a hotel where Banacek is to meet Arnold.

Arnold says he hasn't seen Jackson in 15 years.  He speaks to him several times daily but only communicates through hand memo or phone call.   Banacek asks why Jackson cares about a small sum of money.  Arnold says Jackson was enraged.  He put the million back into the exhibit after the theft and it's about pride.  

Unhappy Insurance Agent

They leave for the casino and to meet Andrews from the insurance agency. He is upset that Banacek is there.  He gets ultra competitive.  He has a strange accent. I can't quite figure out what it is.  It's kind of a Cary Grant thing...or, more of a Gary Granite from the Flintstones thing (clip gary granit).  Banacek tells Andrews to stop acting like a 12 year old and to get him the name and contact info for the 2 guards on duty and the photographer when the theft took place.  

Next Banacek talks with the security guard in a barbershop while he is getting a haircut.  The guard tells him that when the jackpot was won, his partner moved away from the display to help the photographer deal with the man who threw her camera while he stayed to watch the display.

He said that he only turned away from it for 5 to 10 seconds and when he turned back the money was gone.  

14:08 The barbar looks at banacek's hair inquisitively and Banacek says, "yeah, it's real."

Ladies Man

Out at the pool Margot Kidder is sunbathing and Banacek wants to ask her some questions about the night of the robbery. She looks really foxy.  Top notch. They have a nice exchange.  She is ultra-flirty and sexually suggestive. She has her eyes closed for sunbathing and she tells him his voice is sexy. The scene works better having the woman be sexually aggressive with Banacek rather than having Banacek be domineering and chauvinistic. This balance of the woman being more aggressive and Banacek having to fend them off makes Banacek seem more likable.

Margot inadvertently foreshadows her future in real life when Banacek tells her his name and she says, "a one word name like Superman".  Then when they go inside for a drink she explains her behavior, she says the sun "makes her a little crazy". 

Did I mention she's incredibly foxy.

Now in Margot's dark room looking at the developing pictures, Banacek sees the picture of the couple who won the Big Betty prize.  Margot says the woman is a semi-pro...an escort. 

Later, back at the casino we see the semi-pro picking up a John.  Banacek asks to speak with the lady and the guy is reluctant so Banacek whispers him a lie about her being a syndicate boss's mistress and he abruptly leaves.  

She and Banacek sit.  She demands payment for information.  She says she just met Loomis that night.  He bought her a drink.  She says he seemed strange...not interested in sex just seemed lonely.  Banacek gives her the hundered and she says she feels like she is cheating him and implies that they have sex.  Banacek declines.  

Now we are back in the casino.  Jay is gambling at the craps table. I like this Jay gambling obsession thing. Jay is like your everyman, a schmuck, so it feels right when he gets duped or gambles away all his money or just generally fails...especially in contrast to Banacek who is meant to be the Übermensch

Banacek asks him where Linda is and Jay points him to the showgirls changing room behind a door marked private. Apparently it's not locked so he walks right in and coyly says, "i didn't know anyone was in here" to a room full of showgirls about to go on stage" (clip why did you knock) .  They don't seem bothered by this and one of the girls "trinket" who has a Melanie Griffith little girl voice, flirts heavily with him.

Banacek asks Linda why she took the picture of Loomis.  She's a little offended but he charms her.  She says she was told by Larry Fields, the hotel press agent, to take pictures of anyone who wins "big betty" (the slot machine with the large payout), they get the customer's release and put the picture in the casino newsletter.  

Now Banacek visits Frank Fields by the pool to confirm Linda's story.  Several models in bikinis are milling about waiting to have their picture taken by Fields.  They work for Fields.   Fields confirms Linda's story and says he was following orders from Leiland who was likely following orders from Howard Hughes.  When Banacek is about to leave Fields asks him to first take some pictures with the "broads".  He says he'll put them in the brochure, it will lend some class to the place. (clip pictures with broads)

Now we're entering that part of the episode where stuff happens, we don't know exactly what it means, but Banacek acts like it all makes sense to him.

Banacek talks to the guy who services the slot machines, flies to LA for dinner with Linda and to talk with Loomis, someone tries to kill him, he talks to Felix briefly, has a serendipitous encounter with the maid...and finally, we get the big reveal scene. 

The Big Reveal

Banacek has gather all the stakeholders around Big Betty.  Andrews is there.  Leiland arrives with his wife and Banacek begins the big reveal. (clip the big reveal)

- marvin flanders activated an electro magnet that caused the machine to win.

- Loomis had picked up Betty Janus to make him seem like a cheating husband.

- The phone number on Loomis' calendar was the number for this hotel.  His wife knew where he was. Her in curlers and their unhappy marriage was an act.  

- Loomis and Flanders are both engineers so they could rig the slot machine.  

- When Flanders died there was evidence left in the repair shop.  Magnets, so detonation coil.

- The money wasn't sloten it was destroyed.  When the jackpot was hit, the money in the display was detonated and the smoke and ashes were sucked out with a powerful vacuum (silent vacuum), the hotel's central vac.  

The security guy asks why anyone would want to destroy the money.  Banacek says he was hired to find out what happened to the money and recover it.  

The Get

Leiland leaves to phone Howard Hughes and inform him.  Banacek follows shortly afterwards.   Leiland is standing in an office.  He hasn't made the call.  Banacek confronts Leiland and gets him to admit that it was him.  Let's listen to the clip (the get). Leiland pulls a gun out of the drawer and is going to kill himself when Banacek grabs the gun from him and his wife enters.

So now Banacek and Linda are leaving the casino.  Banacek is going to be leaving for Boston.  Linda says she hopes to see him again and for her, their relationship was more than just a quick fling. Banacek says for him too, and that he isn't one of those guys who makes a connection and splits, let's listen to the clip (clip farewell). Then he splits and she will never be brought up again.  

Who is the man who asks for a light at the end in that throw away scene with Jay waiting for the plane? Don't know.  Both Jay and Banacek acted like they recognized him but I couldn't find any information on him.  Was it someone famous in real life from the time? Was it supposed to be the Howard Hughes type figure from the episode? Don't know.

Margot Kidder was elite level love interest in this episode.  Her presence provided the chemistry to make Banacek far more tolerable.  Unfortunately, I'm sure next week he'll revert to being as obnoxious and chauvinistic as ever.  

Next week on The Predictably Treacherous Podcast we'll continue with Banacek season 1 "To Steal a King" where Banacek investigates a missing coin collection.

Tune in next week.

Intro music

Sweeter Vermouth Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/