9 June 2006 | Cheyenne-Bodie
Vic Morrow matches wits (and acting talent) with Hal Holbrook in "Travis Logan, DA"
"Travis Logan, D.A." (1971) was a movie pilot for a Quinn Martin series with Vic Morrow. The "also starring" roles in the resulting series would have been filled by Chris Robinson ("12 O'Clock High") and James Callahan ("Wendy and Me").
Vic Morrow had given one of television's finest series performances as Sergeant Saunders in "Combat!" (1962-67). In "Travis Logan, DA", Morrow wore very expensive tailored three-piece suits and looked great. As Travis Logan, Morrow was quiet, subdued, intelligent and forceful.
The best thing about this movie was the casting of the great Hal Holbrook as an ingenious murderer who Travis Logan tries to convict. Hal Holbrook was giving a brilliant, talked about performance on "The Senator" in 1970-71, the year this movie played. Holbrook was remarkably charismatic and appealing as liberal, idealistic Senator Hays Stowe. Holbrook eventually won the Emmy as best actor in a dramatic series for "The Senator", and the show won as best dramatic series. Holbrook was always concerned about type casting, and the "Travis Logan" villain role let him leave the saintly senator far behind him.
Since I was a big fan of Vic Morrow and Hal Holbrook, this was a movie I looked forward to and enjoyed.
The script by Andy Lewis ("Klute") was clever and the direction by Paul Wendkos ("The Brotherhood of the Bell") was effective. The supporting cast was also first rate with George Grizzard as the defense lawyer, Ed Flanders as a psychiatrist, Scott Marlowe as the victim's son, and Brenda Vacarro as Holbrook's cheating wife.
This was the second pilot Quinn Martin made for CBS that year, and CBS shrewdly chose to go with the first: "Cannon" starring William Conrad was a big success.
"Travis Logan" might have been a more viable pilot if Travis had been a defense counsel rather than a prosecutor. And maybe they could have given Travis a lovely law partner to play off Morrow's natural dourness. Barbara Anderson, Elizabeth Ashley, Louise Sorel, Rosemary Forsyth or Diane Baker might have been good candidates.
But CBS bought two drama series for 1971-72 with far weaker pilots than "Travis Logan, DA": "O'Hara, U.S. Treasury" with David Janssen and "Bearcats" with Rod Taylor.
Vic Morrow might have been interesting as the older cop in Quinn Martin's "The Streets of San Francisco" which started in 1972.
But Vic Morrow never had another series lead (although he did have a supporting role in "B.A.D. Cats" in 1980 with Michelle Pffiefer). But Morrow probably could never have equaled his superb work on "Combat". Not many actors have.