The Wild Wild West (1965–1969)
Season
1
Episode
16

The Night of the Steel Assassin (7 Jan. 1966)

TV Episode   |    |  Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi


The Night of the Steel Assassin (1966) Poster

Jim and Arte must stop Torres - a dangerous man in black more metal than flesh, with superhuman strength, the power of hypnosis, and a taste for revenge - from killing President Grant.


8/10
157

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19 September 2007 | a_l_i_e_n
Tin Soldier
Col. Torres' shattered body is surgically repaired and reinforced with metal parts. Now endowed with super strength, the vengeful cyborg embarks on a quest to punish those from his regiment he holds responsible for his injuries. Among the names on his hit-list is President Ulysses S. Grant.

Technically quite superior for the time it was filmed, "The Night Of The Steel Assassin" features some outstanding makeup work including one particularly impressive shot in which Col. Torres receives a bullet to the face. Shockingly, the projectile tears a strip of flesh right off his forehead revealing nothing but metal beneath. Another effective touch is the weird electronic echo in Torres' voice that makes him sound as if he were speaking through a gramophone.

Col. Torres (played to grim perfection by John Dehner) plans to kill the visiting President Grant using guided missiles made to look like fourth of July sky rockets. West, despite being bound and hung from the ceiling, manages to divert the missiles' aim causing both rockets to spectacularly sail into the room where he is being held.

Though generally well directed by Lee H. Katzin, "...Steel Assassin" does at times suffer from an uneven sense of pace as in one plodding scene in which a miscast Sue Ann Langdon undergoes an all too lengthy hypnosis session, and a dance hall sequence also becomes rather tedious to watch. Still, the action sequences are very exciting; Col. Torres is both a menacing villain as well as a genuinely interesting character (sort of like a Dr. Loveless played without the humour); Richard Markowitz's music is superb and the episode's extensive model work, while not always completely convincing, is nevertheless always fun to inspect.

As first season episodes go, this one is, indeed, nicely forged.

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