TV Terror Guide: One of My Wives is Missing (1976)
Air Date: March 5, 1976 (ABC)
Production Companies: Spelling-Goldberg Productions
Running Time: 93 min.
Available on: YouTube
Written by: Peter Stone
From the stage play Trap for a Single Man by Robert Thomas
Directed by: Glenn Jordan
Cast: Jack Klugman, Elizabeth Ashley, James Franciscus, Joel Fabiani
Rating: 6 vintage televisions (out of 10)
Similar in purpose and style, One of My Wives is Missing (1976) evokes another 70s TV movie that we recently discussed: Conspiracy of Terror. I could almost copy and paste content from that review into this one. It was a pilot for an intended series. It features an eccentric lead character. It relies on genuine, good-natured humor that outweighs the thrills and chills.
Here, Jack Klugman plays Inspector Murray Levine, big city detective transplanted to small town cop. He wears the role like a comfortable suit, creating the longing to watch him on a weekly basis, although it seems the location would be limiting to the number of crimes that could be committed on a sustained basis.
Wives has a more compelling set-up than Conspiracy. Daniel Corban (James Franciscus) calls Levine when his wife disappears. Quick to assume it was simply a marital spat between the newlyweds, Levine learns more might be happening when a woman appears claiming to be Elizabeth Corban, but Daniel insists that she’s not.
The movie revolves around Daniel’s insistence that this woman (Elizbaeth Ashley) is not his wife, coupled with accusations that he may be mentally unstable. This “hook” sustains the story for quite a while, but we’re rewarded with plenty of twists and turns. You truly can’t predict what the outcome will be.
However, there was just one twist too many for me and it was either too unbelievable to accept, or I just didn’t want to accept it. Without ruining any surprises, I can only say that it betrayed the characters and the good will the movie had produced to involve us. A subsequent twist attempts to correct course, but it’s too little, too late, and left a bad taste in my mouth.
Based on a play, two other TV versions of Trap for a Single Man have been made: Honeymoon with a Stranger (1969), starring Janet Leigh, and Vanishing Act (1986), starring Mike Farrell and Margot Kidder. I’m tempted to watch those to see how their twists are navigated, but I don’t know if I can sustain another emotional blow so soon.
Visit the TV Terror Guide: 70's TV Movies playlist at ClassicHorrors.Club TV on YouTube to watch One of My Wives is Missing as well as all the great movies from this series...