Monday, December 7, 2020

THE SECOND AGNES MOOREHEAD BLOGATHON: The Wild Wild West - The Night of the Vicious Valentine, 1967

The Second Agnes Moorehead Blogathon
 is running from December 6 - 8. Our hostess, friend and fellow movie writer Crystal is hospitalized and fighting for recovery from a devastating illness. A message from Crystal's brother Jarrahn Brett.

Gill Jacobs at Realweegiemidgetreviews is thoughtfully hosting the blogathon HERE. Many thanks to Gill. We know Crystal will be pleased.

Michael Garrison's "James Bond on horseback" ran on CBS for four seasons, 1965-1969, and was followed by two television movies in 1979 and 1980. The Wild Wild West was nominated for three Primetime Emmy Awards: 1966, Ted Voigtlander for Individual Achievement in Cinematography; 1969, Ross Martin for Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Series; 1967, Agnes Moorehead for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Drama which was the only win for the series.

Written by Leigh Chapman and directed by Irving J. Moore
First aired on Friday, February 10, 1967

Ross Martin, Robert Conrad as Artemus Gordon and Jim West

The Wild Wild West follows the steampunk adventures of Secret Service Agents in the Victorian era Old West. Nattily dressed Jim West and nattily dressed, if not in disguise Artemus Gordon are a prime crime-fighting resource for President Grant. In our adventure, they are on the trail of a clever killer.

Whitey Hughes, Jack Perkins

Someone is killing recently married wealthy men, leaving their widows more than fixed for life. The third victim has been dispatched by a booby-trapped piano. These are not your average bump-offs! The first clue our heroes follow leads them to a garish, even by the show's standards, print shop. A melee is in the offing when equally garish thugs attack our boys. The giggler is especially disturbing.

Ross Martin, Henry Beckman, Sherry Jackson

The detective work for which our agents are renowned (a marriage announcement at the print shop) has led them to the proposed next victim. The wealthy Paul J. Lambert played by Henry Beckman is set to marry the much younger Michele LeMaster played by Sherry Jackson. Aha! Artemus sets about trying to dissuade Lambert from an action that could result in his murder while Jim goes back to the print shop.

Agnes Moorehead

Jim's investigation at the print shop brings him into the orbit of Miss Emma Valentine played by guest star Agnes Moorehead. Miss Valentine is a renowned Washington hostess who has been touring the west and treating her guests to amazing parties and personalities. By the way, she also hosts weddings. H'm. Perhaps Jim would consent to be presented at one of her parties. A real live Secret Service Agent! Perhaps. 

Agnes Moorehead

Refusing to wait for the official invitation, Agent West surreptitiously begins his own investigation of Miss Valentine's home. Jim should have realized that the clever Miss Emma Valentine would have her own unique and colourful alarm system.

Agnes Moorehead, Robert Conrad

Jim finds himself trapped! It is a device of Miss Valentine's consisting of robotic arms that can caress or crush at the touch of a button. Oh, dear! At least it gives Jim time to hear Miss Emma Valentine's ultimate goal. Villains do love to boast! Why is she arranging the marriages and deaths of these men of wealth? 

Emma Valentine: "I regard myself not as a criminal but as a savior of all womankind." 

Jim West: "And what do women have to be saved from?"

Emma Valentine: "From domination of the spirit, economic exploitation, annihilation of the mind; in brief, all of the injustices wrought by men."

Emma Valentine will control enough wealth to become a political power. She would like to be queen for a time before releasing a grateful nation into a democracy where she will be elected president. It is good to have goals.

Agnes Moorehead, Diane McBain, Ross Martin

Arte is in disguise as that necessary component to a successful wedding, an effusive and fussy tailor. However, he is recognized by Elaine Dodd, a not-so-bereaved widow in the case played by Diane McBain. While tonight's bride Michele is an unwilling participant in Miss Valentine's scheme, Mrs. Dodd is a sincere follower. Arte's goose is cooked.

Agnes Moorehead, Robert Conrad, Ross Martin

After the commercial break, we find our heroes, in serial-like fashion about to meet their demise in a most ingenious fashion. Jim and Arte are tied to the stained glass rooftop of the wedding chapel, surrounded by wires attached to the piano downstairs. When Mrs. Dodd strikes the final chord of the wedding recessional they shall tumble lo those many feet below killing themselves and the wealthy, newly-married Paul J. Lambert. Will our heroes win the day?

Let the vanquishing begin!

The Night of the Vicious Valentine concluded with Emma's incarceration yet it was open-ended enough that we were teased with the idea of the villain making a re-appearance. Sadly, it was not to be but we did have one perfect, tidy episode featuring the talented Agnes Moorehead.

Leigh Chapman

Actress (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) and writer (Dirty Mary Crazy Larry) Leigh Chapman wrote The Night of the Vicious Valentine giving us the welcome feminist slant presented by our quirkily megalomaniac villainess. It is one of six episodes Leigh wrote for The Wild Wild West.

"I wrote action-adventure. I couldn't write a romantic comedy or a chick flick if my life depended on it. I could write a love story, but it would have to be a Casablanca type of love story, and some people would have to die." - Leigh Chapman quote on the IMDb

Agnes Moorehead

Agnes was Emmy nominated seven times, six times for the role of Endora on Bewitched, and a win for her guest-starring role of Emma Valentine on The Wild Wild West in 1967.

Agnes Moorehead as Emma Valentine

Agnes Moorehead is a joy to watch in the role of the confident and crazy Emma Valentine. Agnes's performance is enhanced by an array of colourful and exquisitely detailed costumes. She looks magnificent and handles the hats, skirts, bustles, and capes with aplomb. Aggie preens, toys with adversaries, rules with an iron fist, and gleefully orchestrates all sorts of mayhem in the creation of her memorable, award-winning character.

Note: My contribution to the first Agnes Moorehead blogathon in 2016 was the noir western Station West, 1948.


  1. When I watched this episode for the blogathon, it was the first time I had ever seen WEST, so I guess it is supposed to be a somewhat campier, small-screen Bond. I thought it was just Moorehead’s character.

    1. Like the Batman series, West set a certain vibe and stuck to it. Everyone's favourite villain (Janet and I assume this to be true) is Dr. Lovelace played by Michael Dunn. Catch him if you can.

      I do think that Aggie's Emmy was one of those which represents a lifetime of award-worthy performances. She would rack up seven Emmy nominations, four Oscar nods and win the Golden Globe for Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte and Mrs. Parkington, 20 years apart.

      Not to say she didn't throw herself into the West material 100%, but she certainly had a career that called for a shelf full of awards.

  2. I've never seen THE WILD WILD WEST. This ep is like an episode of BATMAN! I bet AGNES MOOREHEAD had a great time playing the part. Agnes took her profession very seriously but probably didn't take herself too seriously. That is good because someone has to just let loose and have fun with a campy ep of a show. Obviously, Agnes would have been good as a BATMAN villain.

    1. The Wild Wild West and Batman both had their style and were very popular. Since you mention it, and since her Emmy win, it is a wonder that she didn't get a Batman character to play. Perhaps Bewitched kept her too busy at the time. Or may she thought it was "one and done."

  3. HENRY BECKMAN did two eps of BEWITCHED. I really remember his part in the second one. It was about a love potion and he was a client that was chasing his wife(JOAN TOMPKINS) through the STEPHENS' house. ARCH JOHNSON was in the ep also. This was when DICK YORK was still playing DARRIN. ALSO as you know Henry was on PEYTON PLACE with KASEY ROGERS who beginning in 1966 would play LOUISE TATE on BEWITCHED. I think BEWTICHED should get a lot of credit for their fashion. I really like Louise's wardrobe and a lot of the clothes worn by SAMANTHA(ELIZABETH MONTGOMERY).

    1. I recall how adorable Agnes and Arch Johnson were in their subplot of Endora falling for him (spell-wise).

      I agree. Bewitched is one of my favourite go-to 1960s shows for fashion of the era.

      I have only seen the first season of Peyton Place but was very impressed, especially with the Anderson family storyline.

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Terence Towles Canote at A Shroud of Thoughts is hosting The 8th Annual Favourite TV Show Episode Blogathon . The popular blogathon is runn...