Banacek

Created by Anthony Wilson

banacekOh-so-smug THOMAS BANACEK was a Boston-based Polish/American freelance insurance investigator whom insurance companies turned to when their own investigations have failed, in an engaging series of made-for-TV movies back in the seventies. His cockiness didn’t exactly endear him to big shot insurance executive types, since calling in Banacek usually meant their own investigators hadn’t done their jobs. And the more tight-assed and pompous the executives were, the more Banacek delighted in rubbing their faces in it (let’s just say he wasn’t known for his humility). Unfortunately for them, Banacek’s track record was so good they had to put up with him. He specialized in solving “impossible crimes,” recovering such missing loot as an armored car or a professional football player who disappeared during a game.

Urbane, suave, cocky, Banacek has a taste for the fine things in life, and an affinity for Polish proverbs. He lives in the ritzy Beacon Hill area, and is chauffered around town in a 1942 Packard 180 limo by his driver, Jay. Among his close friends is Felix Mulholland, owner of Mulholland’s Rare Books & Prints, who often ends up doing research for Banacek. In the second season, Carlie Kirkland (Christine Belford), an insurance agent, was added for love interest. But, in her own way, Carlie was as infuriating as Banacek, always a bit too ditzy to be believed, though their rivalry definitely heated up the relationship.

All in all, a real treat, and certainly my favourite of NBC’s Wednesday Mystery Movies lineup, although-the nudge-nudge wink-wink dialogue between Banacek and the numerous gorgeous, often scantily-clad women he’s constantly fending off now comes off as quite dated.

By the way, Banacek wasn’t the first — or the last — P.I. drama Peppard would be involved in. He previously starred in the quirky 1968 film P.J. as a gumshoe and his last credited performance was as gumshoe Max Morgan in a 1994 Matlock episode entitled “The P.I.”(1994).

TELEVISION

  • BANACEK
    (1972-74, NBC)
    Universal Films
    17 90-minute episodes
    Writers: Del Reisman, William Link and Richard Levinson, Jimmy Sangster, Harold Livingston (story), Stanley Roberts, Robert Van Scoyk
    Directors: Herschel Daugherty, Andrew McLaglen, Jack Smight
    Executive Story Consultant: Robert van Scoyk
    Produced by Howie Horowitz
    Exeutive Producer: George Eckstein
    Starring George Peppard as THOMAS BANACEK
    Also starring Ralph Manza as Jay Drury
    Murray Matheson as Felix Mulholland
    Christine Belford as Carlie Kirkland
    Guest Stars:
    Candy Clark, Bert Convy, Gretchen Corbett, Broderick Crawford, Linda Evans, Sterling Hayden, Margot Kidder, Peter Marshall, Brenda Vaccaro, Gordon Pinsent, Victoria Principal

    • PILOT
    • “Banacek” (aka “Detour to Nowhere;” March 20, 1972, 120 minutes pilot)
    • SEASON ONE | Buy this season on DVD
    • “Let’s Hear It for a Living Legend” (September 13, 1972)
    • “Project Phoenix” (September 27, 1972)
    • “No Sign of the Cross” (October 11, 1972)
    • “A Million the Hard Way” (November 1, 1972)
    • “To Steal a King” (November 15, 1972)
    • “Ten Thousand Dollars a Page” (January 10, 1973)
    • “The Greatest Collection of Them All” (January 24, 1973)
    • “The Two Million Clams of Cap’n Jack” (February 7, 1973)
    • SEASON TWO | Buy this season on DVD (includes previously unreleased pilot, “Detour to Nowhere”)
    • “No Stone Unturned” (October 3, 1973)
    • “If Max is So Smart, Why Doesn’t He Tell Us Where He Is?” (November 7, 1973)
    • “The Three Million Dollar Piracy” (November 21, 1973)
    • “The Vanishing Chalice” (January 15, 1974)
    • “Horse of a Slightly Different Color” (January 22, 1974)
    • “Rocket to Oblivion” (February 12, 1974)
    • “Fly Me-If You Can Find Me” (February 19, 1974)
    • “Now You See Me-Now You Don’t” (March 12, 1974)

NOVELIZATIONS

  • Banacek (1973, by Deane Romano; based on “Let’s Hear It for a Living Legend” episode)

RELATED LINKS

Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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