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Matinee: 'Man With A Camera: The Gambler' Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

8 November 2014

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the fifty-eighth in our series of Saturday matinees today: Man With A Camera: The Gambler.

Once again, we are exercising our God-given right to be silly. We unearthed a second half-hour episode of Man With A Camera, the 1960s ABC TV series that starred Charles Bronson as photographer Mike Kovac. No title was provided, so we stepped up to the plate.

Kovac, decked out in a tux, infiltrates a swank (but illegal) gambling house with his cigarette lighter/spy camera. But he's soon found -- and tossed -- out. The Gambler doesn't want any publicity even though he runs an honest house, he says. So honest, he lets Kovac keep his film.

But there's a war going on. And an election. And the Governor wants to shut the place down. The Gambler manages to get his hands on Kovac's negatives of publicity stills of the Governor and his family. And he has an ex-con do a few photo composites to put the Governor in some compromising positions.

Don't worry, though. Kovac makes a composite of his own to save the day. Not a great one, his father points out, but it gets the job done.

Along the way, you get to enjoy not just the spy camera, but an elaborate lighting setup and what looks like a Nikon F on the dark balcony. We're guessing but when Kovac swaps lenses, he seems to mount a bayonet telephoto lens on it, which would a Nikon F-mount in 1960. For some reason (it's dark, so it's hard to tell what's going on), he then seems to unmount it and put the body of the camera in his jacket pocket.

Which, you have to admit, seems pretty silly.

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