Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries - The Mystery of the Silent Scream (1977)

The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries

The Mystery of the Silent Scream
This episode begins with Larry Storch (most famous for his role as Corporal Agarn on the old TV series "F Troop") playing a washed-up Vegas stand-up comedian, slanting his eyes and delivering a racist impression of a Chinese person.  Looking at this from a modern day perspective, it's not clear to me whether the producers of the show actually wanted us to laugh at this, or if it's there to indicate what an unfunny hack Storch's character is supposed to be.   Hopefully the latter, although I have a sneaking suspicion that might not be the case.

"Ah, so... me Chinese, me play joke, me go pee-pee in your... hey, why is everyone booing me?"
Storch's character, in addition to being a washed-up opening act with delusions of grandeur, is also massively in debt due to a gambling problem.  His solution to his financial woes is to become a mad bomber of the casinos.  He rigs up a variety of remote-controlled bombs and plants them in various spots in the casinos, and then threatens to blow them up unless the casinos pay him off.  Rather than just take the money and leave, however, which would seem to be the sensible thing to do, Storch dresses up in a disguise (the two we see are "Hippie" and "Old Man") and then proceeds to make losing bets at the roulette wheel, and forces the casino to pay him as if he was winning.  This causes large crowds to gather around the table, and wonder why they are paying a guy who is clearly losing.  Apparently Storch feels like this will humiliate the casinos in some way, and add to his sense of revenge.  It doesn't really make any sense.  It seems like the show's producers just decided it would be fun to dress Storch up in some silly costumes, and worked backwards from there.

Larry Storch's "Hippie" Disguise
Storch also has a co-conspirator or conspirators who he speaks with on the phone, but it's never clear exactly who he's talking to.  The person he talks to sounds like the brains of the operation, but the only conspirator we ever see on the show seems like a hired thug, and is wearing what looks like a parking valet's uniform.  I'm guessing it's just another disgruntled casino employee who Storch recruited to his cause.  However, Storch's telephone conversations are what eventually becomes his undoing.  Two young women are on a trip to Las Vegas, and one of them is a deaf lip-reader, who sees Larry Storch talking about his bombing plans on a pay phone and reads his lips.  The girl and her friend try to report him, but no one will take them seriously.  One of the casino bosses takes pity on them, though, and gives them free passes to a Trini López concert with Larry Storch as the opening act.  Which is kind of a dick move when you think about it, giving tickets to listen to a singer and a vocal impressionist to a deaf girl.

Some interesting symbols on Larry Storch's casino chips.  Most of them have a star and crescent moon on them, which symbolizes Islam.  But then there is one stack that has a triangle inside of a circle, which could represent the Illuminati... or Alcoholics Anonymous.  That means that you lucky conspiracy theorists out there can now tie "The Hardy Boys" in to your insane belief systems!  No need to thank me all at once.
Even though the casino bosses and police don't take the girls seriously, they run into someone else who does: The Hardy Boys!  Things get off to a rocky start though, when the girls run the Hardys off the road (they were driving away in fear after reading Larry Storch's lips).  When the Hardys see the girls later at the casino, Joe yells at the deaf girl, and then is humiliated and ashamed when he learns she is deaf.  He then tries to make it up to her by talking down to her like she was a child while simultaneously trying to romance and make out with her.  The whole thing comes across as pretty skeevy, really.  The idea that deaf people are just normal people who just happen to be deaf, and should be treated more or less the same as everyone else never seems to occur to him.

Seriously, look where Frank's left hand is pointing!
Joe Makes Out With His Girlfriend-Of-The-Week While Frank Watches.  There's No Telling Which One is More Turned On.
Over all, this wasn't one of the better episodes of the Hardy Boys.  Even with Larry Storch dressed in a "Hippie" costume, it just wasn't weird or spooky enough to really excite me the way my favorite episodes of this series do.

...and a Bumper Sticker That Says "No Other Possibility"

Larry Storch has had a long career as recording artist, stand-up comedian, and actor in both television and film.  He also lent his voice to many cartoons, my favorite being Filmation's The Batman/Superman Hour from 1968, where Storch became the first actor to voice The Joker in animation.

The Joker

BONUS!  "Mystery of the Silent Scream" MUSIC VIDEOS:

Elvis Presley - Mystery Train

The Electric Soft Parade - Silent to the Dark

The Cure - Baby Screams

More Hardy Boys screencaps after the jump...

Guest Stars Larry Storch and a Cavalcade of Imploded or Demolished Casinos

Colored Lights

Smooth Characters

Larry Storch Builds His Bombs

Subtle Acting

The Hardys' Girlfriends-Of-The-Week Report the Bomb Plot to the Casino Boss

"Pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name."

Frank Tickles Joe's Stomach

Vanpacked Action

Putting Out the Fire

Roulette Wheel

A Grinning Larry Storch Admires His Evil Handiwork

Shocked Girlfriends-Of-The-Week

An Exciting Chase Through the Streets of Southern California

Larry Storch Admires His Briefcase Full of Stolen Money

The Deaf Girl Screams, But No One Hears Her, Because She is Deaf

"Smell my finger."

Larry Storch's "Old Man" Disguise

"Hey look, Joe.  I think this clue might have some information that will help us solve this case!"

Old West Ghost Town

Joe Attempts to Sneak in to a Room, But His Giant Collar Gives Him Away

Big, Dopey Looking Kidnapper With Bad Hair and Ill-Fitting Clothes

Andy Kaufman's Bizarre Impersonation of Trini López

Joe Kisses His Girlfriend-Of-The-Week One Last Time Before Losing Her Phone Number

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