KOJAK: KISS IT ALL GOODBYE
I like to think that can be reasonably objective when it comes to my favorite actress Carol Lynley. There was a period beginning about 1975 where Carol began a down-slide. She always needed a good director to keep her in check and focused, but during the Seventies as her movies were becoming cheaper independent productions and her TV shows routine, her directors were less than inspiring. That is until she worked with Telly Savalas on Kojak and gave arguably one of her finest TV performances ever.
In “Kiss It All Goodbye,” which aired Feb. 22, 1977, Carol played a high fashion model who is accidentally shot by Det. Crocker (Kevin Dobson) and is paralyzed during a botched fur heist. Telly Savalas was not supposed to direct this episode and before filming began he told Carol Lynley he would like to direct her some time. That time became now when the director scheduled for the episode was rushed to the hospital and Savalas stepped in. You can tell right from Carol’s first scene that Savalas spent time cultivating a performance from her. Polly, lying in her hospital bed, tells Kojak that she is a model and that to keep healthy and her legs shapely she goes for long walks, which led her in front of the building where the robbery occurred. As he goes to leave, she throws off the sheets and asks him if he thinks her legs are pretty. She then cries she can’t feel them. The next day Crocker learns the doctors are reluctant to remove the bullet lodged in Polly’s back leaving her a paralegic for now. When he shows up to her room, the look on his face reveals all and Polly asks him to leave as she contemplates her future in a wheelchair. Carol, prodded by her director no doubt, projects a nice range of emotions in these scenes from confusion to despair to anger arousing audience sympathy.
Crocker is devastated about what he did to Polly and begins seeing the wheel-chair bound young woman determined to help her walk again. They grow closer and Polly develops feelings for him. Then Polly gets a visitor. It is Ben the thief from the burglary (played by a young sexy, yes I said sexy, Christopher Walken) who kisses her hello. Turns out that Polly was the lookout and not an innocent bystander afterall. He admits he tipped off the cops to get their third partner Jaime, who was killed in a shootout, out of the way because he couldn’t trust him. Not wanting to jeopardize her relationship with Crocker, Polly gives Ben written permission to enter her safety deposit box to retrieve his share of the money.
Meanwhile Kojak and crew are closing in on the thieves as they place Jaime and Polly in Cleveland at the same time of similar fur heists. When they discover Polly visited her bank 3 days after each burglary in NYC after a fence paid for the furs, they realize she was part of the robberies.
Ben gets spooked at the bank rightly thinking the cops are watching and Polly set him up. In tears, Polly tells him to take all the money and she won’t give him up to the cops. She’ll do it just so Crocker doesn’t find out what she really is. Ben won’t back off and insists they go together to the bank and then run off. Carol is very good here as Polly comes to terms that her idyllic time with Crocker has to come to an end. He calls just then with good news from another doctor who thinks she can operate, but Polly is harsh with him not wanting anymore false hope about walking and never wanting to see him again. Crocker is shaken and then learns from Kojak that Polly was the lookout. He refuses to believe it and rushes over to her apartment just as Ben and Polly are exiting. Ben tries to make a break fo rit, but it collared by Kojak.
At the station house, Crocker and Polly have one last moment together. As he wishes her well, Polly sadly tells him that she wished they met before she got involved with the robberies. When Crocker says she would have looked right passed him to the good looking guys, Polly says no she wouldn’t have. He then gives her a kiss goodbye. Kojak tells Polly that Crocker still has faith in her and Polly poignantly replies that she just wanted her time with him to last a bit longer knowing it would not be forever.
Telly Savalas deserves a lot of credit for her really convincing performance. She doesn’t rush her lines as she does in some other TV shows and really conveys a range of emotions. It also helps that she is working with 3 great actors, Savalas, Christopher Walken just before winning his Oscar for The Deer Hunter, and Kevin Dobson keeping her on her A-game. Though the audience learns she is not an innocent, Carol’s touching performance and sweet chemistry with Dobson’s guilt-ridden Crocker have us hoping they can stay together even though the odds are slim. Too bad Carol never got to work with director Telly Savalas ever again.
As a side note, I remember the exactly the night this episode aired. My dad coached the softball team for his company, Helena Rubinstein Cosmetics. The league had their first captain’s meeting before the new season began. He took my brother and me along for company. I remember leaving there about 9:30ish and feeling very antsy as I knew Kojak was starting in a half hour. We got home a bit after 10pm. I raced into the house and turned the TV on only missing the first 10 minutes or so. Lordie I was such a freak! Still am! LOL