How ironic for this made-for-TV movie to sport Smile in its (incorrectly punctuated) title, because for network television especially in 1974 its remarkably morose. But its a crime drama, so thats a good thing.
The Fugitive fugitive David Janssen headlines as Harry Orwell, a former California cop who left the force after taking a bullet in his back. His lives off his pension on the beach, moonlights as a P.I. to pay more bills, and longs for the day he can live on his boat out in the ocean, far away from the kind of troubles that get people killed, or almost killed.
Like Jennifer (Andrea Marcovicci, The Hand), a beautiful model and police lieutenants daughter whose life Harry enters when her ex-husband is suddenly murdered. Is it her new beau (John Anderson, Psycho)? Or that creepy young guy whos been taking photos of her from afar? My moneys on the creepy guy, and even more so because hes played by Zalman King, future director of many an erotic thriller, from Two Moon Junction and Wild Orchid to the Red Shoe Diaries cable series.
Speaking of series, Smile Jenny, Youre Dead available on demand from Warner Archive is notable for being the second in a pair of films that birthed the Harry-O weekly show later that year. Its also notable for a subplot involving Harry reluctantly forging a friendship with an apparently homeless girl named Liberty who hangs around ... because shes played by Jodie Foster, then all of 11 years old and supremely confident in a way no other child actor has been before or since. (I wonder how many male viewers back then didnt notice her performance because they were too distracted by Terminal Island star Barbara Leighs bikini-clad appearance in the same frame. She plays Harrys lady friend with a name as nerdy as she is foxy: Mildred.)
Janssen is wonderfully gruff as a flawed, unhappy hero clearly past his prime, which is rather novel to base a show around, which is why its compelling decades later. Oklahoma native Clu Gulager (The Return of the Living Dead) entertains as a detective who gets visibly frustrated by Harrys constant appearances. We see him a lot because the body count is surprisingly high for 1970s prime-time programming. Rod Lott