Man With The Camera: The Complete Series
review by Bobby Blakey
Charles Bronson is no doubt one of the most iconic tough guys in film with his roles in The Magnificent Seven, The Dirty Dozen and his Death Wish series to name very few. In 1958 Bronson hit TV to lead the series Man With The Camera loosely based on the popular radio series “Casey, Crime Photographer” starring Staats Cottsworth and the earlier TV series “Crime Photographer” starring Darren McGavin. Now the series is getting released for the first time on digital and DVD.
Man With The Camera follows Mike Kovac, a former WWII combat photographer now freelancing in New York City, who specialized in getting the photographs that other lensmen couldn’t. His assignments came from newspapers, insurance agencies, the police and private individuals, all of whom wanted a filmed record of an event. His cases always lead to danger, usually involving a good-looking damsel in distress. Kovac’s police liaison was Lieutenant Donovan, well played by James Flavin, who looked to the freelance cameraman for help with the cases the cops couldn’t handle. To the viewer’s delight, Kovac employed the latest photographic technology to solve a case, including a Minox III mini-camera fastened to his belt; fisheye and telephoto lenses; and various other cutting-edge technologies; even converting the trunk of his car into a portable darkroom where he could develop his negatives on the spot. Character actor Ludwig Stossel starred as Kovac’s immigrant father Anton, to whom Kovac frequently came for advice.
Growing up I was a Bronson fan thanks to my dad loving everything he did. I had never heard of this show, but was excited to check it out. Diving in I found myself engaged right away with the overall tone and execution of it all. A lot of the shows during this time come off a bit cheesy now, but this one holds up way better than I expected. The serious tone builds the intrigue for each case and Bronson’s presence gives it that special something it needs to work.
This series fits in line with a lot of the shows today and could easily be remade with very little changes which is why it was likely something different back then. It sucks it only got two seasons as it is one of the better shows of the era that holds up remarkably well. One of the things I love about these old shows is searching for appearances of well-known actors early in their career and this one delivers. Right out the gate you get Billy Jack himself Tom Laughlin as well as a who’s who throughout the show including Yvonne Craig, Angie Dickinson, Gavin Macleod, Harry Dean Stanton and many more.
If you are fan of Bronson and who isn’t, check out Man With A Camera: The Complete Series available now on DVD and digital from MPI Media Group.