Deathwatch (1966)

The film has been uploaded to YouTube in 10 parts. In the interview with Fat Free Film (see below) Leonard Nimoy talks about the making of Deathwatch and how work intensive distribution turned out to be for him personally.


Deathwatch Screencaps

There is a Livejournal entry where you can overdose on screencaps from the movie. (Thank you, Anna, for the find.)


Still from Deathwatch. Leonard Nimoy with Robert Ellenstein. Both were honored by the Company of Angles theater company before Ellenstein passed away. (Photo contributed by Bonnie. Thanks.)

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Common lore has it that Mr. Nimoy was hired by Gene Roddenberry to play Spock after appearing in an episode of The Lieutenent that Roddenberry produced at the time. But here it is suggested that he was at least also cast on the strenght of his portrayal in Deathwatch and, as mentioned in another article, Dr. Kildare.

Leonard Nimoy for President

Speaking of that film, he exclaimed, "I had seen it with Vic [Morrow] years before as a play in the Los Angeles area. It got under our skin. We couldn't forget it. We knew we would never be satisfied until we did it as a motion picture."

Which involved more sacrifice, more scrimping, more bouts with hunger as he worked feverishly with Vic to raise the cost of the production which has been reported at $125,000, chicken-feed in today's inflated film market, but a fortune when you had as little money as the two of them did at that time. [Earlier in the article his yearly income was given at $2000 to $3000] But made it was, and in the end, Death Watch will earn them a rather healthy profit quite apart from the other very substantial benefits it brought Leonard.

"The producers of Star Trek saw it at a screening one evening," he said, "and a few days later I received a call, from their assistant director, asking that I report for a test at my earliest convenience."



Adapted by Morrow and his wife, Barbara Turner, it features early roles for Leonard Nimoy (who co-produced), Paul Mazursky (who co-starred with Vic in THE BLACKBOARD JUNGLE) and a brief appearance by a pre-'Murray Slaughter' Gavin MacLeod. The end result is a sensational acting exercise that often feels like an experimental, sexually-liberated PLAYHOUSE 90. The story is set within the claustrophobic confines of a men's prison, which has a guillotine in the yard and no shortage of grueling punishments. In fact, prisoner Gavin slaps a guard in the opening minutes, only to be beheaded -- so these jailers mean business! It's primarily a three-man show though: thief Jules Lefranc (Nimoy) worms his way into a cell shared with a hunky, heavily-tattooed murderer named Greeneyes (Michael Forest) and effeminate small-time hood Maurice (Mazursky). Their ensuing conflict, both physical and emotional, is told in fragments and tiny flashbacks. Jules and Maurice each want exclusive rights to Greeneyes, who's such a clueless, muscle-bound lug that he thinks his antagonistic cellmates are (1) straight and (2) plotting to steal his outside girlfriend. There's no Gaydar here, folks! This is pretty depressing stuff, with two queens battling it out for their king, while exposing their disillusioned, needy, screwed-up, and self-destructive sides. The dialogue gets heavyhanded at times, but Morrow transforms the most pivotal monologues into genuinely powerful stuff, such as Forest's memories of murder. It's easy to imagine Nimoy in this kind of offbeat outing (just check out his 1968 musical-gutbuster "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins"), but Forest (who never showed much depth in Corman cheapies like ATLAS and SKI TROOP ATTACK) is the revelation here as a confused, caged brute. It's the film's showiest role, while Nimoy delivers the most expressive moments as an obsessed prisoner of his own desires. 



Not yet satisfied by what you've seen? For more nudity, sex and violence you know where to go.