“Mac” McGill (Richard Bradford, The Untouchables) is an ex-spy with a murky past and an uncertain future. Wrongfully dismissed by his bosses in U.S. intelligence, he decides to freelance as a private detective based out of London. McGill’s work takes him far and wide, yet seemingly always on a collision course with the British authorities, the Soviets, and his old colleagues in American espionage. Beset by enemies on all sides, he strives to clear his name and restore his reputation. But until he does, he remains on the run, taking jobs in the dark and dangerous corners of European society.
This action-packed Cold War drama aired on ABC in the late 1960s and features savvy writing and a host of superb guest stars, including Donald Sutherland (Pride & Prejudice), James Grout (Inspector Morse), Anton Rodgers (Lillie), Nicola Pagett (Upstairs, Downstairs), Peter Vaughan (The Remains of the Day), Stuart Damon (General Hospital), and Judy Geeson (Mad About You).
Bearing one of the miniskirt era's groovier theme songs, Britain's Man in a Suitcase
presents a scenario similar to ITC's Danger Man
(Secret Agent Man
in the United Sates). After American intelligence gives him the boot for facilitating a high-profile defection, "Mac" McGill (Richard Bradford, The Untouchables
) remains in London as a freelance detective. In the Charles Crichton-directed opener, "Brainwash," a band of political exiles pressures him to lie in order to get back what they've lost. When McGill refuses to play along, they torture him using the sort of mind-control methods featured in The Manchurian Candidate
. (Best known for The Lavender Hill Mob
, Crichton also directed "Day of Execution.")
A silver-haired chain smoker, McGill escapes by virtue of his fists and his smarts. Though he carries a gun, he prefers to use a well-placed karate chop. While Bradford's Method mumble adds to McGill's veneer of insouciant cool, his beach attire--tube socks!--is another matter. During the first season, the PI keeps an eye on an informer (George Sewell) in "The Sitting Pigeon," searches for the boss (John Barrie) who can clear his name in "Man from the Dead," and looks out for an old college buddy (a lanky young Donald Sutherland) in "Day of Execution." If he has time for a few girlfriends, a long-term commitment is out of the question.
Created by Richard Harris and Dennis Spooner (The Avengers), Man in a Suitcase ran for one 30-episode season. Other notable participants include actor Peter Vaughn and Room at the Top cinematographer Freddie Francis. McGill may be less sympathetic than Patrick McGoohan's John Drake, but the combination of visceral action and subtle humor makes for an enjoyable addition to the small-screen spy genre. This boxed set includes the first 15 episodes in the series plus four photo galleries, one for each disc. --Kathleen C. Fennessy