PAUL BRYAN'S JOURNAL
From the diary about this episode:
Monday, July 4
Rachel made up for her low profile at Reims with a massive all-day Fourth of July party at her Antibes villa, but after a couple hours, Pete and I departed to take a look at the auto show.
He'd kept nudging me, saying that a cute girl was flirting with me, and if I didn't buy her a drink, he would, so strictly to protect June's interests, of course, I made her acquaintance.
Not really a flirtation after all, she said she was representing Sir Harry Hiller who wanted to meet me in the evening. Rachel said he was a man she'd done business with many times, and though it was an odd way to approach me, I'm going to slip away from the party a few minutes tonight, and see what he wants.
Katie was so involved with meeting old friends that she hardly noticed my absence this afternoon, but is intrigued about the Hiller thing.
Sir Harry didn't beat around the bush, and I was back at Rachel's in an hour. He wants me to negotiate the purchase of a Daimler 500 from Sebastian Peralta, claiming that the dictator wouldn't deal with him.
On the other hand, I wouldn't much like dealing with Peralta myself, but would certainly like to see his legendary car collection, and have decided to accept the commission. Katie made no bones about telling me I'm crazy, but also called Sir Harry a fair man.
The girl from the car show, Gillian Wilmont, is apparently some kind of glorified hooker working for Sir Harry. He's managed to plant her in Peralta's Estoril fortress, and she's going to invite me for lunch on Wednesday.
Tuesday, July 5
Rented a car, and took a wonderful drive along the Atlantic coast that helped to blow away the last cobwebs of something that seems like only a dream now, and I'm genuinely feeling back to normal with only nasty looking bruises on my leg and shoulder.
Katie's been a little slower to bounce back from her fright that was equal to mine. At least I knew what was going on. So now it's my job to be the applier of TLC.
Wednesday, July 6
Went out to Peralta's high-security establishment as Gillian's guest; however, it wasn't she providing my cover, but my real-life motor racing credentials.
Peralta had been at Monte Carlo and Spa, and seen me drive at Le Mans on TV. He showed off the cars, and when we came to the magnificent Daimler 500 - what a glorious machine - I offered him $130,000 for it.
Peralta turned it down, but he has to consider that's twice what he paid for it three years ago. So now we wait and see, and meanwhile Kate and I fly to Pamplona to complete another of my dreams.
PAUL GOES TO WATCH THE BULL RUN IN SPAIN, READ: "Our Man in Limbo
" AND THEN CONTINUES HIS NEGOTIATIONS FOR THE DAIMLER
Friday, July 8
Flew back to Estoril this morning, and couldn't help noticing a weird Frenchman around the hotel from earlier in the week. After lunch, when Kate had gone up to the room to take a call from her mother, he approached me.
Well-informed about my interest in buying the Daimler 500, he said Peralta was telling all sorts of royals at his home the previous night that he was selling me the car.
I'd gotten this man Durand wrong, and decided that he wasn't necessarily the fool I first took him for, but rather, an extremely knowledgeable individual.
He suggested that there were a number of people who'd gladly take the Daimler off me for more than I was paying Peralta, but when I also introduced Sir Harry's name as a further possibility, he indicated that the man knew nothing about cars.
That put things into such a different light, I found myself asking Kate to ring Armand - something I could never imagine myself doing. She talked interminably with Odette, a worried look on her face, but spoke too quickly for me to understand everything.
But when Armand came on the line, it took only a moment to determine that 1) the Frenchman who'd approached me after lunch was a respected auto broker, and 2) Sir Harry had no interest in cars.
From a collector himself, and one who knew Sir Harry well, it was the ultimate confirmation that I was being led up the garden path. Met Gillan at a pre-appointed rendezvous, and confronted her with my suspicion.
Her denials that Sir Harry was involved in a plot to kill Peralta didn't satisfy me, but it's difficult to square the idea that someone good friends with people I have to respect would be involved in something underhand.
Saturday, July 9
We flew to Antibes this afternoon, and I confronted Hiller. He finally admitted that he wasn't after the car, but some tapes that would be hidden inside it when I drive it away. Recordings which Peralta secretly made with the regime that took over from him.
Hiller believes this proof the present government is as crooked as Peralta's will smooth the way for a new junta which will look favourably on Sir Harry resuming where he left when Peralta's successors seized all the tycoon's assets in the country.
There are no heroes in this story, for sure, and I asked Kate not to come back to Estoril, should things get dangerous. In any case, after the call yesterday, she's worried about Odette, and has decided to fly to Paris.
Kate's close friendship with Odette as well as a romantic relationship with her husband is a triangle I cannot square, but all three appear to understand one another perfectly.
It's all confirmed. Peralta's mechanic - who is another Hiller plant in the household - says that everything will be ready tomorrow, and that I'll be hearing from the Colonel later tonight.
Also had a chat with Gillian before meeting him. I was wrong about her too. She's not a professional, but a girl who was looking for adventure before settling down and raising a family. What a great wife and mother she'll make with such a skewed outlook!
Estoril - Paris
Sunday, July 10
Things went smoothly enough completing the transaction with Peralta, but he must have discovered the tapes missing from his safe when he went to put away my cashiers check, for his thugs were upon us as we were leaving the gate.
Driving a car I'd never handled before with men shooting at us along winding roads took every driving skill I've learned and honed on the track and rally course.
But the driver of the pursuit car didn't have my kind of road experience, and after we passed a particularly dangerous curve, we heard a horrendous explosion.
Peralta's men had gone down a completely perpendicular cliff face, their vehicle hitting the bottom in a ball of flames. There was no way we could have gotten down to them, but they were surely all dead on impact.
Or follow on to:
Sir Harry makes a proposal to Paul
Paul offers $130.,000 for the Daimler
Durand reveals that Sir Harry isn't a car collector
Paul suggests they plan to kill Peralta
Paul demands to know what they're up to
Gillian and Luis calculate where the safe is
Paul buys the car with tapes already hidden inside
It was a horrifying sight that left me traumatized anew, and after reporting the accident at a house down the road, rather dazed, I delivered the car to Sir Harry.
Two of his security men stayed back with the mechanic to “unpack” the Daimler, and I got a lift to Paris in Sir Harry's plane.
When we arrived here, the news came through that the men who'd been watching Peralta's property for months had taken advantage of the sudden departure of the gate security, and entered the house, killing everyone on the premises.
It was a chilling thought. Maybe these were the people Sir Harry was doing business with - or competition which would make all his - and my - endeavors meaningless.
I rang Kate and told her what happened in a sanitized version - leaving out the car chase, and she said she'd come to the apartment later, telling me that she was horrified to see Odette so ill.
LINKS TO OTHER EPISODE
PAGES (IN DIARY ORDER)
As an employee of wealthy industrialist Sir Harry Hiller, Gillian Wilmont makes Paul's acquaintance at a Riviera auto show, and brings him to meet Hiller that evening. Sir Harry tells Paul that he is desperate to add a priceless Daimler 500 to his collection, and one is owned by the deposed dictator Sebastian Peralta. Explaining that Peralta will not deal with him or any of his agents, Sir Harry offers Paul a tidy sum to obtain the priceless vehicle. As Gillian is living in Peralta's home, planted by Sir Harry, she will arrange a lunch invitation for Paul
Peralta's security team briefly hold Paul at gunpoint when he arrives as Gillian's guest.
Colonel Peralta explains the elaborate arrangements are due to attempts on his life, and says that Lt. Ortiz had not seen Paul before, as he had on television, driving at Le Mans.
After lunch Peralta shows Paul his collection of classic cars, and the showpiece of the collection, the famous Daimler 500. Paul offers $130,000 for it, but Peralta says that it's not for sale, even though the amount is twice what he recently paid for it.
While dining, Paul is approached by Louis Durand who describes himself as well connected, and says that he's heard that Colonel Peralta is selling Paul the Daimler 500, adding that there are a number of people who will gladly buy it from Paul. He gives a few names, and Paul suggests Sir Harry Hiller, but Durand says Sir Harry doesn't know the first thing about cars - completely contradicting what Sir Harry told Paul.
Paul confronts Gillian, and suggests that she and Sir Harry are planning to assassinate Peralta, using Paul as part of their plot.
Gillian denies that they're doing anything of the kind, but says that she'll have Sir Harry contact Paul in Antibes, and perhaps he'll explain everything.
Paul threatens to cancel the sale if Sir Harry doesn't tell him what he's up to. Sir Harry explains that Peralta wasn't overthrown by the generals who followed him, but paid to go. But Peralta made recordings of the negotiations, and Sir Harry wants to get these to overthrow the current regime, and pave a way for his companies to locate in the country.
He maintains that this is for the good of the people as well as his own business.
Paul later asks Gillian how she got involved in this intrigue, and she claims that she answered Sir Harry's ad seeking an attractive girl willing to take on adventure and danger for high pay.
Sir Harry has another plant in the Peralta household, the mechanic Luis Reyes, and he confirms that Peralta will sell the Daimler to Paul, so they'll need to coordinate getting the tapes out of his safe with the payment.
Luis and Gillian organize an elaborate plan to blow Peralta's safe from a neighboring room, with Gillian taking measurements while Peralta sleeps that night. They obtain the tapes, and in the morning Paul arrives with his cashier's check.
He asks to have Peralta's mechanic accompany him on a test drive, and Gillian says that she better go too, it being her last chance to ride in the dream car.
The three go off in the car, and just as they are leaving the heavily guarded front gate, Peralta goes to put Paul's check in the safe.
He finds his tapes are missing, and calls the front gate to have the Daimler stopped.
Paul and Luis need to rely on a little violence to get away, and only have a small lead when Peralta's men come after them.
All Paul's driving skills are required to negotiate the curving roads around Estoril at highest possible speed, but the only thing that saves them is that the car of Peralta's security people suddenly stops - due to some clever planning by Luis.
Notes & Comments:
Caper episodes should be offered sparingly in the first place, but when they represent a week idea that occupies about 10 - 20 minutes stretched into an hour, it really brings the series down.
Jo Swerling Jr.
Director of Photography
Walter Strenge A.S.C.
John C. Bowman
John McCartey &
Robert C. Bradfield
Color by Technicolor
Editorial Dept. Head
Costume by Burton Miller