Tempered Steele – 8

Our scene opens with a scene from an old movie.


It’s Myrna Loy, and the dialogue reveals the film as “The Thin Man.” (William Powell, Myrna Loy, MGM, 1934).


Interestingly, this film was one of the inspirations for the Remington Steele series. According to Stephanie Zimbalist, “The production people kept saying we were supposed to be a sophisticated couple like Myrna Loy and William Powell, and they’d show us scenes from The Thin Man,” Stephanie explains. “Pierce and I were freckle-faced kids. And very nervous. We used to go across the street to a little pub and sit and wonder just what we’d gotten ourselves into.” (McCalls, August 1984). If you’d like to check out the “originals” for comparison with our dynamic duo, try this:

Who is watching this old movie? I think we can guess!


It’s Mr. Steele, apparently watching the movie in the back of the limo. He looks … pensive.

We hear the dialogue on screen: “The murderer is right in this room!”


“Well, there’s your murderer!” William Powell exclaims.


Is that a faint smile on Mr. Steele’s face as Nick Charles solves the mystery?


He reaches for the car phone. Meanwhile …


… Laura is attending to business. What’s that on her mug – apes? She’s looking at Wallace’s data file:


It seems our security expert’s first name is … Immel? He’s 47 years old, and he’s also known as “Glow Worm” and “Walley the Light.” Presumably his aliases speak to his particular area of expertise in the conman lingo – any guesses on what that is? He was born at Lake Ronkonkoma, New York.


It’s a real place!

funfacticonWallace’s last known address, Lost and Found Mission, 112 Main Street, LA. According to our friends at MapQuest, that address looks like this in 2013:


Looks like there has been some urban renewal over the past 30 years!


Laura’s research is interrupted by the phone. Who can it be?


“Steele here.”


“What do you want?” Oh, this playful, flirtatious banter! Just like Nick and Nora!

Steele wants to know if Laura is alone. (I’m guessing his next question is, “What are you wearing?”)


“No,” Laura informs him. “Wallace and I are sitting here making paper airplanes out of the research he stole.”


“That’s what I love about you, Laura. No matter how bleak the situation, you never lose your sense of humor.”

Laura wants to know why she’s talking to him.


“I think I’m onto something that could change the entire complexion of the case!” he assures her.


“You’re leaving town,” Laura replies acidly. Oh, Laura! You know you don’t mean it! After all, he just told you he loved you … in a manner of speaking.

Steele tells her his car (HIS car?) will be at her place in 45 minutes. She should make herself presentable:


“We’re having dinner.”


“Oh, no we’re not!” Laura objects … but too late. He has already hung up the phone. What will she do?


She gets up from her desk and goes to study her reflection in the mirror. Something tells me she’s thinking about making herself “presentable.”

We next see a limo (“Steele’s car,” presumably) pull up to a swank restaurant and a doorman open the door.


Laura disembarks, looking … presentable?


“Mr. Steele’s table, please.”

CRIMEOFFASHIONYikes! Perhaps recalling that Mr. Steele never carries cash, and having cut off his credit cards, Laura seems to have brought her own currency, in the form of a hideous necklace composed of gold coins (or washers?) and baubles. Oh, 1980s accessories. You make me sad.



Always a gentleman, Mr. Steele helps her with her wrap.


She sits. He sits.


“All right, I’m here. What startling news do you have for me?”


“I’m paying for dinner?” Heh.

Steele tells Laura that Wallace didn’t do the crime. “He’s of the old school, where there’s honor among thieves. He’d never rip off a fellow miscreant.”


“Then where is he?”


“He’ll turn up,” Steele predicts.

Laura is … ahem … dissatisfied with that answer.


“Your full-proof security system lasts exactly three hours and 15 minutes, the agency is looking at a $10 million lawsuit, I don’t have a clue to where that missing file is …


“… and you drag me halfway across town to tell me he’ll turn up?!”


“Sit down!” Steele commands. There’s something he wants her to know.


“You’re good. This Dillon thing is a temporary setback. I don’t want you for one moment to lose heart or confidence, because …


“… you are a skilled, resourceful and often brilliant investigator.”


“I’ve had an opportunity to observe your talents first hand, and I am terribly impressed. You’re practical, yet intuitive. You can see the large canvas without missing the small details.”

Oh, Mr. Steele!




“Have I said something wrong?”


“I hate it when you’re nice to me.”  She wants to know what to call him when they are alone.


“Well, I’m quite used to the name that you came up with.”


“It’s from a typewriter and a football team.”

He suggests she just pick one; he’s probably used it.


“You know, Murphy thinks you’re an international swindler … or at the very least, an ax murderer.”


Um …


Fortunately, Laura does not seem alarmed by her companion’s toothy grin. Just when things are getting merry, along comes the waiter.


“Excuse moi, Miz Holt! Telephone for you, in the foyer.”

Laura goes to answer the call. (Remember the days when not everyone in a restaurant was yaking on a cell phone?)

The waiter, Claude, asks permission to state his opinion.


“This young lady is by far the finest of a staggering array.”


Steele agrees. “You have exquisite taste, Claude.”

funfacticonThe actor playing Claude, Curt Lowens, has a huge number of credits dating from 1959 to the present day. He guested on many series in the 1980s, including “Hart to Hart,” “Scarecrow & Mrs. King,” “The Greatest American Hero,” “Dynasty,” “Knight Rider” etc. In the 1960s he made three appearances on “The FBI Files,” starring Efram Zimbalist, Jr – Stephanie’s father.

Claude wants to know if Steele intends to bestow a nameplate on this lovely lady.


“They’re solid brass, you know. And I’m afraid your largesse is beginning to run into big bucks!” (Way to screw yourself out of a tip, Claude.)


“If I do,” Steele comments, “it could very well be the last one I dispense.”

Just then Laura returns, looking grim.


“Wallace turned up.”

Whew! I’ll stop there. It’s been an eventful few moments in Steele-land, no? We see additional evidence of Steele’s love of old movies – and old detective films at that. The sophisticated banter of Nick and Nora Charles is rather different from Humphrey Bogart’s gritty, solitary dicks, however. Could it be that Mr. Steele is beginning to see the appeal of partners-in-fighting-crime? That moment of Laura looking at herself in the mirror feels important, too. It’s almost as if she’s wondering to herself if she measures up to Mr. Steele’s other women. Perhaps Laura is not as confident as she would like the world to believe. And then there’s Steele’s startling confession to Claude, that Laura might be the last recipient of his brass nameplate. Certainly sounds like he’s looking at a long-term partnership of some sort, doesn’t it? What are your thoughts on this pivotal segment?





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11 responses to “Tempered Steele – 8

  1. eaz35173

    Too funny about Laura’s necklace being used for currency!! That is one big, ugly piece of jewelry!!

    I was looking forward to this set of scenes! Yes, Mr. Steele has confessed his love to Laura (in a backhanded sort of way), but he said the words. I don’t think Laura heard them, tho. I think we may only hear them one or 2 more times, as well. That list of her qualities that he begins to spout off (funny with the fainting gif) … HELLO, Freidlich Spa! And that confession to Claude about perhaps being the last nameplate he bestows – he’s hooked. I do think that Steele realizes that Laura is special. Whether he wants to continue on with her as a partner or have her be a permanent fixture in his life are not clear at the moment. But if this isn’t foreshadowing, I don’t know what is.

    And thanx for that screenshot of Wallace’s info. I never thought to pause the dvd and have a look. I think, tho, that Wallace is his first name and Innes is his last.

  2. SteeleInterested

    So after watchingthe dvd commentaries this summer where I also believe they talk about ‘The Thin Man’ I ordered it up from Netflix. My husband and I watched it together. (This is a major achievement as we can rarely agree on one.) We got sucked in enough that I hardly noticed it was black and white. Great for a laugh at the end of a long week. Not sure what they would have rated it today considering Nick and Nora’s alcohol gets equal screen time with them. 😉 Did you know it was a low-budget, quick-shoot film?

    Oh, I digress. I ‘totally’ agree about the heavy metal and 80’s accessories. Hope they skip that and big hair as 80’s style seems to be surfacing at the high school.

    Both Steele and Laura’s characters put me off at points in this episode. The writer in me tries to remember there is no story arc if there are no protagonists and there can be no protagonists without growth…

    The cliched way to a man’s heart may be his stomach, but the way to Laura’s is her competence. He picks up on it in Episode 1 and uses it again here. In both cases, like Laura, I’m left a little bit uncertain what fraction of his acknowlegdement is genuine. His primary motivation is self-preservation and understanding what motivates others so he can manipulate them is clearly a well developed skill set for Mr. Steele.

    • Welcome, SteeleInterested! I agree with you on the un-PC elements of the old Nick & Nora movies. How about the scene where Nick socks Nora in the jaw to “protect” her? Yikes! Hard to believe that would fly, though (spoiler alert) we see something similar in an upcoming episode of RS.

      I think in this episode we get only a little inkling that both Steele and Laura may be presenting masks to the world. Neither one is as confident as the image they put out to the world. Perhaps they recognize that in each other, and that is one element that draws them to one another.

    • eaz35173

      Good point, SI, about Steele being a student of what motivates others and what he might say to get Laura’s defenses down in order to manipulate her. But I do think there is truth to what he is saying to Laura. And, what he says to Claude did not need to be said at all unless he was trying to get some of those real feelings off his chest – like telling a bartender your story because you know it’s safe to do so. This way, the audience is let in on some of his actual feelings for Laura, but Laura is still in the dark about his words/motives.

  3. Inés

    I think I have something to say about that necklace too. I am not a fan about it, but maybe the wrong thing is not the necklace but the combination with the dress. I really don’t like the dress. But it was an 80’s example. The necklace, with a dress with bare shoulders would work. She has a long neck to wear it.
    About Laura and the mirror: Does she have that big thing at the office?
    By the way she looks at her image, I can guess that she is thinking: ok, do you want to play in that way, I can. Let’s start the battle. And she gets out of the limo focussed with her target in mind.
    One of the things that I like from this part, is that when he is watching the movie, his mind is still at the case. He is just like her!
    Another thing I didn’t realize until now: Laura is at the office, and she only needs 45 minutes to be dressed like that? She must have the dress inside one of the file cabinets. I guess in which one…
    I’m intrigued about another thing: why, if Mr. Steele is in the car, he is not going to pick her up with Fred. He is spending a lot of money in gas!!! Maybe he wanted to have all settled at her arrival…who knows.

    • I was puzzled by the setting for Laura’s scenes, too. The computer and red door behind her suggest she’s at the office, yet the rest of the space seems homier than what we’ve seen of her office. I’m inclined to believe she was working at home, maybe even in her own bedroom. Remember that Bernice presented her with “homework” a couple of scenes ago, and we’ll see in upcoming episodes that she brings stuff home to work on. It would be an interesting commentary on Laura if indeed her bedroom had become another workspace for her – in some ways she’s “married” to her career at this point.

      • eaz35173

        And remember, parts of this episode were shot months before it aired and scenes were added. Remember, when this was shot, the audience really didn’t have a sense of the “landscape” of the sets. I always assumed that this was shot in the office, but the presence of that large mirror suggests that it might be at Laura’s home.

        And good question, Ines, about why Steele wasn’t in the limo to pick up Laura. He must have gone to the restaurant ahead of her to arrange things.

      • Inés

        I think Laura is at the office. There is a lamp behind her, that appeared before in Tempered Steele – 2, (Pictures By kgmohror). The chairs and the desks seem to be the same too. And she must be at her office, because it is a place that looks as if the owner is a real worker.

  4. Daph

    I think she is definitely at the office. They have a bathroom with a shower and large mirror at the office. When she looked in the mirror at herself she decided to look spectacular on their date. She wanted him to swoon.
    I love the necklace. It shows boldness and a high amount of self confidence in the midst of disaster. It says that she is removing herself as a competitor for his affections because she is a different class than the bimbos and playmates. It also shows how vulnerable she is, wearing a necklace that looks protective. It reminds me of the chain mail hoodie knights wear under their helmet. Perfect statements for Laura.

    • Ines

      I like what you’ve said about the necklace. Interesting.

    • Interesting! So you feel Laura was confident of her attractiveness when she looked in the mirror? For me, that slightly pensive look, followed by her slightly over-the-top outfit at the restaurant, suggests she’s not entirely sure she measures up. She’s trying a little *too* hard to bowl him over, IMO. Ironically, I suspect that her more natural, regular look is what appeals to Steele most – she doesn’t rely on artifice like most of the women he’s dealt with.

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