Mission Impossible: Recovery (1967)

Country: United States
Director: Robert Totten
Starring: Peter Graves, Martin Landau, Barbara Bain, Greg Morris, Peter Lupus, Bradford Dillman, Emile Genst, Peter Coe, Peter Hellmann
Theme: Lalo Schifrin
Music: Jerry Fielding

Recovery is the last episode from Season Two of Mission: Impossible and it features Bradford Dillman as a brilliant American scientist who has defected and is now working on the other side of the Iron Curtain. Even though the character is painfully underwritten, Dillman excels at characters like this…essentially slimy bureaucrats. My favourite performance by Dillman is as Sergeant McKay in the third Dirty Harry film The Enforcer (here’s a seven pointed suppository!), but he also appeared in other espionage related material like The Man From UNCLE movie, The Helicopter Spies.

The episode starts with Jim Phelps (Peter Graves) receiving his mission briefing, this time in a carpark attendant’s booth. Here he learns that a SAC B52 has crashed behind the Iron Curtain, but the fail-safe mechanism has failed to explode and destroy all the top-secret information on board. The wreckage is taken to a scientific institute for examination – and the possible extraction of the top-secret information. The man behind the extraction is an ex-US scientist named Shipherd (Bradford Dillman). Jim’s mission (should he choose to accept it) is to retrieve the Fail Safe mechanism and bring Shipherd back to the United States.

The first part of the scheme involves Rollin Hand (Martin Landau) and Cinnamon Carter (Barbara Bain), posing as man and wife – Charles and Janet Langley – at an Embassy party in the un-named Iron Curtain country. At the party, the Langley’s meet Shipherd briefly. The meeting seems short and particularly unremarkable – except Rollin has sewn some seeds about his employment history, which of course become more relevant as the story goes on.

Jim Phelps has multiple roles to play in this role. The first is as the pilot of the B52 that went down. As ‘Hayes’, with dark, dyed hair, Jim allows himself to be captured, knowing full well that Shipherd will interrogate him, hoping to learn some of the secrets of the Fail Safe system. Jim (as Hayes), under interrogation says that the only people who can disarm the Fail Safe mechanism are the boffins at Duluth, who created the device.

Coincidentally, earlier, Rollin (as Langley) suggested to Shipherd that he worked on top-secret projects in Duluth. Shipherd makes the connection and invites Langley, as a guest, to visit the Institute.

Jim’s second role in this episode is as a service technician – with trademark silver hair this time – who is called in the repair a paper shredder at the Institute – a paper shredder that has been disabled by Barney Collier (Greg Morris). Meanwhile Shipherd has kidnapped Cinnamon (posing as Langley’s wife) and uses her to blackmail Rollin into opening the safe.

The character of Shipherd is somewhat clumsily written. He claims to have defected because he is sick of his scientific research being used for militaristic ends, but yet his new employers seem to be utilising his talents for the same purpose. Furthermore, he proves to be a rather unscrupulous character when he is prepared to ‘blow-up’ Cinnamon in order to crack the Fail-Safe. So any political posturing by the character is quickly made redundant by the plot contrivances. It’s here, where Dillman’s almost patented ‘slimy bureaucrat’ schtick actually works for the story. As it stands, Recovery is not one of the great Mission: Impossible episodes, but it is serviceable and very enjoyable – and this is primarily to do with Dillman who proves to be an entertaining foe for the IMF team.

3 Comments Posted in Television
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  1. It’s been awhile since I’ve commented, so let me say how much I like the new look! Nice.

    I’ll admit that I’ve only watched “Recovery” one time, when I first got the DVDs. It may have been my marathon viewing schedule coupled with fatigue, but I never warmed to this one, despite my admiration for Bradford Dillman, who does a great job in his other M:I appearance, “Stone Pillow.”

  2. Thanks for your comment CKDH.

    And let me say how much I have been enjoying your posts at TNEH. Maybe it’s the old perv in me, but particularly enjoyed the Barbarella and Casino Royale Playboy spreads.


  3. Thanks! However, I took those down as I’ve decided to focus primarily on The Persuaders TV show–I still have COBRAS aspirations, you know!

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