Essentially a two-character play, A Cold Night’s Death benefits from compelling performances from Culp and Wallach. Credit must also be given to Christopher Knopf’s clever script which portrays Jones and Enari as something of an odd couple. They almost act married at times: Enari divides up the chores and ends up cooking and cleaning while Jones performs the more “manly” task of shoveling snow to make water. The two scientists bicker almost constantly. When Enari thinks Jones is acting irrationally, he moves his bed to another room—the symbolic equivalent of making Jones sleep on the couch.
A Cold Night’s Death (aka The Chill Factor) was broadcast in the early 1970s during what I consider to be the “Golden Age” of made-for-television movies. It was shown on the ABC Movie of the Week, which consisted of 73-minute films of all genres. Although the casts were typically TV performers and the budgets were understandably modest, there were several memorable movies. To mention just a few: Bing Crosby starred in the disturbing Dr. Cook’s Garden; Jan-Michael Vincent was surprisingly good as a hippy Marine in Tribes; and a then-unknown director named Steven Spielberg made the offbeat chase thriller Duel.