Monday, July 5, 2021

The Delphi Bureau

Glenn Garth Gregory is a reluctant spy.
Laurence Luckinbill.

He believes he was hired to do research for a government agency called the Delphi Bureau. Of course, the bureau has no street address and possibly no other employees. Glenn (Laurence Luckinbill) receives his assignments from Washington, D.C. socialite Sybil Van Loween (Celeste Holm). Unlike the men from U.N.C.L.E. and even Maxwell Smart, Glenn doesn't carry a weapon of any sort. He relies on his photographic memory--which he employs in McGyver-like fashion to get out of tight spots.

Cameron Mitchell as a baddie.
In the 1972 pilot film, the theft of surplus government jets sends Glenn to the small town of Lotus, Kansas, to investigate Buttercup Farms. Glenn suspects that the farm's owner, a former arms dealer, is using a feed-the-hungry program as a cover for the illegal sales. It's not long before the Delphi Bureau agent gets framed for murder and chased through cornfields by Cameron Mitchell on a tractor. Yes, there's a little bit of North By Northwest in The Delphi Bureau--just no Hitch and no Cary Grant.

The Delphi Bureau is a watchable made-for-TV adventure that relies heavily on Laurence Luckinbill’s charms and its supporting cast of familiar faces. Fortunately, those are two good reasons to view it. While never achieving major stardom, Luckinbill forged a moderately successful acting career on stage (the original Boys in the Band), film (playing Spock’s half-brother in Star Trek: The Final Frontier), and television. He has been married to Lucie Arnaz since 1980.

Dub Taylor as a farmer.
The supporting cast features Bradford Dillman (one of TV's busiest actors in the 1970s), Cameron Mitchell (Buck on The High Chaparral), and Bob Crane. Dean Jagger and Dub Taylor, who appeared together in the 1961 Troy Donahue soap Parrish, have small roles. Taylor has a delightful cameo as an applejack-drinking farmer who picks up Gregory while the latter is trying to elude a posse.

The female lead is Joanna Pettet, another TV veteran, whom I have always found a bit lacking in warmth. Her cool demeanor is used well in The Delphi Bureau as it prevented me from ascertaining if she was duplicitous or not until the closing scenes.

Joanna Pettet.
Pettet led an interesting life offscreen. She visited her close friend Sharon Tate on the day of Tate's murder. Pettet was married to Alex Cord for 21 years; their adult son died of a drug overdose. She and British actor Alan Bates became close friends in the mid-1960s and lived together as companions during the last years of his life.

As for The Delphi Bureau, it spawned a 1972-73 television series which became one of the three rotating elements of The Men (what an awful title!). The other two series were Assignment Vienna with Robert Conrad and Jigsaw starring James Wainwright. Celeste Holm, who was used sparingly in The Delphi Bureau pilot, did not appear in the series.


  1. To Whoever Finds This:

    In The Delphi Bureau series, the part of Sybil Van Loween was played by Anne Jeffreys; she was just entering the phase of her career where she was the one you got if Celeste Holm was unavailable (which was the case here).
    Just so you know ...

  2. I was excited about The Delphi Bureau's premiere, but its hook didn't last long and I quickly lost interest. Hollywood always has to squeeze the last dime out of a show rather than let it rest of on its initial laurels.

    I agree about Joanna Pettet: always an attention-getter, but a little too cool. Felt the same about Julie Christie.

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