Plot: Joanna Kirkwood (Cathy Lee Crosby) has endured a traumatic experience, as her husband is dead and she was nearly killed as well. A fire broke out in her husband’s office and while she was dazed, she remembers an odd detail about the incident. A man was dressed what she described as an astronaut’s suit, spraying flames all over the office with some kind of device. Of course, her claims of an astronaut walking through the flames of hell seem far fetched, but it soon becomes clear arson was involved. Her husband was suspected of embezzlement, which becomes even more important when more murders unfold, with the victims members of the same company. Joanna hires John Shaft (Richard Roundtree) to investigate and he soon finds himself in a deep case of corporate corruption and crime. Can even Shaft manage to crack a case that involves so many rich, powerful men?
Entertainment Value: The Capricorn Murders was the sixth of the Shaft telefilms and it kicks off in grand spectacle, with a wild arson that involves Cathy Lee Crosby and a guy dressed like a beekeeper wielding a flamethrower. You just can’t beat that kind of fun and excitement, right? The movie scales back after the wild start, but puts Shaft in the middle of the action, so it never feels like a run of the mill police procedural, despite some thick 70s cop show vibes. Richard Roundtree is back as Shaft of course, while Eddie Barth also returns as Lt. Rossi. While these telefilms are self contained in terms of the stories, having the recurring dynamic of Shaft and Rossi is a nice touch that bridges the films. Cathy Lee Crosby appears in The Capricorn Murders as well, with a prominent role that she handles quite well. Also on deck are Candice Rialson, Don Knight, and David Hedison, so a solid cast here. The pace is on point and the story is a fun one, especially the wacky opening, so this one turns to be a good time. As is the case with all of these Shaft telefilms, the tone is lighter and toned down compared to the theatrical films, but The Capricorn Murders offers a lot for Shaft fans to like.
No romance in this one, as Shaft is hunting down an astronaut with a flamethrower, right? And as always, to expect nakedness or even mild sleaze from 70s network television is silly. In terms of bloodshed, there’s none in this case. But we do get some fun action sequences, with fights, shoot outs, and of course, the insane arson scene that kicks off the movie. I like that these telefilms offer a little more action than the usual 70s cop shows, as it helps give them the feeling of a larger scale. The dialogue here is ok, but doesn’t have a wealth of memorable moments. The tone here is a little more serious than in some of the others, which means not as much humor or oddball moments. The writing is fine and the story is a fun one, however. I do love Crosby’s description of the man from the fire, though. On the crazy scale, the only real lunacy is the first scene, with the arson and beekeeper guy, but man, what a wild start, right?
Overall Insanity: 1/10