If it wasn't for the fact that there's an IMDB page for this made-for-TV movie, I might think I just imagined that I watched it back in 1975. There are no clips from it on YouTube, no images that a Google search came up with. But I recall liking it a lot and have never forgotten watching it.
First of all, it's a private eye movie, and not only that, it's also set in the Forties. Those two things make me predisposed to like a film. Veteran character Ed Lauter, who has stayed busy in Hollywood for more than four decades now, plays one of his few leading roles as private detective Bud Delaney, who also works as the house dick in a rundown hotel, if my memories of the story are correct. That's really all I recall. IMBD says:
An ex-cop, now a private detective, investigating a gambler's murder finds that there may be a connection between that crime and the jewel robbery at a beautiful movie star's home.
I'll have to take their word for it, but that sounds right. The cast also includes the beautiful Rhonda Fleming and a young Victoria Principal, still several years away from playing Pam Ewing on DALLAS. I recall thinking at the time that the movie was well-made and that I liked the Forties/private eye music.
One thing I had forgotten was the name of the private eye played by Lauter. A couple of years later, I started writing stories about a private eye named Delaney, although I never gave him a first name. I don't recall intentionally naming him after the character in this movie, but I have to wonder if that was still lurking around in my head. At this late date, who knows? I do know that I didn't visualize him as the character for the movie. In my mind he always looked like an obscure character actor named Sandy Kenyon.
So, does anybody else remember watching LAST HOURS BEFORE MORNING?