with a View
A wealthy invalid has a young and beautiful wife and a young and beautiful nurse, both are having an affair with his chauffeur.
After ascertaining that the nurse has a streak of violent jealousy in her, and that the other two are in the chauffeur’s room, he sends the nurse there with a small disused pistol (“a woman’s gun, an old man’s gun”) to be inspected.
Joseph Wiseman has a variant of his character in Bye Bye Braverman, a little more sardonic, less melancholy. Diane Keaton as the nurse is on the dumb side but not distracted, and cheerful. Angel Tompkins as the wife is kind, considerate and double-dealing.
The witches of Macbeth toil at their bubbling caldron, adding a long parade of noxious ingredients to whatever it is they’re making. Hideous specimens, one has a very long and pointed nose and orange hair, another inch-thick eyebrows.
The orangeheaded witch leads the rhyming incantation over each specific in the recipe, all join in the regular chorus. The heavy-browed witch is “stark staring ravenous”, and is told, “you’ll just have to wait until she gets here.”
The famished witch could have had a coven arrange “a black mass, sacrificial virgin and all, in the time it’s taking her.”
At last, the fourth witch arrives. “Let’s see,” she says, “who had the ham on rye, hold the lettuce?” The orangehead takes her sandwich, bites into it and hisses at the others.
A satire in the long tradition of dispellers and exposers of witchcraft and superstition.
The Flip-Side of Satan
J.J. the DJ goes to hell on KAPH, a continent away from his fifteen-year stand in New York, after an affair with his agent’s wife and a pile of markers to his alibi.
It’s the graveyard shift, no-one’s in the place but a wall of photos honoring “the DJs who made KAPH what it is”, going way back, one-day wonders all. The programming allows “absolutely no variation”, 5000 watts mean “on a clear day you can hear it across the street”. He plays his signature tune, the lyrics are his own name, then lugubrious organ music is on. “Complaints are for the old maids of the world, they know what they want but not how to get it.”
He calls his agent, Sid. He calls his alibi, Bert Fox. Emily would have done what she did much sooner but for Sid, or himself. Somewhere she is running, “J.J., why’d you do that to me?”
No-one in the station, no-one in the town. Electronic music, a voodoo samba, hot drums with a wacky beat supporting cello and rhythm guitar. A voice on the record invokes Satan, “I conjure thee, spirit of darkness,” etc.
This is a prank, he tells his listeners, played on a new DJ. His slogan is, “Who’s better than J.J.? His listeners!” The voice continues, “the condemned has entered the crucible from which there is no escape”.
The doorknob comes off in his hand, the voice comes out of any record he puts on, even his own. The blue, leaf-blown street lightens. The girl running, “J.J., please save me,” a hearse drawn by black horses, “the sacrifice of the condemned”, who is commanded to humble himself and refuses. He pulls the master switch and is electrocuted, “the sacrifice must be carried out now!” The girl falls rolling, lies on straw, is electrocuted. The hearse stops.
His photo is on the wall.
Dr. Deeking’s homemade wine has the scent of orange blossoms, because he distills it himself from marmalade. He offers some to a traveler on a rainy night, “a photojournalist for Life, Look, you know.” The famous surgeon has his picture snapped, the photographer can’t recall the story he read about this fellow.
The wine is intoxicating, the guest avows that he “can tell the future”. His host is struck by this, “the responsibility must be terrifying.” They scan the Racing Form, Bow Bells at Pimlico (Deeking calls a bet in), also a Republican upset for Richmond City Council, 138 votes.
The photographer wakes up in a rather severe bed, his feet aching from the boots he’d worn. Good news, that won’t be a problem anymore, and his prophecies were correct. No, he protests, he made it all up. The doctor asks about stock prices for the coming week. He must be going, stock prognostications come to his lips nevertheless. He remembers now, Dr. Deeking “flipped his lid”, can’t practice medicine anymore.
Nevertheless, the surgeon removed his guest’s feet during the night. The patient is spoon-fed porridge while they wait to hear the stock report.
Directed by Freedman on a dark stage with bare, abstracted, colorless sets as though it were a play.
The seven old ones, or is it eight, are named in the last lecture on pagan cultures. Seminar students offer useful or inquisitive remarks, Professor Peabody reads from the Necronomicon. Fair day turns foul, against the raging storm outside his windows he hales forth the ancient prophecy (he doesn’t believe a word of it), the old ones shall crush cities, rule again! His voice is loud as tempests, to make himself heard. Thunder breaks from the dark sky outside, he transforms into a sort of mossy heap with an eyeball, one only, askew. The ancient curse on naming the names is brought to pass. He concludes with a demand for questions, if any.
Several of Serling’s themes are given a new arrangement for a pointed exercise, the basis of which is the snake oil salesman or pitchman. He is presented in a classic formulation on historical precedents, advertising his one and only product and his own invention, the Rejuvenator, a tonic that refreshes all internal organs, cures skin ailments and cholera, refreshes and restores the physical health of males and females, “etc., etc., and of course, etc.”
It’s made of “caramel color, a little wood alcohol, a little burnt cork”. A farmer brings his little girl, but you know the rest. She dies, he sees her out in front of the funeral parlor (Bartleby & Sons), sitting in a rocking chair. He goes to her, it’s a windy night, the signboard falls, he dies.
“Missed him by a good foot, his heart just stopped in him.”
Seiter’s film on the drug trade opens with the ennui of enforcement seen here, and has the same title.
The big business of alien smuggling, a national concern run at the corporate level.
The trickle has become a flood, an “invasion” in millions.
One Border Patrol station faces the military point of this, though the higher organization is only brought before the bar of justice, no more.