A Death in the Family
Night Gallery

The Soames Funeral Home has two new arrivals in a day and a night. The county meat wagon sends over a charity case of 81 years, and a wounded prison escapee of 22 breaks into the place.

They are ensconced in the cellar at a festive table as the proprietor’s father and son, beside his wife, two daughters and his mother, all similarly unfeted at their death, other than this.

A blessing upon the dead, whoever they may be. E.G. Marshall plays it in a wig and a professional voice, kindly and sincere. He sings, “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” to the elder arrival, and dies at the head of the table, shot by the younger (who sits at his left hand).


The Merciful
Night Gallery

An elderly woman is seen to be immuring an elderly man behind brick and mortar à la Poe. They are married, he rocks disconsolately in a wide rattan chair, it’s all for the best, she explains, there’s “no sense in waiting to be eaten up with pain,” it’ll be like the many times he went upstairs for a nap, that’s all, they’ll be together in the house.

The courses of brick are laid one atop another very nearly to the ceiling, she can no longer be seen. The air will go out, she concludes, and that will be that. The man says nothing. The wall is finished at last.

A bell is heard. He calls to her, but there is no answer. He gets up out of his chair and crosses to a set of basement steps leading up to the lighted house. There’s someone at the door.

Imogene Coca and King Donovan have these roles in white hair and makeup.


Class of ‘99
Night Gallery

The class of ‘99 is made of robots. “Major wars, pestilence and pollution” have reduced overpopulation, these have been “created to repopulate society”. Oral exams conclude their university education.

The lifelike robots are questioned on propulsion, from Bacon to Goddard. Behavioral science is the forte of this institution, however. Black and white, rich and poor are posed in antipathy for analysis, equally.

The final question posits an enemy, one robot (“Elkins”) refuses to shoot another (“Chang”) without reason and is shot as a “traitor, subversive, unreliable”.

The assassin receives an “A” in this lecture hall and afterwards gives a valedictory address.

“Created in man’s image, just but ruthless... many ancient virtues are weakness... tolerate an inferior?... we shall emulate men, we shall be men.”


With Apologies to Mr. Hyde
Night Gallery

A man in evening dress, white tie and gloves, is in a laboratory that bubbles and fizzes and steams. A laboratory assistant wearing a smock, a grotesquely disfigured hunchback, observes attentively as the elegantly-attired gentleman samples a mixture. This has a violent effect, the white-gloved hands shake uncontrollably, his body writhes and contorts, he reels backward among glass tubes and beakers filled with unknown liquids, his face grimaces with pain. Now the surcharge of the venom is too great, he is overcome completely, a staggering transformation occurs, he is a monster, visibly himself yet distinctly altered in some way, staring and indefinably cruel after his ordeal.

His cheerful servant asks, “What do you think, master?” At the bounding point of rage, vibrating in the last degree of heated indignation like an alembic on the verge of exploding, the employer hurls his words at the wretched interlocutor, “if I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a hundred times, go easy on the vermouth!”

A satire in the form of a sketch, on the ill-treatment of staff in one’s employ.


The Phantom Farmhouse
Night Gallery

A lycanthropy-flavored version of Ugetsu Monogatari centered on a rural mental institution with a wealthy patient kept there by his family “for his own good.”

A ruined farmhouse and three graves nearby are known to the locals, but this is where Mildred lives with her parents. The doctor goes there, meets the girl with long index fingers and blood-red eyes at moonrise, and the mother whose hands are stained with fox grapes.

Grisly murders bring on a crise de conscience, Mildred sends him away, let him come at sunup with a prayer book and read the service for the dead, paying no heed to the rest. He faints at the goings-on, wakes up amid the ruin.

Basque shepherds see their flocks attacked by a loup-garou. The doctor himself is chased by a pack of wolves. The beautiful girl is a phantom, like her parents. The patient, originally a case of drug addiction, is a spotter for the werewolf clan, and says this of his keepers, “I hate brains for hire.”


Midnight Never Ends
Night Gallery

A writer constructs a dramatic situation in order to express its truth, Serling is appalled by the difficulty of perceiving it in terms of, for example, a television drama.

He therefore constructs one of his own and takes it apart from the inside to call attention to its construction. A persistent noise is the sound of the typewriter on which the story is being composed.

A woman driving at night picks up a hitchhiker on his way back to Camp Pendleton. They stop at a café. The proprietor complains of the late hour, calls them hippies. The sheriff questions them, the Marine has the woman’s pistol, he is killed.

All of it is directly symbolic, but the tendency is to “see what happens next”. Serling has the man and woman know each other’s name at the outset and wonder why, the clock on the café wall is first missing until the proprietor repeats his line, the Marine knows that the sheriff will stop at the sight of the café’s open door and has to say so twice because it isn’t, at first. The woman doesn’t know where the pistol came from.

“She killed her husband with it,” suggests the writer’s wife (Susan Strasberg, who plays the woman), because he neglected her. The writer (Robert F. Lyons, who plays the Marine) starts the story once again.


Big Surprise
Night Gallery

An amazing, quintessential performance by Szwarc, in which Hitchcock’s ravens on the playground figure via a clip, and birds gather voluminously overhead.

This is such a film as film directors occasionally make, Richard Matheson has seen to that, but he has the comic sense of what it all amounts to.

Old Mr. Hawkins offers young Chris “a big surprise”, ten paces from an oak tree and four feet down. His companions tire of digging, the boy discovers alone a buried chest that lifts its lid revealing old Mr. Hawkins very much alive and smiling. “Surprise!”, he says with a laugh.

On the offer, Chris goes out of focus, disappearing into thought. On the laugh, he returns to himself and runs away.


Cool Air
Night Gallery

The protagonist is not the writer, in Serling’s teleplay, but a lady professor from MIT, so that the landlady, Mrs. Gibbons, is supplied with this line, “Tell him yourself, sister. I got enough to do upstairs without draggin’ the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with me.”

Dr. Munos is a dead man kept alive by his own strength of will and a cooling apparatus utilizing ammonia and run by a gasoline engine. It breaks down in the middle of the night, 300 lbs. of ice are brought to his bathroom while a part is ordered from the Battery (the scene is New York in the Twenties), but to no avail. He expires a second time, as a repulsive corpse.

A handheld camera trundles through a graveyard by daylight in the opening shot, finds the gravestone partially obscured by dead leaves, tilts up to the blank sky and down on the professor in her taxicab fifty years earlier, a device adapted from Siegel’s Dirty Harry.


Logoda’s Heads
Night Gallery

An expedition into darkest Africa runs afoul of Logoda, who keeps a row of tiny shrunken heads suspended from a horizontal pole.

The leader’s younger brother goes to the authorities, a constable takes him out to see the witch doctor. “No white man,” says Logoda. He raises a chant over the heads, they seem to dance under his spell, he takes counsel of them.

Kyro knows the truth, has magic of her own. The witch doctor is found next day brutally murdered and disfigured. The tiny heads have blood on their mouths. “I knew Logoda could make them speak,” says Kyro, “but I know how to make them kill!”

The remarkable performances are led by Brock Peters and Patrick Macnee. Kyro was schooled by the British, Denise Nicholas causes herself to resemble Frank Finlay in this part.


A Feast of Blood
Night Gallery

OrribleEnry has a vodou, it looks like Harvey’s anatomy of a mouse, with large red eyes and set on a gold pin as a brooch. He’s “become the best at everything, even football, there are always ways of winning.”

The brooch is a gift. After dinner at the Arlington, the girl refuses, he takes the vodou off its pin and lets it cling by its “prehensile feet”. On her way home, walking because she’d sooner die than stay with him (“you’ve made your choice”), the vodou swells in size and leaves her dead, a close-up of it thus employed resembles him.

An elucidation of the gag in Hitchcock’s Lifeboat on a fishhook baited with diamonds, or a variant.


The Waiting Room
Night Gallery

The structure of the teleplay is a simple repetition to express eternal doom. Western gunslingers gather in a saloon by night, every hour the clock on the wall chimes and one of them goes outside to repeat his last moments, bushwhacked, outdrawn, outfoxed or hanged. When all have met their fate, it begins again.

“Immortality is a witch,” says Serling, “a word.” Sam Dichter has “a taste for death and a talent for deliverin’ it,” and furthermore says, “I think this whole shebang’s a loony bin.”

“Damn your eyes, Dichter,” says Abe Bennett, “your wits slog along like a crippled mule.” Doc Soames, who tended their wounds and blew his own brains out, advises, “either you understand it or you don’t, but don’t ponder it.”

The bartender explains. “Just a waiting room, Mr. Dichter, where each man awaits what is ordained. Some call it Hell.”

Mr. Dichter goes out to meet the jury, and once again rides into town past a hanged man. This time he removes the hood from the corpse, and sees himself. He screams, his horse rears and throws him. He’s back in the saloon, which “if it was any quieter, you could sow winter wheat and raise pasture.” Just himself at the bar, the bartender, and the rest playing poker.

Szwarc handles two effects with lighting, Joe Bristol’s hot morning gunfight outside, and Dichter’s hanging, the red glass of the saloon door is lit by an unseen source in the night.

The actors (Lex Barker, Albert Salmi, Jim Davis) play close to the camera for effect, Buddy Ebsen as Soames has the Doc Holliday part, Gilbert Roland gives a lesson behind the bar, and Steve Forrest a magnificent comic performance as Dichter.

“I’ll tell you what you need,” he says, “you need to get that clock fixed!” And, “you gimme a drink, or you’re gonna be the coldest bartender east o’ California.”

Charlie McKinley never saw it coming, but had “the back of his head blown off” in Abilene. Joe Bristol was gunned down by young Max Auburn in Monterey. Abe Bennett in Tombstone shot a seventy-year-old bank teller for twenty dollars, hid in a belfry and was picked off by a sharp-eyed deputy with a rifle, ringing the bells all the way down. Soames “took the blue steel symbol of my profession, the deity we all serve, and turned it on myself.” All were “doomed from the moment we took up firearms.” Dichter’s name suggests les poètes maudits.


Last Rites for a Dead Druid
Night Gallery

Here is where a great and essential piece of writing is transmuted into a great and essential work for television by a thorough understanding on the part of the director and the actors. The main weight is carried by a baroque system of metaphor conveyed in the title, a complex way of expressing an unnamable condition.

A canny, curly blonde and a quiet one are in a junk shop, Curly tells Quiet she must buy a carven figure because it resembles Quiet’s husband. The charm of the resemblance accomplishes the wish.

Drood,” says the junkman to the husband later, “pre-Drood”. He is told the correct pronunciation. A life-sized statue of Bruce the Black, defrocked abbot and sorcerer, who turned his enemies to stone. It gives the husband nightmares.

Curly faces down the husband with a smirk, he kisses her and nearly kills his wife, but goes to smash the statue instead. It makes an objet d’art of him, admired in the shop by the canny blonde.


Stop Killing Me
Night Gallery

A revue sketch, desk sergeant, nervous complainant.

She has had a death threat from her husband, fear has addled her so, she was nearly hit by a bus while standing in the street. She itemizes his reasons, her cooking, her appearance, their ennui, her bathroom clutter, the sergeant interjects. He will call the husband. He looks at the scowling photo of his wife framed on his desk. The woman leaves, believing her husband’s words, she will die within a week. A screech of brakes is heard outside, a bustle and commotion.

The sergeant places his call, seeks to learn the husband’s system.


The Sins of the Fathers
Night Gallery

A feast is gorgeously spread out along each side of the corpse for the sin eater, who takes unto himself the damnation of the departed. In time of plague and famine, the occupation is disused for scarcity of men, these are the Middle Ages.

Consequently, a boy is resorted to, counseled by his mother to feign eating and bear the feast home, with a shriek after the prayer.

“Twelve miles, twelve mountain miles” he goes and comes back again. She lays the feast beside his father, dead of plague, and bids him eat.

Geraldine Page is the mother, Barbara Steele the widow, Richard Thomas the boy brought by Michael Dunn as the widow’s servant.


The Caterpillar
Night Gallery

Borneo, a tobacco plantation in the first quarter of the last century. With his precedents from Bradbury (The Illustrated Man) and Maugham (Rain), and Oscar Cook’s story before him, lucidly Serling situates the romantic endeavor of a bored expatriate brought from England on a one-year contract. The incessant rain he’ll never get used to, the lady of the house is still young, her husband much older. The Iago of the piece is “the village entrepreneur”, who undertakes the murder for a hundred pounds.

Shagspere plays his role, two natives, “men on cat feet,” slip an earwig into the sleeping victim’s ear, to chew its way to the brain. They’ve got the wrong man, it eats through to the opposite ear and is killed by a doctor, who tells the agonized lover miraculously spared that it was a female, “a female lays eggs”.

This depends on Joanna Pettet’s close-up speaking to the camera in reply to her suitor, and Laurence Harvey’s Christlike yowl of unvoiced pain, tied by his wrists to the headboard of his bed for a fortnight.


Satisfaction Guaranteed
Night Gallery

Beautiful, well-tailored, learned and capable women are rejected by a client at the employment agency, even a plain one. He scans them across the room from his chair with a monocle held in the fingers of a gray-gloved hand and dismisses them.

Never in twenty-five years has Mrs. Mount failed to deliver on her motto. Just then, a file clerk steps in to deposit some work, the client admires her capacious bottom and corpulent hips, she’s the one, he’ll eat her here (knife and fork, plate, napkin under chin).


The Return of the Sorcerer
Night Gallery

Two sorcerers, twin brothers. One kills the other, and furiously seeks a translator for the key to a mysterious Arabic text (“fifteenth century, school of Samarkand”) not Latinized in the Necronomicon. Two have quit the job already. A third arrives. “I’m not into occultism and satanism,” he says, but the handsome pay and the lovely assistant are inducements to stay.

The text is a forbidding one, he who reveals it shall be burned and dismembered. At the point of a gun, the translator does so. Even if a sorcerer be hewn in pieces, “separately or in concert” they shall have power to rise and perform his “undone actions”. The brother appears, hacks off his enemy’s head in a black mass. The girl invites the translator to her room.

As elsewhere in the series, there is a conscious acknowledgment of La Belle et la Bête in the style, and the sorcerer’s trepidation echoes “The Fall of the House of Usher”. The rich, lurid tones of the set amplify the refined burlesque. Bill Bixby is the straight man, Tisha Sterling the assistant Fern, Vincent Price the two brothers, one bearded. A goat sits at the dinner table. “That’s my father, who built this house. He’s known as The Falling Tower.”


Rare Objects
Night Gallery

The hit comes at a Long Island ristorante, all alone the biggest mobster around escapes with a bullet in him.

His doctor advises him to retire, too much excitement, there’s an address.

Dr. Glendon dwells in a capacious mansion with a butler, who serves drugged wine to the mobster. The decision once taken, even considered, cannot be rescinded, he is half-carried to a corridor of cells bearing the collector’s priceless set of “sui generis” personages out of history, Anastasia, Judge Crater, Hitler, Amundsen, and Amelia Earhart, all preserved from age by the drug and seemingly oblivious of their fate, the aviatrix pores over a chart, for example.

His furnished cell awaits, with his own name on it, by courtesy of Dr. Glendon the collector, the connoisseur.


Spectre in Tap-Shoes
Night Gallery

A variant of Gaslight in which the murderer is seeking blackmail letters and offers to buy the Hardy School of Dance in order to obtain them. “It would be advantageous to me if I could control the entire block.”

The victim’s twin sister played accompaniment, sees persistent visions of the dead girl’s presence, all incited by the murderer.

Even after he’s dispatched with a pistol in the piano, which only the late tap instructor knew about, the twin hears music and tapping from the studio, persistence of vision.

An eloquent turn by Kearney out of Laird, directed by Szwarc with tacit assurance.


The Ring with the Red Velvet Ropes
Night Gallery

The idea here starts with the old question, who was the better fighter, Joe Louis or Muhammad Ali? It takes the question out of the realm of speculation and into absolute fact for a new speculation on the nature of the championship itself.

A champion is newly crowned, emerges from the shower into a suite of rooms on a high cliff above crashing waves, has an English butler, no outside line and a fight on Monday with his host, whose wife seductively counsels him to lose.

The match takes place in a red room, the only spectators are the house staff, the ropes are red velvet, the bell and accouterments are all red. The bout is fought strictly by the rules, with a referee and timer. Rounds go by with body blows, in the fifth there is a bruise under the host’s left eye (he’s wearing red trunks) and a cut under the champion’s right. The sixth opens up to the head generally, both go down (the champ takes the count resting, up on 8, the host wobbles up on 5), a dynamite blow (repeated by Szwarc) delivers a knockout, the host is dead on the plain canvas and very, very old.

His widow explains the real champion has just died, undefeated since 1861.


Night Gallery

A Bergmanesque anticipation of Bergman’s own Autumn Sonata. A young couple enact a sort of ritual at the behest of the dead, who are addressed by means of the camera or at a graveyard.

“You’re not just back East, here, you’re back years,” says a country doctor. The girl seeks a certain summerhouse, indwelt like an actress learning a role. With her own bloodied hands she claws up a shallow grave, he buries the infant in a stone crypt.

“Cold, wintry things” they are, “but this time one of you wants to keep her.” And indeed, having accomplished the task in the persona of the ancient mother, she is unable to resume her daily self.



Lovely But Lethal

Possibly this is conceived as a large-scale response to Agee’s erroneous analysis of Vincent Sherman’s Mr. Skeffington: “An endless woman’s page dissertation on What To Do When Beauty Fades.” Humorously, you could say, Bercovici and Gillis developed this by way of Agee’s mistake, in yet another example of fortuitous invention.

The system of æsthetics proposed is formulated in Mr. Skeffington with this turn of phrase, “a woman is beautiful when she is loved,” which Frost reduced to “we love the things we love for what they are.”

The script builds up a fourfold comedy around a cosmetics manufacturer (Vera Miles), her research staff (Fred Draper, Martin Sheen) and her young assistant (Sian Barbara Allen).

This is the way the gag works, the older plastic surgeon (Draper) is slipping and his miracle wrinkle cream is a failure. The younger (Sheen) has it, Miles wants it, and Allen blackmails her after the murder.

Szwarc launches all this with a teaser from Hammer Films: the plastic surgeon as “mad scientist.”

An amusing secondary theme or running gag involving poison ivy turns out to be strictly functional: as Ezra Pound would say, the episode is especially prized because the ending doesn’t explain itself, and simply becomes a poetic image (the jar thrown into the sea).

The title also refers to Lt. Columbo’s researches on poisons used in cosmetics (belladonna, aconite). At one point, Vera Miles quotes Psycho: “I couldn’t kill a fly.”

Her high-strung character is prone to shriek at Lt. Columbo, “You belong in a museum!” or “I love young men, lots of them... your ancient masculine double standard...” As a consequence, the lieutenant’s ministrations are of the subtlest, as when he says nothing about her gloved hand (which covers an incriminating poison ivy itch), but shakes it in both his own before departing.

Their performances fit hand in glove, and all the cast are prettily placed, with Vincent Price in a fine bit offsetting Miles’ mania.


Conspiracy of Fear

An embezzler and a developer join forces in a 350-acre project called Audubon Gardens. “A five percent kickback on light bulbs alone is enough to send a guy to Tahiti for life,” says Lt. Kojak, who calls it “Kickback City”. The Zoning Commission is hindered by a murder investigation, the delay makes investors drop out, a mobster steps in to complete the financing.

One of the embezzler’s employees was undercover and met with a fatal highway accident, Kojak finds out otherwise. The senior man on the commission is intimidated by two men conversing next to him in an elevator who mention the nicknames of his two grandchildren, their school schedules, their disappearance because their grandfather wasn’t smart. The embezzler dies, transparently not a suicide.

Kojak defies an assemblyman on the syndicate’s payroll, alarming Capt. McNeil. Not even the grand jury knows the assemblyman isn’t crooked.

The boys in Vegas want the developer out, the mobster has him set up Kojak for a hit. Sniper rifles overlook the India Street pier (Brooklyn side), but the developer dies saving Kojak’s life. The lieutenant wonders, “what made him do it?”


The Chinatown Murders

A major gang war is quashed at the outset when one affronted mobster sends another a gift of marzipan, there is a powwow. Meanwhile, Kojak is cleaning up after the strange heist at a regular racket.

So peace is maintained, an emotional peace repairing wounded sensibilities and a sense of betrayed trust. Then it starts up again, bushwhacking, sniping and interference.

A kingpin is plucked right out of a private gambling joint and kept on ice. Kojak interviews the wife, a thoroughly practiced moll with a faultless line on business and respectability in the workaday world, the noble honesty of her husband and all that jazz, behind her tinted glasses. Additionally, she has a lover.

Chinese youths are weary of toeing the line, the gang’s plan is to move out and clean up in a bloodbath initiated by well-timed jabs such as these. A very touching portrayal of a family-owned shop in Chinatown gives the picture, insular mama from the old country, capable American kids denying anything goes on in the back, numbers, etc. Then the gang.

Things aren’t working according to plan, the war isn’t materializing quite as envisioned. Therefore a bold move is decided upon, a drastic final ploy. The Chinatown gang kidnaps the boss of all bosses.

He is a bedridden invalid whose ransom is a fortune, delivered by circuitous means nearly lost to police surveillance.

A shortage of his medicine necessitates a trip to the pharmacy, where a policeman is shot and a gangster’s sister, too, developing the Scarface theme.

Manhattan South busts the gang, frees the boss and secures the ransom, which of course he denies all knowledge of. The camera finds mama’s face behind the glass window of her shop, a worried woman transposed to a difficult environment, for a concluding image.


Acts of Desperate Men

There is a dislocating suspense, a kind of surrealism, carried through the sequence of events to the end, when Kojak has the final word. The logic of these events is generalized and terrible in a way rendered permissible as a study of the great city where all sorts of things go on, assassination, usurpation, whatnot, but the sequence isn’t satisfying, however credible, and that’s just the point. “Most people lead lives of quiet desperation,” says Kojak, “maybe it’s better that way.” An ambiguous situation is stated. “No violent salvation options,” says Rimbaud.


Queen of the Gypsies

Eleonora Duse could hardly do more with the title role than Zohra Lampert. She plays a grifter caught up in a bank robbery by gadjos who kill her father in the course of business, and being very clever devises a scheme of vengeance.

Verdi himself could hardly find a grander structure for the most eloquent proceedings, which in true Kojak style reveal a set of circumstances very clearly out of the murk of city life.

Her little fifty-dollar con weighs up against a million-dollar heist with murder until she uses her genius for evil instead of good-for-nothingness and leads the robbers down the primrose path to Lt. Kojak, who tells her to take a walk after all.


Two Into 5.56 Won’t Go
The Rockford Files

An Army sergeant’s scheme to appropriate M-16 ammunition is the basis of Stephen J. Cannell’s eloquent script. The victim is Rockford’s Korea CO, about whom the wayward soldier feels a certain ambivalence, and so does the man’s daughter.

Ammo goes out shipped in the caskets of soldiers who die on base, until demand exceeds supply and fictitious soldiers have to be invented on computer files.

The direction by Szwarc is very game, introducing a criminal element of the film noir within the savvy appearance of offhand professionalism.



A fool’s errand in East Berlin to persuade the Soviet bloc. It fails, happily, but the fool notices the girl he left behind him.

Thus and nohow else you save the lives of Dissident-Human Rights types.

Many red herrings and amusing feints riddle the tale, a railroad porter’s disguise upon arrival (North by Northwest), Nabokov’s nightmare visit to a girl whose safety-pins the authorities have taken away, “A Visit to a Museum”, many a gambit (The Naked Runner) and ruse of the Cold War and counterespionage in general (The Killer Elite).

The top Soviet ratcatcher is a handsome dashing fellow (Sam Neill, Janet Maslin couldn’t get this or much else), Frank Finlay and Derek Jacobi his colleagues, Michael Lonsdale is enigmatically dubbed, Brigitte Fossey is the East Berliner, Martin Sheen the errand boy.



This is the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty in DC comic style transferred to film, with all the literary, technical and artistic faculties required for such a feat. Very complicated gagwork is well-filmed and significant, Richard Lester’s successful attainment of comic book style in Superman III having been noticed by the director, a veteran of Black Sheep Squadron. Quatermass and the Pit, Strangers on a Train, The Lady from Shanghai (or, if you prefer, André Breton’s Nadja), Baudelaire, Kafka, Catch-22, Orson Welles’ Othello, Irwin Allen’s The Lost World, and The Wizard of Oz are called into play in a cosmic struggle rivaling the one waged against Gautama by Mara, whose avatar here is made to say, “what the box wants, the box gets!”


Santa Claus

The elevation of Santa Claus by the Ancient of Elfin Days in the Arctic wilderness owes a debt to The Ballad of Cable Hogue. The instability of Patch is an element of his character and this precipitates him south, after a Sorcerer’s Apprentice catastrophe, into partnership with a vile manufacturer in the toy line, who is under Congressional investigation for defective workmanship.

The two plot an Antichristmas on the strength of Patch’s Puce Pops, which confer a mild levitation on the consumer, and the flying car Patch builds to counter Santa’s sleigh and eight reindeer.

The car flies well enough, but falls apart in midair, necessitating a swift rescue by Santa. The Feds come to arrest the toy manufacturer, who stuffs his mouth with Puce Pops and flies away straight up and out of sight.

In between all these events is a little tale of what Popeye would call an “orfink” and a little rich girl. The orfink is befriended by Santa but is in Patch’s car when it disintegrates, so elf and orfink both plop down into Santa’s sleigh.

Canby describes the opening scenes most vividly, but couldn’t follow the film after that, and the All Movie Guide hadn’t a clue, either. Paradise Lost might be consulted, at such a pinch.

Szwarc’s mastery of this is best seen in the snow-globe view of a house which dissolves into the genuine article lighted on a winter evening. The cavils directed by critics at the toys produced at Santa’s Workshop suggest an unholy alliance like the one in the film.


The Murders in the Rue Morgue

M. Auguste Dupin in Paris.

The careful work of the teleplay and the direction reveals Poe as the source of King Kong.

The abiding inspiration is Dupin himself, filmed on location.

The score calls Debussy into play here and there.