Starring MacDonald Carey, Joan Tetzel, John Emery.
Written by Robert Bloch, based on his short story.
Directed by Jules Bricken.
Downtrodden, broken and near penniless, artist Hector Vane (Carey) heads to his local pawn shop to get a few dollars for his "masterpiece," a study of mankind on the brink of a social revolution (or, as we here at Thriller-a-Day like to think of it, the pitcher of the dirty sneakers). When Vane gets there the establishment's Shylock is nowhere to found. He's been replaced by a mysterious figure (Emery), who promises Vane all the wealth and recognition one artist can hope for. It won't even cost him his soul. He just needs to paint a portrait.
JS: Robert Bloch was much better served by this episode, perhaps as a result of writing the adaptation himself. While it's a great episode, I do have a few issues with how it plays out. I felt that the audience was being asked too much to assume that Vane would ditch his wife, after they established how much they loved each other despite trying circumstances, as soon as a trollope came along. Sure, temptations from the devil and all... but it wasn't even clear until much later that he wasn't having an affair all along.
PE: We’ve already established that I’m no judge of fine Voodoo Rhapsodies, but when it comes to art, I’m a lost cause. My idea of a nice work of art to hang on my dungeon wall would be a black velvet of Julianne Moore, naked but for a smile, and lounging on a zebra skin rug. So, naturally I’m scratching my head during this episode when all the high falutin’ 1960s art folk are pitchin’ a fit over a pair of Jordan high tops. What gives? Of course, there were people back in the 60s who dug Andy Warhol’s soup can.
JS: To quote George A. Romero's Day of the Dead, your ignorance is exceeded only by your charm. I thought they did a great job showing Vane falling back into love with his wife while painting her portrait. And yet they followed that up with an awkward transition from Vane kissing his wife to him kissing his mistress. That seemed out of character to me.
PE: And thank goodness someone in the Thriller crew found the black that was missing in last episode's black and white.
JS: It was cool to watch as the tables turn, just compare the two screenshots of Carey and Emery. And then, in classic Bloch fashion, it twists again.
PE: “The Devil’s Ticket,” though a bit padded, doesn’t suffer the glut of “let’s watch the character walk up and down the hallway and do nothing” scenes that plagued its’ predecessor, “Your Truly, Jack the Ripper.” So what was the difference between the two? Both were based on stories written by Robert Bloch, but the difference is that “Ticket” was also adapted to television by Bloch. Who would understand the author’s dark humor better than the author himself? Bloch captured the humor and the timing of his original short story and “Yours Truly” adaptor Barre Lyndon couldn’t. All the proof is in the punchlines.
JS: Morton Stevens provides and interesting, romantic score, reminiscent of John Barry's score to Somewhere in Time. An appropriate comparison, I guess, as this too is a bittersweet love story.
PE: “The Devil’s Ticket” originally appeared in the September, 1944 issue of Weird Tales. It was then adapted by Bloch for his radio show, Stay Tuned for Terror, on June 18, 1945. Stay Tuned was a short-lived (39 episodes) radio program that was comprised of shows written and adapted by Robert Bloch. It’s one of the holy grails of Old Time Radio collectors in that it’s believed that none of the shows survive. You can find "The Devil's Ticket" in Bloch's anthology The Skull of the Marquis de Sade. The teleplay sticks fairly closely to the story with a few exceptions: that horrid "masterpiece" Vane brings to the pawn shop in the show is actually a portrait in the short story; in the story we aren't privy to the details of the pawnbrokers undoing; and most importantly, in Bloch's original story the man in black is "an old man; a very old man, at first glance. His hair was the color of yellowed ivory, and his skin had the parchment texture of incunabula. Flaring from the sides of his skull were curiously pointed ears...his fingers were like long yellow talons." A bit more like Nosferatu than the English gentleman we get on Thriller. From his first published story (January, 1935) with "The Feast in the Abbey" to his final Weird Tales, (January, 1952), "Lucy Comes to Stay," Robert Bloch appeared in an amazing 69 issues of The Unique Magazine.