Starring Virginia Gregg, Howard Freeman, Lillian Bronson.
Written by Donald S. Sanford, based on the short story by Stephen Grendon (August Derleth)
Directed by Ida Lupino.
Young Virginia (Gina Gillespie) has inherited a fortune and her three guardians are not very happy about it. They'll do anything they can to lay their hands on the girl's half-million dollar purse. It's a good thing Virginia has Mr. George to watch over her.
PE: And in the role of Mr. George is Les Tremayne's voice. Tremayne, one of the genre's leading go-to guys (how about The Angry Red Planet, The Monster of Piedras Blancas, The Monolith Monsters, and one of the most prophetic horror films of all time, The Slime People, which foretold the coming of pollution and its effects on the environment—if we had only listened!), sounds so much like The Shat that I ran screaming for my front door before remembering I had an important message to bring to our loyal readers, Shat or no Shat. Thank goodness for the IMDB. After soothing my nerves with three or four shots of whiskey, I relaxed to listen to the soothing tones of Les Tremayne. You know, think about it (I sure did, while I finished the bottle), Les pulled our fat out of the fire so many times and how did we repay him? Crappy cartoon voice-overs the last ten years of his life. Really, how could Major General Mann (from War of the Worlds) and Colonel Daniels (of Francis Goes to West Point) be reduced to food stamps and Gummi Bears and Pirates of Dark Water (with the immortal characters Tula the Eco-Mage and Nibbler the Monkey-Bird)? Pissed off? Damn right I'm pissed off!
JS: Better the soothing tones of Les Tremayne than the lovely melody you may recognize as "Strangers in Paradise." For those of you keeping score at home, that post will be off the main page after this afternoon's Lucy Chase Williams interview (not if I can help it! -PE). You're welcome. Back to business at hand, how about Karloff's great entrance, stepping out of the back of the hearse? I'd like to see your pal Hitchcock try that.
PE: The acting is fine across the board (with the exception of Bronson, who wears out her welcome very quickly) and Gina Gillespie (as Virginia) is one of those rare Thriller child actors who actually can act and doesn't come off as cutesy and annoying. Gillespie's other claim to fame (before retiring at a very young age) was playing young Joan Crawford in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
JS: I know we've discussed this in prior episodes, but from the top of the stairs, I'd swear we were back in the Bates place. At least the stair tumble didn't rely on the silly Balsam-cam; clearly Ida knew better. Frankly, Lupino handled the dispatching of all the bad apples in this family tree in an interesting manner. Even in those cases where death seems a pretty extreme outcome of the 'accident', the way they were shot was always interesting.
PE: Lupino definitely has a flair for great camera angles and shadows, especially in the show's opening scenes in Virginia's bedroom. The viewer has the sense that they are actually perched above the little girl, listening in on her private conversation. Having said that, the slow pacing and padding (yet again) is the episode's downfall. To be fair, the original story wasn't all that great either. I can't imagine Weird Tales fans of 1947 shivering in their boots at, goshamighty how original, an invisible and malevolent guardian.
JS: What's interesting is that he's benevolent towards Priscilla, and only malevolent to those who would do her harm. I would think that would have been particularly appealing to the kids watching this show growing up. How cool would it be to have a ghostly bodyguard protecting you? And once again Goldsmith's score was a perfect match to the material.
PE: "Mr. George" first appeared in the March 1947 Weird Tales under the byline of Stephen Grendon. This was a pseudonym used by August Derleth, one of the so-called "Lovecraft circle," a group of writers influenced by HPL that also included Robert Bloch, Clark Ashton Smith and Frank Belkanp Long. The writers would contribute to Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos with new stories, demons, and myths. When the story appeared in WT, someone neglected to tell the cover copy guy that the whole Grendon/Derleth thing was a secret and Derleth's name was credited to the story. On the contents page, a disclamer ran: "Through a regrettable error, this story is announced on our cover as by August Derleth. Mr. Derleth acted as agent for Mr. Grendon's story, and someone in our office confused the agent's name for the author's. The error was discovered too late to stop printing of the cover." The story was later published in Mr. George and Other Odd Persons (Arkham House hardcover, 1963/Belmont pb, 1964) and more recently in Weird Tales (Nelson Doubleday, 1988) edited by Marvin Kaye.