Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Prediction: Season 1 Episode 10

First aired:11/22/60
Starring Boris Karloff, Audrey Dalton, Alex Davison.
Written by Donald Sanford.
Directed by John Brahm.

Mace the Mentalist (Karloff) is a showman who entertains audiences by predicting the future. When he has a premonition of a boxer getting killed, he's deeply disturbed and attempts to prevent it from happening. His colleagues dismiss it, but when it comes true and he has another, no one around him is safe...

PE: "The Prediction" is the first real “supernatural” episode of Thriller (although, as Lucy Chase Williams notes in her commentary, it’s more like One Step Beyond than what Thriller was heading into eventually) and, of course, the first to include host Boris Karloff in the story.

JS: Ahem — the Great Boris Karloff. If not for him, this episode would have been sorely lacking. He's got a real grandfatherly charm, and I was amazed at how physical his performance was. He's running around and getting tackled like a young turk... it's easy to forget he was an 73 year-old man!

PE: Karloff is not only the star attraction here, he’s the glue that holds this episode together. It’s got some huge plot holes, chief among them the lack of any explanation as to why Mace is suddenly getting these true psychic images. Ostensibly, he’s been nothing but a fraud all his career and now he’s deluged with images of death all around him.

JS: That sounds like a perfectly reasonable assumption to me.

PE: Like "The Watcher", I felt as though I was coming in halfway through the story. Unlike "The Watcher", this episode has Boris Karloff’s wonderful performance to keep my mind off the nonsense. I’d give it an extra Karloff just for…well, Karloff!

JS: In this case, I didn't feel that an explanation was necessary, precisely because it was supernatural. I was more troubled with Norine making out with her boyfriend so soon after learning her father's fate.

PE: You're referring to Karloff's very cute co-star, Audrey Dalton (The Monster That Challenged the World, Mr. Sardonicus), who challenges Olive Sturgess for A Thriller A Day's “Babe of the Week.” Thank goodness, she did two more Thrillers, so we'll be seeing more of her.

JS: I'm sticking with Sturgess, who, for the record, we'll also be seeing again in "The Closed Cabinet." As for "The Prediction," it's neither one of the best nor the worst we've seen, but worthy of note for being the first to star Boris Karloff.


PE: Lucy Chase Williams and Gary Gerani do an admirable job of filling our brains with movie and TV trivia and an equally admirable job of not stepping on each others’ lines. In the “old days” I wouldn’t think to buy a dvd unless it had a commentary. These days, after suffering through so many yawners (don’t even get me started on John Carpenter’s commentary for In The Mouth of Madness), I tend to skip them altogether. This one seemed to fly. I think I only nodded off once and for an older guy like me, that’s pretty good. I did like that Gerani jumped to the defense of Edgar G. Ulmer’s The Man From Planet X, a very atmospheric, almost noir science fiction flick that Williams dumps on.

JS: Be sure to watch for our interview with Gary Gerani, which will be posted later today!



  1. I enjoyed the commentary also. It was not just the usual rehash of the plot or an explanation of what was happening in each scene. Most commentaries I have learned are not really worth listening to but there are some that add to the enjoyment of the film. This is one of them.

  2. Our blog hosts hit the nail on the head here; a thoroughly predictable (oops) sort of story in the "One Step Beyond" mold that is given a huge boost by Karloff's powerful presence. The very last close-up shot of his face (filmed as he lay outside in freezing cold, wet weather, according to Doug Benton) is a work of art.

    While not a particularly strong show for new producer William Frye, his influence is felt by the dark mood and feel of every scene. I especially like the cramped, shadowy look of the theater backstage area with the prominent brick walls; very "Thriller-esque" feel.

    Yeah, Audrey Dalton is a babe, but only a mediocre actress; the necessary poise just isn't there. Interesting, since her best performance that I've seen is the female lead in 1961's "Mr. Sardonicus", under the guidance of schlockmeister William Castle (?).

    Interesting musical score for "The Prediction"; seems that William Frye may have asked Pete Rugolo to cool it with the jazz and write in a more Symphonic manner for this one, foreshadowing the sound of Goldsmith's and Morton Steven's scores, which would soon be the norm.

  3. Boris is wonderful and Audrey as cute as a bunny, but what about Abraham Sofaer? I really enjoyed his performance as well. This was the first episode that really felt like the "Thriller" series I remember--even more so than "The Purple Room," which was really a crime drama.

  4. There's much to love here - karloff, sofaer, the quaint old-club circuit feel. As much as the story may be hackneyed, it cooked for me. Besides the above, i thought there was some terrific photography -- the mugging in the alley, when we see a face, the woman's face, suddenly light up with a weird grin. Then there's rugolo's music. That's the best hour i've ever heard from him. It shimmered with mystery, energy and anticipation. I agree with Jack, now we're getting into the thriller groove.

  5. This episode has been underrated by many fans, in my opinion. But I think it contains one of Karloff's finest television performances ever.

  6. THE PREDICTION was a welcomed relief with the appearance by Boris Karloff in the starring role. I always enjoy his performances and he does not disappoint. I'm not on fan of Audrey Dalton and find her acting quite stilted.

    Overall it's an interesting THRILLER episode, primarily due to Boris.

    "2 Karloffs"... would be a bit higher without Audrey, would be much lower without Boris.

  7. Thiller hits double digits with a meaty role from our beloved host Boris Karloff. While Boris doesn't get to act in a great episode, it is a good episode and his acting, which is strong, boosts The Prediction a half star.

    Speaking of predictions, I am amazed that John and Peter's comments predicted all of my comments! I feel as if I have nothing left to say!

    Ok, I'll add some brief commentary. Boris' multifacted performance really makes watching The Prediction a treat. His role of Mace gives us Karloff fans a mild tie to his past horror roles. Boris projects a genuine caring towards his assistant (and Thriller babe) Audrey. Lastly, we get Boris as the doomed sould resigned to play out his fate.

    I enjoyed the various characters that made up the club where Boris did his act. They did well and made you believe that you really were watching a group of people that worked together to put on the production. Audrey and her boyfriend were so-so, but back in those days it seemed that most relationships were written and acted without depth or realism.

    The ending was satisfying and with Boris in the action, the setting seemed to evoke just a little bit the finale in The Body Snatcher.

    I predict a rating of 2 1/2 Karloffs.

  8. It amazes me that, almost a full year later, there are still people adding to this site. Thanks very much, Hynek (and all you other kindred souls), for sharing your insightful thoughts on this and all the other episodes of Thriller. Please keep it up. Great reading!

  9. I'm late to the Thriller party, but I plan on posting about every episode. It might be take awhile, especially since the weather is still nice outside.

    After watching an episode I love coming here and reading the insightful comments and seeing if others feel the same way about the episode...

  10. Also interesting to note is that this episode "eerily" foreshadows the pairing of Audrey Dalton and Boris Karloff who would appear together in the 3rd season "Wild, Wild West" episode "Night of the Golden Cobra".

  11. Well, I'll quarrel with a few comments. I liked Audrey Dalton in this. I thought she was warm and showed a lot of depth. I'll even justify the canoodling so soon after her father's death. He was a horrible man who may even have abused her physically. Mourning wasn't much of an option.

    As for the unexplained appearance of true fortune-telling abilities for Karloff's beautifully played Mace: no explanation is needed. It's the "Twilight Zone" version of fate: you fake the supernatural long enough it jumps up and bites you in the butt. If anything, he started seeing the future to set up his own death.

    One weirdness bothered me. Weren't the Brits on the metric system in the '60s? It seemed strange to hear them referring to money as pounds and shillings and gas as petrol but talk about a road sign reading 50 miles.

    1. Frank, we've never gone metric. We weren't decimal till the 70s and we still measure distance in miles.

  12. Having just purchased this series I have to say I was somewhat surprised and disappointed at some of the first episodes . Predictable " crime drama " was not what I was expecting to see !! But with " The Purple Room . " and this episode I begin to see a light dimly burning in the distance ... Mr. Karloff carries the show , as always ! Well done bit of supernatural fun !

  13. The physicality of Karloff's performance here is extraordinary. In a few of the shots, you can see that he has trouble walking, but that doesn't stop him from mixing it up and even falling down in one of the shots. And that "face in the rain" shot? What a trouper! Most of today's "stars" would never have lain down in the damp for that image.

    Further, my sense is that the offstage scenes between Karloff and Dalton give us a peek at Karloff's personality in real life. So charming, such a gentleman.

  14. Best one yet. Nudges just slightly ahead of The Purple Room. 3.2/4.

  15. I rather enjoyed The Prediction. Nice atmopshere, good, Thrillerish cast. It was an early ep for Alan Caillou. Miss Dalton was lovely. The plot was nothing special, the presentation outstanding, and of course Karloff sold it. One can feel the Thriller we came to know and love evolving nicely in this entry. At last!

  16. Agree with the reviews. How about the Johnny Carson routine, CARNAC? Carson as the character "Carnac the Magnificent", mid-1970s. Footnote-I didn't know this about Mr Karloff/Pratt-Anglo-Indian! Karloff was born at 36 Forest Hill Road, Honor Oak, London, where a blue plaque can now be seen. His parents were Edward John Pratt, Jr. and Eliza Sarah Millard. His paternal grandparents were Edward John Pratt, an Anglo-Indian and Eliza Julia (Edwards) Pratt, a sister of Anna Leonowens (whose tales about life in the royal court of Siam [now Thailand] were the basis of the musical The King and I). The two sisters were also of Anglo-Indian heritage.[2] Kiplingesqe?

    1. Please see my forthcoming, third book on Karloff, "THE EASTERN FILMS OF BORIS KARLOFF," which will provide the most extensive account of everything that even touches upon his Eastern heritage--scheduled to be completed later in 2019.

  17. Boris definitely makes this episode worth watching. One minor quibble I have: Alan's last name is pronounced 'Cay-YOU'...I saw him in a rerun of You Bet Your Life some time ago, and that is how he pronounced his last name.

  18. What was it that set the petrol station ablaze at the end? Was that a crash of lightning or just the sound of the explosion of the petrol station? Not clear.

  19. I just caught The Prediction again, was impressed by the ending. The parallel to The Body Snatcher is there not just in Karloff's death in the pouring rain but also in the traveling on back roads and,especially, the "50 Miles To Edinbugh" sign, as Edinburgh is where The Body Snatcher was set (I cut slack for the miles part, as a nod to American viewers, as I do when watching The Informer when John Ford allows characters to refer to what in Ireland would be half-eleven as 11:30, American style).