Monday, October 4, 2010

The Devil's Ticket: Season 1 Episode 29

Originally aired 4/18/61
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 He's been replaced by a mysterious figure (Emery), who promises Vane all the wealth and recognition one artist can hope for.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.



  1. Part 1-

    So why does Macdonald Carey just stand there and let Patricia Medina destroy the new painting, which more-or-less damns him to eternal torment?

    Other than this one directorial mis-cue (yeah, maybe he's so shocked by her hysteria that he CAN'T move..), "the Devil's Ticket" is, in my opinion, as close to perfection as "Thriller" gets. Bloch's script is superbly structured and paced, the direction is first-rate, and the performances, especially John Emery's, are oustanding. I feel that there is not a wasted frame in this film, which seems to improve with each viewing. Yes, it's the first "Thriller" I ever saw (on 4/18/61) but no, I don't feel that my judgement in affected by sentiment, since I never regarded it as one of the really cool "spooky" shows; but upon re-encountering it in the mid '80's, I realized that this episode is practically flawless in its storytelling, both written and visual.

    Emery strikes an uncanny balance (thanks to Bloch's writing,): courtly and polite, sly and amusingly witty...with a nasty hostility lurking just beneath the surface. Here's a "Thriller" that contains comparatively little of the gloom of the great horror episodes; much of the settings have a brightness that reflects Hector Vane's new-found social status, which somehow makes the creeping terror all the more the months, weeks, and days tick away while Hector seems to be getting NOWHERE; his life continues to spin out of control, as he desparately attempts to outwit Satan himself. The final encounter between Carey and Emery, played out in an upscale bedroom of all places, is masterfully directed and played. And whereas many may have guessed that Vane paints the Devil, how many anticipate Bloch's FINAL twist? Anyone who guessed it back in '61 would have been a bit too clever to be entertained by "Thriller".

  2. Part 2 -

    Special mention to Robert Cornthwaite who, as usual, acquits himself superbly as Spengler, the pawnbroker-- a nifty one-man mini-drama to set this engrossing drama/black-comedy in motion.

    But what's with that '50's space-age, ICBM-tipped, double-barreled brassiere that Patricia Medina wears in Act 3? Holy Cow, Hector, watch'll put 'yer eye out on that thing!

    Morton Stevens' score is excellent-- strings, piano, harp, and occasional percussion. I especially like that ghostly wooden rapping sound that punctuates the gloom of the pawnshop; check how the strings keep repeating that mysterious rising 5-note motif during this scene, which soon is transformed into a "high-society" waltz, complete with cocktail piano, as we are whisked into the montage that depicts Hector's rise to the top; but as the euphoria fades, there's John Emery perched on the stool in his pawnshop, diligently paging through his ledger. GREAT STUFF from the guys who gave us "Thriller"!

    And how bizarre that Morton Steven's grand, lounge-like waltz--which so effectively underscored the sequence as Hector painted his wife's portrait--- now accompanies the closing credits, after we have just witnessed him get fried. There's something just a tad repulsive about it--in a GOOD way.

    "Devil's Ticket" might be the underdog/best of them all; 10 FULL KARLOFFS, BABY--HANDS DOWN!!


  3. When I last saw this episode a few years ago I gave it a 10 out of 10 and after just watching it again I see no reason to revise my rating. I love Deal With The Devil stories so I'm prejudiced. The ending was great.

    As far as favorite paintings, Peter can keep his portrait of some naked movie actress. I collect pulp paintings and my favorites are along the line of some cretin whipping a nude girl. I once had a cover showing this scene and stupidly sold it. Now it's probably worth over a hundred thousand. Who wants a picture of dirty sneakers?

  4. I love thriller. Used to tape it from wee hours airings on SyFy when it was Sci Fi. I saw it first on local television late on Saturday nights in the early '70s, when I could take it as a kid. Glad to have the reviews.

  5. Interestingly, although they didn't meet in person until some thirty years later (according to his "unauthorized autobiography," ONCE AROUND THE BLOCH), Bloch had written a half-dozen teleplays for Carey's series LOCK-UP when he started in television. Carey and Emery worked with Hitchcock in SHADOW OF A DOUBT and SPELLBOUND, respectively.

  6. First off, let me apologize for not somehow providing a commentary for "Devil's Ticket." It was on my master list of shows to be covered, as was "The Weird Tailor" (which received a different kind of commentary) and "Prisoner in the Mirror". "Ticket" is an important episode, and certainly deserved more attention from us. As usual, it was a matter of running out of precious time... even as "old" Image itself was running out of time.

    Truth to tell, I always had mixed feelings about this particular episode, and it has nothing to do with execution, which is generally first-rate. There's something a bit TWILIGHT ZONEy about "Devil's Ticket"; maybe because there were so many ZONES that explored the Faust premise, generally featuring a scene-chewing character actor as the Devil (Thomas Gomez, Burgess Meredith -- and that was for an hour TZ show, "Printer's Devil", which increased the similarity even more). Granted, this show's final moments are pure THRILLER, no question. But thoroughly satisfying as "Ticket" is overall, it would not be one of the episodes I'd point to if I wanted to showcase what made THRILLER's brand of horror unique. What can I say? A suave "Mr. Devil" or "Mr. Death" can't help but suggest Serlingesque whimsy to me, no matter how much darker this show eventually gets. La Strega, the Familiar, the Zvembie, Walking Hands, Living Reaper portraits, just about anyone or anything played by Henry Daniell or Reggie Nalder... they'd always come first in my mind, because there was literally nothing on TV quite like them. Again, just a personal response...

  7. Further to Gary’s comment:

    We did, we really did, wedidwedidwedid, factor “Devil’s Ticket, “Weird Tailor,” and “Waxworks" into our mix, but we just ran out of studio time. All three have memorable, killer-Thriller images — the smoke rolling from beneath the door, the walking mannequin, the melty skull — but if I could pick one, I’d pick “Weird Tailor” overall as containing one of the most devastating images, in terms of “traumatic to febrile young minds,” which is, of course “Hans” and his hissing, scary voice.

    By “traumatic,” in my case, I mean “inspirational.”

    After that, “Prisoner in the Mirror,” which I believe I actually did see while quite young.

    On a tangential note, given the images in “Hungry Glass” and “Prisoner,” it seems to me that Bob Bloch misspoke himself when referring to the “cut” shot of the Reaper actually stepping from the painting in “Grim Reaper.” I read Bloch’s teleplay and there’s no reference whatsoever to any shot like that. It was filmed precisely as written.

    Now might be a good time to poll the panel on which single additional Thriller they MIGHT have done, given their druthers.


  8. By any barometer of measurement THE DEVIL'S TICKET muast surely be considered one of the best episodes of THRILLER.

    1. Pigeons From Hell
    2. The Incredible Doktor Markeson
    3. The Weird Tailor
    4. The Cheaters
    5. Well of Doom
    6. The Grim Reaper
    7. The Devil's Ticket
    8. Waxworks
    9. La Strega
    10.The Premature Burial

    Terrific thread here by all the luminaries!

  9. I'm with Gary on this one; very well done, but really echoes the TZ glut of deals-with-devil stories. Emery was by far my favorite part of the show: the close-set eyes, Barrymore profile and voice that resonates from his shoes. Speaking of TWILIGHT ZONE, anyone else notice his portrait in the finale actually looked more like Robin Hughes, the Devil in "The Howling Man"?

    One odd note: I've done probably 300 paintings in my life and never once began with, "This will be my masterpiece". Maybe that's what I've been missing.

    DJ: "Weird Tailor" gets my vote for commentary I woulda liked to do. Hans is the creepiest.

  10. There's a thread running through this thread....which is to say that many of the very informed and insightful comments (from you guys who are experts in the biz) express reservations because of what a Thriller episode SHOULD or SHOULD NOT have been; the crime shows should have been part of a crime series (though we still all love "Late Date"), that Shatner should not have been in "Hungry Glass", that "Devil's Ticket" should have been a TZ, that "Good Imagination" should have been a Hitchcock, etc, etc. But they WEREN'T; 50 years ago, the series was shot as we know it, and we can't change it! I consider each of these individual episodes for what they ARE, and judge each of them on their intrinsic, self-contained values. ("Devil's Ticket", in my opinion, kicks the crap out of all of the TZ deal-with-devil episodes combined).

    I totally agree with Gary that "Devil's" would not be the first episode that should be used as an example of what "Thriller" did uniquely well in terms of horrific content, setting, etc...but personally, I like the change of pace it offers. I love "DT" for what it IS; I wouldn't care if it were made as an episode of "My Little Margie" long as it was made exactly as it is and that we CAN NOW ALL OWN IT, delight in it, and tell the world about it!


    PS: Feel free to ignore this post.

    1. If you pay attention devils ticket maked a lot of sense, how many unjust people have you seen or know hasn't done no good but has wealth happiness and not a care in this world. Maybe its some kind of deal but look out a women are some times his best adversary! !

  11. Hey Larry -

    Ignore one of your posts? No way! I always enjoy your contributions to the discussion, and am confident that the majority of our readers feel the same.

    You make a great point. Like it or not, each of these episodes IS a Thriller. I know Peter will cringe at the comparison, but it's like the folks that decry the Star Wars prequels. Everyone is welcome to love them or hate them — that's fine. But you can't deny what they are just because they're not what you want them to be. I look at Thriller the same way.

    Frankly I'm having great fun with all of them (be it horror or crime, and yes, even the stinkers), and it's all because of the blog. I can't imagine dedicating the time to sit through every single episode if not for the interesting responses each new entry generates. I love reading when one person's favorite episode the next person's pick for the worst.

    I just think it's so cool that so many people with similar interests (if dissimilar opinions) are coming together and (for the most part)
    having a good time.


  12. ""Devil's Ticket", in my opinion, kicks the crap out of all of the TZ deal-with-devil episodes combined"

    Amen, brother. I pretty much dislike those mischievous-devil-sure-is-clever-and-charming-watch-him-get-the-best-of-some-sap TWILIGHT ZONES so for me to enjoy "The Devil's Ticket" is saying something. I'm just not a fan of Faust riffs in general, but this was quite well done.

    I happen like Shatner in "Hungry Glass". Also like him in "Nick of Time", "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet", THE INTRUDER and INCUBUS. And I don't care who knows it!

    I loves me my THRILLER set. Loves it.

  13. ""I happen like Shatner... and I don't care who knows it!

    (in a big bombastic Shatner voice with eyes a-poppin' and dramatic pauses between each syllable)"

    Iiiiiiiii know!

    (And think about that--there are only two syllables in that sentence but The Shat will make it seem like a novel)

  14. Peter--

    It's OK, man...everything's going to be alright; (cue the pretty piano track...) I want you to understand...that you have a friend, a kindred spirit...a soul-mate in me. Yes, you see...I think Shatner is a jerk, too. I can't stand that pompous, self-inflated crap that he's been excreting for the past several decades. I hear ya, man--I really do. His late 60's LPs really sealed his doom with me.."Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"...Oi!

    However, having said all of that...when I watch him in "Thriller"--and in other things from his early career--even though I see the bad habits starting to peek through, I feel that he still controls them and channels his energy in positive, effective ways. I HATE the TZ "Nick of Time"-- so much ado about nothing (except I like to see Guy Wilkerson as the restaraunt owner, since he would go on to appear briefly as Howard (the Hick) in "Pigeons from Hell"), but Shatner is VERY good in it. He's also fine in Stanley Kramer's "Judgment at Nuremburg" (where he HAD to behave himself in the presence of Spencer Tracy, Burt Lanacster, Richard Widmark, etc), filmed at this same time ('60-61). And it's the knowledge of what Shatner eventually became that INCREASES my regard for his early work, when he was obviously regarded as a significant talent. It's all about perspective.

    My closing thought: try not to let your disdain for Shatner ruin your enjoyment of "The Grim Reaper"; as a caring, sentitive "Reach Out" kind of guy, I want you to have the best possible viewing experience for this great episode. We're all counting on you, man....we're waiting to see that first big 4-Karloff thing from youse guys.



  15. Above, I am sure Larry R. meant to write "first big TEN Karloff rating from youse guys."

    And believe it or don't, but I'm with youse guys on most of the Shat trip. His personal best is THE INTRUDER. He's damned good in INCUBUS (he even sells Esperanto as though he's actually "thinking" it as he speaks, even though like the rest of the cast he had to learn it phonetically). "Grim Reaper" -- no argument from me, there. He is the reason to watch "Nick of Time." I'd also add 1961's THE EXPLOSIVE GENERATION ... but I'd delete "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet." This is tantamount to TZ sacrilege, I know -- but it's also arguably the Big Shat bugeyed-hysteria turning point.

    Conditions: The TZ movie version proved that anyone doing that part would be strident and over-the-top. The ridiculous teddy bear monster does as much to destroy the episode as the furry Big Bird in Outer Limits' "The Duplicate Man" -- an episode I love, by the way, despite the idiotic monster suit. "20,000" doesn't really click until its final shot, which is appropriate for a TZ.

    Remember Gil in "Hungry Glass?" Possibly delusional victim of wartime trauma? Same excuse for the same actor playing (essentially) the same character in "20,000." (Shatner should have done PANIC IN NEEDLE PARK instead of Star Trek.)

    Then came Star Trek, and Shatner was off down the silly slide for good, becoming the bloated caricature everyone seems to love so much now. He has his moments in the second pilot, "Where No Man Has Gone Before," which is very much like an Outer Limits episode in color -- before the characters calcified. That pilot frustratingly demonstrated what Star Trek COULD have been ... before it got lost in a morass of Roman planets, Nazi planets, cowboy planets, gangster planets ... yeccch.

    With all that in mind, I still enjoy "Grim Reaper" deeply and profoundly ... partially because Shatner is playing an evil, manipulative prick (as in THE INTRUDER). He should have essayed more badguy roles.

  16. He was also superb in "the glass eye" and Studio One's "the defenders". I'd say shatner was extraordinarily brilliant in the first season of Trek, but as the Rottenberry/Coon influence in the 2nd season towards the end of the the scripts crumbled into inanity and the shirts shrunk, I think shatner overcompensated. A pity, as it's not his tremendous charisma but richly textured and inhabited performances. I just rewatched trek's corbomite And Charlie x.

  17. DJ, not to throw a monkey wrench in your Shatner timeline--ok, well maybe a little one--he gave a really fine, understated (UNDERSTATED) performance in the effective, literately-scripted, excellent 70s made-for-TV movie SOUL SURVIVOR. Come to think of it, I recall him being pretty good THE ANDERSONVILLE TRIAL, with George C. Scott and Richard Basehart.

    I'm feeling like the Shatner apologist--when did that happen?!

    Peter, I think you protest too much. Man, you must love the Shat something fierce.

  18. Larry-
    Not to brag but I've got the hard-core footage of The Shat and Police Lady in Big Bad Mama. It's safe in a vault. Don't even think about it. Schow tried. You saw Terror in Teakwood, right?

  19. Blams: It's not a wrench.

    You remind me of another speedbump in the post-Star-Trek decline, a TV-movie called PRAY FOR THE WILDCATS, in which Le Shat is completely overshadowed and buried by Andy Griffith's performance as an obnoxious, domineering corporate dickhead ... which Griffith would repeat, again excellently, in a subsequent TV-movie, SAVAGES. Both have Griffith's finest performances since A FACE IN THE CROWD, and that's kind of my roundabout point: Something should have happened to the Shatster to drag him back toward INTRUDER territory, similarly.

  20. I was very surprised at the enthusiasm about this episode! Other than the cool prologue and a few good items (the music, the end), I found most of the episode to be on the boring side. MacDonald Carey puts me to sleep. I did like his painting of the devil and thought it could almost pass for a Night Gallery canvas. But what do you expect from someone who thinks William Shatnmer is a great actor?

  21. To me, this was just third rate "Twilight Zone". I watched "Parasite Mansion" before this ep and it is way better in my opinion. The Devil and Daniel Webster stories never did it for me, anyhow. Where is Charlie Daniels when you need him?

  22. A good episode - unlike many, this held my interest. I'd have liked to see a slightly more sinister devil, though: the climax came across as rather "stagy" and melodramatic when it should have been frightening. Must disagree with "Anonymous" above in that "Parasite Mansion" bored me, whereas this one didn't. The Devil's Ticket: two and a half out of four Karloffs.

  23. Regarding comments that an episode should have been this or could have been that...

    I recall the late, great movie critic Gene Siskel say "Always review a film for what it is, not what it could have been."

  24. A nice solid episode. As good as I remembered it. John Emery is perfect. McDonald Carey does an admirable job. Patricia Medina's torpedo tits are awesome. Looks like two dunce caps glued to her chest.

    "3 Karloffs"

  25. "I happen like Shatner..."

    Whenever I am at a Happening, i try to happen like Shatner.

  26. [Spoiler] Bravo! I do believe this makes my top three to date. Avoids Thriller's two biggest weaknesses, a predictible ending and the feeling I am experiencing something being padded out to an hour. I, at the very end, figured he had painted the devil's portrait but didn't figure out that his wife was going to trash the coat although they did set it up well because she kept complaining about the coat all episode long. The two principal men were good actors, too. Dark haired vixen aesthetically pleasing although I'd never leave a wife like he had for her--maybe the least credible part. They didn't set it up adequately to be believable. Three-and-half Karloffs (I don't know if I'll ever be able to give four). Is it my imagination or is Karloff just getting better and better at the intros? I look forward to them now, while before I was not particularly impressed.

  27. The Faustian pact episode. Yes, it's Twilight Zonish, but for this viewer, it was a Thriller...

    Oddly enough, the thing that bugged me the most, was the ill define marriage between Mr. and Mrs. Vane. As our two blog hosts pointed out, the couple seemed to find strength in their plight, which created some cognitive dissonance when Hector easily took the bra bait. Well, now that I think about that gravity defying bra, viewing it in real life might have caused me to forget all other thoughts.

    Back to The Devil's Ticket. I thought that the acting was great on all parts. MacDonald Carey was effective in conveying the anxiety of a struggling artist and later of man racing to meet a deadline. Despite the male dominance in the scenes, the two ladies complimented the action behind the camera.

    It's always a kick to view a portrayl of Mr. D as a elder, sophisticated white male of European decent. Please allow me to introduce myself, I'm a man of wealth and taste... John Emery fills his role nicely.

    The plot moved at a fair pace with enough time to watch Hector achieve his fame and then struggle with creating his masterpiece. Hey, it can only get better than a pair of old sneakers.

    Once the final scene came on I too guessed that Emery would be staring back at a portait of himself. The twist was clever and devasting. The Devil always wins.

    Three Karloffs.

  28. Hate to be the turd in the punchbowl, but I'm just not feeling the thriller love for this one. The prologue and score are fine, and I love the effect with smoke billowing under the closed door. Also felt Emory gave a strong performance.


    Am I the only one who thought Carey bought the whole deal with the devil thing rather quickly? The scene felt a little ludicrous. And though it plays for us knowing Emery is the devil when he calls Carey "young man," I had a hard time with Carey's not reacting at all.

    Frankly, Carey is one of the big problems with this episode. I loved him on "Days of Our Lives," and he's done good work with directors like Hitchcock and Losey, but this director wasn't quite in that league. Besides his seeming way too old for the role (come on, if your that old and your artistic career hasn't taken off, isn't it time to go for a CPA?) he doesn't exactly pull off the passion that would make me believe he got tired of his wife and fell for the other woman in something like two months.

    Then there's Patricia Medina. Yeah, she's beautiful, and I've enjoyed her presence in standard leading lady roles. But even with the gravity defying brassiere, she kind of defies belief as the temperamental, mercurial glamour goddess. It needed an actress with a sense of camp, like a Joan Collins or even a younger version of Emery's ex-wife, Tallulah Bankhead. Believe me, with one of them in the role, you wouldn't be wondering why Carey would just stand there as she cuts up the painting. Nor would you be wondering why he'd be stuck in a clinch with her just after rediscovering his wife.

    As for the ending...maybe I've watched too many of those TZ deal-with-the-devil episodes (and why didn't anybody mention the one with Julie Newmar as just about the sexist satan ever?), but I saw both big twists coming a mile away.

    1. Robert Garrick here.

      I'm with Frank Miller on most of this. There were a lot of problems with this episode. Let's start with the Patricia Medina character. People are blaming Medina, the actress, but it's not her fault. It's the way her character is written. The Devil's female helpers are supposed to be luscious, cooing sex-kittens, like Raquel Welch or Elizabeth Hurley in BEDAZZLED, Gwen Verdon in DAMN YANKEES, or Julie Newmar in anything. Medina's character was a bitch, a shrew. Some men would sell their souls just to get rid of her. Blame Bloch, not Patricia.

      Meanwhile, MacDonald Carey's wife was attractive and nice, and not nearly as whiny as Medina. Yet he was willing to consign her to eternal damnation.
      That's why he deserved to die at the end, but it's yet another thing that strains credulity.

      The best thing about this episode was John Emery. Everything perked up when he was on screen. Unfortunately, he wasn't on screen all that much.

      Finally, it's worth pointing out that MacDonald Carey, a dull but competent actor, did battle with the Devil almost twenty years before this, in Alfred Hitchcock's great 1943 film SHADOW OF A DOUBT. It's never stated explicitly, but Joseph Cotten was more than just a bad human in that film. He had occasional mystical powers (we see that in the opening five minutes), and he was always surrounded by smoke. When he arrived on the train in Santa Rosa, the train was belching black smoke that filled the air. Cotten puffed on cigars and blew smoke rings. He was charming. In one scene, his hair is combed in a way that makes it look like he has horns. I once heard Andrew Sarris talk about this in a classroom at Columbia University.

      Teresa Wright is dazzled by the demon for most of the film, but eventually she figures it out and in the last scene, she's in the arms of uber-dull MacDonald Carey. I guess that's better than burning in the pit.

  29. I go along with Frank here. He bought the deal much too quickly, even though it seemed riddled with loopholes and unanswered obvious questions to me.

    The ending was obvious from about 10 minutes in when he said that the painter could paint anyone he liked. The answer was obvious from that moment on, and it was frankly incredible that our pawnbroker friend didn't spot such a glaring loophole himself.

    Why did he stand by and watch the first painting be destroyed? For that matter, why did he show it to his girlfriend in the first place?

    The ending was decent, but they destroyed it with the pawn ticket business. The twist, obvious as it was, is that he solves the puzzle, obvious as it was, by painting the pawnbroker. Throwing in the bit with the pawn ticket just wiped that out. It was reminiscent of when they remade "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" for The Twilight Zone movie. The whole story is about Shatner's battle with his subconscious demons. At the climax he shoots a window out of a plane and endangers everyone's lives, but even though they're carting him off to the funny farm, it's obvious that he's conquered his demons and won the big battle. That's what the story is about. When they remade it for the movie, they said "Screw it, we're killing him anyway", and made the whole resolution pointless by throwing in a bit where a monster gets him in the ambulance. It's supposed to be cool, but it's not. It's just dumb and kills the point that they'd set up. Same thing here.

    Not that the story is bad. It has its moments and is a lot better than some other recent episodes. But it's decidedly flawed. I'd rate it maybe 2/4.

    The biggest problems I'm seeing with these episodes in general is that they're overly long (many seem like half hour stories padded out to an hour), and the twist at the end is usually that there is no twist. Take Well of Doom, a few episodes back. We knew halfway through that they were hucksters out for Ron Howard's money (they made it painfully obvious that the cash was what they were after). And after we figure that out, nothing changes. It's a minor revelation that Torin Thatcher was still alive and working against him, but given that they were hucksters, and given that Torin dropped dead just from having a finger pointed at him, it was obvious to me that he was in league with them. So, we figured the story out halfway through and no twist changes anything. Devil's Ticket is diferent from most in that sense. It does have a twist. Unfortunately, it has two twists that cancel each other out.

    1. Very good reviews. I watched this episode on ME TV , June 30,2013. The double twist, Karloff's intro with the hell's smoke under the door-a spoiler.

      As a Roman Catholic kid in the early 60's, growing up under this dogma, it was real fear. So, should hell and devils be dismissed as mid-evil superstition, which renders much of the supernatural as so-so Greek god mythology? Eh, let the neocons pound their chests in support of hell and damnation. Serling-you are vindicated a hundred times over and above your tour of duty on this 3rd rock from the sun.

  30. "dirty sneakers" . . . . "Jordan high tops" . . . . "old sneakers" . . . . What are you guys looking at? Those are wrestling -- the real kind (high school, college & Olympic), not WWE -- shoes.

  31. Wouldn't the painter have kept his pawnshop ticket in a wallet, and if so, wouldn't the wife have emptied the old coat's pockets before burning it?..

  32. Why show off a portrait of your wife to your mistress ? A man of his years should have know the vanity and pettiness of a woman.

  33. Agree. By-the-way-Burgess Meredith played the devil/satan/etc in an hour Twilight Zone episode-the Devil's printer?

  34. This is one of two episode that has a portrait switched to that of the agent of evil, albeit under totally different circumstances.

    In "La Strega" the title character magically transforms an artist's painting of his beloved, with her hideous visage. It's a very chilling scene that effectively foreshadows the conclusion.

  35. Sumptuous score by Morton Stevens. Wish I had a recording of this alluring music.

  36. I really didn't like Carey's character in this at all. I'm pretty sure I wasn't supposed to, either.

    It's all very well for him to stand there beaming at the Devil near the end and talk about how he'd fallen in love with his wife all over again. Well, maybe so, but he'd still spent a solid ten days trying to damn her to Hell. And it's not like his conscience got the better of him. The only reason he didn't go with the plan was that the other woman he was screwing destroyed the portrait. So the scary ending we get is more honest than the "happy" ending it looked like we were getting, and ultimately more satisfying.

  37. Does ANYONE know the name of the Morton Stevens "love theme" when he paints his wife? It is driving me nuts!

  38. Why do so many of these comment threads degenerate into Shatner-bashing?

    Hint: William Shatner is not in this episode. Okay? Enough said.

    This episode clocks in as a nice solid but undistinguished entry in the series. It's a middling episode, not even close to the great episodes like PORTRAIT WITHOUT A FACE or YOURS TRULY, JACK THE RIPPER or PRISONER IN THE GLASS or DARK LEGACY or THE WEIRD TAILOR, but certainly far superior to COUSIN TUNDIFER, PIGEONS FROM HELL, or THE SPECIALISTS.

    Like many of the commenters I had a problem with John Emery as the devil. The guy looks like a British shopkeeper, not the Father of Lies. Sorry, it's just a case of severe miscasting. I would've cast John Carradine as the devil, with some makeup and prosthetics to give him subtly pointed ears and longer fingers as in the original story, and some greasepaint and facial underlighting to make him seem malevolent. Emery I keep expecting to break out into a sales pitch for 100 OF THE WORLD'S MOST BEAUTIFUL MELODIES LP set. Scary, he is not.

    We have to overlook the inexplicable way the painter lets his wife destroy the painting. That just makes no sense. It's one of those examples of an "idiot plot" -- a character does something ridiculously stupid so that other events necessary to the plot can unfold. Classic sign of lazy writing.

    MacDonald Carey carries this episode with his performance. You just wish they'd cast a more appropriate actor to play the devil. And, sure, you can see the twist at the end coming a mile off...but that doesn't mean it still isn't a good one.

    6 out of 10 Karloffs on this one. Not the best, but far from the worst of the series.

  39. Really disappointed in this one. A fantastic start which establishes a seemingly impossible dilemma for Vane to extricate himself from - concede your soul to the devil or supply him with that of another. Emery nails the part and admittedly makes this non-sensical tale worthy of at least a single viewing. Also, to give credit where it's due, Hayden Rorke as Dr. Frank almost manages to convince the viewer that Emery's devil is nothing but a con-artist in spite of the episode having already made its case in Emery's favour. That the episode seems to offer to take is in another direction is a stroke of genius in light of the fact that Frank is eliminated off-camera immediately at the end of his scene with Carey. By having Emery recount his end with an off-hand shrug while restoring the episode to its original path, is chilling. Except, the character of Vane does an unexplained 180 which unfortunately, reduces the rest of story to a dire mess.

    By establishing that Vane is the sort of individual who wouldn't wish eternal damnation on even his worst enemy, one can't help but feel for this tormented soul. Unfortunately, the tale quickly backtracks and contradicts what it has already told us about Vane by representing him as a sociopath who would gladly sell the soul of his wife without hesitation despite already establishing her as a faithful, doting companion without a single flaw. It's difficult to root for or empathize with a man who is happily attempting to consign his decent, wonderful wife to the pits of Hell while cheating on her with a nasty, shrewishly stereotypical mistress.

    Furthermore, there are far too many contrivances to ignore. Why on Earth would Vane think that showing a portrait of his wife to his mistress while describing it as a masterpiece result in anything other than her destruction of the painting? And why would Vane simply stand back and let his mistress destroy the portrait which is meant to keep him out of Hell. Also; while Vane is a contemptuous, nasty piece of work, it still isn't explained why he would so eagerly consign his wife to Hell when he rejects the Devil's suggestion that he picks the soul of an enemy if need be. What Vane's problem with his wife is, is never explained or even hinted at.

    Had Bloch retained his initial portrait of Vane as a decent man wracked with the unenviable choice between being sent to Hell himself or sending someone else in his place, this one could have been a classic. As it is, it's a stinker.

  40. I had the same problem with this episode that Chad had. Namely Vane's random changes in character. First he's in love with his dutiful wife but halfway through the episode he has sudden eagerness to condemn her to eternal damnation after, but then he falls back in love with her through painting her portrait only to quickly switch to kissing and trying to impress his mistress. Vane was written as 2 completely different characters in this episode and which one we got seemed to switch with every other scene.

    My other issue is Patricia Medina as the mistress Nadja. She was a completely cold and vicious and generally unpleasant person in every single scene and I couldn't buy for a moment that anyone would leave pretty and devoted Marie for her (she seems almost frigid in the love scenes). Top that off with Medina's shrill so-over-the-top-she-almost-hits-the-ceiling freak out when she sees the finished painting of Marie... well, I just thought it was a terrible performance.

    I liked the story and the plot and John Emery's performance was devilishly good, but I just can not overlook the problems in this episode. It's extremely inconsistent.

  41. Am I the only one who recognized Orangey (Rhubarb), the prolific cat who was with Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffanys, Ellie May's swimming cat in the Beverly Hillbillies, and the terrorizing cat in the Incredible Shrinking Man? He was said to snarl at everyone on cue..

    1. Robert Garrick here.

      Orangey was in THE OUTER LIMITS too, in season two episode one, "Soldier." Also in BATMAN, GREEN ACRES, THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES, GILLIGAN'S ISLAND. Audrey Hepburn said that the hardest thing she ever had to do in all of her years making movies was put Orangey out of the New York cab, into the rain, in BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S. When I watch that scene (near the end of the film), my heart breaks for her, and for Orangey too, who couldn't understand why Audrey would do such a thing.

      Orangey had a recurring role in OUR MISS BROOKS, from 1952-1958, as Minerva.

      Orangey has a page at the IMDB, showing credits running from 1951 to 1969. Was Orangey really making movies at age 18? I'm not sure of that. But he had a long and distinguished film career.

  42. In both "The Devil's Ticket" and "The Premature Burial," I found the 40-something Patricia Medina to be quite repulsive, the exact opposite of what she intended to play, unattractive and poorly cast. In younger days she might have been effective as 'the other woman' but I honestly don't know what Joseph Cotten saw in her. Two fine episodes otherwise.