Friday, October 1, 2010

Papa Benjamin: Season 1 Episode 26

Originally aired: 3/21/61
Starring: John Ireland, Jeanne Bal, Robert H. Harris.
Written by: John Kneubuhl based on the story by Cornell Woolrich.
Directed by: Ted Post.

Bandleader Eddie Wilson (John Ireland) stumbles into a Caribbean police station claiming that he's just murdered a man known as "Papa Benjamin." When asked why he's committed the murder, Wilson tells the cop that "Papa Benjamin" was murdering him... with voodoo! Eddie narrates his story of how he became obsessed with composing a "Voodoo Rhapsody" stolen from actual ceremonies. Though he'd been warned with death, the bandleader soldiered on and brought down some bad juju.

PE: I dig these crazy jive talkers! Are you down with that?

JS: Cut me some slack, Jack—I don't speak jive. But I'm no fool. Even I understand the international language of the chicken foot (and herewith begins my captivation of chicken feet in consecutive episodes, which follows in the footsteps(!) of my lamp fixation from "Man in the Middle" and "The Cheaters").

PE: What was with his wife Judy (Jeanne Bal)? Total babe, but in their "lovemaking" scene, she can't seem to look Eddie in the eyes, always glancing up around his forehead. Was this where Thriller actors kept their dummy cards?

JS: Maybe it was foreshadowing for when he would have a cross up there...

He must be double-jointed...
PE: If Eddie Wilson is such a great bandleader, why does it seem like he's directing the audience more than his "guys?" And how about that crazy sound that leads Eddie down that dark road? I must confess to a tin ear when it comes to Voodoo Rhapsodies. It sounded to me like Liberace with a Charlie Watts backbeat and a little Ian Anderson on flute. I'm just glad I stayed to the end of the show when we get to see the full Rhapsody played out to its tragic coda. Was that the Pete Rugolo orchestra playing that noise?

JS: While the audience kept yelling, "Voodoo Rhapsody," I was yelling, "Free Bird!" Listen to the commentary to find out just how Thrilled Ted Post was with Rugulo's Voodoo mix. And say what you will about Ireland, but the man sure knew how to sell a white suit.

PE: Despite the goofy stuff I always find in these Thrillers, I have to admit that the scenes of the voodoo rites are very well done. There's a sense of unease to them that's not found with the rest of the production. Though I must say that this is the most humorless episode I've yet seen. Even the grimmest of episodes ("The Cheaters," "The Hungry Glass," etc.) have some bits of whimsy to lighten up the proceedings. Not so here.

JS: It does seem to have the feel of a secretly shot real-life voodoo ritual. Since this isn't One Step Beyond, I'll assume credit is due to the master behind Magnum Force and Beneath the Planet of the Apes. I did have one good chuckle early on, when Wilson's in the police station and he says they're killing him with voodoo. They immediately cue Rugulo's voodoo theme, cut to a close up of Inspector Daniels (Peter Forster), who looks around the room as if to say, "where's that crazy music coming from."

PE: Based on a short story by Cornell Woolrich, originally titled "Dark Melody of Madness," that appeared in one of the great shudder pulps, Dime Mystery (July 1935). It was later retitled "Papa Benjamin" when it was reprinted in I Wouldn't Be In Your Shoes (1943) as by William Irish (Woolrich's psuedonym). Woolrich was hugely popular on radio ("Papa Benjamin" was dramatized on Escape on January 24, 1948) and several of his novels and stories have become classic films (Rear Window, The Night Has a Thousand Eyes, Val Lewton's The Leopard Man). This was the first of three adaptations of Woolrich's work for Thriller.



  1. "KILLING ME ... WITH VOODOO! Or: A day on the set of 'Papa Benjamin'"

    Excerpts from The Hungry Eye by Eugene Paul (Ballantine pb original 1962)


    Thriller (is) an hour-long package devised by Hubbell Robinson, who, when he left CBS, went on his own, put away his artistic integrity, and collects $5000 a week for having thought up and sold the idea of Thriller.

    8:10 A.M.: Two sets stand while another is being built, resembling “a very tawdry conception of some kind of office. It turns out to be the police headquarters of His Majesty’s colonial governor in some far island outpost of the Kingdom – not so far, however, that Voodoo hasn’t been heard of or there would be no Thriller this week.

    Don Weiss, the assistant director, bounces on to announce the actors are late.

    Ambient conversation: “We got a lousy script this time.”

    “A piece of crap. They’re all crap. I haven’t worked on a good script in so long …”

    The prop man tests guns with a pleased violence, and one of the men tells the story of Pat O’Brien shooting himself in the foot with a prop gun. Props also wants to check the pin in the voodoo doll. Decision by the director is that it’s too small. He changes to one three times the size and the cameraman says its too shiny. “Hey, who was fornicating with this camera; it’s all out of whack!”

    8:32: Script girl Dee, in blue slacks, very white squaw boots, very white shirt, blue sweater, dramatic, long blue-gray hair, and very blue eyes, is embraced by the director, by the cameraman, and complains that nobody wants her, which is blatantly not true.

    The second assistant director checks with the assistant director, Carter DeHaven III, who gets introduced with a full family history, a nice young man who looks like a teenager at nine in the morning, but rapidly approaches his middle-thirties by evening.

    9:00 A.M.: Rehearsal goes on without any attempt at acting. John Ireland simply has to do a tired walk through a doorway and collapse on a bench, then say a few words to a frightened Negro policeman who runs to get the Governor … Ireland is cued in, two minutes of rehearsal is finished, and there is a cry for the coffee man.

    9:25: A voodoo expert has come on to the set to discuss authenticity with the director. The director is attentive, and other activity falls into a lull.

    Ireland comes back onstage in wrinkled evening clothes and a bit of fast, smeary makeup. “I look like I’ve been making it all night with some dame.” Another rehearsal with lights, camera, and sound.

  2. "KILLING ME ... WITH VOODOO! Or: A day on the set of 'Papa Benjamin'"

    Excerpts from The Hungry Eye by Eugene Paul (Ballantine pb original 1962)


    9:40: The Royal Governor flubs his line for the third time. It’s no good. Ted Post stages one movement a little differently, so that the frightened policeman will have even less to do. There is a tiny adjustment in mike position, in camera; the makeup man comes in to touch up the actors, Ireland rehearses by himself off camera.

    Take One: The nervous policeman blows his line. Takes two, three, and four are equally no good. Post takes two minutes of rehearsal time with the actor, then orders take five. This time the camera comes unplugged.

    Take six succeeds. In the next hour, eight different shots, all of the same few lines, make a total of fifteen takes to be intercut and edited.

    By 11 AM they have progressed to the next four lines:

    “Did he attack you with a gun, a knife, some kind of weapon?”
    “No, he was killing me with something you couldn’t see or hear.”
    “What do you mean?”
    “He was killing me with voodoo!”

    Peter Forster, his Majesty’s Governor, seems to be having some difficulty in remembering his share of these deathless lines. Five takes later on their closeup, Ireland having been squirted several times with new sweat and told to breathe more heavily, the scene is taken as a print.

    There is no heat or water on the huge soundstage because it has just been completed and put to work before refinements. Outside the open door, the coffee van sits in the California sun, workmen, actors and crew gathered around. In the distance, up the hill, Gunsmoke rehearses. The crew calls it Gun Schmuck.

    Suddenly one scene, Henry Scott, an actor of great temperament and talent with a reputation for being erratic, holds the entire set spellbound for a magic ten seconds, But at its end there is the familiar babble of voices over the director’s “wonderful, wonderful!” and there is more coffee, and new sprays of sweat, and new wieldings of the powder puff, and a grip goes by and says, “Boring, isn’t it?”

    A slight change of camera angle. There’s a goof with a cable and someone says, “We’re gonna have a little chat,” which is a working joke about being fired repeated several times at opportune moments during the day.

    1:03 PM – lunch. Ted Post: “Nice? Sure I’m nice to them. You know this business. There’s a knife in every hand ready for your back. And those momsers who work on the set, they can kill you. Never get the crew mad. They’ll drag their feet and you’re dead. Your schedule is five days, five lousy days, and if you get the reputation for going over, you never work.”

  3. "KILLING ME ... WITH VOODOO! Or: A day on the set of 'Papa Benjamin'"

    Excerpts from The Hungry Eye by Eugene Paul (Ballantine pb original 1962)


    2:00 PM: Shooting is readied on a nearby set, a ragged bedroom and its exterior. There is a rehearsal with the extras, and their attack on the hero starts a slight sinking sensation on the part of the when it is obvious that there will be several takes or a long rehearsal. The director decides to muddle through, to edit the bad spots, to keep going. Shooting schedule for this show is, after all, five days. John Ireland wonders wistfully if anybody does these things in six days. The scripts are written to be shot in seven or eight. “In ten days, you can usually do a good show.”

    In one sequence, the drapes are disturbed. The cameraman does not notice this for the second take, although he is told by the script girl. So she arranges the drapes. And so does Ireland. Then the second AD puts them right. Whereupon two grips put their final touches on the drapes, and the next take goes on.

    4:00 PM: The setup for the day’s final sequence is a long alley made up of staggered flats that are blended together into continuous walls by judicious application of Curly Lindon’s camera, a considerable saving in time and money. Out of the heavy crew about six men are actually doing anything.

    Makeup man Hadley tried to quit the business, and got out in 1930 for seven years, but Wally Westmore kept calling and calling, so he finally went back to work. He had been making $400 a week. When he quit at his wife’s insistence because they had no social life, he quit with just $35 bucks.

    “There were nights we had to sleep on the beach,” he said. “So I came back. It’s a life I know and I’ve been in the business since 1915. Back then we always worked Saturday nights. We worked seven days a week. Down on the back lot we always carried our fifth. You don’t see that anymore. They frown on it. But everybody used to. We just always drank.”

    5:45: Fifteen minutes before closing time, which is generally reckoned as 6:00 PM unless they go into overtime, the crew has been on set for 9 1/2 hours of a 10 1/2 hour day. The producer turns up for the first time that day and decides there is too much light on the set and that the sequences should be done over. Once costs are emphasized, a cover shot is taken quickly, efficiently in one minute, and the cry “it’s a wrap!” goes up at 6:10 PM

  4. "KILLING ME ... WITH VOODOO! Or: A day on the set of 'Papa Benjamin'"

    Excerpts from The Hungry Eye by Eugene Paul (Ballantine pb original 1962)


    Standard estimate for an hour filmed show for television is $92,000.

    A cast of seven with nine extras. The cast is hired by the day with the exception of the star. Six of the extras are non-union, costing $35 per day per person. they are there for that day only. The other three are stand-ins, and work only on an extra’s contract, which is lower than day player scale. One of the stand-ins has been dropped, leaving two in the budget at a total of $280. The actors work day contracts or three-day contracts. With the exception of John Ireland, none of them make a salary of more than $300 on the episode, making possible a maximum budget for supporting cast of $1800 for the week. Ireland may have cost as much as $3500, probably was contracted for half that. Cast costs were less than $5000 for the week.


    It should also be noted that Milton Subotsky ripped off "Papa Benjamin" for the Biff Bailey "Voodoo" segment of DR. TERROR'S HOUSE OF HORRORS (1965) — DJS

  5. A week or so ago I bought a copy of THE HUNGRY EYE by Eugene Paul on the second hand book market. I figured I'd quote from the 10 page THRILLER chapter on the "Papa Benjamin" episode. Hah! I see DJS has beaten me to it and now I've wasted my dough when I could have read the excerpts for free.

    But I'll have my revenge. DJS does not quote Paul's sentence in the first paragraph which sums up his judgment on THRILLER. He says "If you like thrillers, you will not like THRILLER." Then he goes on to say but 25 million people with TV sets do. Little did he know that 50 years later we would be still talking about the show.

  6. The same story was also done for an old radio show called ESCAPE. If the radio show is p.d., that might have been a nice extra. Does anybody happen to know if it's on-line?

  7. When it comes to horror--- magazines, comics, tv, movies...Everybody's gotta have at least one venture into voodoo. Too bad for Thriller that this one is such a total bore. We were two minutes into the opening scene and I couldn't believe how the pace of the show was ALREADY at a dead standstill.

    The obsessed guy who dabbles in the sacred religion and ends up paying the price, the concerned, caring wife, the concerned caring manager...etc,..all the stock characters and situations are here, but with NOTHING special to recommend.

    But the voodoo ceremony scene is very cool; certainly the highpoint of this otherwise pathetically drab episode. And where's the credit for the show's coolest performance---that of Jester Hairston as the title character? He was only a part-time actor, and yet his powerful presence dominates the proceedings. Hairston, a remarkably talented guy, was a composer and choral director; he was revered as the father/guru of American choral music--- as a composer (he wrote the lovely Christmas Carol "Mary's Little Boy Child", among others), arranger and spokesman for the black spiritual/choral tradition in the U.S. Fascinating guy (I used to see him interviewed by Johnny Carson on "Tonite Show.") But how did the dancers, who were raising an incredible ruckus with their rituals, manage to hear the box that John Ireland accidentally knocked over in the next room, I wonder---Or should I bother?

    Thanks to Steve Mitchell for his great interview with director Ted Post, who was remarkably alert and insightful. So THAT'S why this show is damned boring....Post spills the beans, alright, dissing the script, producer Shayne, Hubbell Robinson AND (especially) John Irleand, who insisted on playing his role with mind-numbing sameness throughout. Post really nails it, and it's amazing that, with the tons of TV work he did, he remembers "Papa Benjamin" in such detail.
    Nice work by Big Steve in guiding Post through all phases and aspects of the production.

    Also fascinating is Mitchell's revelation that this episode was the EIGHTH Thriller to be produced, though delayed until the 26th spot for airing; that would certainly explain a lot of its problems, but means that Maxwell Shayne was brought in to produce Thrillers earlier than I had thought (the chronology of "who-did-what-to-whom-and-when" in terms of Thriller's early identity problems---NBC network, sponsors, Markle, Shayne, Frye, Doug Heyes, etc etc-- remains remarkably muddled).

    Since it's the Hollywood-trivia content of these bad episodes that is often the only interesting aspect worthy of discussion, I'll point out that, at 27:28', during the first big nightclub scene, the mature woman in the lower right-hand corner of the screen is Bess Flowers, known as the "Queen of the Hollywood Dress Extras"; she probably appeared in more films than anyone in history, usually doing exactly what she does here (she did, however, have a couple of prominent roles with the 3 Stooges in the late '30s).

    Alas, during the final nightclub scene (during which Ms. Flowers was re-positioned over on the extreme right hand of the screen close to the stage), I admit that I joined in with the audience's shouts of "Voodoo Rhapsody"---c'mon, play the damned thing and CROAK ALREADY!!!


  8. Peter mentioned the radio show in the entry, but I didn't think to go looking for it.

    Thanks for the suggestion, Tom - here's a blog entry on the episode with a download link.

  9. Sorry, Walker, but I hope you'll agree the excerpts were too good not to post … and I hope Mr. Eugene Paul, if he is still among us, will forgive my quoting him at length.

    I basically ported over the notes as I wrote them up for Steve Mitchell’s use when he was talking to Ted Post. If you listen to their commentary, you’ll note that Steve dips directly into several of the anecdotes to prompt Post.

    THE HUNGRY EYE is a great book overall, for giving the lay of the landscape of early 1960s television, and was an invaluable resource to me when I was writing THE OUTER LIMITS COMPANION. Congratulations — you’re the only other person I’ve heard of who has ever SEEN it!

  10. DJS....does 'The Hungry Eye' covers other shows such as 'The Defenders', ect, ect. Could you elaborate on it's contents, please.

  11. Bobby J.: Good question.

    THE HUNGRY EYE is primarily about the corporate superstructure of broadcast TV, and kind of primer for the uninitiated on how it all functions. This umbrella covers everything from the pecking order of studio executives to how commercial broadcast TV worked to “brand” children as early as possible to consumer loyalty. Television, long assumed to be this passive device for the conveyance of information, was-then and is-now as corrupt and Machiavellian as any other big, profitable business. This sounds dry as dust, but is actually quite an entertaining and informative read.

    THRILLER was presented in its own chapter as a kind of biopsy of a working day on a set. The book doesn’t “cover” other shows so much as cite them for examples — that is, it’s not a history of CBS shows, more a history of the business of TV in the early 1960s.

  12. That was very informative, it's now on order. Thank you

  13. What a wasted opportunity. An unsympathetic John Ireland is sadly miscast in the lead role; reckless ambition is one thing, but what we really needed here was a guy with a great passion for music, or at the very least for the "music scene." Ireland's character comes across like some grim ex-con, not a sensitive artist driven to extremes. Despite the drawbacks of Ireland, the script and the THRILLER producers, I honestly believe Ted Post could have pulled a little more out of this episode with more imaginative directorial set-ups and flourishes. I'm afraid his lack of inspiration shows.

  14. Once again — compare John Ireland's "Eddie Wilson" to Roy Castle's "Biff Bailey" in the "Voodoo" segment of DR. TERROR'S HOUSE OF HORRORS. Same basic plot, but a world of difference between the leads. Castle himself was a talented jazz trumpet player (although he mimed his solos to playback in the movie), and his jivey, finger-snapping performance is entirely credible, especially when contrasted with Ireland's condescending non-performance. You can almost sense Ireland felt the material was beneath him.

  15. What page are all those excerpts? I've had the book for a few weeks now and can't seem to find the THRILLER excerpt you quoted.

  16. You mean HUNGRY EYE excerpts?

    PP. 133-143 of the paperback.

  17. Thanks David, yes I meant in reference to the HUNGRY EYE book.

  18. This episode was dreadfully dull. I got much more enjoyment out of David's posts than I did out of sitting through the show. I can't believe that's a real book--but there it is on Amazon!

  19. The commentary was great! Ted Post should do all the episodes--even the ones he didn't direct.

    Steve Mitchell introduces everyone as "THE GREAT" so and so.

    Drinking game: take a drink every time Steve Mitchell says "back in the day."

  20. PAPA BENJAMIN aka PAPA RUGOLO. I can’t believe they snuck in a mini-biography of Pete Rugolo.

    A horrible performance by John Ireland who plays Pete Rugolo. I love how perfectly made up Ireland (err, I mean Rugolo) looks as he lies on his deathbed. What happened to the make-up man that day? Did he call out sick?

    A key scene when the doctor said “He almost died. His music was making him sick” left no doubt that this really was the Pete Rugolo story.

    The commentary with director Ted Post is particularly scathing. Ted pulls no punches about his dislike for this below par THRILLER episode.

    SoSo Cinema gives PAPA RUGOLO gets "1/2 Karloff".

  21. I thought Rugolo did a great job of capturing how orchestras of the day would use Voodoo percussion as the basis for a number. First it starts off with the jungle drum, but then it transforms into something more traditional. This was the formula used, for example, on Morton Gould and His Orchestra's "Jungle Drums" album. The title track starts off with the tom-toms. But, two minutes into the track, you're listening to background music for shopping. At least Pete had a more jazzy feel to his Rhapsody.

  22. Papa Bejamin is Thiller's obligatory voodoo episode and while I've enjoyed voodoo themed movies such as, White Zombie and I Walked With a Zombie, Papa B bored me.

    This episode started out with the usual "someone is under the spell "bit, and from there we were drawn into the dangerous and mysterious world of voodoo. Was voodoo still considered exotic and scary at the time that this episode aired? Watching from today's vantage point, the whole thing seemed so damn silly.

    Voodoo Rhapsodies. I'm a sucker for those late 50s / early 60s exotica sounds. The enticing sound of ancient, mystical lands from the tropics as envisioned by a white suburban guy. After exploring eastern sounds, Exotica composers Les Baxter and Martin Denny would then venture into the African musical territory. Here we get the same "authentic" soundtrack.

    Most band leaders during that time had problems with their musicans shooting up. Poor Eddie has to deal with his skin pounder under the spell of voodoo. Eddie follows his drummer to the ceremony scene, which is easily the best part of this otherwise dull episode. I had a hard time believing that Papa Benjamin would not only demand that Eddie be converted after a brief viewing of the rites, but also that he believed Eddie was a sudden convert.

    After that wonderful scene, you know what's coming next and you wait patiently for Eddie to slowly succumb to that evil voodoo. From that point on, the whole episode just crawled to an unbearable pace. I was hoping that things would end when Eddie shot Pappa B, but no it just dragged on, until finally Eddie keeled over. It was either Eddie or this viewer...

    One Karloff voodoo doll for this Thiller.

  23. This is my favorite Pete Ruggolo score so far, and, as Rodney and Hynek both pointed out, the "Voodoo Rhapsody" is very true to its period as commercialized "exotica."

    For all its flatness, I thought the images of race were fascinating, from the cleaning ladies in the club to the wordless nurse at hospital and those great, very committed members of the Papa Benjamin cult.

  24. A note of historical accuracy, concerning Pete Rugolo's score for this episode. Although the full piece, as played at the end, is a standard jazz composition by Rugolo, the piano notes with which it begins, and several portions of the composition, are taken directly from the Cuban composer and musician Beny Moré (who receives no credit in the television episode or in any of the subsequent comments on this particular score which I have seen). One of the "citations" (or plagiarisms, although citation is a standard practice in jazz) is from a well-known son montuno by BM, another from a "Rapsodia" by BM. Hence, Pete Rugolo in fact got credit for music whose central theme was "borrowed" -as was that of the fictional Voodoo Rhapsody by the fictional band leader- from a Caribbean musician (and one of the greatest popular music composers of the 1940s and 1950s). In 1961 the embargo on Cuban goods was not yet law, and Beny Moré himself was still alive: he was probably not credited so that the producers of the series wouldn't be liable to a law suit, had BM gotten wind of the use of his music. Jorge Myers (

  25. I just saw it last night, and I couldn't help liking it. But I've always liked John Ireland in suspense stories (though in a lopsided way - to me, he'll always be Steve Merrick in "I Saw What You Did").
    Of course, voodoo stories are often accused of being condescending or worse when it comes to Haitians and others, and I didn't get a feeling of that in this story. Even when Ireland tries to convince Scott that he's only into it because of losing his wife, he doesn't seem to write it off as INCREDIBLY ridiculous (even if he's certain enough to go ahead and use the music).
    There's one halfway big thing I noticed. In the first scene of the flashback part of the story, Ireland and Jeanne Bal seem to break that famous "Couples can't be in the same bed" rule. They're fully-clothed, and it might not be literally a BED (I'm not sure), but it's almost the same difference.

    1. Did I count 2 thriller episodes with black people in them? This one and "Pigeons from Hell." And in both cases, not blacks of USA American origins? I might be wrong.

      Rod Serling had an episode about a black boxer-the star was the legendary Sugar Ray Robinson. Any other Twilight Zone Episodes? I think there was one about a man and his dog--they drowned. Ah, the golden 50's and great early 60's--that's the era the Conservatives/Neocons/Fundamentalists would like us to go back to. Wow-Night of the Living Dead did, some commentary, Que pasa?

      I don't think Alfred Hitchcock had any episodes with black actors--maybe he did.

      As for Anglo-East Indians-Mr Karloff. If I'm becoming too political, so be it.

    2. I stand corrected thanks to my sports/boxing buddies.

      The all-black principal cast was a novelty for television in 1960. Said Rod Serling at the time (quoted in The Twilight Zone Companion by Marc Scott Zicree):

      Television, like its big sister, the motion picture, has been guilty of the sin of omission... Hungry for talent, desperate for the so-called 'new face,' constantly searching for a transfusion of new blood, it has overlooked a source of wondrous talent that resides under its nose. This is the Negro actor.

      A few other Twilight Zones would follow the example of this episode and cast blacks in significant roles, including the pastor in "I Am the Night—Color Me Black", with Ivan Dixon, and the electrician in "The Brain Center at Whipple's". These inclusions, though seemingly insignificant by modern standards, were so revolutionary at the time that The Twilight Zone was awarded the Unity Award for Outstanding Contributions to Better Race Relations in 1961.

      Originally cast in the lead role was champion boxer Archie Moore, who would later exclaim, "Man, I was in the Twilight Zone!" when describing the knockout punch delivered by his opponent Yvon Durelle in a 1961 match.

      This is one of several episodes from Season One with its opening title sequence plastered over with the opening for Season Two. This was done during the Summer of 1961 as to help the season one shows fit in with the new look the show had taken during the following season.

      They use the same hallway shown in this episode in episode 33, "Mr. Bevis", but slightly altered. However, the door and stair railings remain the same.

      The boxing match takes place at "St. Nick's Arena" which was the name of a boxing arena in New York City, the St. Nicholas Rink.[1][2]

  26. Ever since first seeing I SAW WHAT YOU DID, I've thought the sight of John Ireland going through some kind of turmoil was entertaining, and ever since first seeing DR. TERROR'S HOUSE OF HORRORS, I've found that "Musician plagiarizes the Voodoo ritual's music" idea entertaining. So I can't help being biased about this episode.

  27. Another year later--any other views in this venue regarding voodoo? ME TV is doing us cheap skates a service running these episodes over and over again.

    BTW--on second glance the ME TV reruns of Night Gallery get better with time--ah let's see a blow-by-blow critique from some aficianados of this series.

  28. Ah, Night Gallery. I like to think we'll get around to that one of these days, once we have some room in our schedule...

  29. Robert Garrick here.

    There's not enough comment about the extraordinary quality of the photography in "Thriller." This one was shot by Lionel Lindon--"Curly Lindon"--who maybe hit the bottle a little bit if we are to believe Ted Post. Lindon's work in this show was gorgeous, spectacular, as good as the camerawork in a top-rank 1940s film noir. Such quality is particularly notable in a show that was done in five days. Ted Post, in his brutally honest commentary, said that Lindon was "a genius" and that he could work fast, which was a necessity. He didn't like to work fast, but he could if he had to.

    Speaking of Ted Post's commentary . . . I was stunned by Ted Post's frank takedown of this episode, and of the Thriller project in general. He had nothing good to say about Maxwell Shane ("worthless"), Hubbell Robinson (he just wanted the money) and John Ireland (miscast). (They were all conveniently long dead when Post taped his comments, and Post himself would be dead a few years later, in 2013.)

    Post was looking to make something of this story, but couldn't do it given the script, the time limitations, and the people he was forced to work with.

    The story was linear and dull and predictable--it's the writing that is the weak spot in most of the Thrillers. But the photography is well above average, and the acting is usually fine. The direction is often good too. John Brahm is reliable competent; so is Ida Lupino; and I thought Ted Post gave this episode an elegant, exotic, smooth finish. Obviously, he wasn't happy with it but I thought he performed his role well.

    Jeanne Bal looked great in that backless dress.

    Finally . . . in the commentary Steve Mitchell says that John Ireland was well-remembered for many films, including "Red River." Actually, Ireland is best remembered for having his role cut out of that film almost completely by director Howard Hawks, who was furious at Ireland for getting sexually friendly with female lead Joanne Dru. Hawks was mad because HE wanted to get sexually friendly with Dru, but Ireland beat him to it. Legend has it that you can see one of the wagons rocking gently in one of the scenes . . .