Jimmy Rintoul wishes to become a composer, but his prospective manager, the trendy Rollo Verdew, has no money to promote him. Noticing Jimmy's dead butterfly collection ( he kills them by means of a jar he calls a 'killing bottle' ), an evil idea forms in Rollo's mind.
He invites Jimmy to stay at his wealthy brother Randolph's country house. Randolph is somewhat unbalanced. He will kill anyone - or anything - he knows has been cruel to living things.
Rollo is gambling on Randolph losing his mind on seeing Jimmy demonstrating the killing bottle. With him put away for life, the estate will be entirely his...
Based on a story by L.P. Hartley, this tale of murder, madness, and greed is pretty offbeat. It never occurs to Randolph that murder is in itself an act of cruelty. The ending - in which Rollo has a change of heart following a hastily blurted-out ultimatum from his girlfriend - is rather unconvincing. As I have not read the original short story, I do not know if Julian Bond was faithful to it or not.
There's no American guest-star in this episode. Roddy McDowall was familiar enough across the Atlantic ( in films such as 'Planet Of The Apes' ) to take the lead here, while future 'Doctor In The House' star Barry Evans plays the naive 'Jimmy'. William Marlowe steals the show as the deranged 'Randolph', a man outwardly normal until he sees cruelty displayed towards animals or even insects.
The scene in which Jimmy puts the butterfly in the killing bottle as the others look on is disturbing even now.
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