Night Gallery: Season 2, Episode 12

Cool Air/Camera Obscura/Quoth the Raven (8 Dec. 1971)

TV Episode  |  TV-PG  |   |  Drama, Fantasy, Horror
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 176 users  
Reviews: 12 user | 1 critic

A Gothic love story about a woman and a man who lives in a refrigerated apartment./Miserly banker Sharsted finds himself trapped after viewing his client's strange optical device./Edgar Allen Poe can't even get the first line down on paper.


(as John M. Badham) , , 1 more credit »


(short story "Camera Obscura"), (teleplay), 2 more credits »
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Title: Cool Air/Camera Obscura/Quoth the Raven (08 Dec 1971)

Cool Air/Camera Obscura/Quoth the Raven (08 Dec 1971) on IMDb 8.1/10

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Episode cast overview:
Mr. Gingold (segment "Camera Obscura")
Agatha Howard (segment "Cool Air")
William Sharsted (segment "Camera Obscura") (as René Auberjonois)
Beatrice Kay ...
Mrs. Gibbons (segment "Cool Air")
Abel Joyce (segment "Camera Obscura")
Larry J. Blake ...
Charles Crowley (segment "Cool Air") (as Larry Blake)
Milton Parsons ...
Old Lamplighter (segment "Camera Obscura")
Brendan Dillon ...
Amos Drucker (segment "Camera Obscura")
Karl Lukas ...
Iceman (segment "Cool Air")
Philip Kenneally ...
Sanderson - Driver (segment "Camera Obscura") (as Phillip Kenneally)
John Barclay ...
William Sharsted Sr. (segment "Camera Obscura")


A woman falls in love with a man who has a rare disease that makes it so that he can't be exposed to warm temperatures. A greedy moneylender gets his just desserts with the help of a mysterious telescopic device that belongs to his latest client. Edgar Allan Poe ends up in a moment of writer's block.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

h.p. lovecraft | See All (1) »





Release Date:

8 December 1971 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Per the title, the camera obscura or dark chamber is an optical device used, for example, in drawing or for entertainment. It is one of the inventions leading to photography. See more »


When Edgar Allan Poe (Marty Allen) writes his name, we see that he misspells his middle name "Allen." See more »


Version of Cool Air (1999) See more »

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User Reviews

Excellent episode!
8 January 2009 | by (Flagstaff, AZ) – See all my reviews

One of the most faithfully-adapted of Serling's teleplays for this series, "Camera Obscura" follows Basil Copper's creepy short story very closely. The dialogue is very well-written, and the casting is interesting. Rene Auberjunois plays the hard-hearted financier Mr. Sharsted very much in the style of his character on "Benson" (rather than as the gruff security chief on "Star Trek: DS9" -- makes you wonder which is his real voice!), and Ross Martin plays the mysterious and otherworldly Mr. Gingold very differently than most of his other TV characterizations (unless it was as Artemis Gordon in one of his disguises). The Mark Twain-lookalike makeup on Martin is a little discordant, but otherwise his performance is very fine. The set designs are superb, from Gingold's gloomy (and apparently haunted) house to the preternaturally grew environment that Sharsted finds himself after leaving the comparative safety of the house. The soundtrack is also nicely done, with an alternately intense or warbling melody that sets the tone well for the vaguely sorcerous theme of the episode.

The interaction between Martin/Gingold and his "Victorian toy," the titular camera obscura, is particularly fascinating, and there are a couple of fine moments of foreshadowing when the viewer begins to understand the underlying sinister nature behind Gingold's otherwise obliging exterior. For example, when Gingold offers to show Sharsted his other, truly unique camera obscura in another part of the house, he opens the door to the passageway and offers, "It's through here, Mr. Sharsted," in a voice that is soft and yet subtly menacing that causes Sharsted to stutter and hesitate. Also, the expression on Gingold's face while they're watching visions from both the past and the future on the remarkable device seems somber and almost melancholy, very different from Sharsted's open-mouthed astonishment. But it's his, "And I bid you good-bye, Mr. Sharsted," that really seals the deal.

Having seen one of these very interesting devices in operation once in Edinburgh, it's all the more fun to watch this episode again. Thank heavens the one I saw didn't have the extraordinary powers of Gingold's!

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