A narrator (Ray Milland) says that years before writing "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," Robert Louis Stevenson wrote a story about good and evil at war within a man. On Christmas Eve, the ...
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A narrator (Ray Milland) says that years before writing "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," Robert Louis Stevenson wrote a story about good and evil at war within a man. On Christmas Eve, the solitary Markheim watches the maid leave a shopkeeper alone in his shuttered store. Markheim knocks, explaining that he must buy a present for his fiancée. The avaricious shopkeeper looks away and Mannheim commits a violent crime. Now, he must find the man's money before the maid returns. At first he feels anguish and despair, then he searches. A stranger enters the room and offers a bargain. Does the stranger's identity matter, and will Markheim take the deal? The bell rings at the door: the maid has returned. Written by
This is a thinking person's entry, spoken in highly literate English and dealing with a complex subjectgood and evil warring within the human psyche. Whether viewers respond favorably depends, I guess, on how well a person responds to challenging material, especially on a medium not known for deeper content. Actually, the episode reminds me of those early days when TV was trying to establish serious credentials above those of I Love Lucy. That was the so- called golden age of TV, of Playhouse 90, Hallmark Hall of Fame, et al., when serious live drama was an integral part of prime time viewing.
This literate 30-minutes fits in perfectly, almost like a well-appointed stage play, but with a lot of noirish atmosphere. I'm curious, however, whether the TV ending matches that of the Stevenson short story since the TV version appears to end on a philosophically reassuring note. Anyway, in my little book, it's an entry well worth watching, if for no other reason than to catch Rod Steiger at an early stage of his exotic career.
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