Hardy, a young sailor down on his luck, is left stranded when his ship sails without him so he robs a man but accidentally kills him. His girlfriend Diane informs him that the one man who ... See full summary »



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Episode complete credited cast:
Himself - Introduced by
Rachel Davies ...
Cassie McFarlane ...
John Rees ...
Johnny Shannon ...
Betty Hardy ...
Motherly Woman
Mimi De Braie ...
Paul McDowell ...
Brian Dooley ...
Rex Taylor ...
Michael Ripper ...
Taxi Driver
Dallas Cavell ...
Sam Madrid
Terry Gurry ...


Hardy, a young sailor down on his luck, is left stranded when his ship sails without him so he robs a man but accidentally kills him. His girlfriend Diane informs him that the one man who can help him, the 'man at the top' is Sam Madrid. However, Hardy is in for a shock when he realizes that he has already met Madrid. Written by don @ minifie-1

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Horror | Thriller




Release Date:

14 June 1980 (UK)  »

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

Predictable Tales of the Unexpected episode.

Tales of the Unexpected: The Man at the Top is set in London where a down on his luck deck hand named Hardy (Peter Firth) has been stranded after his ship sailed without him, totally broke & unable to find any work he decides to rob a man (Dallas Cavell) but things don't go as he'd hoped & the man fights back & in a struggle Hardy stabs & kills him. Seeking help from his prostitute friend Diane (Rachel Davies) she suggests he talk to a gangland boss named Sam Madrid who may give him a job & a way out of the country, after eventually discovering where Madrid lives Hardy is shocked to discover who he is or rather was...

Episode 16 from season 2 this Tales of the Unexpected story was originally aired here in the UK during June 1980 & was the final episode from the show's second season, the third of three Tales of the Unexpected episodes to be directed by Claude Whatham I have to say I didn't think The Man at the Top was particularly good. The story by Edward D. Hoch was dramatised by Denis Cannan & the main problem I have with The Man at the Top is that it's so predictable, as soon as Hardy starts to look for the man who might be able to get him out of the country I just knew that it was going to turn out to be the man he killed, it was just so obvious all the way through & I sat there expecting it to happen rather than wondering if it would & when it did I was throughly unsurprised. The entire thing is basically build up to the ending but since it's so predictable the build up means nothing & becomes rather tedious, maybe it was just me I don't know but I honestly can't see many people not guessing how this will turn out it's that obvious.

During his filmed introduction Roald Dahl doesn't say anything specific about this story & one would imagine he wasn't that impressed with it. I will say it looks quite cinematic as it's shot entirely on grainy 16mm film & on location so it has a gritty realistic look to it. Most Tales of the Unexpected have a well known guest star & in this case it's the Oscar nominated Peter Firth.

The Man at the Top (a title which doesn't make a whole lot of sense) is a poor Tales of the Unexpected, it looks nice enough but it's just so god damned obvious & predictable, embarrassingly so in fact.

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