A great episode to kick off Tales of the Unexpected.
Tales of the Unexpected: The Man from the South is set in Jamaica where an American boy named Tommy (Michael Ontkean) & his girl Cathy (Pamela Stephenson) sit down by two men, Carlos (Jose Ferrer) & Rawlsden (Cyril Luckham). Tommy offers them a cigarette & a light, after some banter about Tommy's American lighter Carlos offers him a bet, Carlos bets Tommy his brand new Jaguar car that he couldn't make the lighter strike ten times consecutively. Tommy says that he could, Carlos says if he wins then the Jaguar is his but if he loses then he will chop the little finger on his left hand off, it's a high stakes bet that Tommy accepts but will he end up with the Jaguar or only nine fingers...
This Tales of the Unexpected story was episode 1 from season 1 which was originally broadcast here in the UK on the 24th March 1979 & was obviously the very first story of the series which eventually ran for 112 episodes across 9 seasons, directed by Michael Tuchner out of the ones I've seen this is one of my favourite stories & is just a great way to pass 25 minutes. The story by Roald Dahl had already been used as the basis for a couple of other TV anthology show's called Cameo Theatre: The Man from the South (1955) & Alfred Hichcock Presents: Man from the South (1960) before it was adapted by Kevin Goldstein-Jackson for this series & it is a fine story of an extreme bet, the basic premise is just so gripping & you can't take your eyes off it. At only 25 minutes in length it moves along at a nice pace, it never bores & the build up is excellent as the time for the bet to take place gets nearer & nearer, you can feel the tension & nervousness amongst the character's here. The unexpected twist ending is pretty neat as well so it's good news all the way, one of the very finest episodes let down by the fact that once you've seen it there's no point in seeing it again.
Shot entirely on location in Jamiaca this one looks pretty good & hasn't dated as badly as many episodes from this show. There's a nice atmosphere & tension to this story & the shot where Carlos is holding the mean looking meat clever over Tommy's finger just waiting for the second he fails to light the lighter even made me nervous! In Dahl's opening introduction he talks about writing short stories & having to keep the readers attention for every second but nothing specific about this particular story. Again there's some familiar faces in a good cast including the mysterious Mel Ferrer & Pamela Stephenson.
The Man from the South is a classic Tales of the Unexpected story & one of my favourites from the ones I've seen, definitely well worth a watch if you get hold of a copy.
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