If you’re in a stranger’s home and make predictions that come true—stay sober. Review of the Night Gallery story “Marmalade Wine” is here.
“Marmalade Wine” **
Teleplay by Jerrold Freedman, Story by Joan Aiken
Directed by Jerrold Freedman
Robert Morse as Roger Blacker
Rudy Vallee as Dr. Francis Deeking
Robert Morse (still active today in his 80s on Mad Men) and Rudy Vallee, who had previously had a triumphant run together on Broadway in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, are reunited here in a story of a wandering amateur photographer, Roger Blacker (Morse), who winds up lost in a rainstorm and finds refuge at the home of Francis Deeking (Vallee), a well-known surgeon, now retired.
Deeking, who lives alone in a seemingly remote location (the sets here are the high point of the segment, there is a completely black backdrop with most of the stage furniture and props in white, creating a bizarre, futuristic stage-like atmosphere), is more than happy for the company and serves his guest glass after glass of marmalade wine.
Blacker has read about Dr. Deeking, recalling that he was famous for giving breast implants to Hollywood starlets. He also has another recollection of something peculiar about him which he can’t quite summon.
Perhaps seeking to impress his host, Blacker begins with small fibs such as that he is employed as a photographer by Life magazine. As the wine gradually has a greater influence, his lies become bigger and he tells the doctor that he has the “unique attribute of being able to foretell the future,” telling Deeking the outcome of a horse race and an election result for that day.
He falls asleep, drunk, and when he awakens the next morning, the doctor tells him he was correct about both predictions. Stunned, Blacker admits that his talent at predictions was all a bluff and that these were mere coincidences.
The doctor doesn’t believe him or care and asks him to predict some stock positions. Finally, Blacker realizes that the doctor had “flipped his lid, not allowed to practice medicine anymore,” and tries to scramble out of bed to leave.
Too late for that. Blacker finds he is chained to the bed and the doctor tells him in the grisly finale, “Don’t worry, you’ll be very happy here. While you were asleep, I took the liberty of amputating your feet. “
This is a mid-length segment (about twelve minutes) and it falls between black comic vignette and something more substantial, ultimately unsatisfying. Robert Morse plays it oddly reserved and reticent before he has too much to drink. Vallee is better as the overly gracious but ultimately mad host. They purportedly had great chemistry when they worked together on Broadway; it’s not much in evidence here.