When is a mirror a portal into another reality? When it’s painted over, silly. Perplexed? Then read this review of the Night Gallery story “The Painted Mirror” co-starring Zsa Zsa Gabor.
“The Painted Mirror” ***
Teleplay by Gene R. Kearney • Story by Donald Wandrei
Directed by Gene R. Kearney
Zsa Zsa Gabor as Mrs. Moore
Arthur O’Connell as Frank Standish
Rosemary DeCamp as Ellen Chase
Frank Standish (Arthur O’Connell, very good) has long owned a sleepy, respectable antique shop, but recent financial issues have forced him to take on a co-owner, Mrs. Moore (Zsa Zsa Gabor, funny and believably mean). Frank can’t stand Mrs. Moore’s efforts to modernize the store, such as the playing of groovy music, her garish taste and most of all her unfeeling, bullying attitude.
Frank is sweet on one particular longtime client, Ellen Chase (Rosemary DeCamp, also fine). When Ellen comes into the shop to sell a full-length mirror, Frank suggests it’s worth $10. Mrs. Moore says it’s worth nothing, and needing the money, accepts Mrs. Moore’s offer to take it only on consignment, plus one measly dollar for the shopping cart she brought the mirror in on. Ellen leaves, insulted, but hoping that Frank can do something to get her a better price.
The mirror is an odd one as it is completely painted over in black. That evening, Frank, who also lives in the shop, sleeping on a cot, attempts to remove the paint, first with chemicals, then with a chisel. When he finally breaks through the paint, he is amazed to see that behind the glass is a prehistoric scene.
When Ellen returns in the morning, Frank has removed all of the paint. Incredibly, they can nearly touch the prehistoric whatever behind the glass as they can extend their hands through it. But who wants to chance stepping into it?
Mrs. Moore’s cat does because it’s being chased by her dog. The cat disappears into the ancient flora but returns quickly as if frightened. Scaredy-cat.
Mrs. Moore then enters and informs Frank that she is buying him out and he will have to soon leave. Briefly crestfallen as the loss of his life’s work and the thought of finding other employment at his age (probably 60s), Ellen comes upon an idea…
She tosses Mrs. Moore’s dog’s ball into the mirror and the dog soon gives chase. Mrs. Moore dashes after him into the mirror’s world…
While she searches for her dog, Frank and Ellen quickly begin painting over the mirror. A terrifying dinosaur spots Mrs. Moore and comes after her. Attempting to retrace her steps back to the mirror/portal, Mrs. Moore nearly gets there when Frank and Ellen complete their work covering the mirror in black paint, thus trapping the Hungarian-accenting greedy, gaudy woman in a prehistoric world of certain peril.
This is a fun, fairly quick segment, made all the better by the fine performances of O’Connell, DeCamp and Gabor along with some unexpected special effects that are a kind of precursor to Land of the Lost.