An insurance swindler gets a lesson handed out to him Night Gallery-style in “The Miracle at Camafeo,” reviewed here.
Season 2 Episode 17—aired 1/19/72
“The Miracle at Camafeo” ***
Teleplay by Rod Serling • Story by C. B. Gilford
Directed by Ralph Senensky
Harry Guardino as Charlie Rogan
Julie Adams as Gay Melcor
Ray Danton as Joe Melcor
Richard Yñiguez as the Priest
Rodolfo Hoyos Jr. as the Bartender
Margarita Garcia as the Blind Boy’s Mother
Thomas Trujillo as the Blind Boy
In a cantina in the Mexican town of Camafeo, where physically afflicted pilgrims came from near and far in the hopes of receiving a miracle at the holy shrine of the Nuestra Senora de Camafeo, rumpled, middle-aged American Charlie Rogan walks up to an attractive American woman, Gay Melcor, and offers to buy her a drink.
But he’s not there to chat her up in hopes of romance. Rather, he has followed her and her husband Joe there from the United States, hoping to somehow prevent Melcor from accomplishing his final victory lap in a fraudulent $500,000 claim against an insurance company.
Rogan (Harry Guardino) believes that Melcor faked a paralyzing injury after getting hit by a bus. He won a jury claim of $500,000 against the insurance company that employs Rogan as an investigator. Rogan is outraged not only at this bilking of half a million dollars, but also by Melcor’s presence in Camafeo. While untold numbers of true believers are there to be healed of real maladies, Rogan is certain that Melcor is going to fake being cured by the shrine and walk out of there scot-free.
Gay Melcor (Julie Adams) is seemingly unmoved by Rogan’s entreaties, but when she returns to the hotel room she is sharing with her husband, she confides to him her misgivings. In an excellent shot, the room is dark when Gay enters it. We hear her husband’s voice and the camera pans over to reveal a shadow on the floor—the shadow of her supposedly crippled husband standing upright.
In no uncertain terms, Joe Melcor (Ray Danton) tries to disabuse her of any notions she may be having. “If you start acting like a fallen woman on the way to confession, then my first act as a whole man will be to play handball with you against the wall. And you’ll be up at that shrine asking to have the blue marks removed. You dig?” Film noir tough guy mixed with early 70s jargon—you gotta love it. Or not.
The next day, on the way to the shrine, Rogan encounters a woman struggling to lead her blind four year-old son up the hill to get there. Moved by their struggles and their faith, he offers to carry the boy up, an offer which the mother gratefully accepts.
Also on his way up the hill is Joe Melcor, carried on a stretcher so as to help him with his “needs.” Rogan attempts to shame him but Melcor smugly dismisses Rogan saying he’s on his way to “pick up a little miracle.”
Gay Melcor tells Rogan that she’s had it with their ruse. She won’t stand by his side any longer, but neither will she officially blow the whistle on him.
Rogan enters the shrine and speaks with the priest in a scene that could probably have been deleted as it doesn’t really add anything to the story except to underscore the legitimacy of the faith of all those who come there (except for Melcor, of course). Rogan leaves and shortly thereafter Melcor enters and continues his smugness with the priest.
Suddenly there is a murmur and then a commotion in the crowd. The blind boy can now see—a true and deserving miracle. His mother is overjoyed. The priest steps out to witness this miracle. We cut back to inside the shrine and Rogan is now standing. The priest re-enters and Rogan tips him condescendingly, but still, it’s real money, and strides outside.
The sunlight hurts his eyes. We get some nice point of view shots of a blinding light (good job of directing by Ralph Senensky) and then we hear Melcor cry out in agony. Afterward, he pathetically asks for help—he has become blind! He comes upon the boy and his mother, who hand Rogan the sunglasses that the formerly blind boy no longer needs. A great twist ending, a la O. Henry.
Overall, this is a solid story, well-written, acted and directed. If it doesn’t have quite as much emotional impact at the end as it might have, that’s a minor quibble.