Richard Kiley becomes understandably smitten with Jill Ireland and vows to protect her from “The Ghost of Sorworth Place,” the Night Gallery story which I shall review forthwith.
“The Ghost of Sorworth Place” ***
Teleplay by Alvin Sapinsley • Story “Sorworth Place” by Russell Kirk
Directed by Ralph Senensky
Richard Kiley as Ralph Burke
Jill Ireland as Ann Loring
Mavis Neal Palmer as Mrs. Ducker
Patrick O’Moore as Mr. MacLeod
John D. Schofield as Alistair Loring
The second half of this Night Gallery episode is also set in the UK, this time in Scotland, where middle-aged American Ralph Burke (Richard Kiley), seemingly on a long soul-searching holiday, gets lost while hiking through a forest. He comes upon an impressive old manor, and with nightfall approaching, knocks at the door, hoping to find directions to a nearby place to stay.
Mrs. Ducker (Mavis Neal Palmer), the manor’s unwelcoming housekeeper, answers the door and tries to get rid of Burke, but the lady of the house, the beautiful Ann Loring (Jill Ireland) intercedes and gives him directions to a local inn.
In the morning, the hotel manager, Mr. MacLeod (Patrick O’Moore) assumes that Ann is a friend of Burke’s as she stopped by the previous evening to see him, and failing that, left him a note. Barely concealing his glee, as he was clearly attracted to Ann upon meeting her at the manor, he reads the note, which is an invitation to meet her for tea at Sorworth Place at 4:30 p.m.
MacLeod explains to Burke that Ann Loring is a widow, her husband having died about a year ago, although he is reticent to give Burke the cause of death. Offering Burke a drink at the hotel bar, MacLeod says, without acknowledging the irony of the two men sharing a drink so early in the day, that “it was the drink” that destroyed the late Mr. Loring, but “it was also the evil.”
Seems that he slept with the manor’s chambermaids and beat his wife. MacLeod wonders why Ann still stays at Sorworth Place when “she could have the pick of the countryside.” Burke wonders what brought him there…
At tea, Ann says her housekeeper thinks she (Ann) killed her husband. Suddenly, a window blows open and Ann asks Burke to close it. He does but as he looks out he briefly sees a man standing near a tree. Then, after closing it, he sees the man walking through the hallway, but he’s not sure if he really saw the man or if his mind was playing tricks on him.
Later, Mrs. Ducker approaches Burke and warns him, saying that at night she’s seen the late Mr. Loring at the bottom of the stairs dressed the same way that Burke has seen the man. This unsettling experience is why housekeeper Ducker always makes sure to leave work before nightfall.
Ann tells Burke that when she saw him that first time, a voice told her that he is the person to protect her from her husband and she explains what happened the night of his death. She poured the medicine her husband was dependent on down the drain. She knew he was sleeping with the servants. Their own relationship had become beyond cold and she rebuffed his attempts at marital relations with her, which resulted in beatings. When he was at death’s door at the bottom of the stairs, he warned her that he would be back in exactly one year, which would have been their second wedding anniversary.
Burke agrees that he will prevent the ghost of Mr. Loring from doing her harm that night, but Ann adds that Burke shouldn’t expect anything romantic out of the deal as she says that her husband sapped all ability to love living things out of her. Undeterred, Burke accepts these terms.
He does all he can to secure the house after Ann goes upstairs to bed. Then Ann comes back downstairs and fiddles with one of the doors and Burke sends her back up to bed. Then, for some reason, he goes outside and when he does, he sees Loring’s ghost enter the house via the door that Ann unlocked, apparently to let him in!
Burke runs inside and sees ghost Loring climbing the stairs. He runs after and finds the ghost inside Ann’s bedroom. The two duke it out and we see a smile of satisfaction on Ann’s face to find the two fighting over her. When ghost Loring is at the top of the stairs, Burke leaps at him but the specter vanishes, causing Burke to take a nasty fall down the staircase, accompanied by blood-curdling screams.
Ann, clad in just her bedsheet, looking quite fetching, waits expectantly. Burke enters the room, but he’s not exactly Burke. He’s seemingly dead himself and transformed in personality also. When Ann invites Burke to share her bed, he snarls, “In a year. In a year I’ll come for you…my Ann.”
A good, chilling finish to a solid segment.