Spooky that on my episode viewing, this one came up the day I read of Mickey Rooney’s death. He stars mid-career in this Night Gallery story from 1972, “Rare Objects,” reviewed here.
Season 3 Episode 3—aired 10/22/72
“Rare Objects” **1/2
Written by Rod Serling
Directed by Jeannot Szwarc
Mickey Rooney as Augie Kolodney
Raymond Massey as Dr. Glendon
Fay Spain as Molly Mitchell
David Fresco as Blockman
Regis J. Cordic as the Doctor
Victor Sen Yung as the Butler
Ralph Adano as Tony
Jeannot Szwarc was the most-employed and best director on Night Gallery and here, he begins a story with a strong establishing shot. It starts as a close-up on a plate of pasta as a fork gathers a biteful, then pans up along with the hand holding the fork to a mouth that accepts the food, a bit of sauce not quite making it to its intended destination instead ending up just below the lip. The camera pulls back as the man chewing the food and wiping his mouth is revealed to be a middle-aged Mickey Rooney and continues to pull back so that we see he is a solitary diner in a fine, if darkened, Italian restaurant.
The shot shows the isolation in which Rooney’s character, Augie Kolodney, a mob boss, currently finds himself. Suddenly realizing that for a man in his position, being next to alone somewhere could be a very dangerous situation, he accuses the waiter of arranging for the restaurant to be devoid of other customers. As the waiter denies this, a hail of bullets comes through the front of the restaurant and Augie barely escapes with his life, grazed by a bullet in his shoulder.
He finds a doctor who treats such situations with a “no-questions asked” policy and expresses his desire to “get out,” to be finished with a life on the run, looking over his shoulder, not knowing whom to trust or when the next attempt on his life may come. The doctor concurs, adding that Augie’s blood pressure is high and this continued lifestyle, including heavy drinking and poor eating is likely to kill him sooner rather than later.
The doctor knows of someone who can help protect Augie in his retirement and he writes down the man’s contact information on a slip of paper and gives it to him. “How much will it cost me?” asks Augie. “A lot. But you’ll still be breathing,” replies the doctor.
Augie goes to the man his doctor recommended, one Dr. Glendon (Raymond Massey), who lives in a massive house filled with hard-to-find and presumably quite expensive art and pottery collectibles (rare objects).
Getting down to business, Glendon explains the terms of his offer. Augie would live a long life without any worries of his enemies doing him harm. In exchange, Augie must surrender to Glendon everything he owns. A gentleman, Glendon pours Augie a glass of vintage wine to enjoy while he mulls over the offer.
Soon, Augie becomes groggy and we suspect Glendon slipped him a mickey. Glendon, assisted by a servant, helps Augie to his feet and leads him upstairs, where they say he can rest. As they slowly ascend the stairs, Glendon explains that he did indeed include something in Augie’s wine: a potion that will add untold years to his life.
Once on the second floor, Glendon can barely contain his glee as he begins to show the half out-of-it mobster the incredible results of his “hobby”: a collection of people, long presumed dead, behind bars in rooms which display them as if they were zoo animals.
Amelia Earhart, Roald Amundsen, even Adolph Hitler are there. And at the end of the corridor lies an empty cell with the name plate “Augie Kolodney” on the bars. Slowly realizing his fate, but too weakened to prevent it from happening, they show Augie to his room and lock the door behind him.
“I think you’ll find all the comforts available to you—as per our agreement,” Glendon grandly states. “And further than that, Mr. Kolodney, you shall live a long time. A very long time.”
This story is a close-call, but not quite a good one. My main issue with it is there is no possible way that Dr. Glendon will get his hands on all, to say any, of Augie Kolodney’s assets. He never agreed to the arrangement verbally, much less in writing, so the ending, and therefore the story itself, falls flat. Otherwise, it’s a surprisingly good performance from Mickey Rooney in a role one would not expect him in, and Raymond Massey, at an advanced age, summons up some of his gentlemanly charm of old.