Sandra Dee deals with, and is haunted by the ghost of her recently deceased sister in the Night Gallery story “Spectre in Tap Shoes,” reviewed here.
Season 3 Episode 4—aired 10/29/72
“Spectre in Tap Shoes” **1/2
Teleplay by Gene R. Kearney • Story by Jack Laird
Directed by Jeannot Szwarc
Sandra Dee as Millicent Hardy/Marion Hardy
Dane Clark as William Jason
Christopher Connelly as Sam Davis
Russell Thorson as Dr. Coolidge
Michael Laird as Michael
Michael Richardson as Andy, the Mailman
Stuart Nisbet as the Policeman
Millicent Hardy (Sandra Dee) returns early from vacation to the home she shares with her twin sister, Marion. Millicent cut short her time away because she suspects something may not be quite right with her twin as they share a bit of a psychic bond, as twins sometimes do, at least in fiction.
Marion is a tap dancer, and as Millicent calls out for her sister, attempting to find her, she ends up in Marion’s attic studio where she come upon the ghastly scene of Marion’s lifeless body hanging from a rope dangling from the ceiling, a chair to allow her to get to that height conveniently nearby.
Millicent goes into a depression during the ensuing days, sometimes noticing signs that her sister, or perhaps her sister’s ghost, are still around the house. Sounds of tap dancing upstairs, clothes of Marion’s appearing in the closest, smoked cigarettes in ashtrays (Marion smoked but Millicent doesn’t).
William Jason (Dane Clark), a property developer who is a mutual acquaintance of Millicent’s friend Sam (Christopher Connelly) visits to try to persuade Millicent to sell him the house. It will benefit his business interests and hopefully, he suggests, it will help her to move beyond the constant reminders of her late sister.
Millicent refuses. Soon after, she hears the voice of Marion calling her to come to the studio upstairs and to put on the costume she used to wear while tap dancing: black top hat, tails, nylons and tap shoes and a red wig to match Marion’s hair color. It may be noted that Sandra Dee looks fine in this ensemble.
Once in the studio, Millicent finds a noose at the ready and hears Marion’s voice urging her to put her neck into it. The pull on Millicent is powerful, but she breaks the spell at the last moment before she can carry out the act.
She is startled to find developer William Jason in the studio. He demands that Millicent hand over a series of letters that he wrote to Marion. Somehow, Millicent knows where these letters are, in a nearby chest in the attic. She produces the stack of letters—and also a revolver—just in the nick of time as Jason lunges for her throat.
Just after she announces, “no you don’t, Billy, not again. This time I’m ready for you!” she guns Jason down.
The police arrive later and explain that Marion was having an affair with the married Jason, who had written her incriminating love letters, the letters he demanded from Millicent. They also explain most of the presence of Marion’s ghost by discovering wires and speakers that allowed Jason to communicate with Millicent inside the house. He set the whole thing up after he murdered Marion, who refused to turn over the letters.
One thing still bothers Millicent. How did she know where to find the letters—Marion had never discussed them, or her relationship with Jason to her at all. The answer comes from the familiar tapping from above…
This is another decent, if near-miss, Night Gallery story. As she did in the previous season’s “Tell David,” Sandra Dee proves a better actress than one might have thought. Perhaps too much falls on her shoulders; she is in every scene and the story itself is a fairly familiar one. As always, director Jeannot Szwarc does his best, and that helps.