Burl Ives, for many of us the cuddly animated snowman narrating “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” plays an old man with vengeance on his mind in the Night Gallery story “The Other Way Out,” reviewed here.
Season 3 Episode 6—aired 11/19/72
“The Other Way Out” *1/2
Teleplay by Gene R. Kearney • Story by Kurt van Elting
Directed by Gene R. Kearney
Ross Martin as Bradley Meredith
Burl Ives as Old Man Doubleday
Peggy Feury as Estelle Meredith
Jack Collins as Potter
Elizabeth Thompson as Miss Flannagan
Paul Micale as the Waiter
Adam Weed as Sonny
Wealthy middle-aged businessman Bradley Meredith (Ross Martin) returns to work in a great mood after a six-week vacation with his wife. His secretary presents him with some recent mail, one item of which is a note suggesting he look at a certain newspaper page which reports the murder of a young “go-go dancer.” Meredith’s happy countenance is immediately broken so we know he at least had some sort of relationship with this younger woman.
After a business meeting at a country club, he retrieves his sports jacket from the coat check and discovers a note has been placed inside a pocket telling him to look in his car’s glove compartment. The valet brings his car, he gets in and suddenly his wife appears, saying her car needs repairs and she asks if she can borrow his car. He dismisses her, saying he has to make a long drive to meet with a client, drives off and parks nearby so that he can see what’s inside the glove compartment.
It’s a note requesting blackmail money be delivered to a certain location. Meredith gets $10,000, packs it in a suitcase, brings a pistol and heads off.
As he nears the destination, his car crashes into a downed telephone pole and he has to continue the rest of the way on foot. His instructions suggest he is still several miles away and he has only a few minutes to get there.
He stumbles upon a house with a pack of fenced-in barking, snarling dogs, knocks at the door, receives no answer and notices the door is open. He walks inside, calls out, gets no response, finds a phone to try to call for help, finds it dead and is startled by the sudden appearance of an old man (Burl Ives). Meredith begs the man for the use of a vehicle but the man can’t do that until his grandson, “Sonny,” returns to give his permission.
Meredith gradually discovers that the old man is actually the grandfather of the dead go-go dancer (and Sonny is her brother) and that this is in fact the place he was supposed to go to. He doesn’t understand why he can’t just give the $10,000 and go on his way. The old man discovers Meredith’s gun, removes the clip, takes out one bullet and stuffs it in his pocket and tosses the clip out the window in the area where the dogs are.
Meredith becomes increasingly desperate to leave before he can find out what Sonny has in store for him and attempts to make a break for it. He is chased by the dogs, who engage him in some violence, some of them getting gunned down by Meredith. But Meredith doesn’t have enough bullets and decides to run back to the house.
Once there, the old man tells him there is “another way out” of the house and Meredith goes on a not very interesting or well-directed sequence of trying to find this way out of the house. Also, he kind of breaks down and Ross Martin gives an unfortunately bad performance here. There is some dialogue explaining what his involvement was in the girl’s death, but through Martin’s sobs, it’s unintelligible.
Finally, Meredith ends up in a pit with the ladder to the top broken. The old man says Sonny is finally here and we see that Sonny is a young boy around ten years old. Meredith shouts at the old man “you lied to me! There is no other way out!” The old man says he didn’t lie, there is another way out. And he tosses a bullet down to Meredith so he can either shoot himself or die of starvation as the old man and Sonny take their leave and shut the door to the cellar.
The only thing that makes this segment even tolerable is Burl Ives’ performance. He first seems like a kindly old rustic and we gradually see he is a sinister, sadistic man. The story has a lot of holes in it, is dull when it should be exciting from a direction standpoint and has a lead performance from Ross Martin that to me is way off the mark.