Geraldine Page plays a lonely, alcoholic ex-wife in her third Night Gallery appearance, and she’s the reason to see this one, titled “Something in the Woodwork” and reviewed here.
Season 3 Episode 11—aired 1/14/73
“Something in the Woodwork” **1/2
Teleplay by Rod Serling • Story “Housebound” by R. Chetwynd-Hayes
Directed by Edward M. Abroms
Geraldine Page as Molly Wheatland
Leif Erickson as Charlie Wheatland
Paul Jenkins as Joe Wilson
Jonathan McMurtry as Jamie Dilman
Barbara Rhoades as Julie
Molly Wheatland (Geraldine Page), divorced from her husband Charlie (Leif Erickson), has recently moved into a bargain-priced house, the low asking price being due to its supposedly being haunted (yes, another Night Gallery haunted house story).
A handyman, Joe (Paul Jenkins) has just finished up some work and Molly, desperate for company, insists he stay for a cup of coffee and conversation. Joe is anxious to leave, sensing how clingy (and drunk) Molly is. She wants him to do one more thing before he leaves—open a door to the attic. Joe has heard the stories of how the house is haunted (a bank robber was shot to death by police there years ago), but reluctantly agrees to her request.
Molly then wanders the attic and comes upon a spirit. Sadly, the spirit is realized in a most low-budget and therefore non-frightening way. We vaguely see it in a mirror and for whatever reason director Edward M. Abroms has the actor speak in a dull monotone—not scary, merely disinterested.
To seek vengeance upon the man who left her alone, Molly invites her ex-husband over to surprise him for his birthday, but he can’t stay as he has a young woman waiting for him in the car. This infuriates Molly, whose jealously kicks into overdrive. She claims she didn’t really want him to stay, that she has friends of her own and doesn’t need his company.
Charlie, her ex, thinks she’s gone off the deep end (correctly) and says he will be back sometime soon to try to get her the help she obviously needs. Molly retreats to the attic and asks the spirit living in the woodwork there for help. The spirit’s response? A monotone “leave me alone.” Molly says that unless the spirit helps her, she’ll burn down the house and the spirit with it. The spirit doesn’t know what to do—not a truly malevolent spirit, really just a disinterested one. Molly helpfully suggests “frighten him to death.”
When Charlie next arrives, he flat-out tells her that she’s insane. She denies this and dares him to go up to the attic. Humoring her, Charlie agrees. We hear a cry and the sound of a body collapsing to the floor. Molly, satisfied, pours herself another martini, then she hears the sound of feet descending the stairs. When she looks up, she sees that it is Charlie, seeming to be in a sort of trance.
He speaks, but it is the monotone voice of the spirit who says, “Charlie is no longer with us, Mrs. Wheatland. He’s in the attic room, moving around, getting used to things. Why didn’t you leave me alone? There was peace in the woodwork.”
Then Charlie (the spirit) descends toward Molly who lets out a scream as we end in freeze frame.
Another fairly dreadful third season tale, enlivened only by another terrific performance from Geraldine Page. Three appearances, three completely different roles (well, this one is a bit like her role in “Stop Killing Me”); Geraldine Page was one terrific actress.