The early days of Dark Shadows are becoming especially interesting; as of this episode, the influence of Alfred Hitchcock becomes apparent.
I’ve managed to pinpoint the exact source Dan Curtis drew upon for the Bill Malloy story, an episode from the anthology series The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, which will also reveal from where the idea was derived for the curious and sinister approach to Thayer David’s makeup job in his portrayal of Matthew Morgan.
In the post for episode 64, we’ll examine these points in depth, as well as how Hitchcock would later inspire Dan Curtis as a director.
For now, let’s begin with today’s opening narration:
“My name is Victoria Winters…”
“Good evening… or, rather, good afternoon…”
“I thought Monday would never come…”
“Today’s story concerns that of a man with an agenda to be fulfilled; that is, one who likes to make appointments for others, so that he can meet with them after hours. The question is, for today, whether this man can indeed make it to the meeting he has arranged, even if the other principals involved, despite their not wanting to attend, nonetheless manage to arrive on time… ”
“…Oh, dear. I fear that my time on this program may be cut short. I’ve just now, through the control room microphone, heard the lady director tell the executive producer that she doesn’t like me, because my trousers ride up and I look like Mr. Potato Head. Therefore, I shall endeavor to provide myself with a complete makeover before we arrive at the final scene. In the meantime, here is a word from our sponsor…”
The early days of Dark Shadows are known primarily for two things: the story of Victoria Winters, with the Burke Devlin manslaughter story running concurrently, and further along as the series rounds the final turn for the homestretch into 1967 the phoenix story. Bridging the way between the initial and subsequent storylines is the Hitchcock period of Dark Shadows, which begins in earnest here in episode 46 and runs for a full eighty-one episodes. Along the way, a series of supernatural elements will be introduced, some of which will carry lasting significance to cross-pollinate with the fire demon story the Dark Shadows Hitchcock period gives way to.
Writer Francis Swann in his first five episodes has moved the Burke Devlin manslaughter story further ahead than Art Wallace had managed to in a full eight weeks of episodes. Nonetheless, on his return here as episode writer, Wallace makes his particular strength for characterization apparent in the first act when Vicki comes into the drawing room looking for a drawing of David’s that she misplaced. When Roger tells her it’s there on the table, Wallace hits us with a magnificent and memorable zinger:
Vicki: Oh, thank you. I think David would kill me if I lost this.
Roger: My son might kill you even if you didn’t.
The “little monster” that is David Collins up to this point is after all the creation of Art Wallace. It has already been noted how Francis Swann seems to have less of an understanding for the depth of the characters on Dark Shadows than his predecessor, for instance in how Elizabeth Stoddard seems not quite as strong and a bit less decisive during her interaction with banker John Harris in episode 44 compared with how she was being written during the first forty episodes by Wallace. What began in episode 41 will be the hallmark of the writing department all the way to the end of the series: stories crafted by multiple pens at once, alternating from episode to episode or week to week as executive producer Dan Curtis sees fit; what one writer lacks in a given area will be compensated for by the strong points of another writer.
Now that Francis Swann has set the table for what appears to be the probable resolution of the Burke Devlin manslaughter story, it’s worth examining what the implications may be for the characters involved.
In episode 45 Bill Malloy had outlined for Burke what his plans were for bringing everything out in the open, finally deciding that an after-hours meeting that night in Roger’s office at the cannery would be the way to get everything settled.
It isn’t just Roger who would be taken down by Bill’s plans; Sam Evans as well would have everything to lose. When revealing what’s at stake, the exchange between Bill and Sam is very telling:
Sam: What are you trying to do? You want to destroy me?
Bill: Yes,… if that’s what you deserve.
Sam: I’m not gonna let it happen, Bill. I’m warning you… I’m not gonna let you tear the one shred of life I have away from me.
Bill: There’s nothing you can do to stop me, Sam. Not now.
Sam: But what about my daughter? What about Maggie? Think what it will do to her.
Bill: Don’t cry on my shoulder, Sam! You had ten years to think of that!
Sam: But it’s now, now! What can I do now?
Bill: Roger Collins’ office, eleven o’clock sharp, and you be there!
Note the similarity between Sam’s reaction to Bill’s forceful invitation to the meeting and that of Roger:
Roger: What are you trying to do to me? Are you trying to destroy me?
Bill: Destroy me. That’s what Sam said, the same words.
Roger [panicking]: But it was ten years ago, it’s over now!
Bill: Not for Burke it isn’t.
Roger: Alright, alright! So he went to prison, but he’s out! And he’s a rich man. And he hasn’t lost anything by it. Bill, if you have any feeling for me or for my family –
Bill: Don’t you throw that on me Roger, I’m warnin’ ya! You think it’s easy for me to do this? Well, let me tell you something. I went through hell before I made this decision, hell Roger! And now it’s made. We’re gonna have this meeting.
If all this goes through as planned, then not only the characters of Sam Evans and Roger Collins will be destroyed, but also that of Burke Devlin; his whole reason for returning to Collinsport to begin with was his vendetta against the Collins family and the threat it represented to the members of Collinwood it both directly and indirectly concerned.
One thing you notice about Roger is how unhinged he becomes in this episode. The exchange above with Bill reduces him to a state of simpering that borders on the child-like; in the opening scene he gets a call from Burke telling him about the meeting Bill has arranged. After Burke hangs up, Roger vainly implores Burke to the point of desperation; a portrait of the villainous heavy losing all control of the situation.
Yet when he shows up for the meeting, Roger is calm and composed. He voices a question that surely must be on the viewer’s mind: “Where’s Malloy?”
Malloy had after all specifically stated to Sam that the meeting was to begin in Roger’s office at eleven o’clock sharp.
“Regrettably, the lady director has been complaining about me throughout the entire taping of our story for today. She even called for a second take so that she could have even more time to complain about my trousers. Fortunately, the executive producer has provided me with a means of dealing with the situation…”
“…which leads me to say, our dear lady director should be along soon to continue with her complaining over the closing theme…”
Source material for the missing brake valve storyline on Dark Shadows can also be found in The Alfred Hitchcock Hour anthology series. In the episode Murder Case (season 2, episode 19; aired March 6, 1964), Gena Rowlands plays an actress (Diana Justin) in London married to a rich diamond merchant (Charles Justin) played by Murray Matheson. Diana isn’t really in love with her much older husband Charles, but since he is the main financial backer of a play she is starring in, her success is ensured… that is until the boyfriend she dropped so she could run off to England and start a production company with her rich husband, a struggling actor named Lee Griffin (played by John Cassavetes), manages to wangle his way through an audition and secure a part in the play by getting Diana to pass a good word along to the author and director of the production. Lee gets Diana to agree to resume their former relationship, and in no time the pair are in cahoots to relieve Diana of her marital obligations and in the process secure a huge windfall by plotting to have the old man bumped off. To accomplish this, they arrange for Charles to have an automobile accident; this is where the similarities to the missing brake valve story on Dark Shadows come into play.
One afternoon, on a visit up to the country home where Diana and Charles live, which is situated high up on a hilly area, Lee gets an idea when he comments on how the type of car that Charles drives is famous for its brakes.
To compromise the functioning of the car’s brake system, Lee first uses a wrench to loosen something, probably the bleeder valve…
…after which he pumps the brake pedal several times so there won’t be any hydraulic fluid left for when Charles next gets behind the wheel.
Just after completing the task, and with the wrench still in his back pocket, Charles walks in to find Lee there standing by his car, just like in Dark Shadows episode 13 when Victoria Winters walks into the Collinwood garage to find Burke near Roger’s car. To diffuse the situation, Lee explains to Charles: “I was, uh, just admiring your car. It’s, uh, fabulous!”
That night Lee and Diana have a performance in London; to set the plan in motion, Lee phones Charles from backstage while the play is still on and concocts a story about nearly having gotten into an accident on their drive into London due to a careless young motorist, which left Diana shaken up, and suggesting to Charles that he drive down to London to take his wife home…
…which he agrees to, just like in Dark Shadows episode 15 when Roger agrees to drive into town to meet with Burke at the Blue Whale.
Similar to how Roger in episode 17 is shown to have miraculously escaped with just a sprained arm and a few stitches to the forehead, Charles winds up crashing head on into a tractor that was just starting up the hill; despite that the car ended up a total loss, Charles was extremely lucky in having sustained only a couple of cracked ribs and a slight concussion.
The missing brake valve story on Dark Shadows never really did feel like something that would ordinarily be presented on a daytime serial drama. Instead, thus far Dark Shadows has taken its cue from 1940s film noir for atmosphere, Broadway theater style for acting performances, and nighttime mystery suspense anthology programs for subject matter. Is it any wonder that Dark Shadows would go on to evolve into the cultural phenomenon it would later become? A truly one of a kind blend of widely varying influences.
[SPOILER ALERT!]: This section contains control room discussion during the taping of episode 46 between Dark Shadows director Lela Swift and executive producer Dan Curtis about Dan planning for changes in story direction as well as the cast of characters. You may wish to skip this section if you haven’t gotten as far as episode 53, or better still episode 108.
The series: The Dan and Lela Show; the main players: director Lela Swift, executive producer Dan Curtis, with special guest players Frank Schofield, Robert Costello, and Alexandra Moltke; the setting: television studio control room; main prop: the control room microphone; opening scene: teaser…
Lela: Dan –
Dan: Goddammit, Lela, I am so pissed off at you! Calling for a second take like that. Do you know how much money that’s going to cost me?
Lela: Dan, I’ve got to get you to change your mind about getting rid of Frank Schofield.
Dan: You’re not going to get me to change my mind about anything! Goddammit, here it is only Monday and I’m already five hundred dollars over budget for the week!
Lela: Dan, I want you to think about Frank Schofield.
Dan: Who cares about Frank Schofield? Five fucking hundred dollars!
Dan: Alright, pay attention, Lela! If you ever call for a second take when it isn’t necessary, I will fire you right on the spot!
Lela: Dan, you can’t get rid of Frank Schofield!
[Act I begins]
Dan: Lela, who fucking cares about Frank Schofield? I already told you I was going to take care of it. I don’t want to hear another word about it. I am so pissed off about what that second take is going to cost me.
[Act II ends, Bill Malloy storms into the foyer demanding to see Roger]
Lela: Dan, please change your mind. This will be Frank’s final scene!… Dan!
Dan: Lela, I told you to stop hounding me!
Robert Costello [line producer]: Go, Frank!
[Act III begins, with Bill Malloy waiting in the foyer for Roger]
Robert: Frank Schofield, going out with a blaze of fire… I am so pissed off at Dan!… The way he says he doesn’t care about Frank…
[Act III ends, Bill Malloy exits the scene, sound effects of footsteps and a door slamming]
Frank Schofield [from the soundstage]: Well, Bob, I blew my whole wad on that scene…
[Act IV begins]
Lela: Dan, Frank Schofield was just telling Bob Costello he thinks his career’s over. You’ve got to change your mind about how this is playing out.
Dan: Lela, Frank Schofield has nothing to worry about. I already said I’ll take care of it.
[Act IV, as Vicki exits the scene]
Dan: Wow, Louis went way off the script there, with those ad libs… What was that about knowledge and Sam [“As far as I’m concerned, Sam Evans’ knowledge is as deep as the bottom of a bottle!”]? Alexandra looked like she was about ready to crack up laughing. Hey Alex? Come on up to the control room…
Alexandra Moltke: What?
Dan: Hey, Alex, Louis doesn’t mean anything by that when he goes off the script. I know it can be challenging.
Alexandra: Louis just cracks me up sometimes. I really love working with him, but it’s hard to keep a straight face around him sometimes when he does those ad libs…
[Act IV, camera slowly moves in on the face of the foyer clock]
Lela: Dan, you’ve got to change your mind about getting rid of Frank Schofield!
[scene dissolves to clock in Roger’s office showing the time as eleven]
Dan: You see? It’s too late now, Bill Malloy’s dead. Don’t worry, I’ll take care of Frank Schofield.
Frank [from the soundstage]: Well, Dan hired me, now he’s letting me go. He doesn’t care. My career’s over…
Bob Lloyd [ABC announcer]: Dark Shadows is a Dan Curtis production.
Dan: Everyone’s pissed off!…
Until next time, this has been The Dan and Lela Show.
The opening slating segment shows that a rare second take was called for. The story behind this decision is illustrated in today’s episode for The Dan and Lela Show in the above background audio section.
In Act I, the name of Bill Malloy’s housekeeper, Mrs. Johnson, is mentioned for the first time when Roger phones trying to get in touch with Bill. The role of Mrs. Johnson will be played by Clarice Blackburn beginning with episode 67. Thus far, Miss Blackburn has already made her Dark Shadows debut in an uncredited capacity as the voice of the Sobbing Woman in episode 37.
In one of those rare moments, Dark Shadows references itself in Act I when Roger comments on David’s drawing of Collinwood.
Roger: Collinwood, with all its dark shadows. He’s captured it, alright.
Daily studio schedule for Dark Shadows in 1966
7:00-11:00 a.m. Lighting
8:30-10:30 Morning Rehearsal
11:00-12:00 Engineering Set-Up
11:30-2:00 Camera Blocking & Run Through
2:00-2:30 Dress Rehearsal
2:30-3:00 Test Pattern
3:00-3:30 Episode Taping
3:45-4:15 Technical Meeting
4:00-6:30 Dry Rehearsal for Next Episode
4:00-7:00 Reset Studio
In Act I, when Roger is pouring a drink while Vicki tells him about her invitation to the Evans house for dinner, the liquor cabinet is set at an odd angle, this time diagonally in relation to the rest of the room whereas every other time this prop has been presented it has been set back flat against the wall just inside the double doors.
In Act I, while Roger and Vicki are at the drawing room window discussing David’s cynical outlook, Alexandra Moltke jumps in too soon during an extended pause in the dialogue, during which Louis Edmonds creates a slight line flub:
Roger: Maybe it’s better to live in a… to know that you live in a world where hands are reaching out, waiting to tear you to shreds…
Vicki: Everyone –
Roger: …and they do, oh they do, eagerly, anxiously.
Vicki: Everyone doesn’t have to think that way.
Also in Act I, while Vicki tells Roger that she has been invited to the Evans house for dinner by Maggie who works at the Collinsport Inn restaurant, Alexandra Moltke refers to it as the “Collinwood restaurant.”
In Act II, as Sam is telling Bill why he doesn’t want to appear at the meeting Bill is arranging, as the camera position is being adjusted for a two-shot the glare from an overhead studio light intrudes with a visible arc over the top middle part of screen.
At the start of Act IV, as the camera angle slowly sweeps across from the clock in the foyer to the drawing room entrance, the top edge of the drawing room set can be seen as well as a studio light.
Seconds later, as Vicki enters the foyer from the door below the landing and turns to go into the drawing room, the boom mic is visible (to the left of the door).
In the final shot for the closing theme, the camera angle shows the top of the set for Roger’s office with stage lights visible (top right).
In this episode, a drawing of Collinwood by David becomes a topic of discussion between Vicki and Roger.
The same drawing was used as a prop in episode 20, which was said to have been done by Sam Evans.
In Act IV, as the camera pans across the far wall of Roger’s office just before the meeting is due to begin, the Smith Brothers portrait is shown in the place it occupies between the two windows. The brown wing chair at lower left is another prop which along with the barometer that hangs in that corner…
…will be shifted over to the Collinwood study set as of episode 214.
Food & Drink in Collinsport:
In Act I, Roger has a brandy in the drawing room as Vicki tells him about her dinner invitation to the home of Sam and Maggie Evans.
In Act II, during Bill Malloy’s visit to the Evans cottage, Sam attempts to calm himself with a short drink of whiskey.
In Act IV, Roger has a final brandy in the drawing room before stepping out.
On the Flipside:
The day that episode 46 was taping, Monday August 15, 1966, Dark Shadows episode 36 was airing. Following in the 4:30 p.m. Eastern time slot was Dick Clark’s youth-oriented music program Where the Action Is with the broadcast of season 2 episode 240.
Dick Clark: “Come on, Where the Action Is! Today our special guests are the Happenings, Dee Jay and the Runaways, and Paul Revere and the Raiders sing Hungry in a rather unusual fashion today, Where the Action Is… brought to you by, Gillette Right Guard, America’s most popular deodorant…”
Dick Clark: “…by Clairol, creators of the exciting natural look in beauty…”
Dick Clark: “…and by Certs, the candy breath mint. Tastiest mint of all.”
See You In September, as presented in the broadcast:
Dick Clark: “Now this takes a little doin’ before you get it the first time… Easy does it… Upsy-daisy… Perfect!”
Dick Clark: “This is the song we were talking about before, a giant hit… I’ll be alone each and every night…”
“While you’re away, don’t forget to write… Bye-bye, so long, farewell… Bye-bye, so long…”
Dick Clark: “This is the Happenings!”
“See you in September
See you when the summer’s through”
“Here we are (bye, baby, goodbye)
Saying goodbye at the station (bye, baby, goodbye)”
“Summer vacation (bye, baby bye, baby)
Is taking you away (bye, baby, goodbye)”
“Have a good time but remember
There is danger in the summer moon above”
“Will I see you in September
Or lose you to a summer love”
“Bye, baby, goodbye
Bye, baby, goodbye”
By the third week in August 1966, See You In September by the Happenings had cracked the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, eventually peaking at number three by September and remaining in the top ten for the entire month. Having recorded the most successful version of the song to date, the release by the Happenings would also go to number one in Brazil the following year.
The original was recorded by a pop vocal group from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania called the Tempos in the late fifties. In 1959, they had a minor hit with the song (#23); interestingly, they even performed it on another of Dick Clark’s early music variety programs, The Dick Clark Show (aka The Dick Clark Saturday Night Beechnut Show, because it was sponsored by Beechnut Gum).
The Tempos performing See You In September on The Dick Clark Show, 1959
Joan Bennett’s 1970 autobiography (original front and back covers).
The Bennetts: An Acting Family, the 2004 biography (front cover).
From the page I created for Dark Shadows Wiki:
Dark Passages is a novel written by Kathryn Leigh Scott and published in 2011 by Pomegranate Press, Ltd.
Set in the 1960s, Meg Harrison leaves her native Minnesota for New York to pursue a career in acting while working as a Playboy Bunny in New York’s Playboy Club. After changing her name to Morgana Harriott, she soon lands the role of Margie, a restaurant waitress and daughter of a local artist, in the new daytime TV serial Dark Passages. The show will eventually feature a vampire, but the catch is that Morgana is one in real life.
The characters described on the sets of Dark Passages resemble quite vividly those on Dark Shadows and the actors who played them. The diner set where Margie works is greatly similar to that of the Collinsport Inn restaurant on Dark Shadows.
For the back cover, Jonathan Frid wrote the following blurb: “Reading DARK PASSAGES was like being back on the sets of DARK SHADOWS, except with real vampires behind the scenes!”
In this eight-CD box set of composer Robert Cobert’s series soundtrack, every music cue used on Dark Shadows is available, including the full-length original recordings of the guitar instrumentals heard at the Blue Whale.
Since 2006, UK production company Big Finish has been extending the Dark Shadows legacy with audio dramas offering new stories featuring cast members from the original TV series. My favorite is the 2015 audio drama …And Red All Over, in which Mitchell Ryan reprises his role as Burke Devlin to the backdrop of an eerily compelling backstory on how he came to acquire his wealth in business. Also starring Kathryn Leigh Scott as Maggie Evans, with original series themes and music cues composed by Robert Cobert. A must listen for any fan of the first year of Dark Shadows.
Coming next: Episode 47: Meeting of the Board
— Marc Masse
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