Norman Lloyd

Dal racconto omonimo (1948) di Roald Dahl. Scen.: William Fay. F.: Lionel Lindon. M.: Edward Williams. Scgf.: John J. Lloyd. Int.: Steve McQueen (lo scommettitore), Peter Lorre (Carlos), Neile Adams (la ragazza), Katherine Squire (moglie di Carlos), Tyler McVey (l’arbitro), Marc Cavell (il fattorino), Phil Gordon. Prod.: Joan Harrison per Shamley Productions – DCP. D.: 26’

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

The Alfred Hitchcock Presents series featured eerie situations extended to half an hour of suspense and ironic fright. Here, Peter Lorre plays a sickly Las Vegas hotel guest who invites a total stranger (Steve McQueen, appearing along with his wife Neile Adams) to take part in a curious bet: if McQueen can light his cigarette lighter 10 times in a row without missing a strike, he’ll win a convertible. If he loses, one of his fingers will be chopped off. (In his epilogue to the episode, Hitchcock uses the situation to suggest how Venus de Milo lost her arms.)
The contrast between the ungracefully aged Lorre and McQueen – the latter would hone his act for his role as a major gambler in Cincinnati Kid – looks deliberately ludicrous. If McQueen was a stranger to this world, both Lorre and director Norman Lloyd had a long history with the Hitchcockian universe. Lloyd received his first acting credit for Saboteur (1942) and went on to direct and produce many episodes of the series; Lorre made his first English-language film with Hitchcock and had starred in one episode of Presents in 1957. But this is a far cry from the louring Lorre of The Man Who Knew Too Much. Looking like a sad frog, with his edge now blunted and his presence almost pitiful, he still retains enough quiet menace to make this a cult episode. In Quentin Tarantino’s remake of the same story (by Norwegian/Welsh author Roald Dahl), which appears as a segment in Four Rooms (1995), he cites Lorre.

 Ehsan Khoshbakht

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