Monday, June 5, 2017


Tales of the Unexpected
- The Open Window


Holidaying in Connecticut, Gregory visits an isolated hunting lodge and meets a girl called Jane, who tells him a disturbing story about an accident which befell members of her family when they went through 'the open window' on a hunting expedition. Is she lying or will the figures really return as her mother expects?

Connecticut is the setting, young Gregory is holidaying in the area, he encounters young Jane who takes him home to meet mother Marjorie. Marjorie tells Jane to prepare for the 'ritual,' it's very mysterious. Jane is convinced her mother despises her. Gregory explains he was a teacher, and had left his job, and was now spending some time in the country. Jane reveals it's the first day of the hunting season, and that three years ago, Marjorie's second husband had accidentally shot his son Stanley in an accident, then turned the gun on himself.
(From the IMDb)

From Wikipedia:
Hector Hugh Munro (18 December 1870 – 14 November 1916), better known by the pen name Saki, and also frequently as H. H. Munro, was a British writer whose witty, mischievous and sometimes macabre stories satirize Edwardian society and culture. He is considered a master of the short story, and often compared to O. Henry and Dorothy Parker. Influenced by Oscar Wilde, Lewis Carroll and Rudyard Kipling, he himself influenced A. A. Milne, Noël Coward and P. G. Wodehouse.

Besides his short stories (which were first published in newspapers, as was customary at the time, and then collected into several volumes), he wrote a full-length play, "The Watched Pot", in collaboration with Charles Maude; two one-act plays; a historical study, "The Rise of the Russian Empire", the only book published under his own name; a short novel, "The Unbearable Bassington"; the episodic "The Westminster Alice" (a parliamentary parody of Alice in Wonderland); and "When William Came", subtitled "A Story of London Under the Hohenzollerns", a fantasy about a future German invasion and occupation of Britain.

Here's the description of "The Open Window":
Framton Nuttel, a nervous man, has come to stay in the country for his health. His sister, who thinks he should socialise while he is there, has given him letters of introduction to families in the neighbourhood whom she got to know when she was staying there a few years previously. Framton goes to visit Mrs Sappleton and, while he is waiting for her to come down, is entertained by her fifteen-year-old, witty niece. The niece tells him that the French window is kept open, even though it is October, because Mrs Sappleton believes that her husband and her brothers, who were drowned in a bog three years before, will come back one day. When Mrs Sappleton comes down she talks about her husband and her brothers, and how they are going to come back from shooting soon, and Framton, believing that she is deranged, tries to distract her by talking about his health. Then, to his horror, Mrs Sappleton points out that her husband and her brothers are coming, and he sees them walking towards the window with their dog. He thinks he is seeing ghosts and runs away. Mrs Sappleton cannot understand why he has run away and, when her husband and her brothers come in, she tells them about the odd man who has just left. The niece explains that Framton Nuttel ran away because of the spaniel: he is afraid of dogs since he was hunted by a pack of stray dogs in India and had to spend a night in the newly dug grave with creatures grinning and foaming just above him. The last line summarizes the story, saying of the niece, "Romance at short notice was her speciality."

As you can see, the two cannot really be reconciled as being the same story in the details.  The TV version then is not from BookWorld, but is instead a TV dimension which is part of the astral archipelago known as the Borderlands.  Each of these vest-pocket dimensions are influenced in some tidal fluctuation effect by some other metafictional universe - the Cineverse, BookWorld, the World Stage, the universe of record album covers - that sort of thing.  In this case, the Borderland is influenced either by BookWorld or by some other universe born of Mankind's Imagination which is based on short stories.

There have been several adaptations of this story by "Saki", but no others in the greater TV Universe.  (A 1950s episode of 'One Step Beyond' which has that title has no connection to that story at all and does not have Munro's name attached in either form.)  So it could just as well be that this version of the story could exist in the main Toobworld at the same time as it does in that Borderland.  It's not uncommon to have similar dimensions with no discernible differences between them.

If so, I think we can consider Marjorie as being a member of that Merrillian family tree....


O'BSERVATION: For now, this concludes our salute to the television career of the late Dina Merrill.  I will have at least one more post about three of her "Merrillians" come August.....

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