Welcome back to my “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” marathon! When a bet is made in a movie or TV show, they often go one of two ways. Either the hero succeeds and wins the prize, or he fails miserably and has to deal with the fallout. This is especially true when gamblers are involved, as today’s story shows. This is “Man from the South.”
In Las Vegas, an unnamed gambler meets and tries to impress a beautiful woman. A gentlemen named Carlos butts into their conversation and makes a bet with him. If he can light his lighter 10 times in succession, he’ll win Carlos’ new car. But if he fails, he’ll lose his pinky finger. Will the gambler succeed and in turn get the girl, or will he lose more than that if he doesn’t?
This episode was a double whammy of talent, featuring Steve McQueen as the gambler and Peter Lorre as Carlos. Their performances felt solid to me, with McQueen coming off as a likable young man and Lorre injecting a bit of creepiness in his role. The woman McQueen tries to impress and another gentlemen who oversee their bet were mostly in the background, though I did enjoy the woman’s role as she had some snarky lines toward Carlos.
The episode was decently paced, as it kicks off with the gambler meeting the woman and quickly introduces Carlos and his bet not long after. Most of the time is spent with him trying to convince/manipulate the gambler into taking the bet, and then setting up the “game” to see which one comes out on top. I did like that the gambler wasn’t immediately up for taking the bet despite his lack of money, because it would’ve been too easy to make him the addicted type who would. The last third involves the “game” and the introduction of a new character who I won’t spoil. Needless to say, the bet being played out was my favorite part, as it had a bit of tension and kept me on the edge of my seat over how it’d end.
Unfortunately, the new character plays a part in the episode’s ending, and while there were a couple things I liked about that, it made everything leading up to it feel superfluous. Maybe that was the point the writers were trying to make about dumb bets in general, but it sucked a lot of the tension out of the entire episode for me. Although, I can applaud them a little for choosing an unpredictable conclusion to the whole thing. I definitely didn’t see it coming.
Overall, I don’t have a whole lot else to say about “Man from the South.” This is in fact another episode by Roald Dahl, and I can say that while it felt simple like “Poison,” I enjoyed it a bit better, even with my mixed feelings toward the ending. I would still recommend it for the performances, as they were definitely strengthened by the talent behind them.