‘TALES OF TOMORROW’; AN EARLY TV MASTERWORK

In 1951 my father, Frank De Felitta, was a free-lance writer for various anthological dramatic television series. One of them, a Sci-Fi show called ‘Tales Of Tomorrow’, put out a call to a number of writers asking them to write a script that could ‘only be produced on TV and not in any other medium’. My resourceful (and desperate to succeed) father won the contest with a script called ‘The Window’. In it, a live TV episode of ‘Tales Of Tomorrow’ ostensibly called ‘The Lost Planet’ is interrupted by a mysterious phantom transmission of a group of people viewed through a tenement window. As the interruptions become more frequent, ‘The Lost Planet’ winds up in disarray as its scheduled timing is thrown off. But things get really weird when it turns out the people in the window are plotting a murder. Now the whole TV crew is involved in trying to stop the murder that is unfolding before us, even as the people in the window have no idea they’re being watched on TV. The actual show used the real staff/crew instead of actors and the whole show has a verite’ quality that is still quite astonishing. It’s a mixture of both what TV looked like–and how it operated–in its early days, and an intricately plotted thriller that still works as a riveting tale. The Timex ad (‘Tales Of Tomorrow’s sponsor) is cleverly worked in and one of the three people in the window is played by Rod Steiger, in a very method-ish performance. My father makes a cameo appearance at 23:32 playing a clueless man who walks onto the set in mid-crises, looks puzzled, and walks away. The producer of the show, Mort Abrahams, plays himself. The unseen but often heard director in the booth is the shows actual director, Don Medford. The show provoked a modest ‘War Of The Worlds’ response–a number of viewers called into the network panicking about what was going on, with a few of them claiming to know the people in the window. Best of all, it truly is a story that could only have been told on television.

close

MOVIES
'TIL
DAWN

Sign up for news & updates so you don't miss a thing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More
articles