Why would Mill Creek include this on their Chilling Classics set — a made for TV production for CBS’ Westinghouse Studio One that originally aired on March 27, 1950? Who knows — Mill Creek does what Mill Creek wants.
This tale began as a novel, published in 1936 and written by Ellis St. Joseph. It was adapted into a radio play by Orson Welles’ on his Mercury Theater On Air, airing on November 13, 1938, as well as a stage play in 1940 that was directed by John Huston.
The story starts in Shanghai, where the Roundabout freighter picks up a man named <r. Walkes, who claims to be a Dutch missionary headed toward Bali, looking to deliver Bibles and religion. Soon, the truth is discovered — Walkes is a drunken lout, given to speeches and starting fights between the British officers on board and the crew of the ship. And even worse, no port will allow the man off the ship. Now, the Roustabout has become a Flying Dutchman, complete with an evil passenger who can never leave as they endlessly travel from port to port.
Mr. Walkes is played by Berry Kroeger, who was a veteran of numerous genre films like Demon Seed, The Mephisto Waltz, The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant and Raphael Nussbaum’s piece of 1973 strangeness Pets. He’s doing his best Orson Welles here.
The best part of this being on the set is that they didn’t edit out any of the Westinghouse commercials, so you get a great idea of what 1950 TV looked like. Again, I have no idea why this was included, but I still watched it. I’m a completist. And hey — we have an entire month to cover this set.
If you want to see what this movie is like for yourself, it’s streaming for free on the Internet Archive.