Sunday, October 5, 2008

Man From the South

Purchase from Barnes & Noble
Most people are probably familiar with some of the children's books by Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, etc.).

He also wrote some great stories for grown-ups, 25 of which are included in The Best of Roald Dahl. This collection brings together Dahl's finest work, illustrating his genius for the horrific and grotesque.

One of my favorite stories in the collection is Man From the South.

This story was filmed twice as both 1960 and 1985 episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and also adapted into Quentin Tarantino's segment of the 1995 film Four Rooms. This bizarre, oft-anthologized suspense classic concerns a man residing in Jamaica who wagers with visitors in an attempt to claim the fingers from their hands.

The 1960 Hitchcock version stars Steve McQueen and Peter Lorre. Peter Lorre makes a bet with Steve McQueen that McQueen can't light his cigarette lighter ten times in a row. If McQueen does, he wins Lorre's new car. If he doesn't, Lorre gets to chop off McQeen's pinky.

A film adaptation of the story first aired on August 7, 1955 as an episode of Cameo Theatre.

It was later redone in 1979 with José Ferrer as an episode of the syndicated anthology Roald Dahl's Tales of the Unexpected.

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