Tuesday, December 23, 2014

"The Night of the Meek" with Art Carney (December 23, 1960)

Art Carney shines in this contemporary Christmas story from Rod Serling. It aired on this date in 1960 and I actually watched it on TV. I was 6 years old. Although it shows a department store Santa in the raw it did nothing to shake my belief in Santa. That wouldn’t happen until a few years later.

Mr. Carney plays Henry Corwin, an alcoholic Santa who is jaded in his belief when it comes to miracles. He doesn't particularly like being a department store Santa; he knows it’s all a fake; but he needs the money to buy his liquor.

When he arrives late for the holiday crowd he is fired by the store manager, a man named Dundee. He leaves the store declaring that if he had just one wish, it would be to see the Meek inherit the Earth. When he tries returning to his place at the bar he is refused service and ridiculed as a lush by the owner.

When he finds himself in the alley behind the bar he discovers a burlap sack; not unlike the one which Santa carries. The sack has a unique quality; it produces whatever is wished for. Corwin now roams the neighborhood, giving out gifts. When the department store manager sees this he concludes that Corwin has been stealing from the store and has him arrested. But when the officer and the manager reach into the bag they only get garbage for their efforts.

Exasperated, the officer and Dundee agree that they have to let him go free; but not before Corwin gives them each a gift from his magic sack. The two are flummoxed and as he leaves they are scratching their heads in disbelief. But it’s not over until it’s over; and I won’t spoil the ending of this in case you have never seen it. Suffice to say that Corwin gets his wish for the Meek to Inherit the Earth.

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