Ray Bradbury Theater – The Anthem Sprinters (08/21/92)

Image 001This one is 3rd from the bottom on the always-suspect IMDb ratings. Tyrannosaurus Rex had its moments (grading on the RBT scale, of course), and Exorcism was almost, but not completely, without merit. This episode though . . .

Several previous episodes have been curiosities because they were made by directors with no other credits. This episode is unique in that the director does not even have this credit to his name.  No director is credited, not even Alan Smithee.

American writer Douglas (no first name, just like the director) is browsing through an Irish used bookstore.  “Douglas is the name and writer I am,” he says to himself. Sounds kind of Yoda-like — maybe George Lucas directed it.  Naw, shame never caused him to remove his name from the credits.

Image 002He stumbles across a 1916 first edition of Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce.  He is pretty careless with the book considering it goes for about £20,000 these days.  He is reading it as he leaves the store, running into a local drunk (just an assumption on my part).

The drunk — Doone — drags Douglas to a pub which he describes as a theater.  It also happens to be across the street from a real theater — a real old theater as it is showing a Deanna Durbin joint.

Douglas says that he has noticed in theaters that the movie is always followed by a playing of the Irish National Anthem.  He also noticed that it is a race to get out of the theater between the end of the film and the beginning of the anthem by certain goofballs known as Anthem Sprinters.

Image 008A race is set up with some pretty steep stakes — the James Joyce 1st edition vs a Program signed by Sean O’Casey.  Douglas foolishly bets on the dark horse, who does not emerge from the theater.  They find him still in his seat with a tear in his eye for the songs in the movie.

The race is restaged, but this time none of the old drunks move as they are in tears at the anthem.

I don’t get it at all.  Is it some sort of commentary on English / Irish relations?


  • Doone was memorable playing a monk on an episode of The Odd Couple 21 years earlier.  However, I’ll forget this role before dinner.

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