Ray Bradbury Theater – The Coffin (S2E9)

cover02I’d like to think we are moving out of the European phase of this series since we have an American prominent in the cast.  But confidence is not high — next week’s director has an accent grave in his name.

At least the Brit du jour is Denholm Elliott, most famous in this country for fun performances in Trading Places and the prime-numbered Indiana Jones films.  Elliott had the good sense to fake his own death — speculating here — in order to avoid Indie & the Crystal Skull.

Dan O’Herlihy is inventor Charles Braling.  He has taken all his valuables out of the bank and is storing them in his home over his lawyer’s objections.  His brother Elliott has stopped by to borrow a few pounds as he apparently does on a regular basis.  Braling tells him he is dying, and is building his own coffin.  For some reason it is 9 feet long and has a window and a tape player.

They bicker continuously with Elliott being oddly belligerent for  guy who depends on his brother for support.  Elliott finally goes too far and brings up Braling’s dead wife.  Braling throws him out, but the excitement was too much for him.  Elliott hears him collapse.

Elliott makes funeral arrangements for his brother, choosing the cheapest coffin and opting for no service.  Well, one service is permitted — the reading of the will.  His brother has left him the house, but taxes will eat up most of it.  However, he also willed him the contents, including all his valuables, hidden somewhere in the house.

Elliott deduces that the fortune is hidden in the coffin.  As he climbs in to retrieve the goodies, the lid snaps shut.  Braling’s robot servants serve as pallbearers, in a well-directed scene.  You don’t see much, but you do see enough to accept that these robots actually are moving the coffin, negotiating the stairs, heading into the woods, and lowering the box.  The sequence is especially credible, paying off a previous scene where we saw Braling pacing off distances and noting directions — now we know it was for the ‘bots to follow to the grave-site.

En route, and as he is being lowered, and covered with dirt, Elliott is of course screaming.  He is better portraying panic than outright terror, but it works OK.

Not a bad episode, even though murdering the brother seems a tad excessive.  Plus, what of the loot that was buried with him?  Surely that could have been put to better use.  But then, people are buried with diamonds and gold all the time.  Or so the funeral directors would have us believe.


  • This is the 6th highest rated RBT episode on IMDb which does not bode well for the future viewing.
  • From the director of The Small Assassin episode
  • Anyone who thinks Last Crusade was better than Temple of Doom can go to hell.
  • Denholm Elliott was in the RAF in WWII, was shot down and spent time in a German Stalag.  He earned his way into the Indie films.  How about you, Shia?

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