The Veil – Food on the Table (1958)

veilfood15Strange things afoot:

  • This was the third episode blogged, but first watched because Amazon screwed up the episode order and descriptions.
  • Boris Karloff had a mustache in the introduction, but did not in the episode.
  • Karloff is credited as Capt. John Elwood on IMDb, but when his first mate enters his cabin, Karloff addresses him as Mr. Elwood.

As he is packing for the end of this trip, we see a snake slither into Karloff’s suitcase.  I would have expected a Captain to have a duffel bag or steamer trunk, but I guess he knows luggage like only a man who has been to sea can.  He asks the crewman — who he now calls Logan — to take the suitcase to his house as he has to stop by the office to file a report.

veilfood25Elwood’s wife had heard that the ship had been struck with the plague. Logan assures her that it was no plague, merely a hurricane and an infestation of poisonous snakes that both came aboard in Florida.  Two men died and 3 others survived being bitten.

We see that Elwood has made time to drop by The Captain’s Harbor Inn before going home to Mrs. Elwood.  As he is regaling the other old salts with the story of the snakes and hurricane, lovely serving wench Bessie enters with a tray of drinks.  He says he missed her most of all and smacks her on the ass, which seems pretty racy for 1950’s TV (although not so titillating when performed by Boris Karloff).

veilfood1Things get frosty pretty quickly when Ruth Elwood comes to the Inn to purchase a bottle of wine.  Bessie tells her the Captain might be late as he is hanging out with the guys. Ruth can tell by the long table set up for a party that he won’t be home for dinner.  When Elwood spots her, he accuses her of spying on him and tells her, “to expect me when you see me.”  He closes the door on her like Michael Corleone.  She responds by angrily yanking off the tablecloth, sending all the dishes crashing to the floor.

Back at casa de Elwood, he tears into his wife for humiliating him in front of his friends. She apologizes, but Elwood says he is “sick of your apologies, sick of your excuses, sick of you, Ruth!”  He says he’s felt trapped since marrying her, and that he only married her to get money for a ship.  She gets very emotional, and it really is kind of heartbreaking.  She did love him even though her friends laughed at her for being duped.  She is worried now about “drying up into a bitter old woman.” [1] She begs for them to start fresh.  “Help me,” she pleads.

veilfood2Oh my God.  How could this get any more tragic for her?  Oh yeah, she reaches into his suitcase, a snake bites her, and she dies.

Correction — surprisingly, Ruth is still alive after the commercial.  Even she is surprised that John did not let her die so that he could be free.  She takes it as a sign that they can have a fresh start.  In his face, you can see, “WTF was I thinking?”

He heads down to the Inn where he hears the Widow Smith had an uncle die and leave her £20,000.  Back at home, he is suddenly very attentive to Ruth, even asking her to come along on his next voyage.  She does come with him, but soon is sea-sick, and later, sea-dead. [2]

veilfood3After a respectable year, Elwood feels he can get on with his life.  The Widow Smith has been dropping by, and tonight he is attending a dinner for his former first mate who is now a captain.  As the group is preparing to go to the table, all the dishes crash to the floor just as when Ruth had done it a year ago.  Bessie is suspected, but resets the table.  This time, as the group watches, the dishes are again flung to the floor.

All the men turn to Elwood, suspecting that this is the work of the ghost of his dead wife and that he must have killed her.  His next ship sinks with one casualty — Capt. John Elwood.


  • [1] Note that, by the actors’ ages, Ruth is 32 years younger than her husband.  If this were remade in the 21st Century, she would be playing his mother.
  • [2] In a moment of blatant exposition, Elwood opens a drawer and pulls out a bottle for no other reason than to show the viewer.  Even better, the bottle has a skull & crossbones and the label just says POISON.  Who would buy this product?  When exactly do you think, “Need me some poison.”
  • IMDb and YouTube.

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