Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King

Season 1 Episode 3

Umney's Last Case

Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Jul 19, 2006 on TNT
out of 10
User Rating
101 votes

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Episode Summary

Umney's Last Case
In 1938, private eye Clyde Umney has it all – a successful career, adoring clients, and a beautiful secretary. But the arrival of the building owner, Sam Landry, throws his life into chaos when he arrives and tells Clyde that he’s evicting Clyde... permanently.

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  • Wacky, Surreal, Whodunnit with a very large twist

    Add together; the fictional world of 1950's private dick, a successful modern day writer affected by the tragic loss of his fun, throw in altering realities, a good dose of drama and Stephen King's style and you end up with this episode.

    It is a very enjoyable way to spend an hour. One of the best told stories, expertly presented on the small screen. There actually isnt much to this story. Its not your regular whodunnit though you will find enough sadness and tragedy to keep you watching to see how events unfold.

    It is the underlying complexity of the episode's reality though, that makes for an intriguing plot. Coupled with deep metiphorical meaning in every aspect of the story, from story background to characters, screenplay, dialogue, locations, etc - there is alot for those of us who dig this type of existential, philosphical story.

    Macy is just superb playing both of the linked roles, carrying off both characters with aplomb, while drama of the unfolding situation and their fortures morph and gradually reverse bringing an ending full of resonance, yet gratifyingly unfinished.

    I must point out though, that the beginning felt somewhat clumsy, overly energetic and rushed. However, looking back it feels very much in the style of the classic 50s/60s dectective whodunnits.... surreally so!

    The middle act was totally different to the first, presenting the intriguing situation of writer meeting his creation and his creation realising his situation. The way King has Umney interpret modern day parphinaelia had me giggling.

    Overall, this episode is more than a success and in essentially a series classic... due alot to Macy's acting abilities.moreless
  • A Classic Stephen King story.

    Now, I've been a King reader for many years now, and any other King reader will know what I'm on about.

    Stephen King always bases a character on himself (write what you know about, he was once told), and in this story it's blindingly obvious which character that is. This story twist around emotions, and not so much about trying to play with your mind, like the other ones in this series. Don't we all wish we could escape some how? Both the author and the detective are well portrayed, as is his wife. the story his simple and to the point, and reaches out to any viewer, right from the start. This is one of the reasons TV was invented.moreless
  • A writer takes the place of the character he created.

    As far as alternate reality stories go, this is not a bad example. The writer showing up 'inside' the story is a very modernist, literary story-telling mechanism and it doesn't always work. In this story, it seems to work until you question the script, particularly the motives. Escaping into a simpler world may seem attrative, but a writer should know that there is always something more lurking underneath the fabric of the story. When even his wife knows about his fantasy about taking the place of his main character and when she is in agreement that the character would be preferable to the author, they both seem to forget that both are one and the same, so whatever the character could provide, the author 'should' be able to provide as well.moreless
  • William H. Macy RULES!

    Being a lover of the “noir” genre and a huge fan of William H. Macy and of course Stephen King, I had high hopes for this episode.

    They were met… sort of.

    William H. Macy is superb, both as the detective and the writer. The plot moves along nicely. There’s that “noir” dialogue I love so much, the over the top situations and the beautiful “dames”. Nothing was missing.

    When the writer comes in, things are well explained and his story maintained my interest.

    I liked the premise of the story and the way they developed it.

    The end however, felt a bit rushed. Disappointing. It didn’t deliver. It’s a shame but when the credits rolled, I felt a bit cheated.

    Still a good try at adapting King.

    Oh and Jacqueline McKenzie is absolutely gorgeous here. So pretty! So sexy!

  • I wasn't impressed by this one, even with the always-great William H. Macy in multiple roles. I've always had problems with characters in stories that are supposed to move between the real world, and the fictional, and this one does no better than others.moreless

    I wasn't impressed by "Umney's Last Case", even with the always-great William H. Macy starring in multiple roles. I've always had logical problems (if that's the right word for it) with characters that are supposed to move between the real world and the fictional, and this one does no better than others that have come before it.

    Truth be told, I can't say I enjoyed the original story itself, either. Noir has never been one of my favorite themes, and the attempt in this episode seems especially forced. I also didn't care for how easily Mrs. Landry seemed to accept that Umney was, in fact, Umney, as opposed to her own husband experiencing a schizophrenic episode.

    The Bottom Line: Thank goodness this was Umney's Last Case.moreless
William H. Macy

William H. Macy

Clyde Umney/Sam Landry/George Demmick

Guest Star

Jacqueline McKenzie

Jacqueline McKenzie

Linda Landry/Gloria Demmick

Guest Star

Sigrid Thornton

Sigrid Thornton

Mrs. Sternwood

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (3)

    • When he goes to bed at the start of the episode, Mr Umney sets his alarm for 6 o'clock. We then see a shot of the clock turning with the alarm set to 10 o'clock. And although the hands are turning fast, the second hand isn't moving.

    • Danny's tombstone says 1994-1999, which makes him 5 years old at his time of death. But Clyde read the story on Sam's laptop and later said that he was 6 years old.

    • Clyde says "As they say in your world, I'm the Man." But how did he know what they said in Sam's world? He didn't have any knowledge of the real world, other than what Sam told him.

  • QUOTES (2)

    • Clyde: Tell me what's going on here?
      Sam: You're beginning to know, aren't you?
      Clyde: Maybe I don't know my dad's name or my mom's name or the first girl I went to bed with because... you don't know. Is that it?
      Sam: You're getting warm.
      Clyde: You don't just own this building. You own everything.
      Sam: Hot, hot, hot. Hot as a hot potato.

    • Clyde: What's a Sony? Some sort of a side dish you get with a Reebok dinner?
      Sam: It's a Japanese electronics company.
      Clyde: Oh, now you're kidding me, mister. The Japs cant even make a wind-up toy.
      Sam: Not now.

  • NOTES (1)

    • Differences from the original work: several added sequences with Umney solving cases. Several scenes of Umney's realization that something is going wrong with his world are deleted, including the newsboy Peoria getting money from the lottery. In the story, the Demmicks never appear. Umney discovers the Demmicks are dead after talking to Landry initially, then Landry meets with him again at the Demmicks before moving them to Umney's office. All references to Landry having shingles are removed. Landry's son dies in a pool accident rather than by AIDS from a blood transfusion. Entirely new scenes added after the point where the original story ends with Umney in the real world, including an extended sequence with Linda and the pool girl. Several scenes of Landry as a detective in his new office. Linda kills herself after Umney's arrival in the real world, while in the story she killed herself before Landry takes over Umney's life.