Narrator: His name is Arch Hammer, he's 36 years old. He's been a salesman, a dispatcher, a truck driver, a con man, a bookie, and a part-time bartender. This is a cheap man, a nickel and dime man, with a cheapness that goes past the suit and the shirt; a cheapness of mind, a cheapness of taste, a tawdry little shine on the seat of his conscience, and a dark-room squint at a world whose sunlight has never gotten through to him. But Mr. Hammer has a talent, discovered at a very early age. This much he does have. He can make his face change. He can twitch a muscle, move a jaw, concentrate on the cast of his eyes, and he can change his face. He can change it into anything he wants. Mr. Archie Hammer, jack of all trades, has just checked in at three-eighty a night, with two bags, some newspaper clippings, a most odd talent, and a master plan to destroy some lives.
Narrator: He was Arch Hammer, a cheap little man who just checked in. He was Johnny Foster, who played a trumpet and was loved beyond words. He was Virgil Sterig, with money in his pocket. He was Andy Marshak, who got some of his agony back on a sidewalk in front of a cheap hotel. Hammer, Foster, Sterig, Marshak - and all four of them were dying.
The "Hotel Real" sign, in front of Arch Hammer's hotel, is an MGM prop, originally used in a Mexican street setting in their 1953 feature film Take the High Ground!, starring Richard Widmark and Karl Malden.
Originally, the four main roles (Hammer, Foster, Sterig, and Marshank) were to be played by one man with makeup changes. However, after timing the transition, the production crew realized the actor would be in makeup longer than he would be on stage. Thus, the parts were cast with four different men.
Maggie: Me and Electra.
Referencing Eugene O'Neill's Mourning Becomes Electra (1931). The play, set during the American Civil War, is an update of the myth of Orestes.