Thriller

Season 1 Episode 29

The Devil's Ticket

Aired Tuesday 9:00 PM Apr 18, 1961 on NBC

Episode Recap

Spengler, the neighborhood pawnbroker, is in his shop eagerly counting his piles of money. When he realizes that it's close to sundown, Spengler puts up the "closed" sign and hopes that the visitor he is expecting will figure that Spengler is gone. The doorbell rings and Spengler nervously opens the door, and discovers a cat playing with the pullrope. Spengler brings it inside and locks the door. The cat hisses at the back door, and a man's voice rings out. He tells Spengler that he's been Spengler he's a miser who can never enjoy his money. The man informs Spengler that it's sundown and his time is up. One reluctant step at a time, Spengler is compelled to step forward and pass through the back door. It closes behind him and smoke streams out of the sill as the pawnbroker screams in terror.



Struggling artist Hector Vayne and his wife Marie eat supper in their rundown studio apartment. Hector complains that he's unable to complete his current painting and it's been two years since he had a gallery showing. Marie tries to reassure him but Hector collects their wedding silverware to pawn for money. His wife reminds him that they've pawned everything, and Hector has no choice but to pawn one of his still lifes of a pair of shoes. He dons his old coat and goes to Spengler's pawnshop.



When Hector enters the shop, a man comes in through the back door and explains that he's taking over from Spengler. The new pawnbroker praises Hector's painting but informs the artist that he doesn't deal in paintings. He tells Hector that he deserves wealth and fame and can have it all if he wants. When Hector asks who he is, the pawnbroker says that he's his benefactor and offers to let Hector pawn his soul in 90 days in return for success. When Hector asks he could redeem his soul, the pawnbroker explains that he wants Hector to paint a special painting. The desperate artist has no choice but to sign the ledger, and the pawnbroker gives him a ticket and tells him he has 90 days to redeem it.



When Hector returns home, Marie tells him that his agent has called and has set up a showing at the Lawson Gallery. A millionaire has already offered to buy six of Hector's paintings. As Marie looks at the still life, Hector studies his pawn ticket.



The gallery showing is a success and Hector's fame grows. 64 days later, Hector goes to see the pawnbroker. The new owner refuses to discuss how he arranged Hector's success and reminds the artist that he has 26 days left. Hector gives him the painting he's done of a landscape, but the pawnbroker tells him that he wants a portrait. He demands that Hector use his special ability to capture the soul of his subject. When Hector refuses, the pawnbroker says that if Hector doesn't fulfill his end of the bargain, his soul is forfeit. He suggests that Hector choose someone he hates as his subject, but the artist runs out in horror.



Hector and Marie are enjoying supper in their expensive apartment. The artist finally dons his old coat and prepares to go to the studio. When Marie asks why he keeps the studio and the coat, Hector explains that he keeps them out of sentiment. His wife points out that he seems to have very little sentiment for her, but Hector only says that he's changed and leaves.



At the studio, John meets his new model, Nadja. They kiss but she soon accuses him of abandoning her to go back to his wife. Nadja demands proof of his love and invites Hector to run off with her to Mexico to get married. She asks him to leave on April 3, two days before he has to complete his bargain. Hector asks for more time but insists that Nadja is the one that he wants. Bored with his self-analysis, Nadja sarcastically tells him to see a psychiatrist and Hector seizes on the idea.



Hector meets with Dr. Frank and tells him the entire story. The psychiatrist insists that Hector's sudden fame is a coincidence, nothing more, and points out that Hector has been saying for years that he would become successful. Dr. Frank logically points out that the pawnbroker had no way to make other people but Hector's paintings, and that he is the one who is mentally disturbed. He advises Hector to stay away from the pawnshop, and the artist asks him to visit the pawnbroker and decide for himself. Dr. Frank agrees, but only if Hector will continue to see him and deal with his issues with Marie. Hector agrees and leaves.



Hector takes Nadja out to dinner and tells her that he has decided to go with her to Mexico after all, once he meets with Dr. Frank. Nadja doesn't believe it and says that she'll meet him at the studio the next day after his meeting with the psychiatrist.



The next day, Hector goes to Dr. Frank's office but is surprised to find the pawnbroker sitting in the doctor's chair. The pawnbroker tells him that Dr. Frank has been "permanently detained" and tells Hector to finish the painting and deliver it in the remaining 13 days.



Hector goes drinking and returns to the studio, and Nadja asks where he's been. He informs her that he can't go with her to Mexico because he has to finish a painting. Nadja success that Hector use her as his model and he refuses. Disgusted, the model accuses Marie of holding him back and tells him to go back to his wife. Hector looks at the ticket and gets an idea.



Later, Marie greets her husband, who informs her that he's painting from home and working on a new portrait. When Marie jealously asks who he has chosen as a model, Hector tells her that he wouldn't paint anyone but her.



As Hector works, he and Marie grow closer. Ten days pass and Hector finally finishes the portrait, two days before the ticket is due. Marie asks who hired him to do the portrait and Hector tells her that she'll soon find out. He gives her payment for her modeling and tells he to go shopping and she quickly leaves.



Hector invites Nadja to the apartment and explains that he sent Marie away so Nadja could see the painting and know he's telling the truth. When Nadja sees the painting and realizes the time and effort that Hector put into it, she realizes that Hector still loves his wife and choose her as a model. Unable to explain why he choose Marie, Hector stares in horror as Nadja picks up a knife and slashes the painting to ribbons. As she runs out, the pawnbroker calls and tells hector that he has only two days left.



Hector holes up in his apartment and works for the next two days. Marie finally forces her way in but Hector refuses to show her the completed portrait. He promises to tell her the whole story that night after sundown, kisses Marie, and asks if she trusts him. Marie says that she does and Hector tells her that in a few hours he will have turned over the painting and he'll be free. The artist suggests that they take a trip to Paris and Marie tells him to rest while she goes out to make all the arrangements.



Hector dozes off and wakes up at a quarter to six when Marie returns. She has packages from her shopping and tells him that there was a stranger at the door who said he had business with Hector. Hector tells her to invite the man in and the pawnbroker steps forward. The man is eager to see the portrait until he discovers that Hector has painted a portrait of... the pawnbroker. Hector tells him to take it and get out. The pawnbroker admits that he's the Devil and refuses to accept that Hector has outsmarted him. The artist boasts that all the Devil has accomplished is to bring Hector and Marie back together again.



Balked, the Devil prepares to leave but reminds Hector that he has to redeem his ticket to complete the deal. As Marie goes to get Hector's coat with the ticket, the artist realizes that the Devil sent Nadja to tempt him. The Devil admits that women often do his work for him. Marie returns with her husband's coat. However, it's the new coat that she bought him for the trip. The Devil laughs in triumph as Marie admits that she burned the old coat. Marie backs away in horror and the Devil slams the bedroom door in her face, locking her out. He turns to Hector, smiling in triumph, and declares, "Damnation!" As he advances on him, Hector screams in horror. Outside, Marie pounds on the door and screams as smoke billows out from under the door.