|Pat Buttram as Charlie Hill|
The story begins at a carnival somewhere in Louisiana, near an unnamed city but only ten miles from Wilder’s Hollow, a small settlement on the edge of a swamp where the people live in poverty, ignorance and misery. Charlie Hill, a heavy set simpleton who works in “the bottoms,” is visiting the carnival on his own. Like many of his neighbors, he is childlike, and later tells his child bride Thedy that he “rode on the merry go round three times [and] the Ferris wheel twice.” It is not the rides that entrance him, however, it is a sideshow attraction: a large glass jar with something floating in it. Charlie has been staring it at for three hours and, as the carnival is about to close, a midget carnival barker responds greedily when Charlie offers to buy the jar. The carney sells it to him for twelve dollars after figuring out that that is all the money Charlie has; Charlie is easy to fool and is taken advantage of, time and time again. When he returns home to his wife, he gives her a hair ribbon with her name stitched on it with sequins—“Thedy Sue Hill”—and tells her that it cost sixty-five cents, “nickel a letter.” Once again, Charlie was taken: at a nickel a letter, the cost should have been sixty cents.
Billy Barty as the carney
"The Jar" walks a fine line between humor
and horror, as this sign demonstrates.
|Collin Wilcox as Thedy Sue Hill|
Collin Wilcox (1935-2009) plays Thedy as a childlike woman with a cruel streak. Twenty years younger than Buttram, she seems like a woman who has very little going for her but who makes the most of what she has. While she appeared in two other episodes of the Hitchcock series, she is best remembered to fans of classic television as the young woman struggling with a decision to change her appearance in the Twilight Zone episode, “Number 12 Looks Just Like You, which had aired three weeks earlier on January 24, 1964.
|William Marshall as Jahdoo|
George Lindsey as Juke
Jocelyn Brando (1919-2005), Marlon’s sister, has a very small role as the mother of the pigtailed little girl who reads off “Thedy Sue Hill” at the end. Brando appeared in three other episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, including “A True Account.”
Jane Darwell as Granny Carnation
“The Jar” was broadcast on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour on February 14, 1964, a gruesome little gift for Valentine’s Day on Friday night on CBS. Right before it, also on CBS, The Twilight Zone’s episode, “From Agnes—With Love” premiered. “The Jar” is not yet available on DVD but can be viewed online here. The first remake was broadcast on April 6, 1986, on NBC; it can be viewed online here. The second remake, on The Ray Bradbury Theatre, was first broadcast on January 17, 1992. It is not available online but it is part of the DVD set of the series that can be purchased here. Ray Bradbury’s story was first published in the November 1944 issue of Weird Tales; it has been reprinted in Dark Carnival (1947), The October Country (1956) and The Stories of Ray Bradbury (1980).
Bradbury, Ray. "The Jar." 1944. The October Country. New York: Harper, 2011. 97-115. Print.
Grams, Martin, and Patrik Wikstrom. The Alfred Hitchcock Presents Companion. Churchville, MD: OTR Pub., 2001. Print.
IMDb. IMDb.com, n.d. Web. 14 Oct. 2012. <http://www.imdb.com/>.
"The Jar." The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. CBS. 14 Feb. 1964. Television.
"The Jar." Alfred Hitchcock Presents. NBC. 6 Apr. 1986. Television.
"Weird Tales - 1944." Weird Tales - 1944. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Oct. 2012. <http://www.yankeeclassic.com/miskatonic/library/stacks/periodicals/weirdta/wt1941/wt1944.htm>.
Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 14 Oct. 2012. <http://www.wikipedia.org/>.