Thursday, December 21, 2017

Studio One: Ticket to Tahiti (1958)

Franchot and Kim Hunter in Ticket to Tahiti.
Waiting for the elevator in his office building, Bill Gibson (Franchot Tone) decides to break routine and check out the travel agency on the ground floor. Miss Devereaux (Sheila Bromley) is a peppy, impassioned travel agent who convinces Bill that a trip to Tahiti is just the reward he needs. Bill, a widower, agrees. He's been working his entire life, raising a son who doesn't reciprocate his appreciation, and is ready to get away and have some fun. Bill has almost enough money saved up and, with a smile and excitement in his eyes, assures Miss Devereaux he will return to finalize travel plans soon.

Bill returns to his office and dreams of this chance to escape everyday life and begins recording a message to his boss saying that he will be taking a leave of absence on his dictation machine.  Bill's son Jim appears requesting money from his father. Jim's a young, new father who changes jobs frequently and is behind on all of his bills. Bill is clearly thrilled to see his son, but it's obvious to viewers that Jim is immature and taking advantage of his father on a regular basis. His heart set on an exotic getaway, Bill promises he will consider giving him a loan and let him know the following day.

We also discover that although Bill's message to his boss says that he has no ties to anyone or anything, Bill actually has a girlfriend Maggie (Kim Hunter) who desires to be more committed. Maggie can see that Jim and his new wife Shirley (Olive Sturgess) are using Bill for monetary support while denying him the right to spend time with his new grandchild.

Screenshots from Ticket to Tahiti.
When he makes a surprise visit to Jim and Shirley's home, Bill sees firsthand how irresponsible, disorganized, and childish his son and daughter-in-law are. After Jim disrespects him in a restaurant, Bill has had enough (and calls him a "little punk." I like hearing Franchot call people little punks. Also, I love when Franchot tells someone they are "outta brains" on Bonanza!) Bill devises a special arrangement which will end with payment to his son should his son agree to some pretty strict terms. If Jim doesn't take the deal, Bill will continue on his trip to Tahiti.

Ticket to Tahiti was a Studio One production that originally aired on June 2, 1958. It's a rare episode that occasionally airs on the Decades channel. Kim Hunter is absolutely wonderful as the loving, wise partner to Franchot's character, who hasn't fully committed to her yet. Franchot's character begins the episode exhausted with the daily grind, feeling unappreciated, and not demanding much of anyone. As the show progresses, Franchot's character Bill gains the upperhand and skillfully manages to secure a future of contentment and purpose for himself. I hope you're able to catch this rarity on television at some point, because it is completely worth the watch!

1 comment:

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