Combustible Celluloid
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With: Cloris Leachman, Ross Martin, Ned Beatty, Dana Elcar, Louise Latham, Dabney Coleman, Ron Feinberg
Written by: Richard Matheson, based on his story
Directed by: Philip Leacock
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 74
Date: 09/18/1973

Dying Room Only (1973)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Truck Stop Loss

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Buy Dying Room Only on DVD.

A squabbling couple stops at a truck stop in the middle of nowhere. The husband goes to the bathroom and does not return. The wife tries to find out what happened, but everyone simply treats her as if she's hysterical (her husband probably walked out on her). Richard Matheson adapted his terrific 1953 short story into the teleplay for this TV movie. In many ways, he was able to expand on the rather abrupt story and into a more complete tale of suspense. But at the same time, his heroine, as portrayed by Oscar winner Cloris Leachman (The Last Picture Show) becomes both heroic and annoyingly shrill. Her shrieking is far less effective than the icy panic in the short story. It would be safe to say that most of the movie is overacted, and the bad guys tip their hand far too soon with their sharp delivery, pitched just a note too high. Ned Beatty probably comes across best, as a beer-swilling redneck who is actually far cleverer than he looks. Dabney Coleman is the missing husband, wearing some ridiculous looking pants. Philip Leacock directed. Warner Archive released the no-frills DVD.

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