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The Ray Bradbury Theater: There Was An Old Woman

Matilda Hanks, an elderly woman, has spent her entire life denying the existence of death. One day she receives a strange silent visitor on her doorstep, bearing a wicker basket.

Episode Info  

Episode number: 3x11
Airdate: Saturday May 21st, 1988

Director: Bruce McDonald
Teleplay: Ray Bradbury

Guest Stars
Mary MorrisMary Morris
As Matilda Hanks
Mary MorrisMary Morris
As Matilda Hanks
Ronald LaceyRonald Lacey
As The Listener

Co-Guest Stars
Robin SoansRobin Soans
As Father
Robin SoansRobin Soans
As Father
Fine Time FontayneFine Time Fontayne
As Mortician (as Finetime Fontayne)
Stephen BoyesStephen Boyes
As Listener's Assistant
Stephen BoyesStephen Boyes
As Listener's Assistant
Louis EmerickLouis Emerick
As Listener's Assistant
Ken KitsonKen Kitson
As Listener's Assistant
Main Cast


The elderly Matilda Hanks owns a clock and picture shop. One day a black-suited man and his assistants arrive at her door and come in, bearing a wicker basket. They ignore her and proceed inward. Their leader opens the basket, smiles, and continues into her parlor. The man says nothing and Matilda pours herself a glass of tea. The man removes his hat and sits down, and Matilda asks about the wicker basket and why four men are needed to carry it. She remembers seeing similar men when her next-door neighbor passed away, and tells him that when her niece Emily comes home, she'll shoo the Listener out. Matilda describes Emily and how she came into her home when her mother died of food poisoning...

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Episode Notes
Based on the short story "There Was an Old Woman" by Ray Bradbury. The story was first published in Weird Tales (July 1944).

Episode Quotes
Matilda Hanks: I am Matilda Hanks, and this is my castle. I've awaited amongst my clocks and pictures for many years. I'll not give in. Oh, no. One day He'll come, but this is my castle. My awl, my ammunition here. He'll come, but he's no chance. But I'll not give in. Oh, no.

Matilda Hanks: Young man, you are refused. Because I am all of a piece. I add up. I've been fighting you all my life. I won't give in now. This is my castle, my fortress. All my ammunition is here. I've been getting ready for you for years, you haven't a chance.

Funeral Director: What will you do, madam?
Matilda Hanks: I will loiter about your premises. I will howl and scream. I will tell the world you are bodysnatchers, gravestone robbers, death stealers. Your establishment will no longer comfort, but will set people ill at ease. Too much wind here at midnight. Too many strange sounds. Terrible sights of walking mists, movable feasts of fog and rain. Moans and sighs. Bedsheets walking on the air.

Other Episode Crew

CreatorRay Bradbury
Executive ProducerHal Roach, Jr.  |  Larry Wilcox  |  Peter Sussman
Co-Executive ProducerStephane Sperry
Supervising ProducerSeaton McLean
ProducerKen Riddington
MusicBill Connor
Make-upJulie McNeil
Camera OperatorAndrew Stephen
Production ManagementDavid Meddick
Dubbing MixerJohn Whitworth
Film EditorAnthony Ham
CostumerFrances Tempest
Casting DirectorSusie Bruffin
DesignerAlan Price (2)
Production BuyerRon Pritchard
Floor ManagerJohn Bradburn
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