Thriller (1960–1962)
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London critic and wit Thomas Edward Griffith finds himself in need of funds and saddled with abrasive in-laws and a disapproving uncle. The solution to his problems lies in his collection of rare poisons.


Herschel Daugherty


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Episode cast overview:
Boris Karloff ... Self
Murray Matheson ... Thomas Edward Griffith
Sarah Marshall ... Frances Abercrombie Griffith
Brenda Forbes ... Mrs. Abercrombie
Jennifer Raine Jennifer Raine ... Helen Abercrombie
David Frankham ... Proctor
Richard Peel ... Justin
Maurice Dallimore ... George Griffith
Sam Edwards ... Charles Larrimore
Seymour Green Seymour Green ... Sir John Herbert
Keith Hitchcock Keith Hitchcock ... Lord Danforth
Nelson Welch Nelson Welch ... Doctor
Donald Journeaux Donald Journeaux ... News Vendor (as Donald P. Journeaux)


London critic and wit Thomas Edward Griffith finds himself in need of funds and saddled with abrasive in-laws and a disapproving uncle. The solution to his problems lies in his collection of rare poisons.

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Did You Know?


Loosely based on the life of author and artist Thomas Griffiths Wainewright, 1794-1847. The authors mentioned by Boris Karloff in the prologue all wrote about Wainewright's reputation as a poisoner. See more »


Thomas Edward Griffith: So a lamb becomes a lion, and for the sake of a serpent.
See more »

User Reviews

Matheson and composer Goldsmith Carry This One.
30 March 2020 | by lrrapSee all my reviews

When William Frye produced a "Thriller" crime drama, it was bound to contain the hallmarks of his great horror episodes. Though not terribly exciting, I still find "The Poisoner" a dramatic feast, largely due to the dark, oppressive visual style, the series debut of one of "Thriller's" unsung heroes--director Herschel Daugherty, Goldsmith's ingenious score AND-- Murray Matheson's standout performance.

Matheson was one of those amazingly solid and impeccable performers---who could dominate and carry this very talky script almost by himself--and yet never receive any significant recognition for his work. Re-check his tour-de-force portrayal of the surreal, caustic clown in TZ's "Five Characters in Search of an Exit" (YES--it's the SAME GUY!!), and you realize that the man should have been at the top of his profession, in terms of recognition and acclaim.

Goldsmith's score gives us a preview of his phenomenal "Grim Reaper" score, and also shares a noticeable similarity to his "Back There" score for TZ (in which case his music almost saved that dismal episode). It's amazing to discover how TV composers like J.G. were forced to crank out their music in an impossibly short time; but geniuses like this guy seemed to thrive on the restraints. Here Goldsmith produced a score that combines period English folk-flavored idiom (featuring that dark-toned harpsichord) with a diabolical sense of dread....including a very unusual and effective sort of reverb effect applied to the strings, which creates an alluring, ghostly sound. Incredible work produced under almost impossible conditions, capturing and greatly enhancing the mood of this show; the final shot of foggy front door with black funeral wreath and J.G.'s chilling music is a knock-out.

But what's with the men's phony sideburns?? DAMN, I wish these TV make-up guys could have done a more convincing job of this. Whether it's westerns, gothic period dramas....whatever....this flaw in TV production never fails to undermine the suspension of disbelief for me. If they just could have done a better job of MATCHING up the color and texture of the fake hair with the real hair.....(Matheson, David Frankham, the Uncle, etc etc).

Oh well--it's a relatively minor thing. Matheson's performance and the sheer stylistic visual/musical power of this one keep it at the top of "Thriller's crime output.

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Release Date:

10 January 1961 (USA) See more »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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