Shirley Temple’s presentation of “The Terrible Clockman” tells the futuristic fantasy tale of a clockwork monster who comes to life and frightens the inhabitants of a small Swiss town. Young viewers will be pleased to learn that, although things might get a little scary, there’s no reason to worry.
In the Shirley Temple Story Hour, Shirley Temple and other actors of that era performed three-act plays of some well-known (and in this case, lesser known) fairy tales. This episode, “The Terrible Clockman,” is loosely based on Jules Verne’s short story, “Master Zacharius,” about a clock maker in 1540.An evil alchemist wants to marry the clock maker’s daughter, but the gentle, old clock maker refuses to grant the blessing. So, to get his own way, the evil alchemist puts a curse on the town to stop time. No one is able to tell the time of day or year, because none of the clocks work. The evil alchemist then creates a monster out of a clock shaped like a man, and that monster clock terrifies the village. “The Terrible Clockman” is a story of good versus evil. Since it is not a movie, but a dramatic play, it employs no special effects, just actors who portray the story. We award “The Terrible Clockman” the Dove Family Approved Seal for all ages, although some scenes may be scary for younger viewers.