Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Filmed in Vermont, The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg is based on one of Mark Twain's more mysoginistic works. Mysterious stranger Robert Preston shows up in Hadleyburg, a town that prides itself upon the honesty and integrity of its leaders. Preston offers $40,000 in gold to the anonymous Hadleyburg citizen who, years earlier, had given Preston a handout and some valuable advice. The stranger sends letters to each of Hadleyburg's nineteen finest families, containing cryptic clues pointing to the identity of the beneficiary of the gold. Before the story is over, it becomes painfully clear that 18 of the town's "nineteeners" are willing to lie and deceive in order to claim the prize. Adapted by Mark Harris (who was compelled to sweat out 40 pages of the original story in order to make it "play" on TV), The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg was first presented in tandem with a dramatization of William Faulkner's Barn Burning on PBS' American Short Story series; the program first aired on March 17, 1980.
small-town, con/scam, revenge, man