Greetings all and sundry!
Having laughed uproariously over the hue and cry of the media’s perceived panic from its Meteorologists, weather people and Doomsday oracles regarding Climate Change along the nation’s East Coast. I’ve also been allotted time wisely used to suit up, dig deep and scribble notes about one of the best episodic Anthology television series of the very late 1950s and 60s.
Which graced prime time evening B&W screens for five 30 episode seasons. Allowed copious room for young and notable writing talents of Rod Serling, Richard Matheson and others to come up with the verbal grist for tales. Predominantly in the usually dark fantasy realm. Though Science Fiction would drop by from time to time. Providing a “Who’s Who” and Rogues Galley of talent from novices to seasoned veterans to deliver the consistently satisfying goods.
So, please allow me a few moments of your time. As I wax nostalgic and apply my own unique perspective in high or spotlighting these talents with:
The Twilight Zone (1959-1964):
Character Actors’ Paradise!
Every historian, critic, blogger, geek, nerd and fan person has their own personal list. So, I expect to catch some Flak. That comes with the territory in my selections. But that is what sites like this are all about. The polite discussion of like and differing views and opinions.Though, I do claim sole responsibility for the categories and methods used in my proffered selections.
#1: Best Solo Performance:
The Invaders (Season 2, Ep. 15)
Picture a barren mountainous Outback. A lone ramshackle shack and its old, solitary and silent woman eking through evening chores in a spartan kitchen to a meal on the table. When a loud noise followed by a crash upon the roof turns the old crone’s world upside down.
The old crone is veteran actress, Agnes Moorehead. At the time, a very popular commodity and frightening voice acting talent for the radio stage play/soap opera, ‘Sorry, Wrong Number’. And later, as the evil witch and Mother In Law, “Endora” on ABC’s ‘Bewitched’. Denied the use of her pipes. Though making up for it through facial expression, gestures and Physicality. Delivering an Emmy worthy performance. As she cautiously gives into Curiosity, fear and finally, retribution as the cause(s) of the noise and crash make themselves known!
All done on a next to nothing set better suited for a small stage play. Spartan and wanting in every respect. While speaking volumes loudly in setting mood and shadowy, sometimes dusty and lamp lit atmosphere! Also a model of frugality with the episode’s Director, Douglas Heyes providing the tinny whispered voices of what doesn’t belong.
Where Is Everybody? (S1.E1)
As Earl Holliman (‘The Big Combo’, ‘Police Woman’) tries to make sense of his investigation of an abandoned rural town. Searching high and low. Coming up empty while staving off panic and a possible breakdown.
The Last Night of a Jockey (S5. E5)
Mickey Rooney as a washed up jockey in a cheap flop house room. Facing doping charges while arguing over the telephone with the reporter who broke the case. Until ironic fate intervened.
King Nine Will Not Return (S2 E1)
Bob Cummings (‘My Living Doll’) is the sole survivor of a battle damaged B-25 medium bomber crash landed in the North African desert during WWII. The episode’s twenty five minutes is devoted to Mr. Cummings’ Capt. James Embry searching the downed plane and surrounding sands for the missing crew members. While retracing the steps of the mission and fighting heat stroke and dehydration.
Note: Based somewhat on the true story of a B-24 bomber, ‘Lady Be Good’ lost during WWII. And discovered intact during oil exploration of the Libyan desert.
#2: Episode I Most Empathize With:
Time Enough At Last (S1 E8)
Stalwart veteran of the art, Burgess Meredith is meek, quiet, henpecked at home bank teller, book keeper Henry Bemis. Of poor vision and very thick glasses, Mr. Bemis has a vice. Close to an obsession and easy form of escape. Reading.
Books. Newspapers. Not a surfeit of magazines. Mr. Bemis can be found with his nose buried in any of them. When he should be paying attention behind the Teller’s counter to customers wanting to transact business and finances. Life is not good for Mr. Bemis. Nor is it for the rest of the world as that pesky political “Doomsday Clock” ticks and clicks closer to midnight. Which means nothing to Henry as he heads off to work. Takes his lunch in the bank’s basement vault. Contentedly reading away. Surrounded by steel and paper, Two of nature’s better insulators against blast and radiation. As the ground shakes. Dust falls and the lights go out.
Leaving Mr. Bemis alone amongst the ruins of fallen building and businesses. Intent of finding the local library. Which he pillages for stacks and stacks of authors; works. Mixed with history and other temping delights. Finding a comfortable place to sit on the library’s stone steps. Henry takes his glasses off to clean them. They drop and lenses break amongst the rubble.
Personal Note: Though I despised grade school “Dick & Jane”primers as a child. I somehow learned to love words. Their construction, music and proper spelling by age ten. I don’t know how or why. But I latched onto it. And a pair of glasses. The results has been a voracious appetite. With many more paperbacks than hard covers. As the former gave me something to be occupied with after completing maintenance tasks on aircraft assigned to dozens of flight lines around the world through a decades long career.
#3: Best Use Of Available Talent:
The Sixteen Millimeter Shrine (S1 E4)
Though this episode completely slipped through on my critique of Martin Balsam on It Rains… You Get Wet blog. I’ll give this episode its due. For excellent us of Ms. Ida Lupino as Barbara Jean Trenton. Fading, near forgotten movie star. Who spends most of her time watching herself and other actors in the “screening room” of her expansive home.
Fate begins to intervene with the arrival of her agent, Danny Weiss (Tailor made Martin Balsam), who has a proposition for a part in an upcoming film. Opposite another older leading man, Marty Sall (Arrogant Ted De Corsia). Who now runs a chain of popular super markets. And demands a face to face interview. Which really doesn’t go very well. As the egos of two Divas clash. And Billy is left to smooth ruffled feathers. Give a few deserved verbal licks to Marty. And pick up the pieces as Barbara returns home. Sits before the screen to avoid the questioning maid. Who opens the screening room door as Danny arrives. Only to see Barbara on the screen. Gliding away into the scene. Before turning and tossing a red silk scarf that blanks out the.image. Leaving Billy to turn and enter the wide foyer and find Barbara’s scarf.
Note: Good old fashioned story telling. Highlighted by Ms. Lupino and Mr. Balsam. Aided with Mr. Serling’s bit of homage to Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard. While using the film’s original composer, Franz Waxman.
The Masks (S5 E25)
One of the earliest, creepiest and beat precursors to the novel and later film, Daddy’s Dying. Who’s Got The Will?!. Though, in this tale directed by Ms. Ida Lupino. The location is New Orleans. And “Daddy” is wealthy industrialist, Jason Harper. Who has invited his whiny, hypochondriac daughter, Emily (Virginia Gregg). Her greedy, near sociopath husband, Wilfred (Milton Selzer). Narcissist grand daughter, Paula (Brooke Hayward) and sadistic, glutton, Wilfred Jr. (Alan Sues)… All they have to do is don and wear the masks Jason had made by “an old Cajun”and perfectly reflect their inner selves until midnight
#4: Jack Klugman:
A Passage for Trumpet (S1 E36)
Mr. Klugman plays beyond down and out, broke and proven untrustworthy trumpeter, Joey Crown. Who pawns his horn and steps in front of a speeding truck. Shaken and confused, Joey discovers that he’s not exactly dead. Nor alive, either. More like in a holding pattern until greater decisions are made. And surprised that someone else can see and hear him. A dapper well dressed gentleman with a horn named Gabriel (John Anderson). Who talks to Joey and lets him see where he screwed up his life, club owners and friends. And didn’t. Delivering the gift of optimism as Joey returns to the Pawn Shop and hears the squeal of a trucks brakes.
Flashed back to the moment of the accident. Where he gets up from the sudden crowd around him. Dusts himself off as the truck driver hopes Joey will keep his mouth shut. Stuffs a wad a bills in his hand. And Joey ready to buy back his horn. Play it on a rooftop within earshot of a woman new to the city (Mary Webster) who likes his playing. And takes Joey a step further into his new life.
A Game of Pool (S3 E5)
Jesse Cardiff (Mr. Klugman) is a kind of sloppy, unkempt pool player/hustler with dreams of immortality. Gifted, but not quite as good as the seriously revered, James H. “Fats” Brown. Whom players and wannabes around Chicago and Lister’s pool hall keep reminding Jesse of and comparing him to. But, Jesse is just a tad wanting. Until Jesse calls “Fats” out in a pique of anger.
Surprised. Jesse turns at a sound as “Fats” (Jonathan Winters. Surprising calm, level headed and good!) introduces himself and the stakes are set… Immortality for one. Anonymity for the other. Winner take all!
In Praise of Pip (S5 E1)
Max Phillips (Mr. Klugman) is a two time loser bookie with a conscience. Suffering from a gunshot wound from a botched hit. And has received a DoD telegram informing him that his son, Pip has been seriously wounded in a far off country called Vietnam. Which doesn’t help Max’s present plight of trying to elude the persistent shooter through the arcades, rides, crowds and noise of Pacific Ocean Park.
Turning away from a kiosk, Max thinks he see his young son, Pip (Billy Mumy) break away from a clutch of gawkers. And leads Max on a chase to catch up. Stumbling into a House of Mirrors. Max finds Pip. Who explains that he is dying. Before dashing deeper into the mirrored mystery and beyond. Unable to follow due to blood loss. Max prays to God to take his life in lieu of Pip’s.
Many years later. A grown Pip returns to the Park with the aid of a cane. To remember his father and all of the fun times shared there.
#5: Best Use Of A Well Hidden Ironic “McGufffin’:
To Serve Man (S3 E24)
To all of the true fanciers of this classic, long running series. All I have to say is: “It’s… It’s a cookbook!”
The Eye Of The Beholder (S2 E6)
A woman under heavy bandages (Maxine Stuart) awakes under heavy bandages awakes from having undergone state sanctioned and mandated facial reconstructive surgery. In the hope of being beautiful. Or at least looking like everybody else. In a tale told exclusively from Ms. Stuart’s perspective. Expressing joy and anticipation. Until the bandage come off!
The Rip Van Winkle Caper (S2 E24)
An arrogant criminal “mastermind”, Farwell (Oscar Berigi Jr.) assembles three expendable accomplices. De Cruz (Simon Oakland), Brooks (Lew Gallo) and Erbie (John MiItchum) to hijack and rob an armored car shipment of gold from Fort Knox, Kentucky to Los Angeles. The robbery goes well and the gang pulls their vehicles into a cave at the base of a granite mountain. Where Farwell has arranged their “escape plan”. Four man sized cylinders to be filled gas that will put them into suspended animation for 100 years. Far exceeding any Statute of Limitation. The hired help is skeptical, especially De Cruz, but climb inside their chambers.Only to awake and find that Erbie’s chamber had been breached by a fallen rock and leaving a wretched looking skeleton.
The pick up truck Farwell has secured still runs. And Farwell promptly runs over Brooks and over turns the transportation dodging Brooks bullets. leaving a 50-50 split of whatever gold bar De Cruz and Farwell can carry as they walk towards civilization, De Cruz starts putting high prices on sips of water from De Cruz’s one remaining canteen. Farwell has had enough and shoots De Cruz. Stumbles out onto an endless deserted highway. And if found near death and rambling about gold to an elder couple out on a Sunday Hover Car ride. George (Wallace Rooney) calls the police to report the body. As he and his wife (Shirley O’Hara) share a laugh over gold being worthless for close to a century.
#6: Best, Over The Top Chewing Of Scenery:
Nightmare At 20.000 Feet (S5 E3)
William Shatner is Bob Wilson. A businessman recovering from a nervous breakdown. Who is traveling back home with his wife, Julia (Christine White) on a Douglas DC-4 airliner. Bob also has the sad misfortune of being assigned a window seat just behind the plane’s propeller engines. Drawing the window’s blind closed as a the airliner tries climbing above a thunderstorm. Whose accompanying lightning reveals something on the left wing!
Bob must quell the desire, the near need to absolutely lose it. Lest he return to the Sanitorium as the thing (A Gremln) toys with Bob between bouts of tearing off wing panels. Julia senses something is amiss and tries to calm Bob. Who has fifteen minutes of “logical insanity” to play with, And is even more certain of the sabotage. Even if those whom he calls to look out his window see nothing. Determined. Bob notices a uniformed cop of a holstered .38. Takes matters and the pistol into his own hands, And turns the “Emergency Exit” latch beneath his window…
The Obsolete Man (S2 E29)
Burgess Meredith is Romney Wordsworth. A librarian caught up in a future totalitarian society where words and their meaning have become confused, irrelevant and obsolete. Finding himself persecuted and on trial for his life. Prosecuted by the smug, arrogant and erudite “Chancellor” (Fritz Weaver). Who easily turns around every one of Wordsworth’s arguments. Wordsworth is deemed “Obsolete” and scheduled to die at midnight. By a method of Wordworth’s choosing. With the State taking advantage of present technology and broadcasting the execution live!
Now. One may expect that Burgess Meredith can chew some righteous scenery, given the opportunity. And he does get some decent licks in. But, it is Fritz Weaver’s “Chancellor” who gloats and revel in the infallibility and surety of the State who runs past the End Zone with it! So sure of himself. His position and power. As he shares Mr. Wordsworth’s last moments on earth.
But, Mr. Wordworth is content and serene. Having made his peace. Quietly reading The Bible as the hidden bomb ticks down. The Chancellor starts showing cracks and signs of weakness, cowardice. And fear! Being allowed to escape seconds before the bomb in Mr. Wordsworth’s quarters explodes. Leaving The Chancellor to face the wrath of his staff, minions and the State!
Being of a time and age when “Must See TV” of the 1970s and 80s was decades away. Certain series were given their allotted half hour or hour to be enjoyed around the television set week after week. And The Twilight Zone was one of those series. Not necessarily for a glimpse at a “Monster of The Week”, but for each episode’s stab at uniqueness and difference from competing shows. Best shown in its near forgotten Canne’s Palm D’Or winner, An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge (S5 E22). A superb import that deals with “What could happen against what did happen” during a Civil War attempted act of sabotage.
Yes. Several episodes have been forgotten, but this is my thumbnail of collected works. And what offerings have stayed with me. And aided in the selection and inclusion of those exceptional pieces of work more than ready to be spotlighted and discussed.
Check out Kevin’s other posts and reviews
Agree? Disagree? Wish to offer personal choices? The Floor Is Open For Discussion!
23 thoughts on “The Twilight Zone TV Series (1959-1964): Character Actors’ Paradise!”
Man, Kevin, what a list? This could easily a “Best of…” for this venerable TV series. All of these stand up. Nightmare At 20.000 Feet remains my all-time favorite episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE. Wonderful post, my friend.
Thanks very much for starting the conversation with such a great comment!
This idea had been gnawing away for awhile. And I was looking at a different approach or format to get my choices lined up just right. While also explaining the “How?”s and “Why?”s this series was a weekly staple for so long!
‘Nightmare’ is a very brief, yet fully fleshed out sojourn into claustrophobia, fear and paranoia. And Mr. Shatner pulls it off magnificently.
Great list Ruth, I’m a massive fan of TZ myself and own every ep…Nightmare at 20,000 ft definitely a fave…and those Rod Serling introductions/closing thoughts – such an integral part of the series!
As a writer, Mr. Serling knew the value of introduction and hinting at mood as time saving tools wondrously employed within the series’ twenty five minute format. Tools that have been sadly missing since the heydays of ‘The Twilight Zone’, ‘The Outer Limits’ and ‘The Night Gallery’.
Not at all surprised by all the love headed ‘Nightmare”s way. It’s a Classic amongst other Classics. And also proved an excellent starting block for Mr. Shatner’s later career!
And an always open venue for actors of all ages and stages to hone their skills. In tales that were not the usual weeknight fare. Yet, opened up possibilities and teased the imagination.
Nice overview of a great show Jack! I used to love watching this show back in my younger years and it scared the scrap out of me. I even loved the movie version which of course included the Nightmare at 20,000 feet episode. I remember watching the updated version back in early 2000s, some of episodes were good but not great. Heck because of this show, I got into Tales from the Crypt; it also has some memorable episodes.
I’ve been planning to make a movie similar to The Twilight Zone, basically I’m going to shoot 3 short movies with supernatural elements and put them together as a feature. Of course it’s not happening yet because I don’t have the budget to shoot it. The good news is I got the script of the first movie locked down.
‘The Twilight Zone’ had a near timeless feel throughout its 150 episode, five season run. Mostly due, I think due to its time and being made for B&W, With longevity due to superior and imaginative writing talents. And the actors drawn to Mr. Serling’s reputation.
Its later incarnations beyond ‘The Night Gallery’ seemed too message oriented, occasionally heavy handed and downbeat, Like the later color re-vamp of ‘The Outer Limits’. I was more of an original EC comic fan of ‘Tales From The Crypt. And missed a lot of HBO’s early series. But, I do see your point. Along with George Romero’s ‘Creepshow!’.
As I mentioned in the introduction. Everyone has their favorites. And I’m thrilled to see my choices being received so well!
Also, excellent news on your short story project! Once you have the budget in place. Take some proven advice from Roger Corman. And shoot your most intricate and expensive scenes first! As Scorsese did with ‘Boxcar Bertha’ and its train hopping opening scene.
Oh i forgot about ‘The Outer Limits’, I used to watch that show too! Yes, I loved CREEPSHOW, saw that when I was very young and couldn’t get much sleep for a week, ha ha.
Yeah there are some scenes in my first movie that will cost a lot of money, it contains visual effects, basically it’s the climax of the story. I have it in my head on how it will look but it’s going to be difficult to shoot and edit it.
Great post!!! Oh man, I LOVE this show. This is my all-time favorite show & I grew up watching it from a very young age. Great choices in here! A lot of my favorite episodes are mentioned (To Serve Man, Eye Of The Beholder, Time Enough At Last… I’ll shut up now or I’ll go on forever). This show was so ahead of its time & so much better than the crap on TV now.
Thanks very much!
One of the great attributes of ‘The Twilight Zone’ was matching actors and actresses to lean, yet detailed writing. And allowing the former every opportunity to show their versatility and embody their characters, Hence, my devoting an entire choice and category (#4) to Jack Klugman. Though, Burgess Meredith proved to be a very close second. They were given an opportunity. Ran with it. And delivered!
As did the ladies in attendance. Especially Ms. Lupino. In front of and behind the camera. Agnes Moorehead. And young Elizabeth Montgomery and Anne Francis would polish their skills as returning actresses,
Definitely a series that was ahead of its time in style, concept and delivery. And proved a safe haven, near workshop for character actors of all shape and stripe. Very much like its friendly CBS competition, ‘Gunsmoke’. ABC’s ‘Combat!’. And NBC’s ‘Hill street Blues’ in the 1980s.
And most definitely better than a lot of today’s contemporary, pedestrian, cookie cutter fare!
Your comments are always welcome.
Burgess Meredith was great! I also loved that episode The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street. I was also a big fan of the Alfred Hitchcock TV show. This is why I was uncool as a kid… I liked all the old stuff! Lol
Burgess Meredith and Jack Klugman, I believe are tied with four episodes apiece. Though, Mr. Mededith did return to ‘The Night Gallery’ for an episode with Chill Wills as bums who find a doctor’s medical black bag from the future.
‘The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street’ is a notable twists on the uniformity and rarely revealed paranoia and fear everyone (myself included) kept under wraps during the very early days of the 1960s “Cold War” and “Mutual Assured Destruction”. A bit heavy handed towards the end. But, a very decent episode!
Welcome “uncool kid”! I think more than the lion’s share of those who post and opine here easily fit that category, My things were movies, television, comics (regular, at a dime to twelve to fifteen cents apiece.) Larger Warren comics, “Eerie” and “Creepy” for excellent pen and ink artwork, And later “Head Comics”. Where most of the latest generation, Rich Corben and the late, great, Frank Frazetta paid their bills,
I’m totally a “movie nerd”, although I’d say I’m an even bigger fan now than when I was a kid. I was obsessed with things like Star Wars & ET. It sort of seems more acceptable, in a way, to be a “nerd” obsessed with things like that these days. Which is a good thing. 🙂
Hey Kevin. I loved watching this show in rerun as a kid along with Night Gallery. Serling was such a great writer and host. That voice accompanied with Bernard Herrmann’s theme music was a marriage made in… well… The Twilight Zone. My favorite was the second episode “One For The Angels”. The one where a pitchman (Ed Wynn) tries to stave off Death (Murray Hamilton) by making one last great pitch. Something about that one that I always liked. I even really liked the remake of “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” with John Lithgow in The Twilight Zone Movie. It’s a shame but it’s hard to watch the whole movie with the Vic Morrow segment where he and the two Vietnamese kids were actually killed during shooting during a stunt gone horribly wrong. Sad.
It’s fun to go back and see all the recognizable stars, some early in their careers, you mentioned above like Shatner, Meredith, Mumy, Klugman, Balsam, Winters and Moorehead.
As a kid I was into weird stuff like this, Night Gallery, The Outer Limits, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, In Search Of… and later Tales From The Darkside and Amazing Stories. Oddly enough I never got into The X-Files and didn’t have HBO for Tales From The Crypt.
Didn’t know Ida Lupino also went on to direct and act in different episodes. Speaking of fun facts. There was an actor named Michael Fox who appeared in three episodes of The Twilight Zone hence the reason Michael J. Fox has to use the J. in his name as actors can’t use the same name as a previous actor according to The Screen Actors Guild. Oddly enough Albert Brooks changed his last name because not because of another actor having it but because his actual name was Albert Einstein! LOL.
Nice to see you’ve come loaded for bear!
Excellent comment, but I expect no less.
‘The Twilight Zone’ and ‘The Outer Limits’ were staples when I was a kid. And should never have been later re-imagined or re-cycled in color These two and ‘Combat!’ were made for B&W. And a huge part of their allure was exceptional writing and use of shadows. Which cost nothing. And add a sense of other worldliness. While ‘TZ’ excelled in lean story telling. ‘The Outer Limits’ had that extra half hour for character and plot development around many topics still in their infancy (DNA, Satellite Surveillance, etc) in the 1960s.
‘The Night Gallery’ set the bar high for vignettes. While ‘Alfred Hitchcock’ and ‘One Step Beyond’ reveled in the realm of clever and just a bit weird. Never got the hang or allure of ‘The X-Files’. Though Romero was quite good at kick starting ‘Tales from The Crypt’. And ‘Dark Side’.
I’ve been busy trying to track down an episode of ‘Hitchcock’ which involves a long married finally having enough of her annoying husband. Goes upside his head with a frozen leg of lamb. And having the investigating uniform cops and detective unknowingly consume the evidence during a rarely turned down, home cooked meal!
Changing names is an intriguing topic. I always got a kick out of future”Glam Rocker” David Robert Jones changing his mane to David Bowie. Due to ‘The Monkees’, Davy Jones,
Yeah I didn’t find out about David Bowie until his son, director Duncan Jones came along with the excellent 2001: A space Odyssey influenced Moon with Sam Rockwell. Looking forward to more sci-fi from Duncan.
Combat! re-runs were around when I was a kid. I always remember it because of the ! at the end. It seemed so “urgent”.
I looked Hitchcock up. It’s called “Lambs to the Slaughter”. Roald Dahl (Willy Wonka, Tales of the Unexpected) wrote the story. Sadly Netflix only has the first 3 seasons and it’s in season 4 (1958) Found it here Kevin: http://www.schooltube.com/video/b4ffb2ed2146057eda1d/
Yep. That’s the one, Dave!
Thanks very much.
Nice to see Barbara Bel Geddes and Harold J. Stone in their prime. And any chance for early Roald Dahl is an opportunity not to be missed. Already bookmarked.
The exclamation point in the ‘Combat!’ opening title sequence is actually a bayonet atop a period. And the series always worked better for me when it was in B&W, Whose first season I cherry picked for three exception episodes over at “It Rains,,, You Get Wet:
This is a fantastic post covering a show I simply love. Brilliant stuff!
Thanks very much, Three Rows!
Mr. Serling and company’s works certainly covered all the bases with imagination and style, From writing, set design and emotion wringing music. To early “Big Names’ in talent. Like Mickey Rooney, Ms. Lupino, Martin Balsam. And Ed Wynn, as Dave has mentioned. To countless unknowns, like Robert Redford. Who would make their marks in decades to come.
Very pleased that you enjoyed it!
I used to love watching this when I was in my teen. The music was so iconic
Excellent point! And one that slipped in my article.
Off the top of my head I can come up with Van Cleave, Jerry Goldsmith, Bernard Herrman and Fred Steiner adding to the tension, suspense and occasional whimsy of the series.
It’s interesting that Jerry Goldsmith and Mr. Steiner also added the theme and so much more to the original medium budgeted ‘Star Trek’. And Mr. Steiner returned for “Star Trek: The Next Generation’ and ‘Voyager’!
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Great choices! The Agnes Moorehead episode is particularly chilling. She was such a gifted performer, it’s a shame that most people only remember her from Bewitched although she was a delight on that.
There are three episodes I count among my favorites that I didn’t see included. The first, Nothing in the Dark, starred a very young Robert Redford and Gladys Cooper as a wounded policeman and a recluse who is reluctant to help him since she hasn’t left her apartment in years in fear that if she does death will enter.
The next isn’t quite the classic the others are but I’ve always had a soft spot for it. The Ring-a-Ding Girl starring Maggie McNamara as movie star Bunny Blake who while preparing to fly to Rome for a film receives the gift of a ring, her trademark hence the title, from her hometown. When she places the ring on her finger and looks at it she sees people from the town pleading for her help. Next thing you know she shows up unexpectedly at her sister’s home while plans are being made for the big Founder’s Day picnic in the town’s park. Bunny, still receiving pleads as well as other visions including one of herself on a plane going through a storm via the ring, feels a sense of foreboding that something is wrong and sets about disrupting the celebration by announcing she’ll be giving a show in Town Hall at the same time as the picnic. This leads to anger from some town folk but Bunny sticks to her plan…and suddenly the rain begins to fall. A nice sense of eeriness pervades the episode.
The last is my favorite episode of the entire series. The Hitch-Hiker starring the ill-fated Inger Stevens as a young woman driving cross country on a vacation who after a tie blow-out keeps passing a bedraggled hitch-hiker on the side of the road. No matter how fast she travels or where she stops he is always right on pace with her. Like The Invaders a spotlight episode, Inger has minor conversations as the she travels but it’s really a study of her escalating panic as she begins to feel increasingly pursued without ever coming into contact with her pursuer and she handles it expertly. A wonderful, little remembered actress and an incredibly tense view. The first time I saw it as a kid I don’t think I slept more than an hour that night.
My apologies for responding so late. But something told me to take a moment to check status.
I’m glad I did.
Thanks very much for such a well thought out and executed comment. Excellent choices as well!
‘Nothing In The Dark’ has a cold and bleak December winter feel throughout. With an intriguing kind of vampire (inviting evil) feel to it.
Robert Redford showing his chops early as a wounded, though fresh faced rookie cop opposite the Grand Dame, Gladys Cooper. Excellent wright by George Clayton Johnson. And melancholy direction by Lamont Johnson hints at a “Cat & Mouse” game. As Redford slowly, almost sadly wins the game.
‘The Ring-A-Ding Girl’ excels in slowly building unease that blossoms into full blown dread towards the tale’s final seven minutes, With writer Earl Hammer Jr and director, Alan Crosland taking the lead on an unsettling trip back home!
‘The Hitch-Hiker’ has a superb feel of impeding dread from Mr. Serling. And could easily be another lead into the great, low budgeted film, ‘Carnival of Souls’!
Feel free to drop by and comment more often, Joel!