Tag Archives: Rod Serling

Nightmare at 20,000 Feet (1963, Richard Donner)

Nightmare at 20,000 Feet races. Director Donner and writer Richard Matheson pace out the episode perfectly–though it being a “Twilight Zone” episode means they can also utilize some of the series’s credit formula to great effect.

The episode has a few phases. Introducing William Shatner and Christine White (they’re married, he’s just recovering from his mental breakdown while on an airplane), putting Shatner in the window seat, him seeing the gremlin. Those events all happen in the first phase. Second is him trying to get help with the gremlin, third is him taking it into his own hands. These phases take place inside a three act structure. It’s an intense story, made more intense through the direction and then Shatner’s performance.

Shatner does fantastic work, as the viewer has to believe they’re going crazy with him. There’s a hesitation; Shatner, Matheson and Donner make sure the viewer gets past.

3/3Highly Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Richard Donner; written by Richard Matheson; “The Twilight Zone” created by Rod Serling; director of photography, Robert Pittack; edited by Thomas Scott; produced by Bert Granet; aired by the CBS Television Network.

Starring William Shatner (Bob Wilson), Christine White (Julia Wilson), Asa Maynor (Stewardess) and Ed Kemmer (Flight Engineer).



amoktime

THIS POST IS PART OF THE FAVOURITE TV SHOW EPISODE BLOGATHON HOSTED BY TERENCE TOWLES CANOTE OF A SHROUD OF THOUGHTS


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Third from the Sun (1960, Richard L. Bare)

Third from the Sun suffers from a far too obvious ending. The episode forecasts it a few minutes early and then it all falls into line. However, it’s an obvious twist ending and it is a “Twilight Zone” after all, so who knows if it’s just predictable now because of the series having such an impact.

Mostly the episode is Fritz Weaver freaking out about coming nuclear war and having to convince his family they need to escape. Weaver does really well during his paranoia scenes, even though he eventually has to start sharing the episode.

Joe Maross and Edward Andrews show up about the same time. Well, Andrews has a long bit at the beginning too; he’s the villain. Maross is Weaver’s sidekick. Once the paranoia ends for Weaver, both Maross and Andrews have a lot more to do.

Bare shoots everything tilted (more obvious foreshadowing), but it’s good.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Richard L. Bare; teleplay by Rod Serling, based on a story by Richard Matheson; “The Twilight Zone” created by Serling; director of photography, Harry J. Wild; edited by Bill Mosher; produced by Buck Houghton; aired by CBS Television Network

Starring Fritz Weaver (William Sturka), Joe Maross (Jerry Riden), Denise Alexander (Jody Sturka), Lori March (Eve Sturka) and Edward Andrews (Carling).


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A World of Difference (1960, Ted Post)

It’s another man in a weird world “Twilight Zone” from Richard Matheson. This time, Howard Duff is a regular American middle class guy who all of a sudden wakes up in a world where he’s an actor playing that regular guy.

There’s a lot of great panic from Duff–he’s startlingly effective. Matheson and director Post keep finding ways to make it even worse for Duff. Post’s direction Eileen Ryan’s scenes (as Duff’s alternate universe wife) is outstanding.

Matheson’s script leaves a lot unsaid, including any explanation for Duff’s character losing it, but the episode’s best moments are the ones when Duff visually responds without a dialogue. The madness plays across his face.

After Ryan departs, David White takes over as a somewhat supportive ear (another Matheson “Twilight Zone” norm), but he’s nowhere near as compelling. When Ryan starts doubting reality, she’s wondrous.

Besides a rush finish, Difference is excellent.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Ted Post; written by Richard Matheson; “The Twilight Zone” created by Rod Serling; director of photography, Harkness Smith; edited by Joseph Gluck; music by Van Cleave; produced by Buck Houghton; aired by CBS Television Network.

Starring Howard Duff (Arthur Curtis), David White (Brinkley), Frank Maxwell (Marty Fisher), Eileen Ryan (Nora Reagan), Gail Kobe (Sally), Peter Walker (Sam), Susan Dorn (Marion Curtis) and Bill Idelson (Kelly).


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The Last Flight (1960, William F. Claxton)

The Last Flight has some fantastic sound design. Especially at the beginning when Kenneth Haigh’s plane lands. He’s a World War I flier who journeys through time to the late fifties, landing on an American airbase. The sound for the base and the planes is just phenomenal. And the episode hasn’t even really started yet.

Richard Matheson’s script doesn’t concern itself too much with the time travel. Well, wait, it does. But more accurately, it concerns itself with the consequences of the time travel. Haigh figures the whole thing out in a rather long scene. He talks Simon Scott–as a modern Air Force major–into it. A little, anyway. He raises the question.

Great performances from Haigh, Scott and Alexander Scourby as the bewildered commanding officer.

There’s some decent shots from Claxton, but Last Flight succeeds because of Matheson’s script–which winds and unwinds–and the actors performing it.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by William F. Claxton; written by Richard Matheson; “The Twilight Zone” created by Rod Serling; director of photography, George T. Clemens; edited by Joseph Gluck; produced by Buck Houghton; aired by CBS Television Network.

Starring Kenneth Haigh (Lt. William Terrance Decker), Simon Scott (Maj. Wilson), Alexander Scourby (Maj. Gen. George Harper), Harry Raybould (Corporal), Jerry Catron (Guard) and Robert Warwick (A.V.M. Alexander Mackaye, R.A.F.)


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