Wednesday, October 3, 2012

"Escape Clause" - Twilight Zone (1959)

We all have our favorite episodes of the “Twilight Zone.” Mine is the one named “One for the Angels” with Ed Wynn, which aired on October 9th, 1959. I was 5 years old and have never forgotten it. Ed Wynn plays an elderly tie salesman, who must cheat death in order to save his own life, which has come to an end. When he refuses to go quietly, Death threatens to take the life of a young girl instead. To prove he is serious, Death has her struck by a car and dying. Unless Ed goes, the young girl will take his place.
So, Ed strikes a deal with Death; he has never made the “perfect pitch”; and if he can, and Death will spare the little girl; he will go to his destiny without remorse. When the appointed hour arrives, he has indeed made the ultimate pitch; so strong in fact, that Death has forgotten the little girl, who now gets to live. Angrily, he takes Ed Wynn instead; as previously planned; while Mr. Wynn goes to his fate smiling, knowing that he has indeed made the ultimate pitch. That’s the one I wanted to show, but it’s not available on You Tube, so I chose this one instead.

All of the “Twilight Zone” episodes are prime examples of what great writing and direction can accomplish in less than 30 minutes. And these episodes were made during a time when technology didn’t have all the “bells and whistle” available to the directors of today. But the writing, and acting, were both superb. This episode is no exception.

“Escape Clause”, shown here, is from the first season of “Twilight Zone” and deals with a hypochondriac who is willing to trade his soul for immortality, along with indestructibility. Of course, as in many of the “Twilight Zone” episodes, he gets just what he wants; but is what he wants really what he thinks he is going to get? The lessons in irony; and the tragedy of winning what you think you want; are always evident in these shows.
The format for these shows was very simple; Rod Serling would introduce you; the viewer; to another dimension, one where up could be down, and nothing was ever what it appeared to be; kind of like life.

The full episode ran 26 minutes and aired on November 6, 1959. It was episode 6 of the first season on CBS. They just don’t make them like this anymore.

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