★★★★★ Febraury 28, 1963 Season 4 Episode 9
If you want to see where we are…HERE is a list of the episodes.
I’ve always liked sell your soul to the devil stories. This one has Burgess Meredith and that means chances are it’s a great one. Three out of four Twilight Zones he is in are classics. Time Enough At Last, The Obsolete Man, and this one are remembered episodes of the Twilight Zone. His eyebrows were pointing slightly upward, a twisted cigar in his mouth, he certainly looks the part. He is a grinning, leering Devil, full of subtleties. His interpretation goes well beyond the lines. Meredith is also listed as one of the writers.
Robert Sterling plays Douglas Winter, a down on his luck newspaper owner who is about to get pushed out by a larger paper. Pat Crowley plays Jackie Benson who is Douglas’s much more acute girlfriend. The hour format doesn’t hurt this one at all…in fact it helps a bit. The fourth season is not full of classic episodes but I have always considered this one…one of the best.
Ralph Senensky directed this episode. I want to use this opportunity to tell everyone who is interested that he has a blog and talks about all the shows he directed. The Waltons, Night Gallery, Twilight Zone, and much more. His memories are insightful about those old shows. He still posts and he is around 98 years old.
Ralph Senensky: Actors like Burgess Meredith fascinated me with the preparation they brought to their roles. They didn’t just memorize their lines. As Beulah Bondi once said to me, “After the lines are learned, that’s when the work begins.” I’m sure Burgess took his cue for how to work at the linotype machine from one of Jackie’s lines: “If he doesn’t play Chopin’s Polonaise, I’m going to be disappointed.”
This show was written by Robert Sterling, Pat Crowley, and Burgess Meredith
Rod Serling’s Opening Narration:
Take away a man’s dream, fill him with whiskey and despair, send him to a lonely bridge, let him stand there all by himself looking down at the black water, and try to imagine the thoughts that are in his mind. You can’t, I can’t. But there’s someone who can—and that someone is seated next to Douglas Winter right now. The car is headed back toward town, but its real destination is the Twilight Zone.
Douglas Winter, the editor of The Courier, a failing newspaper, feels there is nothing to live for after a number of employees quit, including the Linotype operator. On a bridge while drunk, he looks down into the inviting water below. When he is going to commit suicide, he is approached by one “Mr. Smith”, who comments that it’s a short fall and probably wouldn’t do a very good job. He then asks Doug for a light, and, if he wasn’t quite ready, a ride into town. Amused and forgetting about suicide, Winter gives him a lift to a café, where Mr. Smith agrees to provide the editor with money to pay off debts and continue the operation of the newspaper. Mr. Smith also signs up to replace the linotype operator and be the sole reporter. With nothing to lose, Doug agrees to the proposition.
Rod Serling’s Closing Narration:
Exit the infernal machine, and with it his satanic majesty, Lucifer, prince of darkness—otherwise known as Mr. Smith. He’s gone, but not for good; that wouldn’t be like him—he’s gone for bad. And he might be back, with another ticket….to The Twilight Zone.
Rod Serling…Narrator / Self – Host (uncredited)
Burgess Meredith…Mr. Smith
Robert Sterling…Douglas Winter
Pat Crowley…Jackie Benson
Ray Teal…Mr. Franklin
Charles P. Thompson…Andy Praskins