Twilight Zone – The Old Man in the Cave

★★★★1/2 November 8, 1963 Season 5 Episode 7

If you want to see where we are…HERE is a list of the episodes.

As far as the rating on this one. I was in between 4.5 and 5…it could go either way. It is a great episode. 

James Coburn (French) and John Anderson (Goldsmith) are terrific in this Twilight Zone episode. The Old Man in the Cave dwells on a small group of Atomic Holocaust survivors whose status quo is maintained by an unseen source that lives in a cave. Mr Goldsmith is the leader of this group and he is told what to do by this cave dweller. 

Coburn’s character is the neighborhood bully with power. He swaggers in with his men and take over the group. He mock’s Mr. Goldsmith about the faith he has with the cave dweller’s instructions. Against Goldsmiths vehement objections, they distribute food and liquor branded contaminated by the Old Man in the cave. Resentful over their past restrictions, the townspeople force Goldsmith to open the cave. The “Old Man” is seen…but as what? 

The ugly side of human beings is on full display in this episode. Humans without faith in something can be scared, frightened, and in turn… scary. 

From IMDB: Based upon the short story “The Old Man” by Henry Slesar. Though it was copyrighted in 1962, the story went unpublished until 1980, when it appeared in the anthology Microcosmic Tales from Taplinger Pub. Co.

This show was written by Rod Serling and Henry Slesar

Rod Serling’s Opening Narration: 

What you’re looking at is a legacy that man left to himself. A decade previous he pushed his buttons and a nightmarish moment later woke up to find that he had set the clock back a thousand years. His engines, his medicines, his science were buried in a mass tomb, covered over by the biggest gravedigger of them all—a bomb. And this is the earth 10 years later, a fragment of what was once a whole, a remnant of what was once a race. The year is 1974 and this is The Twilight Zone.


Ten years after an atomic apocalypse, a small group of survivors manage to eke out a very difficult existence. They’ve managed to survive in large part due to the advice they receive from an old man who lives in a cave outside of the town. Goldsmith acts as the intermediary and the old man’s advice on things like crops or the safety of a batch of old canned goods are usually correct. When four soldiers led by Major French arrive in the town, the social order is upended with the townsfolk attacking the old man’s cave but not really prepared for what they find inside

Rod Serling’s Closing Narration:

Mr. Goldsmith, survivor. An eyewitness to man’s imperfection. An observer of the very human trait of greed. And a chronicler of the last chapter—the one reading “suicide”. Not a prediction of what is to be, just a projection of what could be. This has been The Twilight Zone.


Rod Serling … Narrator / Self – Host (uncredited)
James Coburn … French
John Anderson … Goldsmith
Josie Lloyd … Evie, townswoman who says, “We already took chances. The old man told us not to plant on the north acreage.”
John Craven … townsman who asks, “Been to the cave, Jason?”
John Marley … Jason
Uncredited (in order of appearance):
Natalie Masters … townswoman
Don Wilbanks … Furman


Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

16 thoughts on “Twilight Zone – The Old Man in the Cave”

  1. Max, I really enjoyed this episode. Like you said, people without faith can be dangerous, not only to others but themselves. I am watching “The Power of Myth” with Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers and Campbell tells a joke that this episode reminded me of. A man walks into a room with 20 computers and asks them a question: “Is there a God?” The computers start whirring, blinking, etc. for a minute and then one computer voice says, “There is now.” I loved Coburn in this episode. He has always been a favorite of mine and vastly underrated, in my opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Colburn is great. I really liked him in The Magnificent Seven.
      That is a great joke!
      Yea I couldn’t decide a 4 or 5…it could have went either way.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I just scoped out his imdb list and didn’t realize how many tv shows he was in! I liked him in the two Flint movies he was in. They wanted to do more of them but he turned them down.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. What a season so far… Lee Marvin and Colburn….at one time I got those two confused. Both of them can play intense characters.

        Liked by 1 person

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