★★★★1/2 February 7, 1964 Season 5 Episode 19
If you want to see where we are…HERE is a list of the episodes.
I really like this one a lot. It has a feel of a horror movie because it is somewhat of a ghost story. It’s about an older lady who starts getting calls in the middle of the night. Gladys Cooper is brilliant as Elva Keene in this episode. Elva is confused and frightened by persistent phone calls from an eerie sounding caller.
Gladys also appeared in Nothing in the Dark opposite Robert Redford in the 3rd season. Who else but Rod Serling could take something as simple as an inanimate object, a telephone, and turn it into an element of fear and dread?Highly suspenseful episode with an ironical ending. So who is the caller interrupting elderly Elva’s rest? One typical Twilight Zone trait is here…loneliness. This one will make you hesitant to answer the phone at night.
From IMDB Trivia: The title of Richard Matheson’s original short story is “Long Distance Call”. However, as there was already an episode of The Twilight Zone (1959) with this title, The Twilight Zone: Long Distance Call (1961), the title of this episode had to be changed.
Originally scheduled to air on November 22, 1963, it was preempted by John F. Kennedy’s assassination. In the alternate timeline featured in The Twilight Zone: Profile in Silver/Button, Button (1986) in which JFK’s assassination was prevented, a CBS television announcement is heard: “We will now return to our regular programming” and the theme of The Twilight Zone (1959) is played, a reference to the intended broadcast date of this episode.
Elva’s phone number is KL-5-2368. The K and the L are both the number 5 on the phone dial. “555” is an exchange number commonly thought to be reserved by the phone companies for use by TV and movies in order to prevent prank phone calls to real people. In fact, only 555-0100 through 555-0199 are now specifically reserved for fictional use, and the other numbers have been released for actual assignment.
On the day that this episode was first aired (February 7, 1964), The Beatles arrived in the United States in preparation for their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show (1948): The Ed Sullivan Show: Meet The Beatles (1964).
This show was written by Rod Serling and Richard Matheson
Rod Serling’s Opening Narration:
Miss Elva Keene lives alone on the outskirts of London Flats, a tiny rural community in Maine. Up until now, the pattern of Miss Keene’s existence has been that of lying in her bed or sitting in her wheelchair, reading books, listening to a radio, eating, napping, taking medication—and waiting for something different to happen. Miss Keene doesn’t know it yet, but her period of waiting has just ended, for something different is about to happen to her, has in fact already begun to happen, via two most unaccountable telephone calls in the middle of a stormy night, telephone calls routed directly through—the Twilight Zone.
The elderly Elva Keene is not too happy when she begins receiving phone calls in the middle of the night. At first the calls are little more than static and her complaints to the local telephone operator, Miss Finch, seem to go unheeded. Over time however, she begins to hear a man’s voice but out of fear, tells whoever it is to go away. When Miss Finch reports they’ve found the problem, Elva visits the site only to realize the identity of the caller, and that regardless of anything she’s said, desperately wants the calls to continue.
Rod Serling’s Closing Narration:
According to the Bible, God created the Heavens and the Earth. It is man’s prerogative—and woman’s—to create their own particular and private Hell. Case in point, Miss Elva Keene, who in every sense has made her own bed and now must lie in it, sadder, but wiser, by dint of a rather painful lesson in responsibility, transmitted from the Twilight Zone.
Rod Serling … Narrator (voice) (uncredited)
Gladys Cooper…Elva Keene
Nora Marlowe…Margaret Phillips
Martine Bartlett…Miss Finch