★★★★★ March 20, 1964 Season 5 Episode 25
If you want to see where we are…HERE is a list of the episodes.
Rod Serling wrote this episode and it is a bonafide classic. This is one of the episodes I point out to people who have never seen The Twilight Zone. I love some great Twilight Zone justice and this has it. A dying wealthy older man invites his awful family (his daughter Emily, her husband Wilfred, and children Paula & Wilfred Jr.) down to visit and for a party. He makes each of them wear a mask that reflects who they are until midnight. They do not want to wear the masks but he makes it clear, if they don’t wear the masks they will not get anything when he dies. “That is indeed the most touching thing you ever dredged up by way of conversation, Wilfred. But I must include this addendum, this small proviso: You shall wear your masks until midnight. If anyone of you should take them off, from my estate, you shall each receive train fare back to Boston, and that’s it!”
This is one of those perfect episodes. The narration, writing, and acting come together perfectly. The star of it was Robert Keith who played Jason Foster. He is dying and his lines to his family in this episode are cutting but well deserved. This was the only episode of the series to be directed by a woman, Ida Lupino. She previously played Barbara Jean Trenton in the episode The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine. The famous actress Lupino would end up with 42 director credits to go along with her 105 acting ones.
Here are a few of his quotes
You’ve been at death’s door so often it’s a wonder you haven’t worn a hole in the mat.
You know, Wilfred, I think the only book you ever read was a ledger. I think if someone cut you open, they would find a cash register.
Well, that’s friendly of you to tell me that, considering that you haven’t seen me yet. All you’ve seen is your mirror image.
This show was written by Rod Serling
Rod Serling’s Opening Narration:
Mr. Jason Foster, a tired ancient who on this particular Mardi Gras evening will leave the Earth. But before departing, he has some things to do, some services to perform, some debts to pay—and some justice to mete out. This is New Orleans, Mardi Gras time. It is also the Twilight Zone.
When his doctor tells him that he could die at any moment, the wealthy Jason Foster gathers his heirs including his daughter Emily Harper, her husband Wilfred and their children Paula and Wilfred Jr. Jason doesn’t think much of any of them and it’s clear they can’t wait to get their hands on his fortune. It’s Mardi Gras time in New Orleans and he has one last request – for each of them to wear a carnival mask. Each of the masks is meant to reflect some aspect of their personality – and leave a lasting impression on them.
Rod Serling’s Closing Narration:
Mardi Gras incident, the dramatis personae being four people who came to celebrate and in a sense let themselves go. This they did with a vengeance. They now wear the faces of all that was inside them—and they’ll wear them for the rest of their lives, said lives now to be spent in shadow. Tonight’s tale of men, the macabre and masks, on the Twilight Zone.
Rod Serling … Narrator / Self – Host (uncredited)
Robert Keith…Jason Foster
Milton Selzer…Wilfred Harper
Virginia Gregg…Emily Harper
Brooke Hayward…Paula Harper
Alan Sues…Wilfred Harper Jr.
Willis Bouchey…Dr. Samuel Thorne
Bill Walker…Jeffrey The Butler