Thursday, July 22, 2021

Twilight Zone ( TV Series (1959–1964)) - The Noir Episodes (Part 2)

"There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone." (season one opening narration)

Many episodes of The Twilight Zone had Classic Noir directors, John Brahm twelve Twilight Zone episodes directed The LocketHangover Square, and The Lodger, Joseph M. Newman four episodes directed 711 Ocean Drive, The Human JungleDangerous Crossing, Robert Florey three episodes directed The Face Behind the MaskDanger Signal, and The Crooked Way, Mitchell Leisen three episodes directed No Man of Her Own, Robert Parrish three episodes directed The Mob, and Cry Danger), Stuart Rosenberg three episodes directed (Murder, Inc.), Robert Stevens two episodes directed (The Big Caper), Christian Nyby two episodes, directed SciFi Noir The Thing from Another World), Don Siegel two episodes directed The VerdictThe Big Steal, Private Hell 36Riot in Cell Block 11The Lineup, other Noir directors Ralph Nelson (Transitional Noir Once a Thief), Ida Lupino (The Hitch-Hiker) and Jacques Tourneur (Out of the PastThe Leopard ManI Walked with a Zombie and Cat People) each directed one episode.

Many episodes of The Twilight Zone starred Noir vet actors, who nicely provide a cinematic memory links to not only Noir, but also to Transitional Noir, and future Neo Noir. Vaugh Taylor appeared in five episodes, Burgess Meredith appeared in four episodes, Richard Conte, Ida Lupino, Steve Cochran, Dana Andrews, Richard Basehart, Dan Duryea, Ann Blyth, Lee Marvin, Robert Cummings, Howard Duff, Ted de Corsia, Franchot Tone, Dane Clark, Neville Brand, Jack Elam, Richard Erdman, Jay Adler, Percy Helton, Earl Holliman, Inger Stevens, James Gregory, Anne Francis, Joe Mantell, John Hoyt, Simon Oakland, John McGiver, Martin Landau, Martin Balsam, Thomas Gomez, Jack Warden, Cecil Kellaway, Claude Akins, Ross Martin, Jack Weston, Ivan Dixon, Jesse White, Arlene Martel, Warren Oates, Rod Taylor, Luther Adler, John Carradine, Fred Clark, John McIntire, Keenan Wynn, Jack Carson, Peter Falk, Dean Jagger, Gary Merrill, Agnes Moorehead, Barbara Nichols, Dean Stockwell, Dennis Weaver, Theodore Bikel, Arthur Hunnicutt, Joseph Wiseman, Barbara Baxley, Dennis Hopper, Mickey Rooney, Telly Savalas, James Whitmore, Robert Keith, Nehemiah Persoff, Gig Young, Vera Miles, Everett Sloane, Charles Bronson, Cloris Leachman, Frank Silvera, Murray Hamilton, Martin Milner, Maxine Cooper, R.G. Armstrong, Lee Van Cleef,  Dub Taylor, Beverly Garland, and Seymore Cassel, there are probably a few more that I've missed.

Bernard Herrmann composed season one's moody title theme. Other music contributors for the original television show are Jerry Goldsmith, Leonard Rosenman, Nathan Scott, Fred Steiner, Nathan Van Cleave, and Franz Waxman. Avant Guard composer Marius Constant wrote the well-known theme introduced in the second season.

Season One, Episode 13 - aired January 1 1960

The Four of Us Are Dying

Directed by John Brahm (The LocketHangover Square, and The Lodger)., written by Rod Serling and George Clayton Johnson and based on a short story by George Johnson.

The episode stars Harry Townes as Arch Hammer, Phillip Pine (The Set-Up, D.O.A., Red Light, Hoodlum Empire, Murder By Contract) as Virge Sterig, Ross Martin (Experiment in Terror) as Johnny Foster, Don Gordon (Cry Tough, Bullitt) as Andy Marshak, Harry Jackson as Trumpeter, Bernard Fein as Penell, Peter Brocco (Tension, The Reckless Moment) as Mr. Marshak, Milton Fromeas as the Detective and Beverly Garland (D.O.A., New Orleans Uncensored, Sudden Danger, Stark Fear) as Maggie.

Harry Townes as Arch Hammer

Noirsville. Manhattan. A tumult of flashing neon. 

Arch Hammer. Drifter. Loner. Scam artist. But not your everyday confidence man. Arch Hammer is the ultimate ancient con man, a shapeshifter.  

The only image he sees is the face of a boxer on a poster plastered to a wall. It's just enough and just in time. Penell's men let him past them. However his new appearance has unexpected consequences. 

As Foster, Hammer goes to a basement jazz joint where Maggie, his torch singer lover, is fronting a small combo Her torch songs are dirges to Johnny.

Beverly Garland as Maggie

Maggie who thought Johnny was pushing up daisies is elated. Johnny woos her, uses her, and convinces her to go away with him. 

Mission accomplished. Johnny/Hammer has gotten his rocks off and so he ditches Maggie and Johnny. Hammer's next mark is mob boss Penell. Penell has just whacked Virge Sterig. Sterig body was found sleeping with the fishes in the river.

Phillip Pine as Virge Sterig

Hammer assumes the face of Virge and pays a visit to Penell. Virge gets his share and gets Penell, and  he scoots away from Penell's henchmen. Hammer/Virge runs into a blind alley. Trapped, he must change his face. 

Don Gordon  as Andy Marshak

The only image he sees is the face of a boxer on a poster plastered to a wall. It's just enough and just in time. Penell's men let him past them. However his new appearance has unexpected consequences. 

Peter Brocco as Mr. Marshak

Great performances by Ross Martin, Phillip Pine, Don Gordon, Peter Brocco and Bernard Fein Jerry Goldsmith provides a nice jazz score. Some Nice stylistically Noir cinematography in this Fantasy Noir. 

Season 1, Episode 14 air date 8 Jan. 1960 

Third from the Sun

Directed by Richard L. Bare written by Rod Serling and based on a Richard Matheson short story. Cinematography by Harry J. Wild (Murder My Sweet, Cornered, His Kind Of Woman, and others)

The episode stars Fritz Weaver (Fail Safe), as William Sturka, Edward Andrews (The Phenix City Story, The Tattered Dress) as Carling, Joe Maross (Elmer Gantry) as Jerry Riden, Denise Alexander as Jody Sturka, Lori March as Eve Sturka, Jeanne Evansas as Ann Riden

Fritz Weaver as William Sturka, lt. and Edward Andrews as Carling, rt.

Joe Maross as Jerry Riden, lt.

Denise Alexander as Jody Sturka

Jeanne Evans as Ann Riden

Armageddon is coming. A nuclear holocaust. A final war between two superpowers. A Government hydrogen scientist and his test pilot buddy plan to steal an experimental spaceship and travel, with their families, to another solar system with a planet that sustains life. 

It goes Noirsville when one of their colleagues Carling sniffs out their plans. Again some nicely stylistic cinematography in this SciFi Noir.

Season 1, Episode 16  air date 22 Jan. 1960 

The Hitch-Hiker 

Directed by Alvin Ganzer, Written by Rod Serling and based on Lucille Fletcher's radio play. Cinematography by George T. Clemens.

The episode stars Inger Stevens (Cry Terror) as Nan Adams, Adam Williams (Vice Squad, The Big Heat, Crashout, The Garment Jungle) as Sailor, Lew Gallo (I want To Live, Odds Against Tomorrow) as Mechanic, Leonard Strong (Backfire, Hells Half Acre) as The Hitch-Hiker, Russ Bender (The Strangler) as Counterman, and George Mitchell (The Phenix City Story) as the Gas Station Man.

Inger Stevens as Nan Adams

Nan Adams. New Yorker. Driving cross country. A new job. City of Angles. Somewhere in a Pennsylvania that looks an awful lot like Southern Cal, Nan gets a blow out. A garage service truck mechanic tells her that she sure was lucky. A blowout at the speed she was going would have been bad news. 

After her tire is changed and she is ready to continue her trip she notices a strange man standing on the side of the road hitchhiking. She passes him by and continues West.

Leonard Strong as The Hitch-Hiker

Strangely, she continues to see the same hitchhiker along her route. Perplexed Nan asks a gas station attendant if its possible for a hitcher to be able to get a ride in a faster car and be able to pass her on the road. 

The hitcher always seems to be ahead of her and she also seems to be the only one to see him. The episode nicely ratchets up Nan's  anxiety building tension. It of course goes Noirsville when Nan decides to call home.

Lew Gallo as Mechanic

Adam Williams as Sailor

"For a story where little actually happens there is a great deal of emotion involved. That is provided thanks to the great, under-appreciated Inger Stevens, one of the best young actresses in the early days of television. Possessed of a stunning wholesome beauty, even here where she is simply dressed with a minimum of make-up, it often got in the way of her genuine acting abilities being recognized. She was adroit in comedy but excelled in playing suppressed and slowly mounting anxiety which is a key component of this tale." (jjnxn-1 IMDb)

It of course goes Noirsville when Nan decides to call home. Fantasy Noir.

Season 1, Episode 17 air date - 29 Jan. 1960 

The Fever 

Directed by Robert Florey (The Face Behind the Mask, Danger Signal, The Crooked Way). Written by Rod Serling Cinematography by George T. Clemens.

Starring Everett Sloan (Jigsaw, The Lady from Shanghai, Journey Into FearThe EnforcerThe SelloutCitizen Kane) as Franklin Gibbs, Vivi Janiss (99 River Street, Kansas City Confidential) as Flora Gibbs, William Kendis (Time Table) as Hansen, Lee Millar as Joe, Lee Sands as Floor Manager, Marc Towers as Cashier, Art Lewis as Drunk, Arthur Peterson as Sheriff.

Everett Sloan as Franklin Gibbs, and Vivi Janiss as Flora Gibbs

Winners. Vegas! A two day, all expense paid vacation. Franklin and Flora. Flora is over the moon with the excitement, but Franklin, a moralizing stuff shirt, is not impressed. To Franklin, the flashing lights, the glitter, the dinging bells, are just an annoyance. He feels sorry for the multitudes of zombie-like "poor fools" playing the slots. 

When Flora puts a nickel in a "one armed bandit," Franklin just ratchets up his opposition to gambling. He sermonizes to Flora that she is just throwing away her money. Franklin turns away disgusted.

As Franklyn he passes a drunken slot player, the man grabs Franklin by the arm, puts a silver dollar into his hand and pleads with him to put it in the slot. He explains that his wife wants him to have dinner, and that maybe Franklin playing the machine will change his overall luck.

To a cool jazzy-bongo leitmotif Franklin not only wins a jackpot but also a one way ticket to Noirsville.  That leitmotif is very reminiscent of Angelo Badalamentie's Audrey's theme from David Lynch's Twin Peaks (TV Series 1990–1991)


Franklin's gamboling addiction is vividly portrayed. Everett Sloan is excellent in this episode.

"For people not living in Las Vegas, and deal with the decline of the human spirit by gambling, this episode may seem lame. But when Franklin begins his Rambling Rant after his wife says "it's just a machine" It made me uncontrollably start laughing. "It's not a machine.. It's an ENTITY!". Anyone who has lived in 'Vegas a long time, knows the justifications of die-hard gamblers... this was perfect, and very very well done." (joesands IMDb)

Your Classic Noir alienated and obsessed character enhanced by both your classic Noir stylistic cinematography, mechanical sounds, and a jazzy leitmotif in this Fantasy Noir.

Season 1, Episode 26 - air date 1 Apr. 1960 


Directed by David Orrick McDearmon. Writtenn by Rod Serling and based on a George Clayton short story. Cinematography by George T. Clemens.

The episode stars Albert Salmi as Joe Caswell, Russell Johnson (Loan Shark, The Turning Point, Rogue Cop) as Prof. Manion, Than Wyenn (The Human Jungle, I Want To Live!) as Paul Johnson, George Mitchell (The Phenix City Story, Fallguy) as Old Man, Jon Lormer (I Want to Live!) as Minister, Fay Roope (Naked Alibi) as Judge, Richard Karlan (No Questions Asked, The Racket, Union Station) as Bartender.

Albert Salmi as Joe Caswell

Russell Johnson as Prof. Manion

Joe Caswell. Western Bad man. Killer. The guest of honor at a Necktie Party. Unrepentant and about to do a jig at the end of a rope. 

Prof. Manion. Time Machine scientist. In Manhattan, Manion activates his device. 

As the strap hits the horse's rump and Caswell stretches his rope, he suddenly disappears. He reappears inside of Manion's diamond shaped  Time Machine. 

Manion, has accidently retrieved from the 19th Century a old blooded killer. Manion can see rope burns on Caswell's neck and starts to get apprehensive. Caswell tells him it was from an accident. Yet, Manion tries to slowly explain to Caswell what happened and tries to prepare him for all the changes that have taken place in the last 80 years. He lifts the shade on his high rise window to reveal a bustling Manhattan tableau at street level. Caswell is bug-eyed. His ears cant take the modern world. 

All is going smoothly until Manion informs Caswell that he must send him back.

Caswell, of course, wants no part of going back to the end of a rope. He fights violently with the doctor. When the doctor tries to retrieve a revolver from his desk drawer, Caswell bludgeons him up the side of  his head with a desk lamp. 

The professor sprawls across the floor dead. Caswell grabs the revolver and runs down a stairwell and out into a cacophony of traffic noise and chaotically flashing lights. 

The professor sprawls across the floor dead. Caswell grabs the revolver and runs down a stairwell and out into a cacophony of traffic noise and chaotically flashing lights. 


The twentieth century drives Caswell crazier than a shit house rat. An alienated "fish out of water," Caswell  stumbles into a bar where he has a drink followed by a shootout with a television Western. 

He backtracks to Manion's lab where he confronts his twentieth century equivalent, a junkie with a gun in search of a fix.

A SciFi/Western Noir

To be Continued....

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