Many Hollywood legends spent time in The Twilight Zone, and this month we look at two of the largest legends in Hollywood history with Robert Redford and Dennis Hopper. Redford’s season 3 appearance with Gladys Cooper has him portraying the role of the death angel escorting her character to the afterlife. Meanwhile, Hopper’s season 4 role is one of an angry young man under the influence of Hitler, who is raising up his own all-too-familiar brand of hate. It’s easy to see in these performances what will make these men legendary, and each of these stories gives us a lot of meat to chew on for discussion.
The Twilight Zone is no stranger to close encounters between various aliens and humans. Sometimes those encounters are fun or silly, other times they reveal some of the darker realities of our humanity. This month’s episodes fall into that latter category with “People Are Alike All Over” from season 1, and “Stopover in a Quiet Town” from season 5. Of course, the dark side of humanity is not all that is on display, because in a twist only the Twilight Zone can deliver, these aliens have their own dark side as well.
Over the course of the 5 season run of The Twilight Zone many episodes touched on religious themes. We’ve already looked at episodes like, “The Hunt,” “The Obsolete Man,” and “The Howling Man,” for example. This month we take a look at two episodes which, for better or for worse, are very on the nose with their religious themes. First up is “The Gift” from season three. Drawing parallels to Jesus and his crucifixion, an alien visits a small Mexican town with a gift that will change the world, but their fear leads them to killing him. Next up is “Probe 7, Over and Out” from season five, which tells its own version of the beginning of Earth, Adam, Eve, and a tree with fruit.
It’s been said that magic is just science that we don’t understand yet. While we’re not sure if that’s a suitable explanation for the kinds of magic on display in this month’s episodes, we certainly had a magical time discussing them. First up is “Dust” from season 2. Written by Rod Serling and directed by Douglas Heyes, it tells the story of a dusty small town on the verge of killing a man who drunkenly killed a young girl. Is it magic dust or something else that brings the town the hope it so desperately needs?
Carol Burnett was recently honored on her 90th birthday for her lifetime of work in film and television. Her talent was recognized early in her career, and Rod wrote an episode especially for her with season 3’s comedy, “Cavender is Coming.” Before Martin Landau became famous for his work on Mission Impossible, he starred in two Twilight Zone episodes and we cover season 5’s thriller, “The Jeopardy Room” here.
Toy Story 5 is now in production, and that announcement got us thinking…which Toy Story toy is the best? Put differently, if we found ourselves at a garage sale at Andy’s house and all of the Toy Story toys were in a box, which toy would we choose? It is March madness season, so that means we had to settle this question with a bracket! Who will come out victorious? We’re quite certain it’s not who you think! Grab your travel buddy, fill out your own bracket via the link below, and let’s find out which toy reigns supreme! (Is that a Zurg hint???)
Season 5 of The Twilight Zone brought us two episodes handing out poetic justice to the lead characters. In “A Short Drink from a Certain Fountain,” an aging businessman drinks from a fountain of youth in order to satisfy his much younger, demanding wife. His plan backfires, leaving both of them to deal with life-altering consequences. In “Sounds and Silences,” a toy boat manufacturing executive forces everyone in his life to be constantly subjected to loud noises. His life is turned upside down when he develops hypersensitive hearing, and he’s forced to live his life with highly compromised hearing.
“Perchance to Dream” and “Twenty Two” are known for their psychological horror and explore the idea of being trapped in a nightmare or a dream that is indistinguishable from reality. They also examine the relationship between the mind, the subconscious, and the external world, as well as the idea that our dreams may hold hidden meanings and truths about our lives.
The world is full of big talkers, and not even the Twilight Zone can escape them. In season 2 Rod Serling wrote “The Silence” about two rich men who square off in an expensive bet, just so one of the men can be freed from the incessant talking of the other. In season 3 the Zone served up “Hocus-Pocus and Frisby,” a story about a country bumpkin that can spin yarns unlike anyone else. He’s abducted by aliens and is able to escape using his harmonica, but the townsfolk believe his story is just another of his exaggerated tales.
Hollywood legends Dennis Weaver and Robert Duvall each made trips into The Twilight Zone. In the season 2 episode, “Shadow Play,” Dennis Weaver portrayed Adam Grant, a man stuck in a dream where he is convicted to die over and over again in the electric chair. In season 4, Robert Duvall starred in, “Miniature,” a story where Charley Parkes falls in love with a woman from a museum display. Each of these two brilliant actors showed why they would soon become Hollywood legends.