Category: Z-View

The Twilight Zone: “Third from the Sun” [Season 1, Episode 14] / Z-View

Twilight Zone: “Third from the Sun” [Season 1, Episode 14]
Original Air Date: January 8, 1960

Director: Richard L. Bare

Writer: Rod Serling based on a short story by Richard Matheson

Starring: Fritz Weaver, Edward Andrews and Joe Maross.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

William Sturka [Weaver] and Jerry Riden [Maross] work at a government security installation on a top-secret space craft.  With the threat of world-wide nuclear war imminent security is tighter than ever.

Security Officer Carling [Andrews] is watching everyone like a hawk which makes it tough on Sturka and Riden since they have a plan to steal the space craft and escape to another planet before nuclear Armageddon.

Final Thoughts: A classic Twilight Zone twist ending!


Twilight Zone: “The Four of Us Are Dying” [Season 1, Episode 13] / Z-View

Twilight Zone: “The Four of Us Are Dying” [Season 1, Episode 13]
Original Air Date: January 1, 1960

Director: John Braham

Writer: Rod Serling based on a short story by George Clayton Johnson

Starring: Harry Townes, Phillip Pine, Ross Martin and Don Gordon with a cameo by Beverly Garland.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Arch Hammer [Townes, Pine, Martin and Gordon] has the ability, with intense concentration, to change his appearance to look like anyone.  Hammer arrives in town and begins to impersonate various people in order to con their friends and business partners out of cash.

Hammer’s ability to change his appearance makes it easy to convince others that he is who he looks like.  Women and money are ripe for the taking.  Sadly, as this is the Twilight Zone, Hammer’s ability will bring him even more than he bargained for.

Final Thoughts: When this episode was first being prepared it was thought that one actor would play all four characters that Hammer impersonates.  When it was determined that it would take too much time in make-up, it was decided that a different actor would play each part.


Twilight Zone: “What You Need” [Season 1, Episode 12] / Z-View

Twilight Zone: “What You Need” [Season 1, Episode 12]
Original Air Date: December 25, 1959

Director: Alvin Ganzer

Writer: Rod Serling based on a short story by Lewis Padgett

Starring: Steve Cochran and Ernest Truex with a cameo by Arlene Martel.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Fred Renard [Cochran] is a thuggish man who gets what needs from life through bullying, intimidation and worse.  Sadly Renard’s ways have gotten him little.  In a bar one night an old man [Truex] enters selling little novelties and necessities.

The old man peddler seems to know what each person needs before they do.  The peddler tells a woman she needs stain cleaner and she accepts it.  Another patron needs a bus ticket to Scranton.  The patron is doubtful but accepts it.  Within minutes the old man is proved correct — he has provided them exactly what they need.

Renard has found the golden goose!  He intimidates the old man to provide him with what he needs for quick, easy cash.  The old man comes through but Renard isn’t satisfied.  He tracks the old man down for more.  Will the old man have what is needed?

We’re in the Twilight Zone, baby!  Of course he will.

Final Thoughts: The ending is a twist but one most won’t see coming.


Twilight Zone: “And When the Sky was Opened” [Season 1, Episode 11] / Z-View

Twilight Zone: “And When the Sky was Opened” [Season 1, Episode 11]
Original Air Date: December 11, 1959

Director: Douglas Heyes

Writer: Rod Serling based on a short story by Richard Matheson

Starring: Rod Taylor and Jim Hutton

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Astronauts Lieutenant Colonel Forbes [Taylor], Major Gart [Hutton] and Colonel Harrington are piloting an experimental rocket ship’s initial flight. Upon reentry the ship crashes in the desert.  Gart suffers a broken leg and is hospitalized.  Forbes and Harrington visit Gart and share the newspaper with a headline declaring the three of them as heroes.

After the visit Forbes and Harrington go to a bar to celebrate. Harrington suddenly begins to fill ill and decides to call his parents.  His parent answers and tells a shocked Harrington that they have no son! Harrington instantly disappears and the newspaper headline changes to two astronauts as heroes.

Forbes didn’t see Harrington disappear and begins to look for him.  Everyone in the bar says that Forbes came in alone.  Forbes remembers the newspaper headline and gets it to show the bar patrons.

Shocked to see the headline has changed, Forbes rushes back to the hospital and to tell Gart what has happened.  Gart shocks Forbes by saying there were only two of them on the flight.  Forbes suddenly begins to feel ill…

Final Thoughts: Rod Taylor sells the episode.  The ending is a bit of a letdown but everything leading up to is excellent.Rating:

Twilight Zone: “Judgment Night” [Season 1, Episode 10] / Z-View

Twilight Zone: “Judgment Night” [Season 1, Episode 10]
Original Air Date: December 4, 1959

Director: John Brahm

Writer: Rod Serling

Starring: Nehemiah Persoff, Patrick Macnee and James Franciscus

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

A man [Persoff] finds himself on a passenger ship crossing the Atlantic in the middle of World War II.  He doesn’t know who he is, how he got there,  The one thing he does know is that their ship will soon be sunk by a German submarine.

Final Thoughts: The ending is a twist but one most will see coming.  A very young James Franciscus makes a welcome appearance.


Twilight Zone: “The Lonely” [Season 1, Episode 7] / Z-View

Twilight Zone: “The Lonely” [Season 1, Episode 7]
Original Air Date: November 13, 1959

Director: Jack Smight

Writer: Rod Serling

Starring: Jack Warden, John Dehner, Jean Marsh and Ted Knight

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

James Corry [Warden] killed a man in self-defense. Found guilty of murder, Corry was sentenced to life not in prison but alone on an asteroid.  In the future convicts are imprisoned off Earth.  Corry’s only contact with others is when he receives a supply drop every three or for months.

Captain Allenby [Dehner] feels sorry for Corry. Four years into Corry’s sentence of living alone on the asteroid, Allenby secretly brings a female-programmed robot in Corry’s supplies.  The robot looks, feels and acts like woman.

At first Corry wants nothing to do with this machine…

Final Thoughts:   Warden and Dehner deserve kudos for their acting.  It’s fun seeing Ted Knight in an early role.  The ending has a nice TZ twist.  This episode will stick with you.Rating:

Z-View Twilight Zone: “Escape Clause” [Season 1, Episode 6]

Twilight Zone: “Escape Clause” [Season 1, Episode 6]
Original Air Date: November 6, 1959

Director: Mitchell Leisen

Writer: Rod Serling

Starring: David Wayne and Thomas Gomez

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Walter Bedeker [Wayne] is a hypochondriac who despite being perfectly healthy believes he is on death’s doorstep.  While lamenting that life is too short, Bedeker is visited by the Devil [Gomez] who offers immortality for Bedeker’s soul.  

The soul is collected on Bedeker’s death but since he is immortal how will the Devil collect?  Ah, there is an escape clause should Bedeker decide he no longer wishes to live.  

Bedeker accepts and comes to learn rather quickly that immortality in certain situations isn’t all he thought it would be.  

Final Thoughts:  This is a fun episode.  I enjoyed Bedeker’s plan to get rich.  Joe Flynn’s cameo was fun.  A nice twist ending caps the episode.


Z-View Twilight Zone: “Walking Distance” [Season 1, Episode 5]

Twilight Zone: “Walking Distance” [Season 1, Episode 5]
Original Air Date: October 30, 1959

Director: Robert Stevens

Writer: Rod Serling

Starring: Gig Young

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Martin Sloan [Young] is a 36 year old New York business executive.  Everything for him is rush, rush, rush.  While on a drive back to the city Sloan finds himself at a gas station one and a half miles from the little town he grew up in.  He decides to take a walk to the town while the gas attendant services his car.

Once in the town Sloan finds nothing has changed.  The prices are the same… the people are the same.  Somehow he has gone back in time.  He goes to his home and his parents seeing a grown man claiming to be their son and send him away.  Sloan decides to find himself as a boy to give himself advice.

You know that old saying, “You can’t go home again” — Sloan finds out it is true.

Final Thoughts:  This episode doesn’t work for me.  When Sloan meets his parents his efforts to convince them of who he is are weak.  When his father does learn that somehow his son has come back to the past, dad basically tells his son to leave and go back to the future [not the movie, but the time he came from].  Sloan getting a limp because of something he caused to happen in the past is a nice touch.  Ron Howard has a brief cameo in one of his first acting roles.


Z-View Twilight Zone: “The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine” [Season 1, Episode 4]

Twilight Zone: “The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine” [Season 1, Episode 4]
Original Air Date: October 23, 1959

Director: Mitchell Leisen

Writer: Rod Serling

Starring: Ida Lupino and Martin Balsam.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Barbara Trenton [Lupino] used to be a big movie star… but that was 25 years ago and her star has faded with age.  Trenton increasingly spends her days and nights sitting alone in her room running her old films.  Her agent [Balsam] is worried that she is losing touch with reality and attempts to get her a part in a new film.  When Trenton discovers it is a supporting role and she will play the star’s mother — she insults the movie executive and retreats to her film room.

If only she could find a way to the past where she was happy…

Final Thoughts:  This episode feels like Sunset Blvd. lite.  Everything is played straight until Trenton somehow appears on her projection screen in an old movie setting.  When Balsam sees it, he calls to her to “come back” — almost as if he is not surprised/shocked that she is “in there.”  This episode fell flat for me.


Z-View Twilight Zone: “Mr. Denton on Doomsday” [Season 1, Episode 3]

Twilight Zone: “Mr. Denton on Doomsday” [Season 1, Episode 3]
Original Air Date: October 16, 1959

Director: Allen Reisner

Writer: Rod Serling

Starring: Dan Duryea, Martin Landau and Doug McClure.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Al Denton [Duryea] used to be good with a gun.  Now he is the town drunk.  Dan Hotaling [Landau] is the town bully who takes great pleasure in humiliating Denton.  Hotaling pushes Denton around, makes him sing and beg for drinks even to the point of breaking a bottle of booze and throwing it in the street just to watch Denton scramble for it.

The townspeople nervously laugh at Hotaling’s antics and while some don’t like it, none will take a stand.  As Denton chugs from the broken bottle of booze, a new comer to the town named Henry J. Fate observes from a distance.  Suddenly a gun appears and Denton picks it up.

Hotaling sees Denton with the handgun and challenges him to a gunfight.  Denton wants no part of it but Hotaling won’t let him walk away.  Denton is a dead man unless [Henry J.] Fate steps in…

Final Thoughts: This episode had so much potential but ends up feeling disjointed to me.  Since I am picking nits: I don’t think the title of the episode fits.  Landeau comes off as a cartoon bully from the way he is dressed to his actions.  Naming the newcomer Henry J. Fate seems a bit heavy-handed.  Denton, the town drunk gives up booze with no effort — thanks to Fate?  Abruptly, Landeau is out and McClure is in.  When Duryea and McClure realize that they’ve both just drank the potion is a nice touch.

Overall not a bad episode, but could have been better.


Z-View Twilight Zone: “One for the Angels” [Season 1, Episode 2]

Twilight Zone: “One for the Angels?” [Season 1, Episode 2]
Original Air Date: October 9, 1959

Director: Robert Parrish

Writer: Rod Serling

Starring: Ed Wynn and Murray Hamilton.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Lou Bookman [Wynn] is a street vendor.  Bookman makes enough to get by selling his cheap toys, ties and novelties, but he’s always wanted a chance to make a pitch to really show off his sales skills.

When Death [Hamilton] shows up in human form to give Bookman a chance to prepare for his death later that evening, Bookman requests an opportunity to make the pitch of his, er, life.

As with most deals with death [or the devil], you often get more [or less] than you bargained for.

Final Thoughts:  Serling gives us a tale with a nice twist and just the right amount of humor.  Hamilton does a fine job as Death.  “One for the Angels” has grown on me over the years.  Perhaps because as I get older, I may one day be in Bookman’s shoes?


Z-View: “In Cold Blood”

In Cold Blood (1967)

Director: Richard Brooks

Screenplay: Richard Brooks (based on Truman Capote’s book of the same name)

Stars: Robert Blake, Scott Wilson and John Forsythe

The Pitch: “Let’s make a movie based on the best-selling book In Cold Blood!”

The Tagline: “Written for the screen and directed by Richard Brooks.”


The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Dick Hickcock [Scott Wilsion] and Perry Smith [Robert Blake Perry] have a plan to steal $10,000 cash from a rich farmer’s safe and then high-tail it to Mexico where they will live out their days safe from extradition.  The two ex-cons violate their parole and drive through the night to Holcomb, Kansas where according to one of Hickcock’s past cellmates, a fortune sits in the Cutter safe.

 The only thing Hickcock and Smith find at the Cutter house are Mr. Cutter, Mrs. Cutter and their two teenage children.  Hickcock and Smith place the family members in separate rooms, tie them up and search for the safe.  There is no safe, no fortune and just a little over forty dollars in cash in the house. Hickcock and Smith brutally kill the Cutter family and then head back towards Kansas City.

The discovery that the Cutter family was brutally murdered makes national news and as the investigation grows, Hickcock and Smith decide to head to Mexico.  They pass bad checks, pawn the items they buy and use the money to get across the border.  It isn’t long before they’re low on cash and decide to go to Vegas to raise more. In Vegas  Hickcock and Smith are picked up on a parole violation.

The cops interrogate them separately.  Neither admits to knowing anything about the Cutter family murders.  As the evidence begins to pile up, Hickcock suddenly tries to pin the murders on SmithSmith then turns on Hickcock and the case is made.  A trial, a death sentence and the gallows are all that Hickcock and Smith have left to look forward to.  Sadly, one is left with the feeling that either man alone would not have committed the murders.

Wilson (probably best known to folks as Hershel from The Walking Dead) and Blake (probably best known as the crazy old celebrity acquitted of killing his second wife in 2005) are excellent as the leads.  Robert Brooks deserves kudos for his screenplay and direction.

Watch for cameos by: Will Geer [Grandpa from The Waltons] and music by Quincy Jones!

Award Nominations:

Academy Awards –

  • Best Director
  • Best Cinematography
  • Best Original Music Score
  • Best Adapted Screenplay


Z-View: “Anatomy of a Murder”

Anatomy of a Murder (1959)

Director: Otto Preminger

Screenplay: Wendell Mayes, John D. Voelker (based on his novel written as Robert Traver)

Stars: James Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazarra, Arthur O’Connell and George C. Scott

The Pitch: “Let’s make a movie based on the best-selling novel Anatomy of a Murder!”

The Tagline: “Last year’s No.1 best-seller … This year’s No.1 motion picture.”


The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Stewart plays small town attorney Paul Biegler who’d rather be fishing than practicing law.  Biegler’s mentor is Parnell McCarthy (Arthur O’Connell) who’d rather be boozing it up than just about anything.  When Biegler is offered the chance to defend Fredrick Manion (Ben Gazara), against a murder charge, he sees it as a way to get McCarthy off the booze.  Manion is a soldier accused of murdering the man who raped his wife (Lee Remick).

We spend the first part of the movie learning about the case.

Biegler meets Manion, a quick-tempered, hard-to-like soldier who admits to killing the man who raped his wife about an hour after finding out about it.  This wasn’t a heat of the moment murder.  After meeting Manion’s wife who is sporting a beat-up face and a casual attitude, Biegler finds himself in a case where nothing is clear cut.

Manion is a jealous, thuggish man who likes his wife to dress provocatively and then gets jealous when men give her attention.  Laura Manion likes men, booze and fun.  Being married doesn’t stop her from having a good time where she can find it.  She married Manion three days after divorcing her first husband and admits that Manion was the reason for the divorce.

Was Laura raped?  She was beat-up, but did that happen during the rape or when he husband found out she had been with another man.  The clinical evidence is inconclusive.  Something happened but under what circumstances?

The second part of the movie takes us into the courtroom for one of the best courtroom dramas ever filmed.

The acting across the board is excellent.  Stewart (Best Actor), O’Connell (Best Supporting Actor) and Scott (Best Supporting Actor) were all nominated for Academy Awards.  I’m surprised Lee Remick wasn’t as well, because she is that good.  The film went on to be nominated for seven Oscars as well as other honors.

To the movie’s credit, the jury comes back with a verdict, but knowing the evidence of the case and the things that we see that the jury doesn’t, the audience may come away with a different verdict.  At the very least, there is room for discussion.

The last scene is a treat and adds another layer to the puzzle.

Watch for cameos by: Howard McNear [Floyd the Barber from The Andy Griffith Show] and Duke Ellington!

Awards Won:

New York Film Critics Circle Awards –

  • Best Actor, James Stewart
  • Best Screenplay, Wendell Mayes; 1959.

Venice International Film Festival –  

  • Volpi Cup
  • Best Actor, James Stewart; 1959.

Grammy Awards –

  • Best Performance by a Dance Band
  • Best Musical Composition First Recorded and Released in 1959
  • Best Sound Track Album.

Producers Guild of America Awards –  

  • Top Drama
  • Top Male Dramatic Performance, James Stewart
  • Top Male Supporting Performance, Arthur O’Connell; 1960.


Award Nominations:

Academy Awards –

  • Best Actor in a Leading Role: James Stewart
  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Arthur O’Connell
  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role: George C. Scott
  • Best Cinematography, Black-and-White: Sam Leavitt
  • Best Film Editing: Louis R. Loeffler
  • Best Picture: Otto Preminger
  • Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium: Wendell Mayes; 1960

British Academy Film Awards –

  • Best Film from any Source Otto Preminger, USA
  • Best Foreign Actor James Stewart, USA
  • Most Promising Newcomer Joseph N. Welch, USA; 1960.

Directors Guild of America Awards –

  • DGA Award Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film, Otto Preminger; 1960.

Golden Globe Awards –

  • Best Motion Picture – Drama
  • Best Performance By An Actress In A Motion Picture – Drama: Lee Remick
  • Best Director – Motion Picture: Otto Preminger
  • Best Performance By An Actor In A Supporting Role In A Motion Picture: Joseph N. Welch; 1960.


Z-View The Twilight Zone: “Where is Everybody?” [Season 1, Episode 1]

Twilight Zone: “Where is Everybody?” [Season 1, Episode 1]
Original Air Date: October 2, 1959

Director: Robert Stevens

Writer: Rod Serling

Starring: Earl Holliman and James Gregory.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Mike Ferris [Holliman] suddenly finds himself in a deserted small town.  He doesn’t know who he is or how he got there.  As he moves through the town looking for others, he can’t shake the feeling that he’s being watched… and he is!

Final Thoughts:  Nice twist ending provides a solid start to the series.


Z-View: “The First Deadly Sin”

The First Deadly Sin (1980)

Director: Brian G. Hutton

Screenplay: Mann Rubin from the Lawrence Sanders’ novel

Stars: Frank Sinatra; Faye Dunaway; and David Dukes.

The Pitch: “Let’s make a movie based on the best-selling novel by Lawrence Sanders and get Frank Sinatra to star in it!”

The Tagline: “He’s searching for a killer. She’s searching for a miracle …. And time is running out.”

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Sinatra plays Edward X. Delaney a NY City Detective who is weeks from retirement with two big problems – 1.  His wife has a mysterious disease that is killing her.  2.  The city has a mysterious serial killer that has taken the lyrics to the Beatles’ Maxwell’s Silver Hammer to heart.  Sinatra has to deal with both.

Since the killer is using what turns out to be a mountain climbing hammer claw, Sinatra gets an old museum curator to follow leads.  This frees up Sinatra so he can yell at and rough up his wife’s doctor when he isn’t sitting at her bedside looking somber or reading to her.  Dunaway plays his wife who spends the entire film in a hospital bed.  Had she been in a better movie, I think her will to live could have carried the day.

As Sinatra’s wife gets progressively worse, he discovers who the killer is.  Hoping to catch the killer before he kills again, Sinatra instead spooks the maniac who returns to his high-rise apartment.  Sinatra meets him there and finds the maniac hiding and crying.  They have a conversation and the killer tells Sinatra he’ll escape justice.  The killer turns the tables and goes to the phone to call the police.  Sinatra pulls a Dirty Harry and then goes to the hospital to read to his wife.

At that point I was looking for the claw hammer.