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And in some strange and frightening way she knows that this seemingly ordinary door leads to the Twilight Zone. On a cold winter day, Wanda Dunn, a very old woman, is awakened from an afternoon nap within her dilapidated apartment.

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She sees movement through a space in a boarded window. A police officer is on the street outside the window. Suddenly, he sounds a whistle and a gunshot is heard. Alarmed, Wanda moves to her front door and peers though a small opening, careful to leave the chain lock fastened. The police officer is injured and lying feebly in the snow near her doorway. The young man tells her that his name is Harold Beldon and he needs help lest he should die.

The old woman is reluctant to help because she believes the injured man is not who he says he is. Confused and in pain, the man continues to beg for help until Wanda cannot bear his pleading any longer. She unlocks the door and moves slowly toward the injured man. She touches him tentatively. She pulls the injured man inside her apartment.

The old woman situates the policeman in a comfortable space and serves him tea. For many years she has remained within this apartment, never venturing out or letting anyone in for fear of coming into contact with Mr. When this old woman died shortly afterwards, it became clear that the young man who touched her was Mr.

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Wanda has been hiding from Mr. Death ever since. Again, there is movement from without the apartment followed by an urgent knocking at the door. The policeman encourages Wanda to answer the door. She reluctantly opens the door. Wanda resists, terrified at the prospect of leaving her apartment. The man forces his way into the apartment and knocks the old woman unconscious upon the floor. When Wanda awakens, she is lying upon her bed and the contractor is leaning over her with an expression of relief. He is holding her hand. Again, the old woman is amazed to still be alive after being touch by this stranger.

She has mistaken him for Mr. The city has condemned the dwelling and charged him with tearing it down. The policeman is Mr. Death and has tricked Wanda into bringing him into her home. Wanda is terrified at this revelation but Mr. He implores her to take his hand and make the journey to the afterlife. She does so reluctantly. Together they walk from the apartment. Object lesson for the more frightened amongst us, in or out of the Twilight Zone. Commentary: I. It stands in the absolute first rank of the series. The simplicity of both the concept and its execution work entirely in its favor.

The Twilight Zone often presented character-based fantasies that focused on story and performance and thus required little in the way of setting or design at least in the way these things are noticed by the average viewer , presenting the viewer with essentially a filmed stage play, harkening back to the earlier days of the medium and the Golden Age of live television drama, an area in which many of the major creators on the show got their starts.

After the departure of director Douglas Heyes from the series, Lamont Johnson stepped in as a director who could lend a distinctive stylistic touch to his episodes and one who fundamentally understood the versatility inherent in the advances in television cinematography. Of course, accomplished cinematographer George T. The camerawork here is marred only once by a fairly obvious jump cut to achieve the effect of Mr.

There is also the obvious symbolism in the character of the building contractor, brought to life by a fine performance from veteran character actor R. She pushes this away as though opening a door when she is awakened by noise in the street. Later, when she awakens from the fall caused by the building contractor, Lamont Johnson chooses to film Gladys Cooper clutching the iron bars of a bed frame, giving the distinct impression of an imprisoned person see photo in summary section above.

Death is also interesting. He chooses to follow the two completely out of the apartment, up the tenement steps and along the street until they disappear from the frame. He specifically desired Gladys Cooper for the role of Wanda Dunn based on her long and varied career on the stage.

Cooper was a beauty of the London stage and of silent films since before the start of the First World War. She began appearing on Broadway by the 's and moved gracefully into middle and late age in a variety of film and television roles, amassing three Academy Award nominations along the way for performances in Now, Voyager , The Song of Bernadette , and My Fair Lady Cooper would appear twice more on the series and was always exceptional in her performances.

Cooper also had the fortune of working with the three principle writers of the show not named Rod Serling. There was, however, some reluctance when Cooper, a highly refined British actress, was cast in the role of the poverty-stricken Wanda Dunn, many believing the actress would struggle to bring herself low enough to achieve verisimilitude in the performance.

Though Cooper had to work with Lamont Johnson during pre-production in order to achieve the most effective accent and manner, she eventually hit upon a flawless method of bringing Wanda Dunn to life as a once highly refined and beautiful woman brought low by old age and an incapacitating fear of death. The moment in which Wanda remembers the beauty of her youth and passes her aged hand through a band of sunlight upon the floor remains one of the more poignant moments from the series.

Lamont Johnson was also involved in the selection of Robert Redford as the young policeman Harold Beldon. Redford has, of course, gone on to a highly successful career as both an actor and director but was still working his way up the acting ranks via character work at the time of filming this episode.

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Redford is essentially performing as the human form of an elemental being and can hardly be expected to turn in a highly charged or emotional performance. This would be highly out of character, especially for so melancholy a character as Death. Although the setup of the story is fundamentally the same, with Harry Beldon shot by a hoodlum and seeking help at the door of Wanda Bloor, the rest of the story differs considerably.

Wanda takes him into her home and promises to shield him from Mr. Three characters come knocking at the door in succession, a worker from the gas company, a real estate agent, and another police officer. To Wanda, all three men look exactly the same, justifying her fears that it is Mr. Death trying to get inside to get at her and Beldon.

Beldon, sensing Wanda's madness, calls out to the police officer, who pushes his way inside, inadvertently sending Wanda reeling backwards to avoid his touch. Wanda falls through a hole in the floor of her dilapidated apartment and dies. All three of the men who came knocking at the door are then shown to look completely different. The similarity in their appearances was all in Wanda's fractured mind. The story ends with Beldon seeing the driver of the hearse who has come to take Wanda's remains away. The hearse driver has the same face as seen on the three men through Wanda's eyes.

It ends: "Beldon peers at him uncertainly. George Clayton Johnson, like his Twilight Zone co-writers Charles Beaumont and Richard Matheson, was mentored to some degree by Bradbury while in the early stages of his professional career.

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Johnson clearly idolized Bradbury, going so far as to tell author Matthew R. When asked about the relationship of "Nothing in the Dark" to Bradbury's "Death and the Maiden," Johnson stated: "It's a perfect Bradbury forgery, too, when you stop to think. He has not lied to her, he's been very sincere and hasn't used any tricky language to get her to do it. So, you can see that the idea of Death as an innocent person, which is the soul of that story, has got its roots in Bradbury, and I freely admit it.

She immediately recognizes the young man as Death and the young man soon acknowledges this as well, claiming that the green liquid contained in the vial is the essence of Old Mam's life at eighteen years old. Death appeals to the vanity of her younger self, when she was a beautiful, energetic woman using her real name, Clarinda. Death offers her a glimpse of her lost youth.

Henry Slesar (1927–2002)

He tempts her to taste of the green liquid and promises her twenty-four hours as herself at eighteen years old in exchange for an eternity in the afterlife. This darkly comedic and highly entertaining story concerns a woman who is unwilling to proceed to the afterlife after dying. She is tricked by an ever-patient Death and must doggedly pursue her physical remains before an autopsy is performed. After hounding the mortician, the old woman interrupts her own autopsy and is allowed to reenter her physical body.

The Best of Henry Slesar's Alfred Hitchcock Stories

The story ends with her proudly displaying her autopsy scars. The story is far different in tone from either of the later tales as it was written at the height of that wonderful s period in which Bradbury was firmly committed to crafting his unique style of weird tale, a style of story that would be highly influential to William M. The adaptation is by M. Elliott and is one of the finest offerings of the series. It includes an interesting opening sequence in which Wanda suffers a recurring nightmare where she is lost outside in an unfamiliar place.

There, she meets a man who soon reveals himself to be a terrifying incarnation of Death. Friday, November 11, Veterans Day.


To all the brave men and women who have served to protect: Thank you for your service. Labels: Lists , Veterans Day. Tuesday, November 8, "A Quality of Mercy".

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