Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Book Review: Perchance to Dream: Selected Stories, by Charles Beaumont

Cover illustration by William Sweeney

Perchance to Dream: Selected Stories
by Charles Beaumont
Edited by Sam Raim
Penguin Classics, 2015

Last October, Twilight Zone writer Charles Beaumont was introduced into the hallowed ranks of the Penguin Classics book series with a selection of his short stories titled Perchance to Dream. The release was one of three books (along with Beaumont colleague Ray Russell’s 1962 novel The Case Against Satan and an omnibus of Thomas Ligotti’s first two short fiction collections, Songs of a Dead Dreamer (1985) and Grimscribe (1991)) that signaled a relatively recent open-mindedness toward horror and dark fantasy fiction from the esteemed book publisher (in 2013, Penguin Classics launched the six book series Penguin Horror, publishing the likes of Shirley Jackson, Ray Russell, and H.P. Lovecraft under the direction of editors Guillermo del Toro and S.T. Joshi). The book’s title is taken from of one of Beaumont’s better known short stories, a 1958 story originally published in Playboy which he later adapted into an excellent first season episode of The Twilight Zone, starring Richard Conte and John Larch, and directed by Robert Florey.

Beaumont’s inclusion in this revered series of books, which Penguin began in 1946, should not be underestimated, especially considering Beaumont is a writer largely relegated to aficionados of speculative fiction. Beaumont’s early death (age 38) and his relatively small body of work would likely be further mired in obscurity had it not been for his involvement with an enduring property like The Twilight Zone. Perchance to Dream includes a foreword by Beaumont’s literary mentor Ray Bradbury, “Beaumont Remembered,” which originally appeared in the 1982 retrospective Best of Beaumont from Bantam Books; the second such book, after 1965’s The Magic Man and Other Science-Fantasy Stories, to which Bradbury lends an essay in an effort to expose Beaumont to a wider audience. Perchance to Dream also includes an afterword by William Shatner, the star of director Roger Corman’s 1962 adaptation of Beaumont’s 1959 novel The Intruder, a film in which Beaumont played a central role and also featured appearances from Beaumont’s friends George Clayton Johnson, William F. Nolan, and OCee Ritch, two of whom (Johnson and Ritch) would write for The Twilight Zone.  

The book’s highly appealing cover is the work of commercial artist and designer William Sweeney. Sweeney’s colorful and surrealistic illustration of a frightened couple driving a vintage automobile through a hellish landscape was an attempt to capture the atmosphere of Beaumont’s work, described by Sweeney as having “a garish, comic book-like quality,” rather than illustrating any one particular story, though Sweeney did also consider using an image created from Beaumont’s story “The Jungle” of a man looking out from a balcony over a futuristic city. Sweeney, along with Art Director Colin Webber and Creative Director Paul Buckley, ultimately decided that this image “didn’t pack the punch of the ghost-train type journey through a land populated by various monsters from the stories.” Sweeney’s creative model was the work of prolific commercial illustrator Virgil Finley, who provided much of his finest work during the height of the pulp era in the 1930s and 1940s for magazines such as Famous Fantastic Mysteries and Weird Tales. Finley’s influence can be seen in the imaginative design of the monstrous beings and in the evocation of the pulp era.  

The content within the book is perhaps the most puzzling and frustrating aspect of this wonderful opportunity to expose Beaumont’s work to a wider readership. The story selection is presumably an attempt to cover the widest possible range of Beaumont’s fiction, which is not necessarily a poor approach to take on such a project if the book is not intended, as Perchance to Dream clearly is, to be a collection representative of Beaumont’s finest work (if this is in fact not the intention, one wonders why an editor would not choose an author's best work for inclusion in a "classics" line). Due to this approach, Perchance to Dream includes much of Beaumont’s quality work and nearly as much Beaumont work that is not of the same high quality. The most frustrating aspect of the selection is that several of Beaumont’s finest short stories are left out in favor of lesser works. Meaning that, unless this is volume one in a proposed series of Beaumont collections, readers will have to search elsewhere for such acknowledged Beaumont masterpieces as “Miss Gentilbelle” (Beaumont’s harrowing autobiographical story of the child abuse he suffered at the hands of his mother), “The Hunger,” “Black Country” (perhaps Beaumont’s defining masterpiece), and “Mourning Song,” an ironic dark fantasy published late in Beaumont’s career which would have made a supremely weird episode of The Twilight Zone. Due primarily to the exclusion of these stories, Roger Anker’s 1988 retrospective, Charles Beaumont: Selected Stories (Dark Harvest; reprinted in paperback by Tor Books as The Howling Man), remains the definitive Beaumont collection. Anker’s book also includes essays from several of Beaumont’s colleagues as well as Anker’s own introductory essay, which remains the most detailed Beaumont biography currently available. Instead of the stories listed above, Penguin decided to include such underwhelming fare as “Sorcerer’s Moon,” “Father, Dear Father,” “Blood Brother,” “The Monster Show,” “The Music of the Yellow Brass,” and “The New Sound.”

Seven stories are included which were later adapted by Beaumont (and in one instance by Beaumont’s friend John Tomerlin) for The Twilight Zone. These are: “The Howling Man,” “The Jungle,” “Perchance to Dream,” “In His Image,” “The Beautiful People” (adapted by Tomerlin as “Number Twelve Looks Just Like You”), “Song for a Lady” (adapted as “Passage on the Lady Anne”), and “Traumerei (adapted as “Shadow Play”). It is unfortunate that the book does not also include the Beaumont stories “The Devil, You Say?” (Beaumont’s first professionally published story, adapted for The Twilight Zone as “Printer’s Devil”), “Elegy” (adapted for the first season of the series), and “Gentlemen, Be Seated” (adapted for The Twilight Zone by Beaumont but scrapped by fifth season producer William Froug), if only to include all of Beaumont’s Twilight Zone material under one cover, to say nothing of the quality of the three missing stories.

Other exceptional stories included in Perchance to Dream are: “Place of Meeting” (a short-short story with a wonderful twist ending), “Free Dirt” (a bizarre horror story of supernatural justice), “Last Rites” (an ambitious science fiction story about religion), “The New People” (a prescient shocker about domestic terrorists in a middle-class neighborhood), and “A Death in the Country” (a pitch-dark thriller concerning one of Beaumont’s favorite pastimes, auto racing).

It is wonderful and refreshing to find Charles Beaumont in the Penguin Classics series, and though the book is somewhat flawed due to the uneven selection of stories, it is hoped that intrepid readers will use Perchance to Dream as a signpost to Beaumont’s other written works, many of which are being brought back into print in handsome paperback editions by the Richmond, Virginia based Valancourt Books, a publisher with a vested interest in resurrecting obscure or neglected works of horror and the supernatural.

Grateful acknowledgement is made to Classic Penguin: Cover to Cover, A Visual Celebration of Penguin Classics edited by Paul Buckley, Creative Director of Penguin Classics (Penguin Random House, 2016) for information and quotes on William Sweeney’s cover illustration for Perchance to Dream. I highly recommend this visual journey through the trend-setting book design of the Penguin Classics series. The book focuses on the last decade of the Penguin Classics series when Creative Director Paul Buckley greatly widened the scope of design on the prestigious line of books. The book includes many image details and rough drafts of the book covers (including two rough drafts for William Sweeney’s illustration for Perchance to Dream) as well as essays and observations from the artists themselves, many of which divulge the creative process of creating the book cover. It is a book lover’s delight.


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

"Five Characters in Search of an Exit"

Five lost characters searching for a way back
to their own stories
“Five Characters in Search of an Exit”
Season Three, Episode 79
Original Air Date: December 22, 1961

Major: William Windom
Ballerina: Susan Harrison
Clown: Murray Matheson
Tramp: Kelton Garwood
Bagpiper: Clark Allen
Woman with Bell: Carol Hill
Girl: Mona Houghton

Writer: Rod Serling (teleplay based on the story “The Depository” by Marvin Petal)
Director: Lamont Johnson
Producer: Buck Houghton
Production Manager: Ralph W. Nelson
Director of Photography: George T. Clemens
Art Direction: George W. Davis, Phil Barber
Set Direction: H. Web Arrowsmith
Make Up: William Tuttle
Assistant Director: E. Darrell Halenbeck
Editor: Bill Mosher
Story Consultant: Richard McDonagh
Sound: Franklin Milton, Bill Edmondson
Casting: Stamaster-Lister
Music: Stock

And Now, Mr. Serling:
“Next week on the Twilight Zone, you’ll find yourself inexplicably entangled in this dark dungeon. You’ll meet an incredible group of people who, like you, will be quite unable to explain how they got there, why they got there, or how they’re going to get out. And at the end, we’re going to belt you with one of the most surprising endings we’ve ever had. Next week, “Five Characters in Search of an Exit,” on the Twilight Zone.”

Rod Serling’s Opening Narration:
“Clown, Hobo, Ballet Dancer, Bagpiper, and an Army Major. A collection of question marks. Five improbable entities stuck together into a pit of darkness. No logic. No reason. No explanation. Just a prolonged nightmare in which fear, loneliness, and the unexplainable walk hand-in-hand through the shadows. In a moment we’ll start collecting clues as to the why’s, the what’s, and the where’s. We will not end the nightmare we’ll only explain it. Because this…is the Twilight Zone.”

            A man awakens in a dark room, unsure of how he got there. He wears a military uniform. United States Army. Rank: Major. The room is small and circular and the top is exposed to the air. With him in the room are a clown, a tramp, a Scottish bagpiper, and a ballerina. None of them can recall how they arrived in the room, although they have all been there much longer than the major. Every now and then, a loud ringing shakes the room and knocks them to the ground.           
            The major is determined to find a way out. First, he tries to break through the wall. Then he attempts to dig a tunnel in the ground. Finally, he suggests that he and his roommates form a human ladder against the wall. The clown is opposed to the plan because it is dangerous but he is eventually persuaded. They form a ladder by standing on each other’s shoulders. The ballerina goes last. When she gets to the top she finds that her hands cannot quite reach the top of the cylinder. A bell rings violently and sends the five strangers tumbling to the ground. As a result the ballerina injures her leg. The major insists that they try it again, this time fashioning a rope from their clothes and tying it to the end of a sword. They form another ladder without the injured ballerina. The major goes last this time. When he gets to the top of the ladder he swings the rope over the top of the cylinder and hooks it onto the ledge. He pulls himself up and makes it out of the cylinder. Before he has a chance to tell the others what he sees he plummets to the ground below.
          City sidewalk. Winter.
A young girl finds an army doll lying on the ground covered in snow. She picks it up and hands it to a woman ringing a bell next to a box marked 17th Annual Christmas Doll Drive. The woman tells her to put it back inside the bin.
            Back in the place at the bottom of the barrel, five lonely people attempt to find comfort in the fact that, at least for now, they have each other.

Rod Serling’s Closing Narration:
“Just a barrel, a dark depository where are kept the counterfeit, make-believe pieces of plaster and cloth wrought in the distorted image of human life. But this added hopeful note: perhaps they are unloved only for the moment. In the arms of children there can be nothing but love. A clown, a tramp, a bagpipe player, a ballet dancer, and a major. Tonight’s cast of players on the odd stage known as the Twilight Zone.”


           Episode 79 of The Twilight Zone is one of the most memorable the show would ever produce. It’s also one of the best. It’s a premise that revolves almost exclusively around its twist ending and in the hands of lesser storytellers it could have been mediocre and predictable. It is to Rod Serling and Buck Houghton’s credit that they saw in writer Marvin Petal’s five page story more than just a simple plot twist to be stretched into a 25 minute teleplay. Instead, they saw a clever idea with interesting characters and a generous amount of screen time in which to develop them. The result is a weird, existential film that manages to be emotionally compelling and philosophically hopeless at the same time.
            “Five Characters in Search of an Exit” is Serling’s adaptation of Marvin Petal’s (1929 – 2013) unpublished short story “The Depository.” Petal was a successful journalist who wrote for The Los Angeles Herald Examiner and later worked for former news conglomerate McGraw-Hill World News throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s. He began his career at television station KTLA in Los Angeles where he wrote scripts for local sports programs, court procedurals, and legal documentaries. He met Serling at a political rally held at the home of actor Robert Ryan in 1960. Anticipating that Serling would be there, Petal brought along a five page story he had written called “The Depository” with the hope that he could convince Serling to buy it for The Twilight Zone. Serling seemed interested enough and suggested that he submit it to Buck Houghton for consideration. Houghton saw the potential and promptly purchased the story.
            One of Serling’s strongest attributes as a writer was his eye for adaptation. Many of his best episodes were either adapted from the works of others or inspired by true events, although he did write a number of original teleplays that were brilliant. Serling had always possessed a knack for adaptation even in his days as a writer for live television—his 1957 adaptation of Ernest Lehman’s story “The Comedian” for Playhouse 90 earned him an Emmy Award—but on The Twilight Zone he began to rely on existing source material more and more. This is likely due to his contractual obligation to write 80 percent of the teleplays for the first three seasons. However, this proved to be beneficial and many of his adaptations are among the best episodes of the show. “The Depository” has never been published so no comparison can be drawn between the two versions. According to Petal, other than the omission of a minor character, Serling remained relatively faithful to the original story. Given the short length of Petal’s story, it can be assumed that most of the dialogue was added by Serling. Dialogue was always Serling’s greatest strength as a writer and it has never been more apparent than in this episode. His words are crisp and clever and overflowing with emotion.
            The title is a reference to Luigi Pirandello’s play Six Characters in Search of an Author, first performed in Rome in 1921. The play tells the story of a family of six who interrupt rehearsals for a play written by Pirandello. The group claims to be Pirandello’s unfinished characters and they need to find him in order to be complete. The director agrees to let them stay and rehearse with the actors. The six newcomers immediately begin to argue with each other and with the rest of the cast and crew for no apparent reason. It is revealed that their family history is one of deceit, adultery, and a multitude of morally questionable offenses. The play ends with one of the children committing suicide on stage and another drowning in a fountain. The remaining characters exit the stage leaving the cast and crew to process the day’s events.
Although “Five Characters in Search of an Exit” bears little resemblance to the experimental and highly explicit play from which it takes its name, the reference to Pirandello is almost certainly deliberate. Luigi Pirandello is largely considered the major predecessor to the movement in European drama prevalent during the mid-twentieth century known as the Theatre of the Absurd. The movement was born out of Elizabethan tragi-comedy and was heavily influenced by existentialism, particularly the darker themes of Franz Kafka and Albert Camus. It was also influenced by the devastation of war witnessed throughout Europe during the first half of the century. Authors associated with the Theatre of the Absurd stress a deterioration of the human condition and a breakdown in communication in modern society. Their works usually avoid a traditional plot structure and conflicts are seldom resolved. The dialogue is repetitive and characters often babble back and forth at one another without moving the conversation forward. Characters usually find themselves trapped in situations they cannot control or understand. Vaudeville was also a significant inspiration. Authors juxtapose satire and farce with hopelessness and despair to emphasize a pessimistic view of humanity. Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter, and Edward Albee are all closely associated with the Theatre of the Absurd. Beckett’s Waiting for Godot (1953), a play practically devoid of plot in which two men wait aimlessly for a person named Godot who never appears, is considered the masterpiece of the genre.
            If Serling was influenced by writers like Pirandello then it seems obvious that The Twilight Zone also carries that influence to a certain degree. An ordinary episode of the show commonly features a character, or characters, inexplicably thrust into an unfamiliar and sometimes hostile environment which they cannot control and often cannot share with anyone else. Serling’s ambition as a writer was to point out society’s flaws much like the works commonly placed under the umbrella of the Theatre of the Absurd. But Serling’s work is rooted more in honesty and realism which sets it apart from his European contemporaries.
“Five Characters in Search of an Exit” is perhaps the closest the show ever came to this type of drama. The story begins without explanation, forcing the characters and the audience to immediately begin evaluating the situation. The characters are archetypal, a trait common to absurdist plays. The atmosphere is bleak but features totally absurd characteristics like bagpipe melodies and ballet dancing which give it a highly unsettling quality. It also deals with identity crisis, probably the most common recurring theme on the show, but features two distinct sides of the dilemma. The four initial characters have presumably gone through stages of anger, confusion, and denial repeatedly for an undisclosed amount of time and have come to accept their reality. But for the Major the situation is new and the nihilistic attitudes of his cellmates are appalling. His despair is only highlighted by the Clown’s mockery of him. When he is placed back into the barrel at the end of the episode, having been exposed to the truth, one can assume that he too will now accept his fate and as more dolls arrive the process will be repeated over and over again. This episode also owes a debt to the works of Kafka and Jean-Paul Sartre, whose play No Exit (1944) features a similar plot in which three characters are trapped in a room for all of eternity.
What makes this such a remarkable episode is that every element is perfectly measured and executed. It is such a delicate plot that if any of the forces at work here were to falter then the entire episode would collapse. The audience is presented with a mystery as soon as the story begins so their attention is immediately drawn to its solution. But Serling’s dialogue is so engaging and the performances of the actors so compelling that the audience is distracted just long enough for the plot to unfold naturally. If the episode had been any longer or if any of the characters had been weak or uninteresting then this would not have worked and the audience would have solved the mystery prematurely.
            Director Lamont Johnson (1922 – 2010) proves himself an invaluable contributor to the show with this episode, which he considers his favorite of the eight he directed. Johnson was no stranger to the Theatre of the Absurd and had recently directed a string of Samuel Beckett plays for the UCLA theatre department. He plays into the bizarre nature of the story very well particularly at the beginning when the Major first meets the four other characters. Both the set and the plot are sparse so he has almost the entire episode to experiment with the camera. He makes great use of high contrast lighting, letting the shadows set the tone of the story. There is also an impressive low-angle shot of William Windom as he attempts to dig a tunnel in the ground. There were two barrels used while filming the episode, a vertical one used for the dialogue scenes and a horizontal one that could be tilted allowing the actors to stand on top of one another safely. The circular shape of the barrel proved to be a hassle for director of photography George T. Clemens as it made the scenes difficult to light. This is another reason for all the shadows. Johnson was nominated for eleven Primetime Emmy Awards during his career as a director, winning two for the films Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story (1985) and Lincoln (1988).
           The closing shot of the dolls is not a shot of the actors but of life-size mannequins made in their image. Before shooting began a cast was made of each actor’s face so their replica would look as realistic as possible. Although Tuttle gets the on-screen credit the masks were mostly designed by long-time friend and make-up legend Charles Schram (1911 – 2008), who constructed similar masks for season one’s “The After-Hours.”
            The performances of the three leading actors are all remarkable. Each is so effective in their roles it is hard to imagine anyone else playing them. Although their on-screen chemistry is totally believable, according to actor William Windom there was friction between himself and actress Susan Harrison (b. 1938) over who would receive top billing. At the time, Harrison was actually the bigger name, having landed leading roles in the 1957 film-noir The Sweet Smell of Success and the 1960 crime thriller Key Witness. She had also appeared on Bonanza and Alfred Hitchcock Presents—in Robert Bloch’s “The Gloating Place”—and had a successful stage career. Windom, who is clearly the lead, claims the two argued throughout the filming of the episode—a fight he apparently lost for Harrison indeed gets top billing. Ironically, she retired from acting not long after appearing in this episode.
            William Windom (1923 – 2012) began his career at the dawn of television in New York City. After spending a decade appearing in live dramas he moved to Hollywood to pursue a film career. This episode was one of the first jobs he was offered after he moved to California. Windom was at his best when playing likable characters in a state of panic or disillusionment such as his Army Major. He had an empathetic quality that allowed him to connect with audiences no matter how frantic the character. Windom would return to the show during season four in the Charles Beaumont classic “Miniature.” His other notable television appearances include the Star Trek episode “The Doomsday Machine” and two episodes of Night Gallery including Serling’s poignant season one finale “They’re Tearing Down Tim Riley’s Bar” which was the only episode of the show ever nominated for an Emmy Award. He starred alongside fellow Twilight Zone alumni Inger Stevens for three seasons in the ABC sitcom The Farmer’s Daughter (1963 – 1966) and won an Emmy for his role in the NBC series My World and Welcome to It (1969 – 1970). In 1962 he played the District Attorney in To Kill a Mockingbird. And in 1971 he played the President of the United States in Escape from the Planet of the Apes.

           If this episode has a hero then it is unquestionably Murray Matheson (1912 – 1985) who gives one of the best performances in the show’s history. Much like Shakespearean clowns, Matheson’s clown is witty and sarcastic but doesn’t hesitate to point out the reality of their situation. Serling gives him some of his wittiest dialogue and Matheson delivers it flawlessly every time. Matheson was an Australian stage actor who moved to the states after World War II. He made a decent career for himself in television but is mostly remembered for his performance in this episode. In 1983 he appeared in Twilight Zone: The Movie as Mr. Agee in the Steven Spielberg remake of “Kick of the Can,” originally directed by Lamont Johnson.
            Kelton Garwood (1928 – 1991) gives a reserved but solid performance here as the Hobo and his dazed expression and slowed mannerisms are completely convincing. A theatrically trained actor, Garwood had a limited career in Hollywood appearing mostly in westerns. Mona Houghton, the little girl who picks up the doll at the end of the episode, was Buck Houghton’s daughter.
            While many critics have expressed their distaste at the twist ending—which could seem a bit cheap after such a philosophically heavy set-up—and others have accused it of being a recycled version of Serling’s “The After Hours” from season one—which in some ways it is—“Five Characters is Search of an Exit” has still managed to become one of the most recognizable episodes of the show. Both CBS and the producers deserve credit for putting something so strange and original on television in 1961. It’s a weird, dark story, which doesn’t really have a happy ending, that the producers chose to run as the season’s Christmas episode. Its existential ramblings about Hell and the meaning of life no doubt puzzled viewers who expected a repeat of the previous season’s Christmas tale “Night of the Meek.” This episode was a bold choice for the show but it proved to be worth the risk. It's as effective today as it was in 1961 and has justly earned its place in the archives of popular culture.

Grade: A

Grateful acknowledgment is made to the following:

The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic by Martin Grams, Jr. (OTR Publishing, 2008)

The Twilight Zone Companion, Second Edition by Marc Scott Zicree (Silman-James Press, 1992)

The Twilight Zone Definitive Edition DVD, Season Three (Image Entertainment, 2004)
--Lamont Johnson audio interview with Marc Scott Zicree
--William Windom audio commentary for “Five Characters in Search of an Exit”

--William Windom also appeared in the season four episode “Miniature.” In 1971 he appeared in Serling’s Emmy-nominated “They’re Tearing Down Tim Riley’s Bar” for the finale of the first season of Night Gallery. The following year he appeared in the finale for season two in the segment “Little Girl Lost.”
--Murray Matheson also appeared in the third and final season of Night Gallery in the segment "The Doll of Death." In 1983 he played Mr.Agee in Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983) in Steven Spielberg’s remake of writer George Clayton Johnson’s “Kick the Can.” It was one of his final performances. He died in 1985 at the age of 72.
--Lamont Johnson directed eight episodes of the show including the fan favorites “Nothing in the Dark” and “Kick the Can.” In 2000, at the request of producer J. J. Abrams, Johnson directed an episode of the television series Felicity called “Help for the Lovelorn” for the show’s second season. The episode is Abrams’ love letter to The Twilight Zone and was filmed in black and white and features stock music from the show. There are Easter eggs hidden throughout the episode and the plot is a loose combination of the plots of “Five Characters…” and season one’s “The Chaser.” It was Johnson’s last work as a director.
--Listen to the Twilight Zone Radio Drama starring Jason Alexander.

--Brian Durant

Monday, September 12, 2016

"Once Upon a Time"

Mr. Woodrow Mulligan (Buster Keaton), having a bad day.

“Once Upon a Time”
Season Three, Episode 78
Original Air Date: December 15, 1961

Woodrow Mulligan: Buster Keaton
Rollo: Stanley Adams
Repair Man: Jesse White
Professor Gilbert: Milton Parsons
Clothing Store Manager: Warren Parker
Policeman 1890: Gil Lamb
Policeman 1962: James Flavin
2nd Policeman 1962: Harry Fleer
Fenwick: George E. Stone
Boy on Skates: Jim Crevoy
Utility Truck Driver: Bob McCord

Writer: Richard Matheson (original teleplay)
Director: Norman Z. McLeod (additional scene directed by Leslie Goodwins; uncredited)
Producer: Buck Houghton
Production Manager: Ralph W. Nelson
Director of Photography: George T. Clemens
Art Direction: George W. Davis, Phil Barber
Set Direction: Phil Barber, H. Web Arrowsmith
Assistant Director: E. Darrell Hallenbeck
Editor: Jason H. Bernie
Story Consultant: Richard McDonagh
Sound: Franklin Milton, Bill Edmondson
Casting: Stalmaster-Lister
Music: Original composition by William Lava, performed by Ray Turner

And Now, Mr. Serling:
“Next week on the Twilight Zone, we bring to the television cameras a most unique gentleman, whose own very special brand of clown-ship has long ago become a milestone in American humor. Mr. Buster Keaton appears in ‘Once Upon a Time,’ a script written especially for him by Richard Matheson. This one is wild, woolly, and most unpredictable. On the Twilight Zone next week, Mr. Buster Keaton in ‘Once Upon a Time.’

Rod Serling’s Opening Narration:
“Mr. Mulligan, a rather dour critique of his times, is shortly to discover the import of that old phrase ‘out of the frying pan, into the fire,’ said fire burning brightly at all times, in the Twilight Zone.”

            1890. Mr. Woodrow Mulligan is easily irritated. He thinks the world is loud and fast and expensive. He arrives to work one day after falling head-first into a horse trough and overhears his boss, a scientist, boasting about his greatest invention: a helmet that will allow a person to travel to any time they choose—for thirty minutes. They walk into another room to celebrate, leaving the helmet unattended. Mr. Mulligan grabs the oversized helmet and straps it on. Any time will be better than this one, he surmises. The helmet begins to pulsate and sparks explode from its sides. Mulligan races into the street with the helmet still upon his head, hysterical.
            Moments later he is in another world, surrounded by loud, obnoxious noises. It is 1962. A passing truck knocks the helmet from his head. It is picked up by a boy on roller skates. Mulligan chases the boy. The boy skates into a man reading a book and drops the helmet. Moments later, Mulligan crashes a bicycle into the man reading the book and picks the helmet up. But the helmet is broken. Devastated, he looks at his watch. Only fifteen minutes to get back to 1890.
           The man with the book enquires about the helmet. Mulligan explains that it’s a time machine and that he is from the year 1890. The man, an electrical engineer named Rollo, suggests they take it to a nearby repair shop. By the time the helmet is fixed, Mulligan has only minutes to return to 1890 or be stuck in 1962. But to his horror, Rollo grabs the helmet from him and says that he will be the one going to 1890. Mulligan chases him for several minutes and finally catches him just as his thirty minutes are up. He clutches onto Rollo’s coat and they are transported to 1890.
            Days later, Mulligan strolls calmly into work. Life doesn’t seem so dreary now and things don’t bother him as much. When he arrives he finds Rollo in a disgruntled state. 1890 isn’t as nice as he imagined it would be. Nothing is electronic. How can he build machines? Mulligan quietly slips the time helmet onto the angry man’s head and watches him disappear.

Rod Serling’s Closing Narration:
“’To each his own.’ So goes another old phrase to which Mr. Woodrow Mulligan would heartedly subscribe, for he has learned, definitely the hard way, that there is much wisdom in a third old phrase which goes as follows: ‘stay in your own backyard.’ To which it might be added: ‘and if possible assist others to stay in theirs,’ via, of course, the Twilight Zone.”


Part I: Script vs. Episode

            Richard Matheson’s “Once Upon a Time” is an oddball of an episode unlike any the show ever produced. Today this episode seems like an incredibly strange choice for the show and many fans are very critical of it. While it is an odd choice, The Twilight Zone was a show that frequently took risks and tried new things. The first season of the show produced an episode featuring one of the first all-black casts to appear on American television (Serling’s “The Big Tall Wish”). Season Two featured an episode with virtually no dialogue (Matheson’s “The Invaders”) and another in which the audience can’t see any of the characters’ faces for almost twenty minutes (Serling’s “Eye of the Beholder”). And the third season had already produced two episodes featuring thinly-veiled depictions of controversial political figures (Serling’s “The Mirror” and “Deaths-Head Revisited”). So the idea of making an imitation silent film was just another way for the show to push its creative boundaries.
            This is the first of three episodes that Matheson wrote for Season Three. Unfortunately, this season would prove to be his weakest with none of his episodes being particularly memorable. His best effort during Season Three, “Little Girl Lost,” marked the first time Matheson adapted his own material for the show, something he avoided doing during the previous seasons. His other original teleplay for this season, “Young Man’s Fancy,” is a modern ghost story with a clever twist but its charm doesn’t survive long after the first viewing. “Once Upon a Time” is an atypical episode for both the show and for Matheson who, at this point in his career, was not known as a comedy writer—although this was actually his second comedy for the show, the first being the lighthearted Season One finale “A World of His Own” in which he wrote Serling into the final scene as a gag. These two episodes stand in sharp contrast to his novels and short stories of the time which were unapologetically bleak. Although he didn’t write another comedy for the show, possibly due to his dissatisfaction with this episode, he would go on to write a string of successful horror-comedies for director Roger Corman based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe.
Matheson wrote this episode especially for Buster Keaton after meeting the film legend through writer William R. Cox. The two were invited over to Keaton’s home several times and Matheson was won over by the aging comedian’s charm. So after asking Keaton if he was interested in appearing on the show and running the idea by Serling and Buck Houghton, Matheson wrote his teleplay. The script he sold to the producers, however, is noticeably different from the episode that aired. In Matheson’s original script the frenetic action rarely slows down. The entire script plays into Keaton’s personality and his abilities as a performer. The main difference comes during the second act after Mulligan arrives in 1962. Matheson’s script has Mulligan and Rollo enter a supermarket instead of a repair shop after the bicycle crash. The supermarket scene features two characters that do not appear in the episode: a clerk named Miss Blodgett and a store manager. Rollo enters the store in search of supplies to fix the helmet but after causing a commotion they are asked to leave. The manager alerts the police and another chase ensues. Rollo later repairs the helmet using spare television parts. The episode reverts back to Matheson’s script when Mulligan and Rollo are sent back to 1890.
Matheson’s script was apparently filmed as it was written in September of 1961. But after viewing the rough cut Serling, Houghton, and film editor Jason Bernie all felt that the action seemed a bit slow. As a solution Bernie suggested that they remove every third frame of the film to make the action jumpy and whimsical the way films looked before the advent of the standard film speed of 24 frames per second in 1926. This made the episode run much shorter than originally planned and it was decided that an additional scene was needed to meet the length. So Houghton scheduled a re-shoot in late October with Keaton, Adams, actor Jesse White, and director Leslie Goodwins. The supermarket scene was scrapped and the repair shop scene, featuring a completely new character not featured in Matheson’s script, took its place. It’s unclear who wrote the new scene, which has a substantial amount of dialogue, although it was presumably Serling.
Matheson was not thrilled with the result. His original script was interesting and would have certainly made for an entertaining episode. But the finished product is a solid episode and the repair shop sequence, with the witty back-and-forth banter between Keaton and Adams and White, is possibly its best scene.
Houghton brought director Norman Z. McLeod (1898 - 1964) out of retirement just for this episode. The veteran director had worked regularly with the Marx Brothers and W.C. Fields but had never worked with Keaton and jumped at the opportunity. McLeod started as an animator but made the switch to directing in the late 1920’s devoting his skills mostly to comedies. Among his three decades worth of credits are Monkey Business (1931), Horse Feathers (1932), Alice in Wonderland (1933), It’s a Gift (1934), Topper (1937), and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947). Unfortunately, this episode would be one of his last projects. He died in 1964 at the age of 65 after suffering a stroke. Leslie Goodwins (1899 - 1969) was also a veteran in the industry. He began his career making two-reel comedies in the 1930’s. Today he is mostly remembered for the Mexican Spitfire film series starring Leon Errol and Lupe Velez. He also directed The Mummy's Curse (1944) starring Lon Chaney, Jr.
Stanley Adams (1915 - 1977) does a terrific job in this episode and his whimsically pompous attitude is a great counterpart to Keaton’s bumbling time traveler. Adams was a prolific character actor probably best known among science fiction fans as the merchant trader in the Star Trek episode “The Trouble with Tribbles.” He also appears in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) and the 1962 film version of Serling’s Requiem for a Heavyweight.

Part II: Keaton, Chaplin, and the Birth of American Cinema:

            This episode is notable for several reasons. It’s a tribute not only to Buster Keaton but to the history of comedic cinema going all the way back to its vaudevillian roots. Comedy is one of the oldest genres in cinema’s history with documentaries being perhaps the only genre to precede it. Historians consider the 1895 short film L'Arroseur Arose, directed by film pioneer Louis Lumière, to be not only the first comedy in cinema’s history but the first film to use a fictional narrative. The plot of the 45 second film is thus: a gardener waters his plants with a hose, a young boy steps on the hose, the gardener looks into the end of the hose to investigate, the boy removes his foot from the hose, the gardener is sprayed in the face, the boy runs. It seems ridiculous that this short clip is such an important mark in cinema’s history but it does achieve the desired effect. It is still as amusing today as it was 100 years ago. It also established slapstick humor as a fail-safe brand of visual comedy that is used in films to this day.
            But humorous cinema can trace its roots even further back than this. In America in the late nineteenth century a distinct form of traveling variety theatre arose which, on any given night, could feature singers, dancers, jugglers, magicians, live animals, pantomime artists, clowns, ventriloquists, and comedians all on one bill. Vaudeville was flamboyant and exciting and its success was measured across economic borders. It was entertainment that was universally appreciated. When moving pictures arrived at the turn of the century vaudeville companies simply incorporated them into their lineup. The first films shown to the public in America were shown in vaudeville theatres and they were usually comedies. A great majority of the early comedy stars including Charlie Chaplin, Roscoe Fatty Arbuckle, W.C. Fields, Red Skelton, the Marx Brothers, and Oliver Hardy sharpened their skills as performers in vaudeville before making the jump to film. Keaton was born into a traveling vaudeville family and incorporated into their act—the Three Keatons—as soon as he could walk. Unfortunately, cinema would eventually be the death of vaudeville as film companies could offer higher wages and greater exposure for their artists. It was also generally cheaper for patrons. The 1920’s saw a sharp decline in the public’s enthusiasm for vaudeville and by the middle of the twentieth century it was a lost art.
            But in the wake of vaudeville’s decline the American comedy film was born. The two major players at the beginning of the story of silent comedies were producers Hal Roach and Mack Sennett. Between the two of them the comedy film became one of the country’s favorite past times. After working under D.W. Griffith at Biograph Studios in New York, Sennett founded Keystone Studios in California (far from the dictatorship of Thomas Edison's Motion Picture Patents Company) in 1912. Here he helped launch the careers of Fatty Arbuckle, Mabel Normand, W.C. Fields, Gloria Swanson, and Charlie Chaplin. Roach founded Hal Roach Studios in California in 1915. He was responsible for launching the film careers of Harold Lloyd, Will Rogers, Charlie Chase, and Laurel and Hardy. He also created the Our Gang film series which later became The Little Rascals. Although Keystone Studios arguably had the bigger impact on film history, it did not have the endurance that its competitor had. Sennett left the company in 1917 to start a new company with Paramount which eventually went bankrupt. The studio declined after his departure and closed its doors in 1935. Hal Roach Studios stayed active well into the dawn of television and produced successful films for both Norman Z. Mcleod and Leslie Goodwins.
            Silent comedies are held in such high regard today because they were innovative and pushed creative and political boundaries. Like vaudeville, they appealed to a versatile audience. Their slapstick humor appealed to children or to those who simply sought escapism in film. But behind the absurdity were filmmakers addressing poverty, racism, political reform, parental neglect, hypocrisy, and corruption. They used satire and absurdism to deal with real subjects and were not afraid to crucify celebrities and political figures. Their films were also among the most technically daring films of the time with elaborate visual effects and life-threatening stunt sequences.
Charlie Chaplin
1889 - 1977
           Along with Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd are usually cited as the most innovative of the silent comedy directors. All three men arrived in Hollywood around the same time and all three wrote, directed, and starred in their own films. Chaplin’s on-screen persona, known simply as “the Tramp,” became one of the most recognizable images in film history. Chaplin was one of the few Hollywood comedy stars who was not American. Born in England he first came to the states while touring with a London theatre company. He was invited to join Keystone Studios in 1913. He made a string of early short films with actress/writer/director Mabel Normand, one of comedy’s first female stars whose early death in 1930 at the age of 37 likely diminished her legacy. Chaplin went on to become one of the highest-paid entertainers in the world. In 1919 he co-founded United Artists with Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, and D. W. Griffith. He built his own studio on Sunset Boulevard and for a time was one of a select few in the history of Hollywood to enjoy complete creative freedom. He became increasingly concerned with the quality of his films. He was known for his perfectionism as a director and his production schedules ran much longer than those of his contemporaries, although his talent lay largely in his ability as a performer. He also began to address social issues in his work. The Kid (1919), his first major landmark, dealt with poverty and child abandonment. His 1936 film, Modern Times, dealt with Depression-era financial issues and the threats posed by industrialization. In The Great Dictator (1940) Chaplin took aim at Adolf Hitler at the height of the Nazi leader’s reign. Unlike most of his contemporaries, Chaplin managed to survive well into the age of sound simply because his brand of comedy was universally cherished by his audience. Instead of immediately making the switch to sound he continued to make silent films until the mid-1930’s and gradually incorporated sound into his movies. Unfortunately, Chaplin would face his own downfall in the 1940’s after a very public paternity suit between Chaplin and actress Joan Barry and an aggressive smear campaign backed by Federal Bureau of Investigation director J. Edgar Hoover who gravely disliked Chaplin’s leftist political leanings. Chaplin’s final American film, Limelight (1952), about an aging vaudeville comedian, was heavily autobiographical. It features cameos from Keaton and Lloyd and marks the only time he and Keaton appeared together on screen. After the London premiere of the film Chaplin’s entry visa was revoked and he was banned from re-entering the country, a victim of McCarthyism. He lived the remainder of his life in Europe and died in 1977. In 1972, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded him an Honorary Academy Award where he received a standing ovation.
Safety Last 
          Harold Lloyd (1893 - 1971), while not as recognizable today as Chaplin or Keaton, is often regarded as the third great innovator of silent comedy because of his thrilling stunt sequences and prolific output of material. Lloyd moved to California when he was still a boy and was one of the few comedy stars not to come from vaudeville. He became friends with Hal Roach and helped him launch Hal Roach Studios. Roach helped Lloyd develop his on-screen persona. At first his alter ego was directly modeled on Chaplin’s tramp character and had a mustache and wore a hat. He eventually settled on a more reserved look with horn-rimmed glasses and dapper suits which played into his physical attractiveness instead of hiding it. This gave his character a vulnerability that was unique. Lloyd’s alter ego was an everyman and was more emotionally relatable than Chaplin’s tramp character. His 1922 film Grandma’s Boy cemented this image by combining lighthearted physical gags with compelling character development, an innovative idea for its time. Lloyd is often remembered today for the thrilling stunt sequences in many of his films. In his best known film, Safety Last (1923), Lloyd famously dangles from the hands of a giant clock on the side of a skyscraper. Lloyd made the initial transition to talkies with little difficulty but by the end of the 1930’s his style of comedy no longer resonated with audiences. After a brief career in radio, he retired from the industry in the late 1940’s. One reason why his legacy is not as strong as Chaplin’s or Keaton’s is that Lloyd held the copyright on nearly all of his films and refused to license them for television. So during the resurgence of interest in the silent film era during the 1950’s, which revitalized Keaton’s career during the last years of his life, Lloyd’s films were largely unknown to younger audiences. After his death in 1971 his films were sold to Time-Life and made available to the public. Lloyd received an Honorary Academy Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences—an institution which he helped found—in 1953.
Arbuckle and Keaton
           Unlike most of his comedy contemporaries, Keaton did not get his start in film at either Hal Roach or Keystone Studios. Instead he came to work in Hollywood through his friendship with Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle (1887 - 1933). Arbuckle is a key figure in the history of American comedy because he played a key role in the careers of Keaton, Chaplin, Lloyd, and numerous others. He began his career under the direction of Mack Sennett at Keystone where he frequently appeared in films with Chaplin and Mabel Normand. He later started his own production company with Joseph M. Schenck called Comique. He met Keaton in 1917 and the two made 14 short films together. Their partnership could have continued but Arbuckle’s career was derailed in 1921 when the famously shy, lighthearted comedian was accused of raping and subsequently killing actress Virginia Rappe at a cocktail party at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. Arbuckle denied the accusations and several guests at the party came to his defense as did numerous celebrities including Keaton and Chaplin. The incident went to trial and Arbuckle was eventually acquitted. But his career never recovered. Many studio executives refused to produce his movies and banned their artists from working with him. Among the most outspoken proponents of Arbuckle’s demise were William Randolph Hearst and western actor/director William S. Hart. In 1922 Keaton made The Frozen North, a western spoof ghost-written by Arbuckle in the style of Hart’s films in which Hart is portrayed as a thief and a wife-beater.          
Once on his own, Keaton formed Buster Keaton Comedies as part of Joseph M. Shenck’s production company and began to write and direct his own films. From 1920 to 1923 Keaton made a string of highly successful short comedies including One Week (1920), The Playhouse (1921), The Boat (1921), and Cops (1922). His films were technically innovative from the very beginning. While Chaplin concentrated more on character development Keaton’s films were visually stunning for their time. The Playhouse features an inventive dream sequence in which Keaton plays every character and Cops features an elaborately orchestrated chase scene with hundreds of extras.
His on-screen character was a well-meaning nobody who commonly found himself in extraordinary situations. He bore a deadpan expression with large blank eyes gazing from underneath his signature pork pie hat—which he made himself—which earned him the nickname “The Great Stone Face.” His first feature length film was Three Ages in 1923. He followed this with a series of highly successful films including Our Hospitality (1923), Sherlock Jr. (1924), and Seven Chances (1925).
            In 1926 he made one of the most ambitious—and expensive—films in history. The General is a sprawling Civil War epic, inspired by the memoirs of William Pittenger, about the 1862 Union raid of a Confederate passenger train, an event commonly known as the Great Locomotive Chase. It was also inspired by D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation (1915). Keaton makes brilliant use of the camera in this film which features thousands of extras and highly elaborate stunts and visual effects that are still impressive today. At the end of the film Keaton famously blows up an actual bridge and locomotive. Today the film is considered his masterpiece but in 1926 it did poorly at the box office and got mixed reviews from critics. The Civil War was still a sore spot on America’s conscience and many did not appreciate Keaton’s slapstick version of it. It was an expensive flop and eventually cost Keaton his creative freedom.
            Keaton grew dissatisfied with Schenck and his distributer, United Artists, and moved to MGM, a decision he would later regret. His first film for MGM, The Cameraman (1928), did well but Keaton did not make the transition to sound smoothly and the studio soon stripped him of all of his creative authority. His decrease in popularity and brutal divorce from actress Natalie Talmadge left him penniless. In 1934, after being sacked from MGM and legally prohibited from seeing his children, Keaton filed for bankruptcy. He spent much of the next decade insatiably drunk and trying to earn a living as a gag writer and bit actor.
            Keaton eventually conquered his alcoholism, remarried, and experienced a renewed interest in his work during the 1950’s. He made cameos in several high profile films including Sunset Boulevard (1950), Around the World in 80 Days (1956), The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1960), and It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963). In 1957 director Sidney Sheldon made a film about his life called The Buster Keaton Story with Donald O’Conner playing Keaton (it’s considered highly inaccurate). He also made numerous appearances on television where his older films were finding a new audience. In 1960 he returned to the stage in the touring company of the musical Once Upon a Mattress. He received an Honorary Academy Award in 1959. One of his last film appearances was the 1966 musical comedy A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum in which Keaton, terminally-ill with lung cancer, performed many of his own stunts. He was invited to the Venice Film Festival in 1965 for a screening of his short film, Film, based on a screenplay by Samuel Beckett. After the screening was over he received a five minute standing ovation. He died in 1966 at the age of 70.
The era of the silent film is almost like an unrecognizable chapter in the story of film. It is considerably different than anything that came after it. The films look different. They feel different. And watching them requires different muscles than the ones we are accustomed to. Hollywood was different. There were genres that were widely successful that no longer exist. There were actors and directors and studios that were once instantly recognizable, but are now completely unknown to a modern audience. The advent of sound affected the industry in different ways, some positive and some not. There are those who had been drifting along during the silent era, mildly successful, who found success during the sound era because it better suited their abilities. There are a few, like Chaplin, who were lucky enough to keep doing exactly what they doing before with little misery. But for many, like Keaton and Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, the world simply vanished almost overnight. New genres like animation and musicals took the place of physical comedy and swordplay. As it happened, talkies arrived at the dawn of the Hollywood studio system and the establishment of the five major studios who would reign until the 1950’s. This made a comeback career all the more difficult for those outside of the industry.
During the 1950’s and 60’s, however, there was a renewed interest in the early days of cinema. Television became a saving grace for silent films. Younger audiences were introduced to films by former masters and shows like The Twilight Zone offered them a new career. “Once Upon a Time” is by no mean a perfect episode. It is slow at times and some of the comedy is noticeably contrived. But it’s still an enjoyable episode and Keaton is as agile as ever. His timing is still impeccable and his gags are as funny as they were 30 years before. Instead this episode stands as a fitting tribute to the earliest chapter in the story of cinema and to one of the funniest people to ever grace the silver screen.

Grade: B

Buster Keaton
1895 - 1966

Grateful acknowledgement is made to the following:

--Stanley Adams also appeared in the fifth season episode “Mr. Garrity and the Graves.”
--Jesse White also appeared in the third season episode “Cavender is Coming.”
--Check out the Twilight Zone Radio Drama starring John Rhys-Davies.

--Brian Durant

Monday, August 22, 2016

"The Jungle"

Doris Richards (Emily McLaughlin) warns her husband Alan (John Dehner) not to venture outside.
“The Jungle”
Season Three, Episode 77
Original Air Date: December 1, 1961

Alan Richards: John Dehner
Chad Cooper: Walter Brooke
Doris Richards: Emily McLaughlin
Templeton: Hugh Sanders
Hardy: Howard Wright
Sinclair: Donald Foster
Vagrant: Jay Adler
Taxi Driver: Jay Overholts
Zamba the Lion

Writer: Charles Beaumont (based on his story, first published in If: Worlds of           Science Fiction, December, 1954)
Director: William Claxton
Producer: Buck Houghton
Associate Producer: Del Reisman
Production Manager: Ralph W. Nelson
Director of Photography: George T. Clemens
Art Direction: George W. Davis and Phil Barber
Set Decoration: H. Web Arrowsmith
Assistant Director: E. Darrell Hallenbeck
Editor: Jason H. Bernie
Story Consultant: Richard McDonagh
Sound: Bill Edmondson and Franklin Milton
Casting: Stalmaster-Lister
Music: Stock
Animal Handler: Ralph Helfer

And Now, Mr. Serling:
“Next week on The Twilight Zone we once again borrow the talents of Mr. Charles Beaumont, who’s written a script especially for us called ‘The Jungle.’ Now, this is designed for the reasonably impressionable amongst you who find nothing to laugh about when somebody mentions the words ‘black magic.’ Mr. John Dehner stars in another small excursion into the darker regions of the imagination. Next week, ‘The Jungle’.”

Rod Serling’s Opening Narration: 

“The carcass of a goat, a dead finger, a few bits of broken glass and stone, and Mr. Alan Richards, a modern man of a modern age, hating with all his heart something in which he cannot believe, and preparing, although he doesn’t know it, to take the longest walk of his life, right down to the center of The Twilight Zone.”

            While looking through his wife’s jewelry case for a missing cufflink, Alan Richards comes across a startling array of primitive magical artifacts, including a dead human finger. He confronts his wife with the items. She tells them they are for protection against a curse leveled at them by a village shaman while they were staying in Africa. Alan is working on a hydro-electric project for an American company that will disrupt the ecosystem of the African jungle and they have only recently returned to New York. Calling his wife foolish and superstitious to believe in such things, especially here in New York, Alan burns the items in the fireplace.
            His wife becomes downtrodden and depressed, resigned to the fate she believes will befall them now that Alan has destroyed their magical protection. Alan must attend a night meeting with other members of his company. “You won’t come back,” his wife tells him. “Don’t open the door.” Alan ignores her warning and opens the door. Lying in the doorway is the sacrificial body of a dead goat.  
            At the meeting, Alan is asked about the response from the local population in Africa to their project. Alan tells the other men the grim truth: the local population is angry and has cursed everyone associated with the project with a slow and painful death. The other men laugh at this but Alan quickly checks their laughter. He points out an aspect of each man’s character that draws a parallel to the very superstition they ridicule; from a rabbit’s foot to a belief in astrology to knocking on wood, each man puts weight in some superstitious belief.
            Alan joins a co-worker for a drink at a bar after the meeting. They wind up discussing superstitions. Alan becomes agitated when discussing his wife’s behavior following their return from Africa. Seeing how disturbed Alan is becoming, his friend suggests that only somebody who actually believed in the curse would be so disturbed by it. Alan finds a lion’s tooth in his coat, presumably placed there for protection by his wife. He places it down on the bar and forgets it as he leaves.
            Outside, his car won’t start. His friend has already driven away and nobody remains within the closed and locked bar. It is very late at night and the street is eerily deserted. As Alan peers through the window of the bar, we again see the lion’s tooth left there, the final piece of magical protection Alan had remaining to him.
Alan finds a phone booth but discovers the phone is out of order. As he walks away the phone begins ringing. He rushes back and answers it. Strange animal sounds call back to him from the other end. He drops the phone and hurries away.
            A taxi pulls up and offers a ride. Alan gladly accepts. They drive a block and then stop for a traffic light. The driver does not move the car, even when the light turns to green. Alan tries to talk to him and gets no response. He reaches out and touches the driver. The driver is physically unresponsive and falls sideways along the front seat. Alarmed, Alan gets out and goes around to the front to check on the driver. The man appears to be dead. Alan rushes away. 
            As he walks down the street he begins to hear the sound of rhythmic, pounding drums and animal sounds as he heard on the phone; these are the distinctive sounds of the African jungle. The sounds begin faintly but slowly grow in volume. Alan is confront by a homeless tramp who asks for money. Alan gives the man a little money. He asks the tramp if he can also hear the sound of the drums and the animals but the tramp says that he cannot hear any sounds. Alan offers additional money if the tramp will walk with him on the way home. Alan must walk through a park and he doesn’t like the look of the darkness and the closeness of the trees. A screeching animal sound draws Alan’s attention away and when he looks back the tramp has vanished. Alan is utterly alone on the street.
The sounds of the drums and the African animals grow to a deafening crescendo. Alan stumbles through the park toward the front doors of his apartment building. He collapses against the doors as the sounds suddenly cease. Alan slowly rises and enters the building. He enters his apartment and pours himself a drink. 
            Suddenly, he hears a sound from behind the bedroom door. It is the low, distinctive growl of a large cat. Cautiously, Alan approaches and pushes open the door. A large, male lion stands on the bed beside the body of his dead wife.
            The lion leaps from the bed to attack. Alan only has time for a single scream before the animal is upon him. 

Rod Serling’s Closing Narration:
“Some superstitions kept alive by the long night of ignorance have their own special power. You’ll hear of it through a jungle grapevine in a remote corner of The Twilight Zone.”



“Suddenly it was there. On foxfeet, invisibly, it had crept, past all the fences and traps he had laid, past all the barriers. And now it sat inside his mind, a part of him, like his pulse, like the steady beat of his heart.”
            -Charles Beaumont, “The Jungle”

            The story of supernatural persecution is the type of story which the writers of The Twilight Zone felt most comfortable exploring throughout the entirety of the show’s five seasons. It is a surprisingly versatile story type which was examined from the very first episode (“Where is Everybody?”) until very late in the series (“Stopover In a Quiet Town”), and ran the gamut from the episode of excellence (“The Hitch-Hiker”) to less successful episodes (“The Fear”). A story of this type is exemplified by a seemingly normal individual (an individual in which the audience can easily identify) confronted with an unexplained phenomena of a persecuting nature. The story proceeds as the individual attempts to evade the phenomena only to be delivered in hand by the story’s end to the very thing from which they were attempting to escape. The physical chase is essential to this type of story and lends it an acute psychological angle that allows the audience to examine a mental struggle reflected in the physical action at the surface of the story. 

            A casual glance across the story titles of episodes preceding Charles Beaumont’s “The Jungle” show a number of episodes which share these essential characteristics. “The After Hours,” “Nightmare as a Child,” “Judgment Night,” “And When the Sky Was Opened,” and Beaumont’s own “Perchance to Dream” and “Shadow Play” all concern protagonists that are stalked by a supernatural force of varying nature. These episodes typically end in one of two ways: psychological salvation resultant from an awakening awareness, or psychological (and perhaps physical) trauma from an inability to escape that which pursues. The latter ending is often tied up in the features of supernatural justice. These type episodes also exemplify the style of writing known as “psychological horror,” in which the deterioration of the mind, rather than the body, is the source of the terrible frisson.
            The episode with which “The Jungle” is most interestingly compared, however, is Richard Matheson’s masterpiece of psychological persecution from the second season, “Nick of Time.” In Matheson’s story, the tyranny of superstitious belief is revealed to be a self-inflicted imprisoning, one wholly unnecessary to be suffered by the modern, enlightened man, whereas Beaumont is suggesting something very different in “The Jungle.” Beaumont tells us it is dangerous, perhaps fatal, to deny the shadowy magic which lies behind superstition. Such things are given power conversely by belief and disbelief, and no amount of knowledge or scientific insight can protect one against the machinations of the supernatural.
            The figure of the psychoanalyst is present in all of Beaumont’s fiction and although there is no psychoanalyst character in “The Jungle,” the protagonist, Alan Richards, assumes the role when, during the board meeting scene, he systematically reveals the irrational idiosyncrasies of each of the supposedly balanced, successful business men. If these men represent the enlightenment brought about by mass industrialization and scientific progress, then why is it, Beaumont asks, that each man still covets some aspect of an old superstition? What does this tell us about modern man and his relationship to his distant, primitive, forebears who explained every aspect of their world by supernatural means?
            The psychoanalyst is a recurring symbol in Beaumont’s Twilight Zone episodes as well (“Perchance to Dream,” “Person or Persons Unknown,” etc.) and typically represent the futility of science when faced with the supernatural. It is rare that a doctor of any sort is ever able to help Beaumont’s doomed protagonists. This has been a story trope of writers of supernatural fiction going back at least to that master of the English ghost story, Joseph Sheridan LeFanu, who used a doctor named Martin Hesselius (given the identifying characteristics of a psychoanalyst) as the narrative bridge between the fictions of his landmark 1872 collection In a Glass Darkly. Ironically, Martin Hesselius (a figure who is exceptionally unhelpful in the stories of LeFanu) inspired a number of authors to create the genre of supernatural detective fiction (exemplified in the John Silence stories of Algernon Blackwood, the Carnacki stories of William Hope Hodgson, and the Jules de Grandin stories of Seabury Quinn), in which the rational detective manages to sort out the afflicting supernatural occurrence.
            Beaumont’s original story, first published in the December, 1954 issue of If: Worlds of Science Fiction bears little resemblance to the episode crafted from it. The primary reason for this was production cost inherent in creating the future world of Beaumont’s story. In this future setting the elite members of the world’s population destroy the jungles of Kenya in order to create a sustainable city structure. To visualize this futuristic city would simply have cost too much for the production of the show. This was allegedly the primary reason why so many of Ray Bradbury’s scripts were turned down for production. Most, if not all, of the show’s futuristic designs take on a necessary minimalistic approach, as evidenced in Beaumont’s later story adaptation, “Number Nine Looks Just Like You” and in other episodes such as “The Trade-Ins” and “The Lateness of the Hour.”  
            The entirety of Beaumont’s original story takes place in Africa. The protagonist of the story is Richard Austin and he is the designer of a city, Mbarara, designed and built to house half a million select members of the world’s population. The world has become vastly over-populated and the primitive jungles of Africa are the only areas which remain untouched by this over-population. Consequently, it is the area which Austin and his colleagues choose as the location of their expansive, futuristic city. As a result, the inhabitants of the villages which border the jungle fight back against the invaders who have completely leveled their ancient territory. Though the inhabitants fight Austin’s project in a traditional manner, through the weapons of warfare, they also fight with aspects of black magic. The pre-population of Austin’s city, those who arrive to prepare for the arrival of others, are inflicted with a terrible, degenerative disease which causes horrible suffering for the afflicted, as indicted by its crude nickname, “jungle rot.” Though Austin steadfastly refuses to believe that the primitive rituals practiced by the natives have anything to do with the epidemic, he cannot continue long to deny it when his wife falls victim to the disease and lies on the edge of a horrible death.
            Austin leaves his heavily protected apartment home to confront the medicine man and the villagers that have opposed the construction of the city at every step. Beaumont uses many traditional symbols of African magic (drums, ritualistic dancing, miniature effigies, the casting of bones, etc.) to provide a jarring juxtaposition to the sleek futurism of Austin’s city.
            The final third of Beaumont’s original story is the portion which most resembles the finished episode. After being turned away by the medicine man, Austin walks home through the silent, abandoned streets of the maze-like city, pursued at every step by the threatening sounds of tribal drums and predatory animals. Austin arrives home to find a lion feeding upon his wife.
            The story is not one of Beaumont’s best offerings, being overly long for its simple premise and clouded in uncharacteristically dense passages of exposition. It does, however, offer a number of interesting ideas, most of which Beaumont carries over into his adaptation. One which he was forced to abandon was the idea of over-population. Beaumont presents an interesting moral dilemma in his treatment of the subject as he illustrates a future world in which population problems are handled by government purges, forcing Austin and his colleagues to build their city not only to escape over-population but also to escape waves of government-mandated executions. It is interesting to note that the idea of primitive magic, and jungle magic in particular, was prominent in supernatural fiction of the 1940s and 1950s, especially in the pulp magazines and pre-code horror comics popular at the time, as well as in more highly regarded efforts such as the works which most likely influenced Beaumont’s original story and resultant adaptation.


“. . . my eyes focused upon a scene, a large house with two people in it. I saw a flight of vultures on a blazing flesh sky, I saw yellow lions, and I heard voices.”
            -Ray Bradbury, “Prologue: The Illustrated Man”

“The lions were finished with their red feast.”
            -Ray Bradbury, “The Veldt”

Jim Burns illustration for The Illustrated Man
     The one writer whose shadow covers The Twilight Zone like a dense cloud of influence is Ray Bradbury. Though Bradbury only contributed a single teleplay to the series, season three’s “I Sing the Body Electric,” his hand can be felt in nearly every episode of the show. According to Bradbury’s own memory (recorded in his introduction to John Collier’s short fiction collection Fancies and Goodnights (New York Review Books, 2003)), he recounts the night Rod Serling came to his home in the late 1950s looking for suggestions for stories to adapt for The Twilight Zone, then still in development. Besides Collier, Bradbury also recommended two young writers whom he had mentored as they developed into professionals, Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont, two writers that would go on to be the principle contributors to the new show behind Serling.
Beaumont was still a teenager when he met Bradbury in a Los Angeles bookstore. At the time, the mid-to-late 1940s, Bradbury was publishing his influential horror stories in Weird Tales, which would eventually comprise Bradbury’s first book, Dark Carnival (Arkham House, 1947). When Beaumont began to write his own short stories, Bradbury read the stories and gave Beaumont constructive criticism. In the early 1950s, Beaumont began regularly selling his material to the pulps. By the end of that decade, much like Bradbury before him, Beaumont had largely graduated to the “slick magazines” (Playboy, Esquire, etc.) and developed a style that was distinctly his own. The early stories, however, clearly betray Bradbury’s stylistic influence. An early story such as “Elegy” (published in 1953 and adapted for the first season of The Twilight Zone), in which three astronauts land on a planet that looks like a pastoral version of Earth only to discover the planet’s deadly secret, in many ways resembles Bradbury’s famous 1948 story “Mars is Heaven!” (collected in The Martian Chronicles (1950) as “The Third Expedition”). Most genre writers are an amalgamation of varied writing influences that develop into a distinctive style once the writer becomes accustomed to filtering those influences through a lens of personal perspective. Beaumont was no different.
“The Jungle,” as originally written, owes much to Bradbury’s fiction as well, both in style and tone, and in particular to Bradbury’s famous story “The Veldt,” originally published in the September 23, 1950 issue of The Saturday Evening Post under the title “The World the Children Made.” Although thematically Bradbury is attempting something altogether different with “The Veldt,” the core aspect of the story also concerns a futuristic setting beset by the dangers of the primitive world. Both writers uses the images of Africa to juxtapose a future in which an intellectually illuminating light has been thrown upon everything with the knowledge of secret, primeval places.
On the genesis of “The Veldt,” Bradbury says: “What if you could create a world within a room . . . and introduce a family to that room where its walls might operate on their psyches and deliver forth nightmares?” (“Dancing, So as Not to Be Dead,” 1999). This illustrates the type of psychological direction in which the supernatural story was headed in the middle part of the 20th century. Many writers of supernatural fiction were reevaluating the traditional Gothic story in the wake of the horrors of the Second World War and the increasing industrialization of the modern American city.
In “The Veldt,” a futuristic story, a wealthy family purchases a fully automated home. In this home they install a nursery in which virtually anything can be simulated for a child’s enjoyment through marvels of sensory manipulation. As the family becomes more dependent upon the automated home, the nursery begins to replace the parents in the eyes of the children. The result of the room’s influence on the children’s psyche is that their increasingly aggressive nature is reflected by an African veldt, in which predatory animals stalk their prey. Soon, the room responds only to the children’s demands and assumes a preternaturally life-like effect. When the parents threaten to permanently shut down the room, the children’s murderous impulses fuel the room’s occult power to devastating effect. The character who is left to sort through the mess is, naturally, the family’s psychologist.
The primary link between Bradbury’s story and Beaumont’s “The Jungle” is the image of Africa as infused with a magic that can supersede all the efforts of science to combat superstition. The lion is the central image upon which both stories conclude.
“The Veldt” was one of the first stories that firmly pushed Bradbury out of pulp territory and into the realm of mainstream literature. It was a hugely influential story upon the development of the type of science fantasy which was regularly exhibited on The Twilight Zone. The story would go on to become one of Bradbury’s most renowned, anthologized countless times, and one in which he derived a significant amount of mileage. The story was first presented on radio by NBC for Dimension X in 1951 from a very faithful script adaptation by veteran radio writer Ernest Kinoy. Kinoy’s script was reused, with an added happy ending, four years later for NBC’s science fiction radio series X Minus One. Bradbury adapted the story as a one-act play in 1963 and presented it at the Coronet Theatre in Los Angeles in October, 1964 as one third of The World of Ray Bradbury, directed by Charles Rome Smith. The other two thirds were comprised of Bradbury’s adaptations of his stories “The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit” and “To the Chicago Abyss.” Bradbury took The World of Ray Bradbury to New York a year later with disastrous results.  "The Veldt" was one of three Bradbury stories adapted for the 1969 anthology film The Illustrated Man (along with "The Long Rain" and "The Last Night of the World") and Bradbury later adapted the story into a teleplay for The Ray Bradbury Theater. One wonders if Bradbury ever suggested adapting “The Veldt” for The Twilight Zone.
            Despite his limited participation, Bradbury continued to be a guiding influence on the show, whether acknowledged to be so or not. One need only look to an episode such as George Clayton Johnson’s exceptional “Nothing in the Dark” and compare it to Bradbury’s story “Death and the Maiden” (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, March, 1960) to clearly see the effect of Bradbury’s work on the principle writers of the show.

Listen here to Leonard Nimoy read Ray Bradbury's "The Veldt." 


“The room seemed to darken. There was a faint, mighty roaring in his ears, as of motors far underground. He had the sense of standing suddenly naked and unarmed before something menacingly alien.” 
            -Fritz Leiber, Conjure Wife

Ronald Clyne illustration for Arkham House 1st ed.
As stated before, the principle task which Beaumont faced when adapting “The Jungle” for The Twilight Zone was to develop a cost-efficient method of staging the play. His solution was to strip the story of its futuristic leanings and to take the story out of Africa and place it firmly in a modern urban setting. In doing so, he eliminated the costly aspects of the story and crafted a supernatural story that was more effective and further in-line with the flowering trends of the contemporary supernatural story. The author that Beaumont admittedly admired and who most effectively typified these innovative trends, was Chicago born writer Fritz, Leiber, Jr.
            Though he is probably better known today for his science fiction and heroic fantasy, Leiber devoted a great amount of time to the tale of supernatural horror during his formative years as a writer. He would occasionally return to the form, especially late in his career with the influx of periodicals inspired by the pulp era of the horror story (Whispers, Fantasy Tales, etc.). Leiber was a correspondent of H.P. Lovecraft, who spurred the younger man to write his own stories. Leiber never fell under the influence of Lovecraft’s literary style, however, as did so many of Lovecraft’s acolytes, and always seemed more interested in juxtaposing the traditional aspects of the horror story with a decidedly modern setting.  Leiber was instrumental in developing the recognizable traits of the modern urban fantasy story and the supernatural fiction which grew out of his work, fiction informed by the terrible events of the Second World War, eschewed much of the Gothic trappings of the supernatural fiction which came before in order to examine what might be the distinctive nature of a persecuting supernatural occurrence in the 20th century.
            During the 1940s, in magazines such as John W. Campbell’s Unknown and Dorothy McIlwraith’s Weird Tales, Leiber was consciously attempting to reimagine the archetypes of the Gothic story in a modern setting. This series of stories were greatly influential and most are now considered masterpieces of the form. The stories which we are most concerned with here are Leiber’s innovative takes on ghosts (“Smoke Ghost,” Unknown Worlds, Oct, 1941) and witchcraft (Conjure Wife, Unknown Worlds, Apr, 1943), but Leiber also notably approached werewolves (“The Hound,” Weird Tales, Nov, 1942) and vampires (“The Girl with the Hungry Eyes,” The Girl with the Hungry Eyes and Other Stories, ed. Donald Wollheim, Avon, 1949), among others. For those interested, and I highly recommend it, the best of Leiber’s early macabre tales are found in Night’s Black Agents (expanded ed. Berkley, 1978).
             For his adaptation of “The Jungle,” Beaumont borrowed heavily from both Conjure Wife and “Smoke Ghost.” It should come as no surprise that Beaumont would look to Leiber to suggest a way in which the adaptation could effectively be handled as he would very soon afterwards collaborate with Richard Matheson to turn Leiber’s Conjure Wife into a screenplay. Both writers, when deciding what property to adapt, came to the same conclusion that Leiber’s novel was the best modern fantasy of the time. The resultant film was titled Burn, Witch, Burn in the U.S. (Night of the Eagle in the U.K.) and released in 1964, the second of three films to be taken from Leiber’s influential novel after 1944’s Weird Woman, starring Lon Chaney, Jr., and followed by 1980s Witches’ Brew.
            Both Conjure Wife and “Smoke Ghost” are psychologically charged tales of supernatural persecution. In Conjure Wife, a sociology professor discovers that virtually every woman in his small college town, including his wife, is a practicing witch. The women use their magical powers to influence university politics. Like Beaumont’s story, the husband in Conjure Wife also finds items of primitive magic in his wife’s belonging and burns the items to his detriment. What follows greatly mirrors the action of “The Jungle” in that the husband, now unprotected, is the victim of an onslaught of magical attacks. Leiber generally sheds the African influences and uses the stone image of an eagle in place of Beaumont’s lion.
            Leiber’s “Smoke Ghost” presents us again with the prevailing image of the psychoanalyst (Leiber took a psychology degree himself in 1932 from the University of Chicago) as unable to help the persecuted individual. “Smoke Ghost” is likely the most effective and influential ghost story of the 20th century and deservedly so, for it still manages to unnerve the sympathetic reader 75 years after it was first published.
            Leiber was one of a select handful of writers (along with Bradbury, Robert Bloch, and Theodore Sturgeon) who were chief influences on the Southern California Group of writers. “Smoke Ghost” exemplifies what many of these younger writers were, a decade later, attempting to replicate in their own work. Some passages from Leiber’s stories read like precursors to later work by the Group. One example is this passage from “Smoke Ghost”: “. . . then an opaque monstrous form leaping out from the roof in a parabolic swoop-an unmentionable face pressed close against the window, smearing it with wet coal dust-huge paws fumbling sloppily at the glass.” This passage could nearly have been lifted from Richard Matheson’s famous 1962 story “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” which was memorably adapted for the fifth season of The Twilight Zone. In Matheson’s story, a man is terrorized by a supernatural being on an airplane. In Leiber’s story, the protagonist is terrorized by a supernatural being on an elevated train. The similarities are obvious. Like the action in “The Jungle,” the doomed protagonist of “Smoke Ghost” experiences a physical and mental feeling of utter isolation, despite the fact that he is a resident of a large city. The city itself seems to work against his efforts to connect with other people who may provide salvation from the supernatural force.


“. . . mankind had once again spawned a ghost world, and that superstition once more ruled.”
            -Fritz Leiber, “Smoke Ghost”

            The centerpiece of “The Jungle” is the sequence in which Alan Richards must make his way home through an eerily deserted city in the middle of the night. The two men most responsible for achieving the eerie effects of this sequence are actor John Dehner (as Alan Richards) and director William Claxton.
            The story presented in “The Jungle” could easily have fallen into laughable territory and it was imperative that John Dehner played the role with absolute seriousness to prevent this from happening. Beaumont had very little time to establish any logic to the supernatural element of his story and was forced to begin the episode with his main character displaying a dead finger to his nervous wife. It is easy to see how this could have crumbled in lesser hands.
            Dehner was more than capable of assuming the skeptical demeanor necessary for his character. His long, expressive face perfectly displays the slow degeneration of his character’s mental state until he arrives back at his apartment building in a frantic run. By the time Dehner is bringing a drink to his lips with a badly shaking hand, the physical and mental decline of the character is convincingly complete. The wide, unbelieving expression on his face when opening the bedroom door upon an adult male lion is simply perfect. Dehner was a talented character actor and showed impressive range in his three appearances on The Twilight Zone. He plays a sympathetic character of authority in the first season episode “The Lonely,” and displays his talent for droll comedy in late fifth season episode “Mr. Garrity and the Graves.”
            Born in Richmond, what is now Staten Island, New York in 1915, Dehner established himself professionally as a disc jockey, pianist, and animator for Walt Disney Studios before trying his hand at acting in the early 1940s. Dehner appeared most frequently in western television programs, often as a villain, and amassed over 250 film and television credits over his long career. He leant his distinctive baritone voice to several radio programs in an equally long and busy career, starring in such programs as Philip Marlowe, Frontier Gentleman, and the radio version of Have Gun-Will Travel. He died on February 4, 1992 in Santa Barbara, aged 76.
            William Claxton, not to be mistaken with the famous American photographer of the same name, was a versatile television director who found a niche directing western and frontier programs, turning in memorable work at the helm of shows such as Bonanza (1962-1973) and Little House on the Prairie (1974-1981), programs through which he developed a solid working relationship with actor Michael Landon. Claxton later directed Landon in Highway to Heaven (1985), one of his final jobs as director. Claxton directed the cult 1972 film Night of the Lepus, concerning giant rabbits on the rampage, and the memorable episode of Boris Karloff’s Thriller, “The Hollow Watcher.”
            Claxton displays an exceptional visual style in “The Jungle.” Alan Richards’s journey through the city is a tensely staged sequence on par with the exceptional work on display in other similar episodes such as “The Hitch-Hiker” and “The After Hours.” The perspective shot within the taxicab is a particular highlight of the sequence. The staging of the physical action in accordance with the distinctive sound effects was also expertly handled. “The Jungle” is arguably Claxton’s finest work on the series, likely because it offered the finest material for stylistic interpretation. Claxton does have the distinction of having interpreted the work of the major writers on the series: Richard Matheson (“The Last Flight”), Charles Beaumont (“The Jungle”), Rod Serling (“The Little People”), and Ray Bradbury (“I Sing the Body Electric!”), only missing out on being at the helm for one of George Clayton Johnson’s efforts. Claxton was born on October 22, 1914 in Los Angeles and died in Santa Monica on February 11, 1996, aged 81. His last directing credit was for the television movie Bonanza: The Next Generation (1988).
            “The Jungle” remains an effectively eerie episode that uses the full spectrum of sensatory manipulation inherent in the medium of film to set the viewer on edge. In particular, the innovative use of sound and the wonderfully creepy deserted city are highlights of the show’s third season. With “The Jungle,” Charles Beaumont solidified himself as the show’s most psychologically incisive writer, one interested more in the existential effects of mental aberration that in strictly physical horrors. He would continue his explorations of these themes in outstanding later episodes such as “Person or Persons Unknown,” “In His Image,” and “Miniature.”

Grade: B

-William Claxton directed three additional episodes: “The Last Flight” from season one, and “The Little People” and “I Sing the Body Electric” (the sole contribution from Ray Bradbury) from season three.
-John Dehner also appeared in “The Lonely” from season one, and “Mr. Garrity and the Graves” from season five.
-Walter Brooke also appears in “A Short Drink from a Certain Fountain,” from season five.
-Hugh Sanders also appears in “Judgment Night,” from season one, and “Of Late I Think of Cliffordville,” from season four.
-Jay Adler also appears in “He’s Alive,” from season four.
-Howard Wright also appears in “What’s in the Box,” from season five.
-“The Jungle” was adapted as a Twilight Zone Radio Drama starring Ed Begley, Jr.
-Charles Beaumont’s original script for “The Jungle” is included in The Twilight Zone Scripts of Charles Beaumont, Volume One (Gauntlet Press, 2004), edited by Roger Anker.

-Jordan Prejean


Leo Summers illustrations for "The Jungle," from If: Worlds of Science Fiction, Dec. 1954:

Al Parker illustration for "The World the Children Made" ("The Veldt") from The Saturday Evening Post, September 23, 1950:

Leo and Diane Dillon illustration for "The Veldt" from Caedmon Records, 1975:

Grateful acknowledgement is made to the following authors and to Internet Speculative Fiction Database.

-Anker, Roger, “Commentary on ‘The Jungle.’” First published in The Twilight Zone Scripts of Charles Beaumont, Volume One (Gauntlet Press, 2004).

-Beaumont, Charles, “The Jungle.” First published in If: Worlds of Science Fiction (Dec, 1954). Collected in Yonder: Stories of Fantasy and Science Fiction (Bantam Books, Apr, 1958). Reprinted: The Second World of If, ed. James L. Quinn, Eve Wulff (Quinn, 1958); Best of Beaumont (Bantam, 1982); The Twilight Zone: The Original Stories, ed. Richard Matheson, Charles G. Waugh, Martin H. Greenberg (Avon, 1985); Charles Beaumont: Selected Stories, ed. Roger Anker (Dark Harvest, 1988); Urban Horrors, ed. William F. Nolan, Martin H. Greenberg (Dark Harvest, 1990); Max for Mixed Voices, ed. Roger Anker (Centipede Press, 2013); Perchance to Dream: Selected Stories by Charles Beaumont (Penguin, 2015).
Read “The Jungle”

Note: In Beaumont’s story, the voice of reason, presented in flashbacks, is a social anthropologist from Texas named Barney Chadfield. This character is a stand-in for Beaumont’s friend and fellow science fiction author Chad Oliver. Oliver, also a Texan and also an anthropologist, is a pioneer in using anthropology as a basis for the science fiction novel, exemplified in novels such as Mists of Dawn (1952) and The Shores of Another Sea (1971). Members of the Southern California Group of writers often used the names and/or likenesses of their fellow writer friends in their fiction.

-Beaumont, Charles, “The Jungle: A Teleplay.” First published in The Twilight Zone Scripts of Charles Beaumont, Volume One, ed. Roger Anker (Gauntlet Press, 2004).

-Bradbury, Ray, “Dancing, So As Not to Be Dead.” First published in The Illustrated Man (Avon, 1999).

-Bradbury, Ray, “The Veldt” (“The World the Children Made”). First published in The Saturday Evening Post (Sept. 23, 1950). Collected in The Illustrated Man (Doubleday, Feb, 1951). Reprinted: Beyond the Barriers of Space and Time, ed. Judith Merril (Random House, 1954); More Horror Stories, ed. Elizabeth Lee (Elek, 1962); The Vintage Bradbury (Vintage, 1965); Second Orbit, ed. G.D. Doherety (John Murray, 1965); The Second Arrow Book of Horror Stories (Arrow, 1965); Masters’ Choice, ed. Laurence Janifer (Simon & Schuster, 1966); Untravelled Worlds, ed. Alan Frank Barter, R. Wilson (Macmillan, 1966); 18 Greatest Science Fiction Stories, ed. Laurence Janifer (Tempo Books, 1971); World Zero Minus, ed. Aidan Chambers, Nancy Chambers (Macmillan, 1971); Past, Present, and Future Perfect, ed. Jack Wolf, Gregory Fitz Gerard (Fawcett, 1973); Science Fiction 3, ed. Robert Pierce, Murray Suid (Houghton Mifflin, 1973); Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow. . . , ed. Bonnie Heintz, Frank Herbert, Donald Joos, Jane Agorn McGee (Hold, Rinehart and Winston, 1974); Space 3, ed. Richard Davis (Abelard-Schuman, 1977); The Best Horror Stories (Hamlyn, 1977); The Stories of Ray Bradbury (Knopf, 1980); The Puffin Book of Ghosts and Ghouls, ed. Gene Kemp (Viking, 1992); Simulations: 15 Tales of Virtual Reality, ed. Karie Jacobson (Citadel Twilight, 1993); American Gothic Tales, ed. Joyce Carol Oates (Plume, 1996); The Young Oxford Book of Nasty Endings, ed. Dennis Pepper (Oxford, 1997); Science Fiction Classics, ed. Forrest J. Ackerman (TV Books, 1999); Technohorror: Inventions in Terror, ed. James Frenkel (Roxbury Park/Lowell House, 1999)

-Bradbury, Ray, “The Veldt: A One-Act Play.” First published in The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit and Other Plays (Bantam Books, Apr, 1972). Reprinted: Ray Bradbury on Stage: A Chrestomathy of His Plays (Primus (Donald I. Fine), Nov, 1991).

Conlon, Christopher, “California Sorcerers.” From California Sorcery, ed. William F. Nolan, William Schafer (Cemetery Dance, 1999).

Leiber, Fritz, Conjure Wife. First published in Unknown Worlds (April, 1943). Expanded and collected in Witches Three (Twayne, 1952). Reprinted: Conjure Wife (Lion Books, 1953; Twayne, 1953); The Haunt of Horror, ed. Gerry Conway (Marvel Comics, June, 1973 & Aug, 1973); Conjure Wife/Our Lady of Darkness (Tor Double #36, 1991); Dark Ladies (Orb, 1999)
Read Conjure Wife

Leiber, Fritz, “Smoke Ghost.” First published in Unknown Worlds (Oct, 1941). First collected in Night’s Black Agents (Arkham House, 1947) and reprinted in many Leiber collections since. Anthology reprints: Human? ed. Judith Merril (Lion Books, 1954); Famous Monster Tales ed. Basil Davenport (Reinhold, 1967); The Ghost’s Companion ed. Peter Haining (Gollancz, 1975); The World Fantasy Awards, Vol. 2 ed. Stuart David Schiff, Fritz Leiber (Doubleday, 1980); Ghost Stories (Octopus, 1982); Ghost Stories (Cathay, 1984); The Dark Descent ed. David Hartwell (Tor, 1987); Unknown ed. Stanley Schmidt (Baen, 1988); Ghosts of the Heartland ed. Frank McSherry, Charles G. Waugh, Martin Greenberg (Rutledge Hill, 1990); Urban Horrors ed. William F. Nolan, Martin Greenberg (Dark Harvest, 1990); The Horror Hall of Fame ed. Robert Silverberg, Martin Greenberg (Carroll & Graf, 1991); The Mists from Beyond ed. Stefan Dziemianowicz, Robert Weinberg, Martin Greenberg (Roc, 1995); The Oxford Book of Twentieth Century Ghost Stories ed. Michael Cox (Oxford, 1996); The Prentice Hall Anthology of Science Fiction and Fantasy ed. Garyn G. Roberts (Prentice-Hall, 2000); Meddling With Ghosts ed. Ramsey Campbell (British Library, 2001); Mammoth Book of Modern Ghost Stories ed. Peter Haining (Robinson, 2007); American Fantastic Tales: Terror and the Uncanny from the 1940s to Now ed. Peter Straub (Library of America, 2009); The Weird ed. Jeff VanderMeer, Ann VanderMeer (Tor, 2012); The Big Book of Ghost Stories ed. Otto Penzler (Vintage, 2012)

Radio Credits:
Grateful acknowledgement is made to the Digital Deli Online. Read The Digital Deli’s excellent history of the Dimension X radio program here and its history of the X Minus One radio program here.

“The Veldt” (Dimension X, 08/09/1951, NBC Radio Network in cooperation with Street & Smith, publishers of the magazine Astounding Science Fiction)
Director: Fred Weihe
Producer: William Welch
Adaptation: Ernest Kinoy
Source: “The Veldt” by Ray Bradbury, from The Illustrated Man
Music: Alfred Berman
Featuring: Lesley Woods (Lydia Hadley), Bill Quinn (George Hadley), Joan Lazer (Wendy Hadley), David Anderson (Peter Hadley), Norman Rose (Announcer)
Listen to "The Veldt" on Dimension X 

“The Veldt” (X Minus One, 08/04/1955, NBC Radio Network in cooperation with Street & Smith, publishers of Astounding Science Fiction)
Director: Dan Sutter
Adaptation: Ernest Kinoy
Source: “The Veldt” by Ray Bradbury, from The Illustrated Man
Featuring: Mary Patton, Bill Quinn, David Pfeffer, Beverly Lunsford, Charles Penman, John Larkin, Fred Collins (Announcer)
Listen to "The Veldt" on X Minus One

Note 1: The X Minus One adaptation of Bradbury’s “The Veldt” added a happy ending to the original script adaptation Ernest Kinoy provided for the Dimension X radio program, which was otherwise used verbatim for the X Minus One broadcast. It is stated by Dr. McClean that the parents did not die in the nursery as originally written. He states: “There were no lions, of course. Not in a physical sense. Lydia and George were devoured, however, almost as surely as if there had been lions. Their personalities were devoured by the mechanistic marvels which had usurped their role as parents. All four members of the family are under intensive therapy now and are doing as well as can be expected.” Note that this manages to attach an unnecessary happy ending simply by reiterating the principle theme of Bradbury’s story.

Note 2: Although both NBC programs proudly stated their association with Street & Smith’s Astounding Science Fiction and Galaxy Science Fiction, Bradbury’s story appeared in neither. Bradbury placed three stories with John W. Campbell’s Astounding Science Fiction (“Eat, Drink and Be Wary (Apr, 1942), “Doodad” and “And Watch the Fountains” (both Sept, 1943)) and appeared in H.L. Gold’s Galaxy Science Fiction twice, for “The Fireman” (Feb, 1951) (Bradbury’s early version of his celebrated novel Fahrenheit 451 (1953)), and “A Little Journey” (Aug, 1951).

Note 3: Both Bradbury and Fritz Leiber enjoyed adaptations of their work on Dimension X and X Minus One. For Dimension X, “To the Future” (aka “The Fox and the Forest”), “There Will Come Soft Rains,” “Zero Hour,” “Mars is Heaven!” (aka “The Third Expedition”), “The Martian Chronicles,” “And the Moon Be Still as Bright,” “Dwellers in Silence,” “Marionettes, Inc.,” and “Kaleidoscope” were adapted from Bradbury’s stories. The scripts which Ernest Kinoy and George Lefferts produced from Bradbury’s stories for Dimension X were either used either again to stage plays for X Minus One or were rebroadcasts from Dimension X. X Minus One also adapted the Fritz Leiber stories “A Pail of Air,” “Appointment in Tomorrow,” and “The Moon is Green” from scripts by Kinoy and Lefferts.

Additional Film & Television Credits:
Grateful acknowledgment is made to the American Film Institute Catalog of Feature Films.  

Weird Woman (04/14/1944)
United States; Universal Pictures, 63 minutes
Working Title: Conjure Wife
Note:               This was the second of six films in the Inner Sanctum Mystery series, developed
from the Inner Sanctum Mystery radio show, which also inspired a line of mystery novels.
Producer:        Oliver Drake (associate)
Director:          Reginald LeBorg
Editor:             Milton Carruth
Screenplay:     W. Scott Darling (adaptation)
                        Brenda Weisberg (screenplay)
Source:                        Conjure Wife by Fritz Leiber (Unknown Worlds Magazine, April, 1943)
Photography:   Virgil Miller
Art Direction:  John B. Goodman
                        Richard Riedel
Music:             Paul Sawtell
Costumes:        Vera West
Vis. Effects:     John P. Fulton
Featuring:        Lon Chaney, Jr., Anne Gywnne, Evelyn Ankers, Ralph Morgan, Elisabeth Risdon,
                        Lois Collier, Harry Hayden, Elizabeth Russell, Phil Brown, Kay Harding

Night of the Eagle (alternate title: Burn, Witch, Burn) (04/25/1962)
Working title: Conjure Wife
United States/Great Britain; Independent Artists (production), American International (distribution), 87 minutes
Producers:       Albert Fennell
                        Julian Wintle (Executive)
                        Leslie Parkyn (Executive)
Director:          Sidney Hayers
Editor:             Ralph Sheldon
Screenplay:     Charles Beaumont, Richard Matheson, George Baxt
Source:                        Conjure Wife by Fritz Leiber (Twayne Publishers, 1953)
Photography:   Reginald Wyer
Art Direction:  Jack Shampan
Music:             William Alywn
Costumes:        Maud Churchill
Makeup:          Basil Newall
Featuring:        Peter Wyngarde, Janet Blair, Margaret Johnston, Anthony Nicholls, Colin Gordon,
                        Kathleen Byron, Reginald Beckwith, Jessica Dunning, Norman Bird, Judith Stott,
                        Bill Mitchell, George Roubicek, Frank Singuineau, Gary Woolf

Note: Beaumont and Matheson’s original screenplay for Conjure Wife can be found in the Bram Stoker Award-winning anthology He is Legend: An Anthology Celebrating Richard Matheson, ed. Christopher Conlon (Gauntlet Press, 2009). The anthology was reprinted in paperback in 2010 by Tor and does not include the Beaumont/Matheson screenplay. Christopher Conlon has worked on projects with many Twilight Zone writers, including Jerry Sohl and George Clayton Johnson. If you have not read our interview with Conlon, you can find it here.

The Illustrated Man (03/26/1969)
United States; SKM Films (production), Warner Brothers/Seven Arts (distribution), 103 minutes
Three stories:  “The Veldt,” “The Long Rain,” and “The Last Night of the World”
Note:               All three stories by Ray Bradbury were collected in The Illustrated Man, the author’s third book, first published in 1951.
Producers:       Howard B. Kreitsek
                        Ted Mann
Director:          Jack Smight
Editor:             Archie Marshek
Screenplay:     Howard B. Kreitsek
Sources:           “The Veldt” (or “The World the Children Made”) by Ray Bradbury (The Saturday Evening Post, September 23, 1950)
                        “The Long Rain” by Ray Bradbury (Planet Stories, Summer, 1950)
                        “The Last Night of the World” by Ray Bradbury (first published in The Illustrated Man, Doubleday (NY), Feb, 1951)
Photography:   Philip Lathrop
Art Direction:  Joel Schiller
Music:             Jerry Goldsmith
Costumes:        Anthea Sylbert
                        Michael Harte
Makeup:          Gordon Bau
Tattoo Art:       James E. Reynolds
Sp. Effects:      Ralph Webb
Vis. Effects:     Richard Sylbert
Dog Trainer:    Frank Weatherwax
Featuring:        Rod Steiger, Claire Bloom, Robert Drivas, Don Dubbins, Jason Evers, Tim Weldon, Christine Matchett, Pogo the Dog

Witches’ Brew (1980)
United States; United Artists, 98 minutes
Producer:        Donna Ashbrook
Director:          Richard Shorr (additional material by Herbert Strock)
Editor:             Herbert Strock
Screenplay:     Syd Dutton, Richard Shorr
Source:            Conjure Wife by Fritz Leiber (Twayne Publishers, 1953) (not credited)
Photography:   Norman Gerard
Art Direction:  Marie Kordus
Costumes:        Nancy Frechtling, Mary Rose
Sp. Effects:      Conrad Rothman
Vis. Effects:     David Allen
Makeup:          Lynne Brooks
Featuring:        Teri Garr, Richard Benjamin, Lana Turner, James Winkler, Kathryn Leigh Scott,
                        Bill Sorrells, Kelly Jean Peters, Jordan Charney, Nathan Roth, Barbara Minkus,
                        Bonnie Gondell, Angus Scrimm         

“The Veldt” (The Ray Bradbury Theater, USA Network (11/10/1989), 30 minutes
Atlantis Films Ltd, Grahame McLean Associates Ltd, Wilcox Productions, Alarcom, Kicking Horse
Producers:       Jonathan Goodwill
                        Arvi Liimatainen
                        Ray Bradbury (Executive)
                        Peter Sussman (Executive)
                        Larry Wilcox (Executive)
Director:          Brad Turner
Asst. Director: David Webb
Editor:             Doug Forbes
Teleplay:         Ray Bradbury, based on his story
Photography:   Phil Lenzey
Art Direction:  Scott Dobie
Pro. Manager: Michael Sulyma
Set Décor:       Louise Middleton
Costumes:        Jill Blackie
Makeup:          Gail Kennedy
Hair:                Rosemarie Diekmann
Music:             Mo Marshall
Casting:           Mary Ann Barton, Susan Forrest, Bette Chadwick
Featuring:        Linda Kelsey (Lydia Hadley), Malcolm Stewart (George Hadley),
                        Damien Atkins (Peter Hadley), Shana Alexander (Wendy Hadley),
                        Thomas Peacocke (David McLean), Del Mehes (Mechanical Voice)

-Jordan Prejean