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

Cast:
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

Crew:
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.”

Summary:
            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.”

Commentary:

I.

“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.


II.       

“. . . 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.

III.

“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.


IV.

“. . . 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

Notes:
-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

Gallery:

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:















Bibliography:
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 D├ęcor:       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