Tuesday, February 28, 2012

"Long Live Walter Jameson"

Walter Jameson (Kevin McCarthy)

"Long Live Walter Jameson"
Season One, Episode 24
Original Air Date: March 18, 1960

Cast:
Professor Walter Jameson: Kevin McCarthy
Professor Samuel Kittridge: Edgar Stehli
Susanna Kittridge: Dody Heath
Laurette Bowen: Estelle Winwood

Crew:
Writer: Charles Beaumont (original teleplay)
Director: Anton Leader
Producer: Buck Houghton
Production Manager: Ralph W. Nelson
Director of Photography: George T. Clemens
Art Direction: George W. Davis and William Ferrari
Set Decoration: Rudy Butler and Henry Grace
Assistant Director: Edward Denault
Casting: Mildred Gusse
Editor: Bill Mosher
Sound: Franklin Milton and Jean Valentino
Music: Stock
Makeup: William Tuttle

And now, Mr. Serling:
"Next week the culprit is Charles Beaumont, the gentleman responsible for a story unlike any you've ever seen. You talk of immortality, the business of being able to live for as long as one wants. Well, next week you'll see Kevin McCarthy at the tail end of a life that's gone on for two thousand years. The play is called, 'Long Live Walter Jameson,' on The Twilight Zone."

Rod Serling's Opening Narration:
"You're looking at act one, scene one of a nightmare, one not restricted to witching hours and dark, rain-swept nights. Professor Walter Jameson, popular beyond words, who talks of the past as if it were the present, who conjures up the dead as if they were alive. In the view of this man, Professor Samuel Kittridge, Walter Jameson has access to knowledge that couldn't come out of a volume of history but rather from a book on black magic; which is to say that this nightmare begins at noon."

Summary: 
                Walter Jameson, a middle-aged professor of history, gives a lecture on the American Civil War. He reads passages from the private journal of Union Officer Hugh Skelton. The journal describes, in great detail, the hatred felt by Union soldiers for the ruthless Union Officer General William T. Sherman, the man who ordered Atlanta burned. Listening to Jameson's lecture is Professor Samuel Kittridge, an elderly man. Kittridge approaches Jameson after the lecture and inquires about Union Officer Hugh Skelton and in what manner Jameson came to possess Skelton's journal. Jameson dodges the question. When Kittridge instead asks to borrow the journal Jameson denies him on the grounds that Kittridge misplaced an earlier borrowed item. Kittridge invites Jameson to dinner at Kittridge's home. Jameson agrees and we learn that Jameson is engaged to Kittridge's daughter, Susanna.
                We meet Susanna as she answers the door when Jameson arrives at the Kittridge home later that evening. Susanna is young and beautiful, and clearly in love with Jameson. Samuel Kittridge enters and, after some light banter, announces that dinner is ready. After dinner, Kittridge sends Susanna upstairs to continue her study for a PhD. Susanna reluctantly agrees and Kittridge and Jameson sit down to continue a game of chess in the living room.
                We soon learn the cause for apprehension on the part of Kittridge. When the hands of the two men meet, one young and smooth, the other old and wrinkled, Kittridge begins to question Jameson as to the young man's real age. Kittridge does the math, adding up the time when Jameson arrived in town until the present, and realizes that the age Jameson claims doesn't add up. Jameson gives another false "true" age and furthermore states that he believes Kittridge's apprehension is that Jameson is too old to marry Susanna. This, Kittridge tells him, is true, in a sense.
                Kittridge fetches a book of the Civil War photographs taken by Matthew Brady. He tells Jameson that his curiosity had been roused by the story of Union Officer Hugh Skelton. He shows Jameson a photograph of Skelton and the Union Officer is identical in appearance to Walter Jameson, even down to a mole on his face and the ring on his smallest finger. Realizing he cannot lie his way out from under the evidence presented by the photograph, Jameson decides to tell Kittridge the truth. Jameson walks to a sculpted bust of Plato and tells Kittridge that he, Jameson, is old enough to have known Plato personally, making him over two thousand years old!
                Kittridge believes the fantastic tale and clings to the hope that Jameson holds the key to eternal life. Jameson, however, can provide no such key. He tells of being afraid of dying and of visiting an alchemist. The alchemist gave Jameson the gift of immortality, a gift he knows now to be a curse. He tells Kittridge of the horror of watching loved ones grow old and die while you never age. He tells of never being able to stay in one place for fear of those around him finding out his secret. He also poses the question of whether Kittridge would really want to achieve immortality as an old man with an old man's body. Kittridge, angered and afraid, forbids Jameson to marry his daughter, stating that sparing her the heartbreak of when Jameson must inevitably abandon her is worth Susanna being angry now. But Jameson will not be so easily dismissed. When Susanna is roused by their increased voices and comes downstairs, Jameson tells her to get her things together, they are going away tonight to get married. Susanna is excited and, defiant of her father, runs upstairs to get ready. After an idle threat by Kittridge, Jameson walks across the street to his own home. Unbeknownst to Jameson, an old woman hiding in the shadows of a large tree, spying on Jameson as he walks across the street.
                Inside his home, Jameson sits behind the desk in his office. From the desk drawer he draws a revolver. For a moment suicide crosses his mind but is quickly rejected. He places the gun back in the drawer. Then a voice speaks. It is the voice of the old woman calling the name "Tommy." Jameson is startled and turns a lamp to illuminate the old woman who had spied on him outside. After taking a good look at Jameson she is satisfied. She tells him that she is Laurette Bowen and that he was her husband, Tommy, when she was a young woman. The old woman is suddenly holding a gun. Jameson begins to plead with the woman. She tells Jameson he is unnatural and that he cannot go on hurting others the way he hurt her. Before Jameson can get another word out, the woman shoots him.  
                Kittridge hears the gunshot and rushes across the street where he encounters the old woman in front of Jameson's house. Kittridge asks what happened but the old woman rushes on down the sidewalk. Inside Jameson's home, Kittridge is confronted with a horrible sight. He finds Jameson in the office. Jameson's death is two thousand years in the making and he rapidly ages before Kittridge's eyes until Jameson is nothing but dust on the floor amid a empty set of clothes.
                When Susanna rushes into the office, Kittridge attempts to shield her from the sight but dust and empty clothes only leave Susanna confused as Kittridge leads her away.

Rod Serling's Closing Narration:
"Last stop on a long journey, as yet another human being returns to the vast nothingness that is the beginning and into the dust that is always the end."


Kevin McCarthy and Edgar Stehli
Commentary:

"Nothing lasts forever. Thank God."
-Walter Jameson

               "Long Live Walter Jameson" is Charles Beaumont's first original teleplay for The Twilight Zone. Beaumont's friend Richard Matheson preferred to create original material for the show, choosing not to adapt one of his own stories until the third season's "Little Girl Lost." Beaumont, on the other hand, seems to have been more comfortable, at least initially, adapting his own short stories for the show. With "Long Live Walter Jameson," however, Beaumont created his most haunting and effective script of the first season. Though it is certainly one of the more memorable episodes, it is also notable in that it was the first episode to effectively display the astonishing special makeup effects that veteran makeup artist William Tuttle brought to the series. The makeup department at MGM would become as important a member of the production as any other and Tuttle's creations are instantly recognizable moments from the series. Aided also by strong performances, "Long Live Walter Jameson" remains a remarkably well-crafted and thought-provoking episode.

                Unlike "Perchance to Dream," an earlier episode from Charles Beaumont, "Long Live Walter Jameson" is directed and acted in a very natural manner. There is no frenetic camera work and the stock soundtrack is noticeably subtle. The actors, through the unadorned nature of their performances, effectively convey the introduction of a fantastic element into an otherwise rational world, basically the premise for the entire series. Though The Twilight Zone was rarely subtle in its display of fantasy, the show always attempted to place the fantasy in a recognizable reality. The danger is that an episode could stray into unintentionally humorous territory. It was important to have strong performances and successfully created effects to draw the audience in. 
                One of the more powerful scenes in the episode was cut from the syndicated version. This is the scene in which Kittridge and Jameson play chess. The scene is unsubtle in its symbolism. It is the battle between these two men, one to protect a secret and the other to find it out. It is also important for the hand comparison scene, in which the hands of the two men meet and are seen to markedly contrast on account of the effects of aging. The entire episode hinges on the mounting tension between these two men, which leaves two unsatisfying roles for the women in the cast. It is entirely dramatic action until the episode's shocking final sequence. Walter Jameson, the man, is presented not so much as a villain but as desperate and adapted to a certain form of survival. Once threatened, he panics and attempts to flee with Susanna. He realizes he has made a mistake and remained too long in one place, too close to one man intelligent enough to discover his secret. 
                There is a second scene, left on the production floor, which actor Kevin McCarthy discusses on a commentary track for the Definitive Edition DVD. McCarthy describes a scene in which Jameson and Susanna are walking along a midway and a man, against Jameson's wishes, takes their picture for an engagement announcement in the local newspaper. Laurette Bowen, the scorned lover from Jameson's past wonderfully played by Estelle Winwood, later mentions viewing the photograph and using it to track Jameson down. It is the second time in the episode that a photograph is the cause for Jameson's undoing. 
                "Long Live Walter Jameson" displays the major themes of Charles Beaumont's fiction, especially that of his Twilight Zone output. Though there are exceptions, Beaumont's episodes are mostly concerned with death and dying, often through the perspective of a dream or nightmare. Beaumont's most celebrated stories, "Miss Gentilbelle," "The Hunger," "A Death in the Country," "Mourning Song," and "Black Country," reflect deeply upon death and the emotional and physical aspects of dying. Among his first three episodes for The Twilight Zone, the theme of death and dying is all-pervasive. "Perchance to Dream" concerns a man afraid to go to sleep for fear that a recurring nightmare will take his life. "Elegy" takes a morbidly humorous approach when three astronauts crash land on a planet that serves as a unique mortuary for those wishing their preserved bodies to be displayed performing their favorite activities. With "Long Live Walter Jameson," Beaumont gives us two men, one old and one eternally young, both afraid of death, and both running out of time. By the end of the episode, Kittridge's dream of defeating death is dispelled by the sight of Walter Jameson's body turned to dust on the floor. Beaumont further explored the themes of death and dying in such notable episodes as season two's "Shadow Play" and season four's "Passage on the Lady Anne," both of which are based on previously published stories. The episode that most resembles "Long Live Walter Jameson," however, is the fifth season's "Queen of the Nile," a light rewrite of the material. This episode was ghost-written by Jerry Sohl in a period when Beaumont's health began to decline. The episode is credited solely to Beaumont. It concerns an ageless movie star who manages to remain immortal by the use of an ancient Egyptian scarab ring and occasional human sacrifice. Though darker in tone, "Queen of the Nile" is not as effective as "Long Live Walter Jameson."
                Makeup artist William Tuttle joined the production of The Twilight Zone as head of the makeup department at Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios, where The Twilight Zone utilized the studio's vast production resources. Tuttle apprenticed under Jack Dawn at MGM, where Dawn ascended to head of the makeup department. Tuttle worked with Dawn on such films as Tod Browning's Mark of the Vampire (1935) and The Wizard of Oz (1939). Dawn retired in the fall of 1950. Tuttle served as head of the MGM makeup department until 1969, when a change in ownership of the studio directed Tuttle toward teaching at USC and freelancing his makeup skills instead. Tuttle was awarded the first Academy Award ever given to a makeup artist for his work transforming actor Tony Randall into The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao in 1964. The film was scripted by Charles Beaumont from Charles G. Finney's 1935 novel The Circus of Dr. Lao. Tuttle's other makeup creations can be seen in such films as Forbidden Planet (1956), The Time Machine (1960), Young Frankenstein (1974), and The Fury (1978), working on the latter with a young Rick Baker, an artist who later amassed more Academy Awards for makeup than any other artist. Tuttle and Baker won Saturn Awards for their work on the film. Some of Tuttle's most memorable makeup creations appeared in episodes of The Twilight Zone, including notable work in "The After Hours" (working with talented sculptor Charles Schram), "Eye of the Beholder," "Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?," "The Dummy," "To Serve Man," "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet," and "The Masks."
                For "Long Live Walter Jameson," Tuttle and cinematographer George T. Clemens used a proven method for black and white film effects when aging actor Kevin McCarthy in a single continuous shot. It is the same method used for the famous transformation scene in 1931's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, starring Fredric March in an Academy Award-winning performance. Clemens worked on that film as an assistant camera operator for cinematographer Karl Struss. For the initial stages of the aging process, Tuttle drew aging lines on Kevin McCarthy's face using red makeup. Photographer George T. Clemens used a red color filter over the camera lens to conceal the makeup on the actor's face. When the red filter was removed and replaced with a green filter, the red makeup turned a very dark hue to reveal the aging lines, giving the effect of McCarthy aging before the viewer's eyes. As stated before, this method works only for black and white photography. Tuttle's primary method as a makeup artist was to create a mold of an actor's likeness, formed in flexible wax with a structural layer of Plaster of Paris, which could be manipulated to fit the needs of the desired effect.  For the deep aging process undergone by Walter Jameson, Tuttle made several molds of different portions of Kevin McCarthy's face, manipulated the features to look aged, and then refitted them upon McCarthy's face with foam adhesive. The effect is convincing and wonderfully done. Tuttle was assisted in this, and in several other technically demanding episodes ("The After Hours," "The Masks," etc.) by talented sculptor and longtime friend Charles Schram, who met Tuttle during their undergraduate days in the USC Art Department in the early 1930s. William Tuttle is the subject of a 1968 MGM short documentary film, King of the Duplicators.

William Tuttle's makeup progression on actor Kevin McCarthy:












                Kevin McCarthy (1914-2010) is remembered as Dr. Miles Bennell in director Don Siegel's 1956 adaptation of Jack Finney's 1955 novel The Body Snatchers, filmed as Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and one of the finest SF films of that rich decade. Earlier in his career, McCarthy received a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award nomination for his role as Biff Loman in the 1951 film version of Arthur Miller's 1949 Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning play, Death of a Salesman. In later years, McCarthy gained memorable roles as a regular in the films of director Joe Dante, including Piranha (1978), The Howling (1981), and Twilight Zone: the Movie (1983), in which he appeared in the film's third segment, Dante's re-imagining of the classic episode, "It's a Good Life," based on the 1953 Jerome Bixby story. In a playful move, McCarthy's character is named Walter Jameson in the film. He is repeatedly referred to as "Uncle Walt." Like the character of Walter Jameson, McCarthy had the gift of longevity. He died on September 11, 2010 at the age of 96.
                In some ways, "Long Live Walter Jameson" mirrors the unfortunate plight writer Charles Beaumont experienced in life. By the spring of 1963, the young writer was displaying aberrant behavior that was initially attributed by friends and family to the effects of increased drinking. The truth was much worse. Beaumont was displaying the symptoms of very early onset Alzheimer's Disease or a similar degenerative disease of the brain, such as Pick's Disease. Beaumont displayed signs of acute memory loss, weight loss, trouble in speech and motor skill function, an inability to keep track of time, chronic fatigue, severe headaches, an increase in the physical signs of aging, and, of course, an increasing inability to write new material. He soon found it impossible to finish any work and was soon unable to sell new material. As author Marc Scott Zicree commented upon in The Twilight Zone Companion (revised second ed. 1989), Beaumont began to "farm out" his ideas for new episodes of The Twilight Zone to close friends and fellow writers Jerry Sohl and John Tomerlin. These included "The New Exhibit," from season four, "Number Twelve Looks Just Like You," and the classic "Living Doll," both from season five. Beaumont's friend and former fiction editor at Playboy, Ray Russell, was also at this time helping Beaumont complete film scripts for producer/director Roger Corman at American International Pictures, where Beaumont was credited with work on Corman's The Masque of the Red Death (1964), The Premature Burial (1962), The Haunted Palace (1963), in actuality based on H.P. Lovecraft's The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, and The Intruder(1962), based on Beaumont's novel of the same name. Beaumont's other screenwriting credits include Burn, Witch, Burn (1962), co-written with Richard Matheson and based on Fritz Leiber's 1943 novel Conjure Wife, producer/director George Pal's The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962), and several teleplays for episodic television including work for Wanted: Dead or Alive, One Step Beyond, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Suspense, Have Gun-Will Travel, Route 66, Naked City, and Boris Karloff's Thriller. It is clear that at the time Beaumont's mysterious disease ended his writing career, he was as the height of his creative powers.
                Beaumont editor and biographer Roger Anker relates, in The Twilight Zone Scripts of Charles Beaumont, Volume One (Gauntlet, 2004), that by early 1964 Beaumont decided to temporarily move from his home in California to the east coast, opting to take a small apartment in Manhattan in which he planned to finish a novel tentatively titled Where No Man Walks. Beaumont's time in Manhattan was unsuccessful. His novel was never finished and by July Beaumont returned to California and allowed himself to be checked into the UCLA Neuro-Psychiatric Clinic for testing. It was then that the severity of Beaumont's situation became known. UCLA doctors diagnosed Beaumont with Alzheimer's, or possibly Pick's, Disease. Beaumont's decline may also have occurred from contact with lead through his heavy use of Bromo-Seltzer to curb near-constant headaches. At that time the antacid was distributed in lead-lined containers.
                Beaumont's condition rapidly worsened. He acted as though films he had seen dozens of times, such as King Kong, he was only now viewing for the first time. After his release from the UCLA medical center, he accidentally set two fires in his own home, once setting the drapes on fire with a cigarette, unaware of the danger to his life, until friends and family were able to get him away and put out the flames. Beaumont's meetings with producers and publishers were disastrous during this time. He struggled to speak clearly and was forced to speak slowly and deliberately. He would often arrive unshaven and unable to remember and articulate his prepared plans for the meetings. Beaumont would lose control of his emotions, often erupting into anger or tears as his awareness and understanding of what was happening to him would come and go with cruel irregularity. By the end of his terrible ordeal, Beaumont would be unable to perform such basic tasks as dressing and walking. The situation was a nightmare of emotional and financial strain on Beaumont's family, which included four young children.
                By the end Beaumont was largely unaware of what was happening to him. In March of 1965, Beaumont entered the Motion Picture Country Home and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California, where he died on February 21, 1967, age 38. He was reported to appear ninety years old when he died. Fortunately, Charles Beaumont left behind exceedingly fine work and his legacy is secure through his contributions to The Twilight Zone.
               
Grade: A


Notes: 
--Anton Leader also directed the third season episode, "The Midnight Sun."
--Writer Charles Beaumont was enamored with the production aspects of The Twilight Zone and was often on-set during the filming of episodes he scripted. Actor Kevin McCarthy recalled meeting Beaumont on the set of "Long Live Walter Jameson." McCarthy remembered that Beaumont was a motor sports enthusiast. Beaumont was, in fact, an amateur racer who owned a sports car and often traveled, along with his friends William F. Nolan and John Tomerlin, to compete in racing tournaments. Beaumont edited, with Nolan, two books on the subject, The Omnibus of Speed: An Introduction to the World of Motor Sport (Putnam's, 1958) and When Engines Roar: Nineteen Action Packed True Stories That Capture All the Daring and Drama of the Greatest Moments in Auto-Racing History (Bantam Pathfinder, 1964). One of Beaumont's finest short stories also concerns auto-racing. Initially titled "The Deadly Will to Win" and first published in the November, 1957 issue of Playboy, it has subsequently been reprinted as "A Death in the Country."
--"Love Live Walter Jameson" was initially submitted under the title "Forever and a Day" but producer Buck Houghton felt this title too ambiguous and wisely suggested a change. Episode titles often changed between the time of submission and the time of filming. Examples include the second season episode "Static," scripted by Charles Beaumont and OCee Ritch from Ritch's initial story "Tune in Yesterday," and Earl Hamner's third season episode "A Piano in the House," which was originally titled "Won't You Play a Simple Melody?"
--"Long Live Walter Jameson" was the final episode produced before the premier of the pilot episode, "Where Is Everybody?" on October 2, 1959. 
--"Long Live Walter Jameson" was adapted as a Twilight Zone Radio Drama, starring Lou Diamond Phillips.
--JP


4 comments:

  1. An excellent post! Thank you for all of the detail on the sad life of Charles Beaumont. "Walter Jameson" is really a great episode. I was also very impressed with the acting of Edgar Stehli, who rarely gets much attention.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey thanks, Jack. And I agree that Stehli is really good in the episode and is an excellent character actor in general, as is Estelle Winwood. Sorry I didn't devote more space to their careers. The Beaumont tragedy is certainly a sad story but thankfully his work on the Twilight Zone is well regarded and keeps him from falling into obscurity. Funny how these really talented, prolific genre writers from half a century ago are probably best known to general audiences today from their television work. I think that's the way it is for John Collier and Fred Brown and Henry Slesar too, for their work on Hitchcock's show. That's how I first discovered them. But all those guys and others from that same era have such great work to their names it's a shame they don't regularly remain in print.

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  4. Always glad to have a new visitor to the blog, Dewey, even if you found your way by accident. Very happy you enjoyed the post. I appreciate the kind words and hope you'll come back and join us when we tackle some other episodes, many of which are just as interesting as "Long Live Walter Jameson."

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