Monday, March 9, 2020

"The Incredible World of Horace Ford"


Pat Hingle as Horace Ford

“The Incredible World of Horace Ford”
Season Four, Episode 117
Original Air Date: April 18, 1963

Cast:
Horace Maxwell Ford: Pat Hingle
Laura Ford: Nan Martin
Mrs. Ford: Ruth White
Leonard O’Brien: Phillip Pine
Mr. Judson: Vaughn Taylor
Betty O’Brien: Mary Carver
Hermy Brandt: Jerry Davis
Horace as Child: Jim E. Titus

Crew:
Writer: Reginald Rose
Director: Abner Biberman
Producer: Herbert Hirschman
Director of Photography: George T. Clemens
Production Manager: Ralph W. Nelson
Associate Producer: Murray Golden
Assistant to the Producer: John Conwell
Art Direction: George W. Davis & Edward Carfagno
Film Editor: Eda Warren
Set Decoration: Henry Grace & Edward M. Parker
Assistant Director: John Bloss
Sound: Franklin Milton & Joe Edmondson
Music: stock
Mr. Serling’s Wardrobe: Eagle Clothes
Filmed at MGM Studios

And Now, Mr. Serling:
“On our next excursion into The Twilight Zone we borrow an imposing array of talent and call on the services of a distinguished author named Reginald Rose, and some exceptionally fine acting talent in the persons of Mr. Pat Hingle, Miss Nan Martin, and Miss Ruth White. They appear in a story called ‘The Incredible World of Horace Ford,’ and it’s an incredible world indeed.”

Rod Serling’s Opening Narration:
“Mr. Horace Ford, who has a preoccupation with another time, a time of childhood, a time of growing up, a time of street games, stickball, and hide-and-go-seek. He has a reluctance to check out a mirror and see the nature of his image, proof-positive that the time he dwells in has already passed him by. But in a moment or two he’ll discover that mechanical toys and memories and daydreaming and wishful thinking and all manner of odd and special events can lead one into a special province, uncharted and unmapped, a country of both shadow and substance known as The Twilight Zone.”

Summary:
            Horace Ford is a middle-aged toy designer who clings to the happy memories of his childhood to such a degree that he behaves and speaks like a boy of ten. Horace’s childish behavior is a burden on his co-workers as well as his wife, Laura, and mother at home. On impulse one evening Horace decides to return to Randolph Street, where he grew up, for the first time in many years in order to rekindle happy memories.
            Horace discovers something amazing and terrifying on Randolph Street. It is just as it was when he was ten years old! He even sees some of his childhood friends, Hermy Brandt, Harvey Bender, George Langbert, and Cy Wright, as they were twenty-eight years ago. Horace drops his pocket watch when he accidentally runs into a man. He returns to his apartment shaken up by his experience. He tells Laura what he saw but she tries to explain to him that it couldn’t be the way he thought he saw it. Horace retreats to the bedroom to lie down. The doorbell rings. Laura answers the door. Ten-year-old Hermy Brant is at the door to return Horace’s pocket watch.
            Horace returns to Randolph Street on a following night where events are the same as when he visited before, even down to dropping his pocket watch again. Horace follows his childhood friends into an alley where he overhears the boys angrily talking about not being invited to a birthday party. Later, after Horace has returned to the apartment, Laura answers the doorbell to again receive Horace’s dropped pocket watch from Hermy Brandt.
Horace becomes obsessed with discovering his place in this memory frozen in time. His work starts to suffer to the point that his boss, Mr. Judson, suggests Horace take a leave of absence. When Horace refuses, Mr. Judson is forced to terminate Horace’s employment with the company.
            Laura is preparing for Horace’s surprise birthday party when he returns home late to deliver the news that he has been fired. Horace’s mother panics because she is worried there will be no money to secure their living conditions. Laura tries to be sympathetic but when Horace again starts talking about Randolph Street she loses her patience. Horace storms out of the apartment.
            He returns to Randolph Street. It is as it was before. Horace drops his pocket watch. He follows the boys into an alley to hear them speak of not being invited to a birthday party. Understanding his role in the memory now, Horace tries to speak to the boys, to explain to them why he didn’t invite them to his birthday party. Horace is a ten-year-old boy again. He pleads with his friends to understand. Instead, they mock him and beat him up.

            The partygoers have gathered back at Horace’s and Laura’s apartment. The doorbell rings. Everybody takes their positions in expectation that it is Horace at the door. Instead, it is Hermy Brandt again, there to return Horace’s watch. This time it is a Mickey Mouse watch like a child would wear.
            Laura goes to Randolph Street in search of Horace. She finds ten-year-old Horace in the alley, beaten and lying face down on the pavement. Laura turns away from the sight. When she turns back Horace is a grown man again. She helps him to his feet. He tells Laura of his experience and she explains that we remember the good times and black out the bad experiences in our lives, or else we could hardly go on living.
            Horace allows Laura to lead him away from Randolph Street. Neither of them notice Hermy Brandt sitting atop a streetlamp, looking down on them.

Rod Serling’s Closing Narration:
“Exit Mr. and Mrs. Horace Ford, who have lived through a bizarre moment not to be calibrated on normal clocks and watches. Time has passed, to be sure, but it’s the special time in the special place known as The Twilight Zone.”

Commentary:
           
Jim E. Titus as the young Horace Ford
“Seated at the desk, daydreaming, is Horace. He is approaching thirty-five and growing paunchy. Horace is a bulky man with an elusive, almost boyish quality. His clothes never seem to fit. His shirt blouses out of his trousers. His socks are always down around his ankles. And his thinning hair cannot stay combed at all. He is a mild man, an apologetic man, except when he is discussing his beloved childhood memories. Then he seems to find a strange vitality, which somehow doesn’t fit him. Horace is the kind of man who would naturally become the butt of endless jokes, would the jokers not feel instinctively sorry for him without quite knowing why. Were they wise enough, they would understand that the tragic quality of Horace Ford is based in the fact that he is not an inadequate man but really an inadequate grown-up boy.”
            -“The Incredible World of Horace Ford” by Reginald Rose (1955)

“The Incredible World of Horace Ford” was first performed on June 13, 1955 for the CBS television anthology series Studio One in Hollywood. It was directed by Franklin Schaffner, who directed over one hundred episodes of the anthology series including Reginald Rose’s “Twelve Angry Men.” Schaffner is likely best remembered for the feature films he directed later in his career, including Planet of the Apes (1968), Patton (1970), Papillon (1973), and The Boys from Brazil (1978). Schaffner also directed episodes of Playhouse 90, including a quartet of Rod Serling offerings, “Panic Button,” “Nightmare at Ground Zero,” “The Velvet Alley,” and “The Rank and File,” as well as Reginald Rose’s “The Cruel Day.” Schaffner later worked on Reginald Rose’s The Defenders.
            “The Incredible World of Horace Ford” was also performed on the Toronto-based anthology series General Motors Presents (aka Encounter) for March 27, 1960 with Alan Young as Horace Ford and Jill Foster as Laura.

When “The Incredible World of Horace Ford” appeared on Studio One, the play’s author, Reginald Rose, was four years into a television writing career whose output positioned him as one of the key foundational architects of the television drama, alongside Rod Serling, Gore Vidal, and Paddy Chayefsky. A few years later, Rose’s short story, the ironic and macabre “Parlor Game,” was prefaced (by the unsigned Publisher) with this statement in the premier issue of the short-lived Shock magazine (1960):

            Just seven years ago, the infant industry of TV began to find its own artists – men who knew how to create memorable works of fiction in the form of a TV scenario. There was Paddy Chayefsky, who wrote “Marty” and “The Bachelor Party” and went on to screen and stage triumphs. There was – and is – Rod Serling who, despite several successful movies to his credit, has remained loyal to TV and is currently producing and writing the eerie “Twilight Zone” series. And then there is the most controversial of all the TV titans – Reginald Rose. From the moment his stirring “Remarkable Incident at Carsons [sic] Corners” exploded onto millions of home screens, Reginald Rose was acclaimed as TV’s freshest, most challenging writing talent. But he is better known for having authored the best motion picture written in America in the past five years. We refer, of course, to “Twelve Angry Men,” the unforgettable motion picture about a jury, starring Henry Fonda and Lee J. Cobb. Many other fine movies and rousing TV dramas have come from Reginald Rose’s facile pen.

Reginald Rose
Rose was born on December 10, 1920 in Manhattan and lived for much of his life in New York. He attended New York City College from 1937-1938 but left without taking a degree. The city was an enormous influence on Rose’s writing, an aspect captured beautifully in the production design for “The Incredible World of Horace Ford” and evidenced by the inclusion of such New York-centric elements as the child’s game Ringolevio. After a stint in the Air Force Quartermaster Corps (Rose enlisted after Pearl Harbor and rose to First Lieutenant) Rose, who had been actively writing since high school, and working a variety of jobs from copywriter for an ad agency to a publicist for Warner Brothers, sold his first television play, “The Bus to Nowhere,” in 1951 to the short-lived science fiction anthology series Out There. Although adept at fantasy, adapting John Cheever’s “The Enormous Radio” for The Revlon Mirror Theater in 1953, and suspense, with a handful of episodes for the anthology series Danger, Rose established himself with a confrontational style of realistic drama which, much like the plays of Rod Serling, frequently examined the social ills of the day. Rose’s style of drama quickly found a home at Studio One. Rose produced seventeen teleplays for the series from 1952-1957, beginning with “The Kill” and including his most notable work as a dramatist, the Emmy Award-winning “Twelve Angry Men,” and a two-part drama, “The Defender,” which Rose later reworked as the Emmy-winning courtroom drama series The Defenders (1961-1965). “Twelve Angry Men,” which has become a standard text for American school textbooks and regional stage productions, was based on Rose’s real-life experience as a first-time juror. It was adapted for film in 1957, as 12 Angry Men, from Rose’s script, directed by Sidney Lumet, starring Henry Fonda (who also served as Producer), E.G. Marshall (later star of Rose’s The Defenders), Lee J. Cobb, and Twilight Zone performers Jack Klugman, Martin Balsam, and Jack Warden. The film netted Rose two Academy Award nominations and won the author an Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America. 12 Angry Men was adapted for the stage in 1964 with revised versions appearing in 1996 and 2004. Showtime network filmed the play in 1997. It remains Rose’s best-known work and a classic of American drama. Reginald Rose died on April 19, 2002 in Norwalk, Connecticut.

Art Carney as Horace Ford
            For the Studio One version of “The Incredible World of Horace Ford,” Art Carney (star of Twilight Zone’s “The Night of the Meek”) appeared as Horace Maxwell Ford in a performance Rose later characterized as “fine as any I’ve seen on television; the shadings and insights he brought to the childlike, tormented character he played were nothing short of incredible.” Appearing as Laura Ford was Leora Dana with Jason Robards in the role of Horace’s friend and coworker Leonard O’Brien. The play generated an enormous response from viewers, with the CBS offices flooded with written responses ranging from consternation to anger to extreme praise. As Rose later stated: “No one, it seems, was neutral about this play.” The variety of experience caused by the play was due not only to the fantasy element (a novel quality in the early days of television, especially on a mainstream anthology program) but also the unorthodox and ambiguous ending of Rose’s play. As originally written, the play ends when Hermy Brandt returns Horace’s Micky Mouse watch to Laura, indicating that Horace became trapped in the past, never to return.

The doorbell rings. Everyone turns. Laura stands, Betty tiptoes over to the light switch and turns out the light. She puts her fingers to her lips. Everyone tiptoes over to one corner of the room, everyone but Laura and Mrs. Ford. They wait expectantly, hushed. The bell rings again. Betty waves Laura to the door. But Mrs. Ford walks to the door instead and opens it. Hermy Brandt stands there, an odd smile on his face. He holds up a nickel-plated pocket watch to Mrs. Ford.
HERMY: He dropped this.
Mrs. Ford takes the watch and Laura, rushing to her, takes it from her with trembling fingers. Hermy pads silently away. Laura looks at the watch and then she raises a hand to her face and begins to sob. Cut to close-up of watch. It is a Mickey Mouse watch.
Fade out.

            Viewers either did not understand this ending or simply refused to accept it, instead requiring a clear and satisfactory resolution to the events. Rose, working from the assumption that many viewers thought the fantasy element was only in Horace’s mind, attempted to set the record straight when he included “The Incredible World of Horace Ford” in Six Television Plays (1956):

“The entire story was a fantasy about real people and I felt that this was clearly proven when Hermy Brandt, Horace’s little childhood friend, broke out of what many thought to be Horace’s private fantasy, appeared at Horace’s home, and was seen and spoken to by Horace’s wife and mother.
            “What I meant to do with The Incredible World of Horace Ford was to tell a simple horror story about an everyday man with a somewhat exaggerated but everyday kind of problem and, in so doing, point out that the funny, tender childhood memories we cling to are often distorted and unreal.”

            The Twilight Zone later made this type of story its stock-in-trade in such episodes as “Walking Distance,” “A Stop at Willoughby,” “The Trouble with Templeton,” “Young Man’s Fancy,” and related episodes. In fact, in August, 1959, two months before the premier of The Twilight Zone, Rod Serling received a suggestion to produced Rose’s play for The Twilight Zone but passed on the opportunity because of the obvious similarities between “Horace Ford” and Serling’s “Walking Distance.” “The Incredible World of Horace Ford” perhaps does not receive enough credit as a pioneering work of television fantasy as it prefigured many of the themes and stylistic tropes of series such as One Step Beyond, The Twilight Zone, and ‘Way Out. As such, there really was no time in which to produce “The Incredible World of Horace Ford” on The Twilight Zone and have the play not resemble a recently aired episode. The episode which immediately preceded “Horace Ford,” although different in tone, was a time travel fantasy, “Of Late I Think of Cliffordville,” in which a man longs to return to his youth only to find it not nearly as rosy as he remembered.

Reginald Rose and Rod Serling (from TV Guide)
The element of time travel (and similar fantasy concepts) seems to have confounded audiences and networks in the pre-Twilight Zone days, with CBS bearing the brunt of fantasy’s growing pains in the medium of television. CBS was to recall the flood of angry and confused letters its offices received after the airing of “The Incredible World of Horace Ford” on Studio One when it came time to restage the play for Twilight Zone. Producer Herbert Hirschman remembered Rose’s play from its appearance on Studio One and approached Rose about staging the play on The Twilight Zone. Rose held little affinity for fantasy but had enormous respect for Rod Serling and agreed to terms to bring “Horace Ford” to The Twilight Zone. Rose may also have felt a need to further reconcile with Rod Serling after a brief row between the writers the previous year over the article “Can a TV Writer Keep His Integrity?” by Edith Efron (TV Guide, April 21, 1962). In it, Rose and Serling were pitted against one another in a debate concerning writer integrity in television, with Rose holding out for the standards of disappearing dramatic anthology series such as Playhouse 90 and Studio One while Serling expressed the desire to compromise in order to adjust to changing tastes and demands of the audience. The article’s writer framed Serling’s position as one of abandoning the integrity of “serious” drama in order to produce science fiction and fantasy material which was beneath him and not worthy of his talents. Although Rose’s written response to the article was laudatory, Serling’s was blunt in its displeasure, prompting Rose to write Serling in order to ensure the two writers maintained their amiable personal and professional relationship.
Herbert Hirschman assigned “Horace Ford” to Abner Biberman (1909-1977), an actor since the thirties who began directing film and television in the fifties. Biberman was a stylish director whose talents behind the camera are better evidenced by his work on “The Dummy” and, later, on the fifth season episodes “Number 12 Looks Just Like You” and “I Am the Night – Color Me Black.” Biberman chiefly directed western and crime series but was versatile enough to handle straight drama, comedy, and science fiction. He directed the first season The Outer Limits episode “The Human Factor.”
As far as Rose’s original ending went, it would not be allowed to air that way again and perhaps cause another wave of outraged viewers. The play was filmed for The Twilight Zone as Rose had originally written it but both the network and producer Herbert Hirschman, viewing the episode prior to broadcast, strongly suggested a revised ending. Rose obliged and wrote the additional material which sees Laura recovering Horace from his nightmare in the past. Rose, likely not happy changing the ending but also not wanting to field any more queries about the meaning of the play, has Laura clearly state the theme of the play in dialogue.
The reader will remember the problems which Rod Serling’s time-travel fantasy “The Time Element” experienced at the network, where it was first shelved before fighting off resistance from the network and sponsor prior to its appearance on The Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse. By the time of the episode’s airing in 1958, however, audiences were much more in-tune with the type of grounded fantasy represented by “Horace Ford” and “The Time Element.” The audience response to Serling’s play was so overwhelmingly positive that it forced CBS to take another look at Serling’s proposal for a continuing series of fantasy plays, paving the way for the creation of The Twilight Zone.
           
            Pat Hingle’s performance as Horace Ford is likely the most divisive element in the play. Questions naturally arise about the character: How was Horace able to court and marry a woman like Laura? How was Horace able to secure a job, even for a toy manufacturer which would naturally require some semblance of professionalism in the hiring process? The best way of viewing the character, and appreciating Hingle’s excellent performance, is to accept that by the time the viewer is brought into Horace’s world, his behavior has progressed to an extreme degree. Where Horace may have always been a bit on the dreamy and immature side, he has now given himself over completely to his nostalgic fantasy. The episode is best viewed as a devastating portrait of a nervous breakdown, albeit aided by genuine fantasy, which nicely aligns the play with thematically related episodes such as “Walking Distance,” “A Stop at Willoughby,” and “The Trouble with Templeton.” There is a palpable tension to all the performances in the play and many scenes, particularly Mrs. Ford’s breakdown at the news of Horace’s firing, play out with the pleasantly unnerving quality of the older, more melodramatic television drama, belying the play’s provenance in a program from nearly a decade earlier.
            Hingle was born Martin Patterson Hingle on July 19, 1924 in Miami, Florida. Raised by a single mother, they moved around and eventually landed in Texas where Hingle became involved with the Drama Department at the University of Texas in Austin. A move to New York followed university where Hingle found steady work on stage and in the emerging medium of television. Hingle began his television career on Suspense, including an appearance in the Rod Serling-scripted episode “Nightmare at Ground Zero” (1953). Hingle later appeared in Serling’s television film Carol for Another Christmas (1964) and in an episode of Serling’s introspective western The Loner, “The Mourners for Johnny Sharp, Part 1” (1966). Appearances on a variety of anthology series included a role in Henry Slesar’s Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode “Night of the Execution” (1957), and the lead in a Play of the Week production of Reginald Rose’s “Black Monday” in 1961. Hingle reconnected with Rose with two appearances on The Defenders.
Hingle held connections with nearly all of his co-performers in “Horace Ford.” He performed alongside Vaughn Taylor in live television dramas, knew Phillip Pine personally, and previously performed with Ruth White and Nan Martin, the latter appearing alongside Hingle on Broadway in Archibald MacLeish’s J.B. and again playing Hingle’s wife on The Fugitive in “Search in a Windy City” (1964).
            Hingle is likely best-known for his four stints as Commissioner Gordon in the Batman films (1989-1997) and for appearances in Clint Eastwood films such as Hang ‘Em High, The Gauntlet, and Sudden Impact. Hingle also had a memorable appearance in Stephen King’s Maximum Overdrive (1986). He died on January 3, 2009 in Carolina Beach, North Carolina.
           
Nan Martin was born on July 15, 1927 in Decatur, Illinois. She began a career in television in 1952 in an episode of Schlitz Playhouse. Martin reconnected with Reginald Rose for an episode of The Defenders, “Climate of Evil,” and appeared in two episodes of The Twilight Zone revival series, the first season episode “If She Dies” and the second season adaptation of Theodore Sturgeon’s “A Saucer of Loneliness.” Horror film fans likely remember Martin as the nun who relates Freddy Krueger’s disturbing origin in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987). Martin died in Malibu on March 4, 2010.

Ruth White (1914-1969) memorably portrays Horace Ford’s frightened mother who is more concerned with the disturbance in her own living conditions than in the greater consequences of her son’s apparent mental breakdown. White is perhaps best known for playing Mrs. Dubose in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962). A versatile character actress in both film and television, White did not begin appearing on screen until her mid-30s due to having to care for an ailing parent. She began on television in mystery/suspense series such as The Clock, Lights Out, Hands of Mystery, Danger, and Suspense. White appeared in dramatic anthology series as well, including an appearance on Studio One in Reginald Rose’s “The Remarkable Incident at Carson Corners.” White appeared alongside Twilight Zone performer Milton Selzer in the episode “20/20” of the short-lived, Roald Dahl-hosted anthology series ‘Way Out. White appeared in two episodes of Rose’s The Defenders and reconnected with Pat Hingle alongside Clint Eastwood for Hang ‘Em High (1968), directed by TZ’s Ted Post. White won an Emmy for Supporting Actress for the Hallmark Hall of Fame production of “Little Moon of Alban” (1964).

            Phillip Pine (1920-2006) found a niche on television playing villains and mobsters, much like his previous role on The Twilight Zone in the first season episode “The Four of Us Are Dying.” Pine began acting in films in the late forties but it was on the small screen where he made his name, appearing in a variety of series which included much genre work. Pine appeared on Tales of Tomorrow, Science Fiction Theatre, Alfred Hitchcock Presents (“The Safe Place”), One Step Beyond (“Where Are They?”), The Outer Limits (“The Hundred Days of the Dragon”), Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Invaders, Star Trek (“The Savage Curtain”), and an episode of the Richard Matheson-developed series Circle of Fear (“The Ghost of Potter’s Field”).

            Vaughn Taylor (1911-1983) is certainly a familiar face to The Twilight Zone viewers as Taylor logged five appearances on the series, previously appearing in a very similar role as boss to a troubled employee in the first season episode “Time Enough at Last” (Taylor also made a memorable appearance as Janet Leigh’s boss in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960)). Taylor was nearly unrecognizable as the southern sorcerer Teague in “Still Valley.” He portrayed the eccentric salesman in Ray Bradbury’s “I Sing the Body Electric” and turned in a moody and ominous final performance on the series in the fifth season episode “The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross.” Taylor was a hugely prolific television performer and a staple of anthology series. Early genre work included appearances on The Clock, Tales of Tomorrow, Lights Out, and Inner Sanctum. He later appeared in two episodes of Boris Karloff’s Thriller, “Choose a Victim” and “Cousin Tundifer,” as well as The Alfred Hitchcock Hour episode “The Long Silence,” co-scripted by Charles Beaumont from Hilda Lawrence’s story “Composition for Four Hands,” and two episodes of The Outer Limits, “The Guests” and “Expanding Human.”

            Viewers are likely divided on the effectiveness of “The Incredible World of Horace Ford” due to the character of Horace, the exaggerated aspect of Pat Hingle’s performance, and perhaps the overly familiar nature of the play’s theme and fantasy element. For this viewer, the play remains a fascinating character study and an emotionally resonant exploration of certain truths of the human experience, anchored by fine performances, a strong, psychologically probing script, and an expert balance of the whimsical and the grim. Although the theme of the episode, that youth is often harsher than we remember it to be, many not resonate will all viewers, anyone can relate to the power which memory exerts over us, and the way that experience shapes oneself, not only in how it was actually lived but also how we remember it to have been. The episode rewards repeat viewings and the sensitive viewer comes away enriched by the play’s timeless themes. “The Incredible World of Horace Ford” is a wonderful time capsule back to the halcyon days of early television drama when the medium was raised to an art form by writers like Reginald Rose and Rod Serling.         

Grade: B

Grateful acknowledgment to:
-Six Television Plays by Reginald Rose (Simon and Schuster, 1956)
-The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic by Martin Grams, Jr. (OTR, 2008)
-Forgotten Gems from The Twilight Zone, Volume 2, ed. Andrew Ramage (BearManor Media, 2015)
-The Rod Serling Memorial Foundation (rodserling.com)

Notes:
Jerry Davis as Hermy Brandt
-Abner Biberman also directed the third season episode “The Dummy” and the fifth season episodes “Number 12 Looks Just Like You” and “I Am the Night – Color Me Black.”
-Nan Martin appeared in two segments from the first revival Twilight Zone series: “If She Dies” and “A Saucer of Loneliness.”
-Phillip Pine also appeared in the first season episode “The Four of Us Are Dying.”
-Vaughn Taylor appeared in four additional episodes of the series: “Time Enough at Last,” “Still Valley,” “I Sing the Body Electric,” and “The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross.”
-“The Incredible World of Horace Ford” was adapted as a Twilight Zone Radio Drama starring Mike Starr.

-JP

7 comments:

  1. Great work, Jordan! This one sounds like it's worth another viewing.

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    1. Thanks, Jack, and I'd say it is. I was pleasantly surprised upon another viewing how much better this one played than I remembered.

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  2. "Nan Martin, the latter appearing alongside Hingle on Broadway in Archibald MacLeish’s J.B. and again playing Hingle’s on The Fugitive in “Search in a Windy City” (1964)."

    Did you mean to write "Hingle's wife" here? I remember Nan Martin for a couple 1980s roles she played, one as a nasty relative of Valerie's in VALERIE (aka THE HOGAN FAMILY) and another as Douglas Brackman's bitter dying mother in LA LAW. (She seemed much older in that one than her roughly 60 years of age.)

    Vaughn Taylor also played a pivotal role in the premiere episode of PERRY MASON in 1957. I think he sets the record for TZ appearances, but never in a starring role. I saw him in a rare (for him) color tv appearance recently on GOMER PYLE, USMC.

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    1. I certainly did, Jon, thanks for catching that!

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  3. This was one of, if not my favorite, hour-long episodes.

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    1. This is definitely one of the better hour-long episodes, and played better than I remembered.

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  4. At age 64, after 50+ years of watching TZ - some episodes 50 times, no doubt - I’m finally running through all of season 4 and just watched the whole of “Horace Ford” for the very first time. I’m flabbergasted at how outstanding it is! No doubt the best of the hour-long episodes (though I do have three to go), but I’ll go further and rank it in my personal Top Ten, an A+. Pat Hingle’s performance is SUPERB, letter-perfect for this truly moving tale. It’s crystal clear to me he’s long into his breakdown by the time the story begins; seen through that lens, his man-child persona is utterly convincing. I just loved it.

    Two notes: the interaction between mom and wife is integral to the dynamic, and crescendos magnificently on birthday night; and the use of Herrmann’s “Walking Distance” melidy at the end brought me to tears. Sometimes, the lazy use of earlier music from the series during season 4 feels tired and old, but in this case it’s an inspired reference to one of the greatest episodes from season one.

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