The Changing of the Guard
The Twilight Zone

This must be the most structurally complex teleplay in the first three seasons, for all its resemblance to Goodbye, Mr. Chips, often noted. The minute particulars begin with a quiz on Housman and a reading of “When I was one-and-twenty”, setting up a strange allusive echo of The Blue Angel, and providing the key.

Like Napoleon, our scholar lets his mail wait and suffers a defeat. He had hoped to hear Handel’s Messiah on the radio, but instead is told by the headmaster that he is terminated. Blasted, he goes home to kill himself. In the snowy schoolyard, by the statue of Horace Mann, he says, “I am ashamed to die,” and raises the pistol. The school bell rings in dead of night. He goes to his classroom and has a vision of all his victories over the years, victories over ignorance, in the form of schoolboys dead in famous battles and dangerous trades, inspired by him.

He is reconciled to his fate. “I’ve lived a full life, I’ve left my mark.”

There is a nice touch in his dismissal of the class early for Christmas (after the Housman) as Martial advised.



Any Wednesday

The salient feature of this living room comedy is the lighted set that opens onto a back lot with matching location scenes. The transitions from sound stage to riverside somehow reflect the indeterminate specification of the title.

Noteworthy is a rooftop restaurant set somewhat carelessly handled with a sort of ironic effect, gathered around the Jason Robards character.

The balloons floating over a real New York City at the close express the triumph of the Dean Jones character, so that the significance would appear to be the modernization of the industry.


The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter

The imagination of a perfect art that should answer all comers on the sole proviso that they abstain from their swill an instant.

Variety was downright hostile, the New York Times political. It is true, as the former suggests, that the film is somewhat difficult.


Reuben, Reuben

Two works are listed as Epstein’s sources, they are not Kershner’s A Fine Madness and Nabokov’s Pnin.

The title character expunges a Scottish poet in New England.

Vincent Canby of the New York Times found the work to be praiseworthy but concluded oddly that it is a joke and furthermore one that “seems to be at the expense of the audience.” Variety considered it “exceptionally literate,” Time Out Film Guide wasn’t buying it, neither was Dave Kehr of the Chicago Reader.

Halliwell’s Film Guide has “oddball comedy”.


The Angel of Pennsylvania Avenue

Puppet-show dialogue,

MRS. CHICKEN: What’s all this about a chicken in every pot?
HERBERT HOOVER: Why did you cross the street, Mrs. Chicken?
MRS. CHICKEN: To get to the other side, Mr. President.