Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?
The Twilight Zone

This comic mirror of Pittman’s “Two” is so widely remarked upon that it only remains to note the fine gradient of acting that leads to the final confrontation of invading Mars and Venus, having come before.

It’s simply a matter of keeping a straight face, as all acting is, and Jack Elam is there to let off steam before the boiler explodes.

Serling himself lets the air out of this balloon later on, in “The Fear”, lest there be any question of a misunderstanding amongst unobservant critics.

If it’s a question of categories, however, a third arm or eye is sufficient.



The Twilight Zone

The Russian invasion of America finally comes down to an infantrywoman amid the ruins of Third Avenue, suspiciously eyeing a trooper who’s had enough of the whole thing. He gives himself a shave in a long-disused barber shop, and scrounges up a smoking jacket and some jars of fruit. She stops shooting rays at him and puts on a dress. They go off together down the avenue, past the movie theater advertising Furlough Romance, the recruiting office and all the rest.

Pittman’s teleplay pays homage to Shaw’s Chocolate Soldier in an article of the woman’s uniform, the holster containing hairpins and a pocket mirror.


The Grave
The Twilight Zone

Pittman’s Moby Dick is transferred out among the prairie schooners in a windswept town bedeviled by a local desperado. The townspeople hire a gunslinger, whose pursuit is in vain, and kill the pesky fellow themselves on Main Street. The gunslinger returns, to hear the deathbed taunts of the lately-buried fugitive repeated in the saloon by his trepidacious killers.

The gunslinger goes to the grave on a bet, and harpoons himself after a fashion. The desperado’s sister, a strange, distracted girl, almost merrily brings her brother’s Delftware plate to adorn the grave, with the passing suggestion of a halo.


Dead Man’s Shoes
The Twilight Zone

Archie Mayo’s Angel on My Shoulder is the basis. A bum puts them on in an alleyway, walks into a mobster’s uptown hideaway, gets the girl and confronts the partner, just before getting dumped in an alleyway.

Pittman opens with a crane-shot out of Preminger and Welles. The lyrical theme has an element of Peter Gunn, and may be Jerry Goldsmith’s.

Richard L. Bare tells the Borgesian story of De Mille repeating Rembrandt’s experience with the Night Watch. “In one of his early silent films, he had experimented with lighting and achieved a then startling result; only half of the actors’ faces were lighted brightly, the other half falling off into deep shadows. This created a suspenseful mood to the picture, and De Mille had taken great pains in obtaining it. Many long weeks later, when the final print was ready and shipped to New York, his distributors viewed the picture with some misgivings, and wired De Mille in Hollywood that they were at a loss to know how to release the picture since they couldn’t very well charge people full admission when only half the actors’ faces were visible.

“This disturbed De Mille, but he finally came up with the argument he needed to ensure the picture’s acceptance. He wired the distributor in New York: ‘What’s the matter with you back there? Don’t you recognize Rembrandt Lighting when you see it?’”

As Serling says, “if you happen to find a pair of size nine black-and-gray loafers, made to order in the old country, be very careful—you might walk right into the Twilight Zone.”


The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank
The Twilight Zone

At his funeral, Jefferson Myrtlebank gets up out of the coffin, evidently misdiagnosed by a country doctor. Three days without eating, he’s powerful hungry. It’s thought among his fellows that he is in reality a “haint” or “ha’nt”, that is to say, a wandering ghost inhabiting the body of their late friend. He proposes to his girl, a group arrives demanding that he move out. She accepts him, and he stands his ground, promising spiritual mischief if he’s bothered.

Earlier, the tea roses Myrtlebank brings to his girl from his mother’s garden wither mysteriously in his hand, and at the close there is a variant of the gag in Way Out West, lighting a match without striking it. His character changes slightly after the ordeal, he tends to his business rather more diligently, as his parents remark.

Pittman’s direction is as good as his story, which is not too far from one by Borges about Indians who profit from the gospels by crucifying a missionary. Serling’s narration places this in “the southernmost section of the Midwest”.