The Twilight Zone (1960) – The Chaser, A Passage for Trumpet, and Mr. Bevis

It’s time to venture deeper into Paramount Picture’s The Twilight Zone this week as I take on another trio of episodes from The Complete Series on Blu-Ray.

The first episode up this week is The Chaser. It was written by Robert Presnell Jr. and was based on the short story by John Collier. It first aired on 13 May, 1960.

The tale follows a young man, Roger Shackleforth (George Grizzard) who is obsessed with an unattainable beauty, Leila (Patricia Barry) who won’t give him the time of day. When he receives a recommendation to visit a Professor A. Daemon (John McIntire) who sells him a love potion that will win the beauty over.

But what happens when he gets what he wants?

I love Daemon’s reaction when he learns why Roger has come to see him, he’s so tired of hearing people come in for the same reason, and they never believe that they won’t be happy when they get what they want. And while I’m talking about Daemon, I have to say, he looks like he should be working in Diagon Alley.

On the flipside the fact that Roger basically drugs Leila to get what he wants from her is more than a little troubling.

I know the basic gist of this episode is be careful what you wish for, but the fact that it involved drugging a woman is more than a little upsetting. Consequently, I don’t think the resolution is as strong as it could be.

The extras for this episode include a 1978 interview with director Douglas Heyes, and an isolated score.

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A Passage for Trumpet was penned by Rod Serling and had an original airdate of 20 May, 1960.

Joey Crown (Jack Klugman) is depressed, despondent, nigh suicidal. He’s a down on his luck alcoholic musician that no one will hire. With little left to live for he hocks his trumpet at a pawn shop, and on exiting is hit by a truck.

When he wakes no one seems to be able to see him and he begins to wonder if he is in fact dead. As he descends into a panic he finally comes across someone who can see him, a fellow musician, Gabriel (John Anderson).

This strange horn player lets him know that Joey isn’t dead yet. He can still go back, but he needs to, in the words of the song, straighten up and fly right. Be thankful for what you have, and stand tough against the tough times.

Consequently, as the episode ends, Joey’s life seems to be on an upswing, and he realises things aren’t so very bad after all. It’s a fine, happy little episode.

Klugman gives a fine performance, his monologue at the beginning of the episode is poignant and heartfelt, echoed in the music he plays on the trumpet.

This episode features a pair of commentaries, the first featuring Twilight Zone Companion author Marc Scott Zircee and Mark Fergus as well as one by film historian Gary Gerani and finally an isolated score by Lyn Murray.

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Mr. Bevis, the last episode of the week, was written by Serling and aired on 2 June, 1960.

The tale follows Bevis (Orson Bean), who is a bit of an eccentric and odd-duck. He seems just a little too off to be a success in the world, despite his heart being in the right place, and on one day in particular, he goes too far and ends up being fired.

Drinking his sorrows away at the local bar, he encounters someone claiming to be his guardian angel Hempstead (Henry Jones), who tells him that he can improve his life, he can be a success if he’s willing to accept a few changes.

But if these changes make him just like everyone else, if he is no more than just another conforming drone, can he be happy?

Watch for an appearance by William Schallert, one of those amazing actors that you totally recognise, but may not know by name.

The episode features a different narration and visual introduction, but the story is as engaging as any that has come before. The extra for this episode is an isolated score.

The journey continues next week with Paramount’s The Twilight Zone: The Complete Series on Blu-Ray, watch for the signpost up ahead.

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