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What was the point of this? Other than the fact that the one man had the power of suggestion that he could use to manipulate another man, where is this going. Burgess Meredith, one of the all time great character actors, plays a lifer in prison. He longs to be able to leave but knows he never will. A man who has the ability to hypnotize people finds that Meredith is the perfect subject. This would be interesting if there was some way that it would be used to bring about a change or comfort for the man. Instead, he continues to torture him, making him pound his fists into a wall and convincing him that cold water is boiling (asking him to submerge his hands and ultimately producing blisters). The prison psychiatrist gets into the act and Meredith becomes a Guinea pig. What's missing is some sort of strategy, some end to their efforts. This is not a good episode.
I'm disappointed to say that I feel this episode is a dud, considering the decent performance of Burgess Meredith as Charlie Finnegan, although it wasn't enough to recommend to fans of this odd series. Cameron Mitchell guest stars as Pete Tuttle, as both he and Charlie are imprisoned for their own reasons, while Tuttle acts as Charlie's hypnotist(what?)as an escape for the poor man. I'll admit this is an odd storyline, but still fairly original for this genre, but it was poorly executed with little to no surprises. Tuttle makes Finnegan believe he's a pilot, and we get to hear him make these childish sounds of a jet engine, which was very embarrassing to watch, plus we get to see this disgusting white foam emerge from his mouth as his face is turning very red; this whole scene is silly and borders on the sublime. There are another few scenes which didn't work for me either, and they have Charlie punching a brick wall inside the prison walls until he breaks all his fingers, while he's in a trance. So what happens? He does the same exact scene a few minutes later, and punches the same brick wall. I'll give Meredith credit for giving his all with weak material, but he couldn't save this episode from itself.
Burgess Meredith plays Charlie Finnegan, an inmate in a federal penitentiary serving a life sentence who longs to escape, and especially yearns to fly an airplane. Cameron Mitchell plays Pete Tuttle, a fellow inmate and hypnotist who is allowed to hypnotize Charlie, putting him in a trance to believe he is flying in order to alleviate his stress, but this seems to backfire, until a climatic session where Charlie really does take flight of his mind and body... Good cast makes this interesting, with intriguing turns of the plot, though it is ultimately quite far-fetched as well, with an ending that takes it all to the extreme.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Rod Serling's -- uh -- sterling reputation rests primarily on plays he
wrote during television's Golden Age. * (Though I have two of them on
LV, I've never watched them. Maybe I should.)
He created "Twilight Zone" to tell stories that might otherwise not pass approval by the advertisers and management. His record is dismal, revealing a heavy-handed and crudely moralizing storyteller. He isn't remotely close to (for example) Sturgeon or Ellison. There are perhaps a mere half-dozen really good TZ episodes, and I don't think Serling wrote any of them.
This truly pathetic episode deals with the nature of reality. Is what we experience real, or does it exist only in belief? Does a sufficiently strong belief create a "reality" that people other than the believer experience?
When convict Burgess Meredith is hypnotized and told to believe he's flying an airplane, he develops altitude sickness and foams at the mouth -- not much of a problem for the ever-hammy Mr Meredith. ** When he "loses control" of the imaginary airplane, it crashes into the prison, causing //real// death 'n destruction.
This is about as stupid as any bad Star Trek episode.
Why not have him recover control (so the audience has at least a moment of faux excitement), then have Cameron Mitchell hypnotize him again, telling him he can walk through the prison walls? And he does. The episode would then be titled "Stone Walls..."
Yes, that's obvious and dumb, too. But at least it takes advantage of the situation's potential.
* This luster seems to be based primarily on live drama, usually sponsored by Big Businesses. The quality of this programming varied widely, perhaps only a small percentage of which would hold up to the best TV being done today. It did, however, make it possible for stage actors and directors to get the visibility needed to advance to motion-picture making.
** In his youth, BM was a fine actor. But like Vincet Price, he threw it away.
Painful to watch. What a waste of talent. Was Rod on crack? Maybe just OD'd on nicotine. Call me Ishmael. Some years ago- never mind how long precisely- having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off- then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.xxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
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