Jesse Cardiff is a frustrated pool player. He's very good at his game but his frustration comes from the fact that no matter how well he plays or how often he wins, onlookers always conclude that he's not as good as the late, great James Howard "Fats" Brown. He says he would give anything to have had the chance to play Fats and his wish comes true when the man himself suddenly appears. They agree to a game but Fats warns his eager opponent that winning has its consequences as well. Written by
Mr. Jesse Cardiff, who became a legend by beating one, but who has found out, after his funeral, that being the best of anything carries with it a special obligation to keep on proving it. Mr. Fats Brown, on the other hand, having relinquished the champion's mantle - has gone fishing. These are the ground rules - in The Twilight Zone.
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I doubt there's anyone who has ever seen this Twilight Zone episode and not thought it was inspired by the Paul Newman classic The Hustler. But the brash and confident pool shark that Paul Newman plays in his film is light years different from from the one Jack Klugman plays here. Klugman has a king size inferiority complex because people keep saying no matter how good he is, he could never beat the legendary Fats Brown who has passed on from this life.
But we're playing this one in the Twilight Zone and Fats Brown played by Jonathan Winters shows up in a deserted pool room that night and the two play a game for some interesting stakes.
I do love this episode because of the fine characters that Jack Klugman and Jonathan Winters create here. I think those who view it will feel the same.
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