Reviews & Ratings for
"The Twilight Zone" A Quality of Mercy (1961)

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26 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

Suppose I Were You

Author: dougdoepke from Claremont, USA
21 July 2006

On eve of WWII's end a war-weary platoon is ordered into combat.

Interesting concept that takes literally the admonition to put yourself in the other man's shoes, in this case an enemy soldier's. Good characterizations. Salmi shines as the battle-hardened grunt who knows when to stop. In fact, the whole platoon exudes a sweaty, dirty battle fatigue that makes their resistance to the fresh-faced lieutenant very believable. Dean Stockwell's gung-ho officer is also well done, the kind of uncaring-about-the-cost glory-hound, who ended up getting fragged in Vietnam. Also, Salmi's dressing down of the lieutenant's selfish ambition amounts to a classic version of the enlisted man's grudge. One real flaw-- did the producers have to cast a racial stereotype as the Japanese major, even down to the buck teeth? Nonetheless, this remains an entry with a humanely worthwhile message well delivered.

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19 out of 22 people found the following review useful: REALLY want to see Dean Stockwell killed!!

Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
4 October 2009

This episode begins on August 6, 1945--just days before the peace treaty ending WWII was signed--and the day the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. The story centers on a small platoon of American soldiers who are bogged down near a cave filled with tired and demoralized Japanese soldiers--and the American soldiers aren't doing much better. They all just want the war to end and they aren't anxious about storming the fact, they might just bypass it. However, a hot-shot new lieutenant (Dean Stockwell) comes in to take command--and he's excited by the prospect of killing and proving his manhood at the expense of his men. He's so unlikable and obnoxious that you are looking forward to seeing him die!

Oddly, before the assault, in a "Twilight Zone" twist, he suddenly finds himself in a Japanese uniform--serving with the Imperial forces in May, 1942 at Corregidor! While Stockwell doesn't look remotely Japanese, he is in the Zone, so to speak. In this new position, Lt. "Namuri" is expected to lead an assault on a group of Americans who are holed up in a cave! The tables have been turned and now Stockwell sees that killing isn't as much fun as he thought it would be. What is Namuri to do? Will he kill the American? Will he be able to return to 1945?

It's interesting to see that although Sam Rolfe and Rod Serling have compassion for the Japanese soldiers, they don't whitewash the conduct of the Japanese army at Corregidor or exactly play moral relativism. That's because the bloodthirsty behaviors of the Japanese early in the war were not forgotten--though they are still treated with dignity and respect as soldiers. The episode is a very good one from start to finish--compelling and understandably sad.

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12 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

"A Quality of Mercy"....a grim battle tale

Author: (chuck-reilly) from Los Angeles
7 January 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Dean Stockwell plays a hard-charging newly-minted 2nd Lieutenant who is assigned to a battle-fatigued platoon in the waning days of WWII on the Philippines. Intent on wiping out a small force of battered and beaten Japanese trapped in a cave, he tries to rouse his new mates to action. The sergeant (Albert Salmi) advises him to forget about them but Stockwell insists on an attack. It seems he wants to get in on some action before the war ends and wiping out some defeated Japanese is his sure path to some medals of valor. The sergeant finally blows up at him calling him a "glory hound" and gets a severe tongue lashing in return. Then suddenly Stockwell drops his field glasses and enters the "Zone." He's been outwardly transformed into a Japanese Lieutenant and it's early 1942 in the Philippines instead of August 1945. The shoe is definitely on the other foot now as Stockwell (still an American officer on the inside) tries to convince his Japanese superior that attacking a group of battered and beaten Americans is the wrong action to take. He is similarly castigated in the same way he had previously bullied and berated his own sergeant.

"A Quality of Mercy" portrays war in all its grimness and dispenses with any heroics. Stockwell is excellent as the cocky Lieutenant who receives a comeuppance only the Twilight Zone can give him. Salmi adds some fine support as the sergeant and Rayford Barnes is also along as one of his war weary companions. Look for Leonard Nimoy in a small role as another exhausted soldier. Buzz Kulik, who directed many Twilight Zone episodes as well as feature films, is on hand to keep things lively on the set. Narrator Rod Serling's brief rendition of the "Quality of Mercy" speech from Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice" closes the show on an uplifting note. Serling was a combat veteran of the Pacific Theater himself besides being one of early Television's greatest creative minds. This episode spoke volumes for him.

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12 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

It Falleth from the Heavens

Author: Hitchcoc from United States
25 November 2008

The Twilight Zone is all about finding yourself in a situation where you must face something that is totally alien to you. This is no exception. In war, the soldier often sees the enemy as worthless--dehumanized. They forget that they were children, had loving families, and are now thrust into the same conflicts that their adversary on the other side is. This episode was selected for the Twilight Zone movie. It's the one where Vic Morrow was killed. It is much more intense, of course, but the message is the same. Walk in the man's shoes. Understand what terror is like. If we are to fight wars, then don't romanticize them. This is certainly a memorable episode and makes one think.

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10 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Great casting

Author: marknyc from New York
24 September 2012

I have to disagree with the poster who wrote that Dean Stockwell doesn't look remotely Japanese. It was great casting, as Stockwell's eyes didn't require that much makeup to look Asian, and the work that was done on them was done extremely well. In fact, I caught this episode on TV in the middle and thought that they had cast a Japanese actor in the second part! The episode itself falls prone to Serling's not uncommon habit of hitting you over the head with his point. The American Stockwell and the Japanese commander are so extreme as to be cardboard cutouts. But I guess subtlety wasn't really the point of "The Twilight Zone".

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

"They are enemies, and this is war, and in war you kill".

Author: classicsoncall from Florida, New York
23 May 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Part time travel story and part identity switch, this episode of The Twilight Zone examines the perspectives of both sides of combat, much like Clint Eastwood's 2006 film "Letters From Iwo Jima" did. It's an attempt by Rod Serling to humanize an enemy, and dehumanize the brutality and mindlessness of war. As a gung-ho young lieutenant (Dean Stockwell) takes command of a battle weary unit on August 6th, 1945 (just hours from the fateful bombing of Hiroshima), he suddenly finds himself on the opposite side of the war some three years earlier with American surrender in the Phillipines imminent. Lieutenant Katell is forced to understand that there is no glory in humiliating the enemy into surrender. He's challenged to respond to a question posed by the man he replaced (Albert Salmi as Sgt. Causarano) - "How many men have to die before you're satisfied"? It's a query that finds more relevance when the shoe is on the other foot, as Lieutenant Yamuri finds himself berated by his commanding officer Yamazaki (Dale Ishimoto) when he expresses doubts about the mission. It's the classic Twilight Zone paradox.

One of the great delights for me in watching The Twilight Zone is seeing who shows up in each episode. The added bonus supplied by this one is the appearance of Leonard Nimoy in a pre-Star Trek role. Maybe not a big deal for a lot of folks, but it would seem to me that Nimoy's not someone you'd expect to see in the Zone. Even without a major role in the story, it was cool to see him as one of the soldiers in the unit.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Switching Sides

Author: AaronCapenBanner from North America
28 October 2014

Dean Stockwell stars as Lt. Katell, fresh to the battlefield and eager to take command of what remains of an American artillery unit in the Philippine islands on August 6, 1945 in the last days of World War II. The men(played by Albert Salmi, Leonard Nimoy, among others) are tired and fed up, but have no choice but obey the order to attack a well-defended cave where a group of Japanese soldiers are holed up. Fate takes an interesting turn when the Lt. finds himself now a Japanese Lt. named Yamuri, ordered to attack a cave where the Americans are holed up...What will he do in this inexplicable situation? Morality play works reasonably well, though of course viewer may wonder just how merciful one should be when fighting an aggressive enemy...

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

'Last grimy pages of a dirty torn book of war'.

Author: darrenpearce111 from Ireland
7 February 2014

An anti-war message from WW2 hero Rod Serling. Set in the Philippines where he served comes a drama of two halves about an ambitious young Lieutenant called Katell (Dean Stockwell). In the first half Katell takes over a platoon in August 1945 and clashes with his Sergeant (Albert Salmi). The war experienced Sergeant Causarano hopes his weary soldiers will not have to attack a cave where the enemy is holed up. Katell is lacks the Sergeant's battle experience and 'hasn't been shot at yet'. He wants to prove his manhood by leading an attack in the last throes of war. Sergeant Causarano hopes the necessary job of war is done without many more men having to die-on either side.

There is a 'Quantum Leap' for Dean Stockwell as he gets to see war from another perspective. If that's not TZ enough, well, Leonard Nimoy is one of the soldiers.

I think Serling is suggesting we would be better off if the whole world could see each other as humans and not see some others as a hated entity that has to die just to satisfy the ambitions of leaders. See what you think?

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1 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Already Recycling Ideas by Season Three

Author: jqdoe from United States
1 March 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Watching Twilight Zone episodes on a classic TV channel that shows a new episode every night provides new perspectives on the series.

In this case, I saw this episode from Season 3 just a couple of weeks or so after seeing "Judgment Night" from Season 1, so the earlier episode was still fresh in my mind when I watched this one.

The similarities were obvious. In both cases, a military commander is somehow magically transported into the midst of an enemy that he is hellbent on destroying, and in both cases it causes him to question the morality of his actions. Of course there were some significant differences, too, but the main idea was quite similar.

I suppose it was hard for Rod Serling to keep coming up with new ideas for a show like this week after week - especially in an era where they regularly ran 35 or more new episodes every year and reruns were pretty much constrained to summer. But it was still a bit surprising to see they were recycling ideas so soon.

I think that most folks consider this to be a stronger episode than "Judgment Night" but I thought the acting was a bit uneven. I could never get a handle on how a very young Dean Stockwell was trying to play the Japanese alter ego. He seemed to keep going in and out of a fairly poor imitation Japanese accent, and it was distracting. And it seemed like the actor playing his Japanese commander was reading cue cards the whole time.

Bottom Line: to me, this was one of the weaker Twilight Zone episodes.

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