Synopsis for
"The Twilight Zone" Judgment Night (1959)

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Opening narration:

"Her name is the S.S. Queen of Glasgow. Her registry: British. Gross tonnage: five thousand. Age: indeterminate. At this moment she's one day out of Liverpool, her destination New York. Duly recorded on this ship's log is the sailing time, course to destination, weather conditions, temperature, longitude and latitude. But what is never recorded in a log is the fear that washes over a deck like fog and ocean spray. Fear like the throbbing strokes of engine pistons, each like a heartbeat, parceling out every hour into breathless minutes of watching, waiting, and dreading. For the year is 1942, and this particular ship has lost its convoy. It travels alone like an aged blind thing groping through the unfriendly dark, stalked by unseen periscopes of steel killers. Yes, the Queen of Glasgow is a frightened ship, and she carries with her a premonition of death."

On board the Glasgow is a German named Carl Lanser (Nehemiah Persoff), with no memory of how he got there, yet with the feeling that he's met all the passengers somewhere before. Things are made even more mysterious by Lanser's certainty that an enemy sub is stalking the ship, and by his premonition that something is going to happen at 1:15 a.m. His fear provides correct: at one-fifteen a U-boat surfaces. Peering through binoculars, Lanser sees that its captain is...himself! The U-boat sinks the helpless freighter, then crew members machine-gun the survivors. Lanser sinks beneath the waters. Later on board the sub, a lieutenant suggests they might all face damnation for their action. Kapitan Lanser discounts this theory--not realizing that he is, in fact, doomed to relive the sinking of that ship for eternity.

Closing narration:

"The S.S. Queen of Glasgow, heading for New York, and the time is 1942. For one man, it is always 1942--and this man will ride the ghost of that ship every night for eternity. This is what is meant by paying the fiddler. This is the comeuppance awaiting every man when the ledger of his life is opened and examined, the tally made, and then the reward or the penalty paid. And in the case of Carl Lanser, former Kapitan Lieutenant, Navy of the Third Reich, this is the penalty. This is the justice meted out. This is judgment night in the Twilight Zone."


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