How did he get in possession of the diary. Easy enough, he was there and he wrote it. In fact as he puts it he's old enough to have known Plato personally. Stehli is stunned by the revelation, about how he got to be that age. But he knows one thing, he can't marry his daughter Dody Heath.
The question is settled when someone from out of McCarthy's past played by Estelle Winwood settles the issue.
This is a favorite Twilight Zone episode of mine with McCarthy and Stehli giving great matched performances.
One of so many interesting stories by Charles Beaumont in TZ. Intriguingly set up from the beginning with the stalking presence of Estelle Winwood.
The real life longevity of McCarthy and Winwood has been mentioned. Also Stehli lived to 89.
the Screen Actors' Guild decades after appearing in "Long Live Walter Jameson" on THE TWILIGHT ZONE.
That was always uncanny, given the storyline.
But it's even eerier now that Kevin McCarthy has just died. And why? Well, one of the things in "Long Live Walter Jameson" that some people have noticed in recent years was the reference in his diary to the city being destroyed on "Tuesday, September 11th", 42 years before the 9/11 attacks.
So now McCarthy's death date of Septemeber 11th seems equally odd.
When he was just a young man, palling around with Plato and the rest of the gang, he ran across an Alchemist and begged him for immortality. The Alchemist complied and McCarthy woke up after a swoon to find that he was never going to grow older. Unlike Tithonus, McCarthy retained his youthful appearance through the ages. Luckily, he managed to avoid being seriously hurt or killed through the millenia. He's had many wives and the next one in line is the chemistry professor's daughter, whose love McCarthy returns. McCarthy has more than one thousand children -- and NOT ONE OF THEM CALLS HIM. (I should cite Mel Brooks.)
The chemist objects, but what can he do? So McCarthy is a little old for his daughter. Another May/September romance; only this time one of them is a perennial September and May is going to slowly morph into December until the New Year comes.
Let's not be too quick to judge McCarthy. There is a part of him that longs for death. Who can blame him? Would you want to be a fork lift driver for five hundred years? He's seen too many loved ones come and go, while he remains blandly handsome. He has a revolver in his desk drawer but is too much of a coward to use it. And elderly ex wife shows up and solves the problem for him.
There are some weak spots. That Alchemist is kind of skipped over. But McCarthy gives a fine performance and projects a shaded mixture of satisfaction and regret. Tony Leader has directed with flair, making good use of lighting, particularly in the final scene with Estelle Winwood. The dialog between McCarthy and the ancient chemist is revealing and provocative. "We love a rose because we know it's beauty will disappear soon. Who loves a stone?" Okay, it's not a flight of Elizabethan poetry, but it's pretty good for a hastily written and quickly shot half-hour television program. I'm not sure I agree with the statement but it's an interesting way of evaluating beauty. We love a thing because it's going to disappear. By an extension of that logic, we ought to find everything beautiful because it's all going to disappear -- because WE'RE going to disappear.
The show begins with a professor (Kevin McCarthy) lecturing on the Civil War. You hear him reading from a Civil War soldier's diary--but when the camera pans behind him, you see he is NOT reading from the diary but delivering an extemporaneous speech! At the end of class, another professor (who was sitting in on the lecture) approaches McCarthy and invites him to dinner.
At dinner, you learn that McCarthy is engaged to the daughter of this elderly professor. After the lady leaves the room to do the dishes, the older man confronts McCarthy--he thinks he knows his secret. Pulling out an old album of Civil War photos, he shows McCarthy one that belonged to the man whose diary he'd read from in class. The photo was of none other than McCarthy!! Apparently he fought in the Civil War--and yet it was now 1959!!! There's more to the episode--including a subplot involving one of McCarthy's old wives coming to confront him as well--and she appears to be in at least her 80s! Weird but captivating. In addition, the acting was quite nice and the show is well worth seeing--even if I have seen other shows like it.
By the way, why was the old guy so dead set against the pending nuptials? He had no idea that McCarthy was still married, so this couldn't have been the reason. In fact, having an immortal son-in-law seems like a pretty cool thing!
Unlike many Twilight Zone episodes that famously conclude with an ironic twist, "Walter Jameson" doesn't finish by upending all that the viewer had seen for the first twenty or so minutes. In fact, the finish isn't really surprising at all. Jameson's immortality is revealed early on, and then rather neatly gets out of the way so that a quiet, contemplative story of character, loneliness, and fear can be told. Interestingly, there's a subtler second twist that is almost easy to miss -- when Walter and his friend Sam are having the discussion that is the focus of the whole episode, it's not exactly clear which one of them really is the "older" (i.e. wiser) man.
Kevin McCarthy and Edgar Stehli do great work as the jaded immortal Walter Jameson, and his all too mortal friend, Sam Kitteridge. Watch in particular Stehli's delicate reactions as Kitteridge learns the truth about Jameson and discovers the real consequences of living forever.
This is an engrossing episode, which takes place almost entirely in a single room, and with hardly any musical backing. I rate it as one of the five best of the entire series. Enjoy. 9.5/10
The Twilight Zone did the opposite. This episode, especially when it aired and the early re-runs was bind blowing. There was nothing on TV like this and nothing has tapped the brilliance of Rod Serling. What if... Your imagination is tapped and then another thought stirred to think, ponder, and reflect about the nature of life. Serling told little sermons (parables) wrapped in a drama.
The story is that of a perennially youthful looking history professor at a small college who, it strikes a colleague and friend of his, more than just a little too knowledgeable about the history he lectures about. This is particularly disturbing as the professor, the Walter Jameson of the episode's title, is engaged to be married to his colleague's daughter.
After a post-prandial chat, and during a game of chess with his, he hopes, father-in-law to be, Jameson admits that indeed that's him in the Matthew Brady photograph taken during the Civil War, and that indeed he's way over a hundred years old. More like two thousand, and counting.
Jameson acquired his gift of youth from a sorcerer of some kind millenia ago, and this enabled him to live an incredibly long time, and to have been married, raised children, and yet also see his family and friends die, many times over; and as he speaks the viewer learns that this gift has not granted him wisdom but is something nearer to a curse.
Even with his eternal youth Jameson yearns for death. In the end he gets his wish, and from an unusual source, as he is shot by an ancient wife he had abandoned decades earlier. The transformation of the still handsome and youthful looking Jameson to an old man, then a painfully wizened and crippled dusty old thing is probably the best special effect of the entire original Twilight Zone series.
There's wisdom in this episode, and a cruel irony as well, as author Charles Beaumont suffered from a rare medical condition that caused him to age prematurely and die before he was forty. Nor was the show's creator, host and frequent contributor, Rod Serling, destined for a long life, as he died before he turned fifty.
Yet the dark clouds that hung over these two men have silver linings for the viewer: The Twilight Zone has been in continual syndication since production closed in 1964. This may not be immortality but it's a very long time for what's become a cult TV series to remain popular, as it is to this day.
Long Live Walter Jameson is a very talky episode, mostly consisting of scenes of dialogue between McCarthy and Stehli, but that doesn't stop it from being a very entertaining tale, thanks to the excellent script by Charles Beaumont, which keeps the viewer intrigued throughout, and fine performances from the two male leads.
Others here on IMDb have mentioned TV shows and films that might have been influenced by this episode. I'd like to add '80s fantasy classic Highlander to the list, Russell Mulcahy's film exploring very similar territory.
Director Anton Leader relates the neat and engrossing story at a steady pace as well as ably crafts an appropriately sober and mysterious mood. Charles Beaumont's smart and literate script not only makes a potent and provocative central point about death being a natural part of the cycle of life, but also poignantly points out the bitter and lonely price one must pay for living forever. McCarthy anchors this episode with his strong and thoughtful work as Jameson; he receives sturdy support Edgar Stehli as suspicious professor Sam Kittridge, Estelle Winwood as aged former wife Laurette Bowen, and Dodie Heath as perky fiancé Susanna. An on the money show.
That's what Prof Jameson's colleague 70 year old chemistry professor Sam Kittridge, Edger Stehli, thought about him until one day looking at old photos of the Civil War Kittridge spotted a person on the Union's General Sherman's staff that's the spitting image of Walter Jameson! In fact the person a Col. Hugh Skelton is the very same person who Jameson was reading to his students excerpts from his personal diary of the burning down of Atlanta back in 1864 by Sherman's men!
As Kittridge starts to ask some deep and very probings questions about Jameson's past he finally gets him to admit the dark secret that he's been keeping from him and everyone else he knew in his life. Jameson is a lot older then he looks, a lot lot older, and no matter how hard he tries he just can't get himself to die. Being the coward that he was and still is back some 3,000 years ago Jameson, or whoever he was at that time, had himself treated by this Egyptian alchemist who made him immortal! This feeling of immortality has since worn off with Jameson outliving his friends family and, over the last 3,000 years, scores of wives!
Despite his past in knowing that he'll outlive any woman he marries Jameson has his sights set on Prof. Kittridge's 30 year old daughter Susanna, Dodie Hearth, a graduated student at the collage that he and Prof. Kittridge teaches at. Susanna had fallen madly in love with the tall graying handsome and well spoken, on historical matters, Jameson and nothing on this God's earth, including her father, is going to stop her from marrying the big hunk. That's until one of Prof. Jameson's former spouses, who he left out in the cold, 78 year old Lauretta Bowen, Estelle Winwood, has something to say about it!
***SPOILERS*** Having found out about her former husband Thomas "Tommy Boy" Bowen, now calling himself Walter Jameson, forthcoming marriage to Susanna Kitteridge in the local newspaper's society column Lauretta decided to pay him a visit. Not to talk about the good old days but to pay the two-timing heel back for everything that he did to her and also prevent him from doing the same thing to the unsuspecting Susanna Kittridge! And in that put her former estranged and long suffering husband, in being sick and tired of living, out of his misery! Something that he's been trying to do for centuries but didn't quite have the guts to do it himself!
Edward and Bella battle with the age issue as well - she's aging and he is not. While the supporting characters in the two stories are quite different from each other, each tale has a philosophical tug of war underlying the plot.
You can tell this is an early episode of The Twilight Zone, as the story is not as tightly woven, and the dialogue is a bit under par. But its commentary on aging and death is quite provocative.
Good early role for Kevin McCarthy. And Estelle Winwood maintains a spooky aura. But the others are not yet ready for primetime.