In the Far West, the drunkard Al Denton is bullied by the gunman Dan Hotaling to get some booze. The mysterious Henry J. Fate observes the humiliation and Al Denton finds a revolver on the street. When Dan sees Al Denton with a revolver on his hand, he challenges the drunk for a gunfighter. Fate observes again and makes a movement with his hand that will change the life of Al Denton. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
In his 1959 promotional film shown to potential sponsors, Rod Serling summarized an earlier version of this week's plot under its original title, "Death, Destry, and Mr. Dingle." As told by Serling, the basic premise is similar, but the earlier version seems to have been more comedic in tone, involving a meek schoolteacher who quite unintentionally gains notoriety as a top gunslinger. The name "Mr. Dingle" (originally intended for the Dan Duryea character) would be used by Serling for a future episode, The Twilight Zone: Mr. Dingle, the Strong (1961) with Burgess Meredith playing the eponymous character. See more »
Right after Denton drinks from the broken liquor bottle at the beginning of the story, he's shown with a large scratch on the right side of his face. In the next scene with Liz, the scratch is gone. See more »
Rod Serling - Narrator:
Portrait of a town drunk named Al Denton. This is a man who's begun his dying early - a long, agonizing route through a maze of bottles. Al Denton, who would probably give an arm or a leg or a part of his soul to have another chance, to be able to rise up and shake the dirt from his body and the bad dreams that infest his consciousness.
[Shot of Henry J. Fate]
Rod Serling - Narrator:
In the parlance of the times, this is a peddler, a rather fanciful-looking little man in a black,...
[...] See more »
Russian folk tune
played throughout See more »
Superb Story of Redemption, With One of the Series' Best Lead Performances
Drunken ex-gunfighter Al Denton, after being harassed by local thugs, is approached by a mysterious peddler, who gives him a potion that allows 10 seconds of deadly shooting accuracy.
While the Twilight Zone is best remembered for twist endings, it's best episodes almost always featured richly developed characters and/or sharply delivered plots that set enormously high stakes for those characters. "Mr. Denton on Doomsday" delivers on both in spades. Dan Duryea made his career as a villain throughout the 40s and 50s -- a character with a charming smile and a deadly sneer to match the personality. In this episode, he creates a character wallowing in alcoholic desperation arising from the loss of what he perceives is his greatest gift (his abilities as a gunman), ready to grab at anything that will revive this gift; the real twist in this episode is what his character learns from reviving that gift, a moral lesson delivered by Serling without unnecessary syrup (something many later Serling-written episode would be all too full of).
The performance that Duryea creates hits all of these notes brilliantly, and he is richly supported by the entire cast -- Jeanne Cooper and Ken Lynch as the sympathetic saloon owner and bartender, Malcolm Atterbury as the inscrutable peddler, and Martin Landau as a sadistic thug who terrorizes the Duryea character. Further, Allen Reisner's direction keeps the look as a standard Western, giving the audience a familiar surrounding in which to allow the story to unfold.
This episode is not the one most think of when they think of classic Twilight Zone episodes, but it should be.
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