"The Twilight Zone: Mr. Denton on Doomsday (#1.3)"
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Reviews & Ratings for
"The Twilight Zone" Mr. Denton on Doomsday (1959)

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19 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

The First Twilight Zone Western

7/10
Author: Hitchcoc from United States
25 September 2008

This is about reclaiming one's life. The Western was the dominant dramatic form on television at the time this came out, so people had a regular diet of them. In this one, a town drunk is given a chance to regain his dignity by doing something positive. He is given a bottle that will allow him to be a great gunfighter for a short time. Unfortunately, Mr. Fate has other plans and he find himself neutralized. All is not lost, however, because he and his adversary are left to live normal lives because their gunfighting days are over. This is a cold war tale and a morality play. Serling had to take it to the next level, by injecting irony. The story plays pretty well and is enjoyable and, if we have not seen it before, it plays pretty well. If you are looking for a parallel to this, see "The Chaser."

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17 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

The Twilight Zone Enters The Old West

Author: Skeeter700 from British Columbia
3 February 2006

"Mr. Denton On Doomsday" is another fascinating episode of 'The Twilight Zone'. This time the story takes place in the old west as a town drunk is given the chance to reclaim his respect by becoming a gunslinger. The story briefly talks about why Al Denton turned to alcohol, but does not develop this theme fully. Furthermore, Denton finds it incredibly easy to stop drinking considering he's been an alcoholic for so long. However, while Denton's personal demons would have made for an interesting story, Rod Sterling decided to create an interesting tale around the magical gun, as well as other tricks, that Denton uses to reclaim his quick-draw skills. Dan Duryea provided a good portrayal of his character and reminded me of William H. Macy. Like so many other Twilight Zone's, this episode features a fine twist at the end that adds just the right mix of tension and uncertainty to the story. Overall, while this is not one of The Twilight Zone's great excursions, it is a good average episode. And an average 'Twilight Zone' is still very much worth watching. I gave it 7.5 out of 10.

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15 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

A redemption play, well told.

9/10
Author: kimfoto from New York, NY
18 May 2010

It was nice to see an aging yet durable Duryea once again in a leading role. And he more than holds his own.

I thought it an inspired touch of casting on Serling's part to cast this once uber-villain in a part that could singularly reveal both aspects of this character in one, brief 1/2-hour episode. Martin Landau was effective as the black-clad heavy (a role hauntingly foreshadowing his role in "North By Northwest"), and it was a singular pleasure seeing a nearly post-pubescent Doug McClure in what may qualify as a cameo at the conclusion. Morality tales can be tricky, but once again Serling the supreme storyteller, pulls it off with aplomb.

It always amazes me how these wonderful B&W episodes still hold up after all these years (and multiple viewings) later. I never, ever seem to grow tired of watching them. I noticed that many years later they tried (in vain) to bring back this much venerated series, only to have it fail miserably. When you combine superior writing, inspired directing, and casting the strongest character and leading actors alive into one television program, it's a tough combination to beat.

On my very favorite TZ episode, "Walking Distance," the sound track was actually written by, for my money, the greatest film composer of all time, Bernard Herrmann ("Psycho," Citizen Kane"). That fact, more than just about anything, stands in tribute to the kind of talent that Serling's landmark TV series attracted. After all of the great television I've enjoyed over the years, there is no one series that has engendered the kind of devotion and wonder that these thought-provoking episodes inspire in their loyal following, myself heartily included.

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13 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Harsh, realistic Western becomes ironic tale of hope

10/10
Author: mlraymond from Durham NC
22 January 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This episode ,from the fall of 1959, was televised at the same time as other regular Westerns were appearing in large numbers nightly. It begins as a story that could easily have been played on Gunsmoke, but takes a detour into the fantastic. The result is a powerfully realistic portrayal of a down and out drunk, reduced to being the town joke, who reclaims his dignity and self worth by the end.

It's a rare opportunity to see veteran character actor Dan Duryea play a nice guy, when most of his career was based on sleazy,cowardly, back stabbing villains. Martin Landau plays the type of character that Duryea was famous for, as the sadistic gunman who enjoys kicking Denton around. He makes the hairs on the back of my neck rise every time I see this episode, he is so creepy.

This episode isn't shown that often, but it's well worth seeing, as both a good TZ story, and a fine drama on its own.

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9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

"He called me Mister, Charley".

8/10
Author: classicsoncall from Florida, New York
27 February 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This episode of 'The Twilight Zone' had an opener I hadn't seen before, or if I did, I don't remember it. It has a closeup of an eyeball that dissolves into what ostensibly would be another world or dimension in the Twilight Zone. The series would eventually make forays into every conceivable genre, and this time it was the Western. I was particularly impressed by Rod Serling's voice over narration at the beginning of the story, a hallmark that lent gravitas to the tale that was about to unfold.

I've seen many TV Western episodes on the subject of the 'fastest gun in the West', and the topic makes for a fascinating psychological look at gunslingers and what makes them tick. Among my favorites, I would recommend 'Yawkey' from the "Lawman" series, along with one of my favorite movie Westerns, 1950's "The Gunfighter" starring Gregory Peck. Each of those, including "Mr. Denton on Doomsday", explore the various ways that men of reputation seek to live with their notoriety in the face of constant challenge. For Denton (Al Duryea), it was refuge in a bottle over the senseless but obligatory slaying of a sixteen year old upstart who would claim the title of fastest gun. For his protagonist to regain a measure of self respect, Serling introduces a secondary player who holds out the promise of redemption, a peddler who traffics in, and goes by the name of Fate.

The twist for this TZ episode isn't so much in the outcome as it is in the execution. Both Denton and Grant (Doug McClure) waver when they realize that neither of them can win, OR lose. It's the kind of classic TZ ending that forces the viewer to re-examine one's preconceived notions of clear cut outcomes where we're rooting for the sympathetic character. In this case, it wouldn't be Denton, even if we wanted him to emerge the hero of the story. Fate steps in to help one man out of a pit, and keep another man from falling into one. What one might consider a draw, Serling brilliantly recasts as a win for both challenger and the challenged.

*** Quick trivia note on a goof spotted - 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.

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12 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

It's nice to see some familiar faces...

Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
13 June 2010

This episode has several familiar faces to TV and the big screen from the 1940s-70s. One of my favorite bad guys, Dan Duryea, is, for once, a hero (of sorts) in this show--and it's nice to see him playing a different sort of role. As two baddies, you have the always interesting Martin Landau as well as Doug McClure. And, though you'd probably never remember his name, the face of Malcolm Atterbury is very familiar.

The show begins with Duryea as the town drunk in the old west. He's a truly pathetic creature--being pushed around by punks like Landau--all because he's too afraid to fight and because he'll do almost anything for his next drink. However, unknown to him, a stranger, Mr. Fate (Atterbury) steps in and changes everything. What happens next as well as the nice twist ending is something I just won't get into now--I just don't to ruin a very good show by telling too much.

Overall, a very good episode with particularly good acting (Duryea is at his best) and nice writing. While it's not a 'must-see' show, it certainly is worth your time. Well done.

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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Thought-provoking, emotional, and entertaining

8/10
Author: Anthony Pittore III (Shattered_Wake) from Los Angeles, CA
18 November 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Portrait of a town drunk named Al Denton (Dan Duryea). 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. In the parlance of the times, this is a peddler (Malcolm Atterbury), a rather fanciful-looking little man in a black frock coat. And this (a gun) is the third principal character of our story. Its function: perhaps to give Mr. Al Denton his second chance.

In the first of many historical stories, Rod Serling brings the audience back to the Old West (which would not be an uncommon time period for the series) for a gunfighter's morality tale. Faced with a life of pathetic drunkenness, Al Denton, who is portrayed fantastically well by Dan Duryea as a total sad sack transformed into a master gunslinger over the course of a single night. The story, at first look, may not seem like much on the surface. However, on closer inspection, the depth of the story, the social commentary of it, and the intelligent way it was executed all make the episode into something much, much more. It is emotionally stirring, both as a depressing look at a broken man, and also even in the time of Denton's success as he realizes the problems with the world they live in. Outside of the series, this could have been a very good feature-length western, which could have stretched further into Denton's backstory and his return to gunfighting. Even still, the episode manages to be a thought-provoking and entertaining experience for all. Also, keep an eye out for Martin Landau, who had one of his first roles ever in this episode.

-AP3-

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9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Recovering Dignity and Self-Esteem

7/10
Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
9 January 2014

In the Far West, the drunkard Al Denton (Dan Duryea) is bullied by the gunman Dan Hotaling (Martin Landau) to get some booze. The mysterious Henry J. Fate (Malcolm Atterbury) 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.

"Mr. Denton on Doomsday" is a tale of second chance in life, with the redemption and recovering of dignity and self-esteem by the drunk of a little town in the Old West. The plot is well-written and never corny. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Além da Imaginação - Mr. Denton on Doomsday" ("Beyond Imagination - Mr. Denton on Doomsday")

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11 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

One of the best Twilight Zone westerns

7/10
Author: (andrew-goulding1@hotmail.co.uk) from Lincoln, England
21 February 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

With episode three of 'The Twilight Zone', Serling further confused those trying to get a handle on the series by presenting them with a fantasy Western. It was still a critical stage for the series and a quality episode was required after the disastrous 'One for the Angels'. Fortunately, Serling provided it. 'Mr Denton on Doomsday' is a play in two distinct acts; the first act finds the drunk and pathetic Denton suddenly regaining his unrivalled ability with a shooting iron and the second act sees him face the consequences of being a renowned gunman.

'Mr Denton on Doomsday' is the first 'Twilight Zone' episode to feature a truly surprising and satisfying twist. But there is far more to the episode than just its pay-off. Denton is explored thoroughly as a character and Serling's writing is deeply touching, particularly as Denton reveals the reason he started drinking excessively in the first place. The cast is also extremely good. The always reliable Martin Landau has a ball as Denton's worst tormentor and Doug McClure also surfaces in a small but key role as a young gunman. Jeanne Cooper does what she can with an underwritten part as the sympathetic eye candy and Malcolm Atterbury has the perfect, character-filled face for the part of Fate. But it is undoubtedly Dan Duryea's show. His performance as Denton is multi-layered and convincing. As the drunken Denton he provides moments of real butt-clenching embarrassment as he reluctantly serenades his bullies for drink. As Denton after his powers have been restored, Duryea is hangdog and resigned to the inevitable. And finally, following the showdown, he is revitalised and full of wisdom, a man given a second chance (second chances being another recurring theme in 'The Twilight Zone').

There are one or two little problems with the script; Denton overcomes his alcohol problem almost instantaneously and he is suddenly able to walk into a barber's shop and get a shave despite the fact he was so penniless that he had to sing for drink only moments before. Still, these are minor quibbles and the sort of thing that must be expected when you only have twenty minutes to tell your story. Serling packs plenty into those twenty minutes and tops it off with a very neat twist indeed.

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24 out of 43 people found the following review useful:

"Doomsday" episode with hidden meaning

8/10
Author: (chuck-reilly) from Los Angeles
17 August 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Over the years, I noticed many comments on this episode and no one seems to understand the gist of it at all. The story is really about the Mutual Destruction policies of the Cold War. Al Denton (Duryea) is a former gunslinger now reduced to being the town drunk. A mysterious potion from a mysterious traveling stranger helps him to regain his former proficiency. It also miraculously cures him of his need for alcohol. How any of this happens is never explained to the viewer. Anyway, to ensure that he wins his gunfights, all Denton has to do is drink the potion beforehand. At the climactic duel, Denton drinks his potion but notices that his opponent (Doug McLure) is taking a drink of the same stuff. The end result is that they merely wound each other and the duel ends in a stalemate. It was an obvious analogy of the stalemate between the US and the USSR during the turbulent years of the Cold War. What is surprising about this is that most viewers of the episode have taken the story literally without giving it much thought. Also in the cast is a very young Martin Landau as a loud-mouthed wannabe-gunslinger. He gets his very deserved comeuppance from Denton (Duryea) in a well-played scene.

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