Twilight Zone: Season 1, Episode 9

Perchance to Dream (27 Nov. 1959)
"The Twilight Zone" Perchance to Dream (original title)

TV Episode  |  TV-PG  |   |  Fantasy, Horror, Mystery
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 1,190 users  
Reviews: 22 user | 3 critic

A fatigued man fights to stay awake as he explains to a psychiatrist that if he falls asleep it will trigger a nightmare, which will cause his heart to fail.


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Episode complete credited cast:
Edward Hall
John Larch ...
Dr. Eliot Rathmann
Suzanne Lloyd ...
Maya / Ms. Thomas


Edward Hall visits the psychiatrist Dr. Eliot Rathmann that was recommended by his doctor and he explains that he is extremely tired since he has not slept for many days. Edward believes that if he sleeps, he will die and explains that he is dreaming in "chapters" with the evil Maya, the Cat Woman that will kill him in his next nightmare. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis





Release Date:

27 November 1959 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The title of the episode, and the Charles Beaumont-written short story that inspired it, is taken from William Shakespeare's Hamlet's "to be or not to be" speech. "To sleep, perchance to dream-ay, there's the rub." The very next line, "For in that sleep of death what dreams may come," was used by fellow Twilight Zone (1959) writer Richard Matheson as the title of his novel/movie What Dreams May Come (1998). See more »


Narrator: [Closing Narration] They say a dream takes only a second or so, and yet in that second a man can live a lifetime. He can suffer and die, and who's to say which is the greater reality: the one we know or the one in dreams, between heaven, the sky, the earth - in the Twilight Zone.
See more »


Referenced in Atop the Fourth Wall: Twilight Zone #9 (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

An overlooked classic
21 February 2007 | by (Lincoln, England) – See all my reviews

'Perchance to Dream' is the third classic in a row, although this episode is far more overlooked than its predecessors. It is the first non-Serling script of the series, marking the debut outing for one of 'The Twilight Zone's' other main writers, Charles Beaumont. Beaumont's scripts differ significantly from Serling's, generally avoiding the melodrama and moralising that characterises Serling's work and focusing on more extreme and often horrific subjects. 'Perchance to Dream' is a great introduction to Beaumont's frequently excellent work.

A fascinating study of a man with a heart condition who dreams in sequence and dare not go to sleep because his last dream left him in such a dangerous position, 'Perchance to Dream' has two distinct acts. The first half mainly consists of a dialogue between a man and his psychiatrist. However, unlike the dull ramblings of 'Escape Clause's' dialogue heavy first act, 'Perchance to Dream' offers an incredibly interesting theme for discussion. Act two consists of recounted dream experiences and introduces us to a creepy fairground and its inhabitants. Among these inhabitants is Suzanne Lloyd as Maya the Cat Woman. She strikes the exact right chord, managing to be very sexy and utterly repellent at the same time. Richard Conte gives an intense performance in the lead role and John Larch is amusingly laid back as his psychiatrist but neither are as good as Lloyd, whose cackling, devilish minx personifies the threat that awaits if Conte nods off.

'Perchance to Dream' works so well because of its contrasting acts. Act one is involving and intelligent, drawing us into the concept by carefully explaining it. Act two is let off the leash completely, running amok with tremendous pace into the effectively creepy world of the nightmare fairground. The final twist is also very fine, requiring us to back track and work out exactly when in the episode Conte fell asleep. There is plenty more to think about, such as the amount we can dream in a short time and how tricky our subconscious can be. After all, Conte's didn't place him back in the fairground as he had imagined it would. Instead it merged his waking nightmare with his unconscious one, borrowing images he had just seen on his way into the building and creating a whole world from them. 'Perchance to Dream' is an unjustly overlooked classic which leaves the viewer with much to consider.

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