The Twilight Zone (1959–1964)
13 user 2 critic

Shadow Play 

Adam Grant is trapped in a recurring nightmare, in which he is sentenced to death by execution. He tries to convince the people around him that they are imaginary and that they will cease to exist if the execution is carried out.



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Episode complete credited cast:
Wright King ...
Paul Carson
William Edmonson ...
Anne Barton ...
Tommy Nello ...
Mack Williams ...
Gene Roth ...


When Adam Grant is found guilty of first degree murder and sentenced he lashes out telling everyone that he will not be murdered again. Grant claims to be having a recurring nightmare where he is found guilty and executed. The characters around him change and so he argues that all of them will vanish if he dies. It leads newspaperman Paul Carson to question what is real and what might just be a figment of someone else's imagination. DA Henry Ritchie visits Grant in jail and decides to try and do something about his claims, no matter how far-fetched his claims might be. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis





Release Date:

5 May 1961 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The title refers to the ancient art of shadow play or shadow puppetry using opaque figures that cast shadows on clear curtains. Such entertainment is known in countries throughout the world and is presented in theaters and by traveling troupes. See more »


[closing narration]
Narrator: We know that a dream can be real, but who ever thought that reality could be a dream? We exist, of course, but how, in what way? As we believe, as flesh-and-blood human beings, or are we simply parts of someone's feverish, complicated nightmare? Think about it, and then ask yourself, do you live here, in this country, in this world, or do you live, instead, - in The Twilight Zone?
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Remade as The Twilight Zone: Shadow Play/Grace Note (1986) See more »


Red River Valley
[traditional folk song played on harmonica by inmate Coley]
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User Reviews

Superior -- simply
2 June 2007 | by (Tulsa OK) – See all my reviews

The brief "summary"of the plot in this site - in my opinion - provides a better depiction of the essence of this story than the longer, more esoteric analyses provided.

The Weaver character - trapped in a recurring nightmare, and sentenced to be executed therein - repeatedly must try to convince the other characters they are figments of his imagination, and their on existence will cease if and when his does.

Rod Serling could convey more, in his programs, covering 20-some minutes in the show's half-hour time slot, than the big-screen, 2- or 3-hour, expensive extravaganzas do today.

And the black-and-white, small screen/noir aspects provide not only a better feel for this genre, but also a nostalgia for the way entertainment was provided nearly a half-century past.

Today, with all the advances in animation, the providing of special effects, and the seamless blending with human actors and animation, etc. -- it seems to me a price is paid in terms of the stories' effect and impact. With the tens of millions of dollars spent, the producers and directors seem to be intent of emphasizing these elements, in lieu of simply a good storyline and acting, period.

Juxtaposing the vast majority of science fiction offerings and psychological dramas, the current crop pale compared with Serling's weekly offerings. This program is simply one of the better among a host of these.

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