Ventriloquist Jerry Etherson is convinced that his dummy, Willie, is alive and evil. He locks Willie in a trunk and makes plans for a new act with a new dummy. Too bad he didn't clear those plans with Willie first.
Jerry Etherson has a reasonably successful nightclub act as a ventriloquist but has one major problem: he believes his dummy Willie is a sentient being who speaks to him and manipulates his life. His agent Frank thinks Jerry needs psychiatric help and tells him he has no future in the business if he doesn't do something about his delusions. Jerry decides to lock Willie in a trunk and try his act with a different dummy. Willie has plans of his own however. Written by
Rod Serling's reference to the "Gray Night Way" is a play on the common nickname for Broadway, which is the "Great White Way." See more »
You're watching a ventriloquist named Jerry Etherson, a voice-thrower par excellence. His alter ego, sitting atop his lap, is a brash stick of kindling with the sobriquet 'Willy.' In a moment, Mr. Etherson and his knotty-pine partner will be booked in one of the out-of-the-way bistros, that small, dark, intimate place known as the Twilight Zone.
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I have no criticism to make of Cliff Robertson in the lead role as ventriloquist, Jerry Etheredge. He gives a good performance as a seemingly likable man whose peculiar and insecure nature becomes increasingly visible. However, as the night club owner says about this kind of act 'you've seen one, you've seen them all'. The same pretty much goes for predictable ventriloquist stories like this (although 'The Glass Eye' in 'Alfred Hitchcock Presents' was fairly different).
My problem is that the sentient dummy idea is mad and silly, creepy but uninteresting, as well as being predated by the film 'Dead of Night'. I prefer the segment 'Ventriloquist' in that movie to this TZ, but I prefer the Zone's 'Twenty Two' to the same storyline as 'The Hearse' within 'Dead Of Night'.
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