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There's no doubt about it. Ventriloquist's dummies are spooky. This one is particularly threatening. It's his face and his hair. Of course, the whole business of the dummy taking over is an old one and has been done many times. I don't know that anything new has been put forward here. Robertson's performance is OK. Then the question must be asked, "Is he delusional?" I he hallucinating? Or does the dummy take over and begin to run the show. The issue of alcoholism is there all the time. The Frank Sutton character tries his best to give his friend a break, but has to pull the plug eventually. I have to admit, however, that the closing scene is quite remarkable.
Dipso Ventriloquist is haunted by his dummy.
Well staged variation on the familiar theme of diabolical dummies. Robertson is a tormented voice-thrower whose act is being ruined by drink, caused by what he thinks is a live dummy. The opening dressing room scene is excellent for its spooky subtleties and imaginative effects. It made me think this would be special. Unfortunately, the story line soon drops the ambiguities and becomes too obvious. Still, some imaginative camera work breathes life into Robertson's unusually low key-delirium, while the final scene amounts to a genuinely new and rather unnerving twist on the old idea.
In passing-- you can measure the sharp decline of quality in the series' final year (1964) by comparing this episode (a good but not remarkable one) with the derivative Caesar and Me, a jumbled and unimaginative entry from that last year that strongly indicates how the production crew had run out of fresh ideas, but still had an unrelenting schedule to meet. Of the two, this one, The Dummy, is definitely the more watchable.
Loved this episode and have a hard time believing more people didn't
give it a much higher grade.Cliff Robertson gives an excellent yet
understated performance as a Ventriloquist who may or may not be losing
his mind.He takes his act all over the country and is quite a success
except lately he has a real problem. He is convinced that his dummy
(named Willie) is alive.It seems that the dummy is actually saying his
own lines on stage and tries to torment him when offstage.The matter is
further complicated by the fact that he is also developing into an
alcoholic.His manager thinks he's crazy and that his self destructive
behavior and bizarre visions are ruining both his career and his sanity
not to mention the act itself..His manager says "adios amigo" and
Jerry's nightmare reaches epic proportions.He locks the dummy in the
trunk but still sees visions of him everywhere and hears the dummy
taunt him no matter where he goes. And then....... ? well-maybe one of
the best executed shocks of any Twilight episode. OK I know the
knocks-that its derivative, that its predictable and that it has been
"done before".The movie "Dead of Night" often comes to mind along with
Hitchcocks TV episode entitled "The Glass Eye".But in all fairness this
episode stands very well on its own.The viewer is unsure whether the
Dummy is real and when we reach the end well- NO ONE would expect the
shocking yet ironic twist. There is a lot to admire about this episode.
First of all the acting is truly outstanding-Robertson is excellent and
very convincing as a desperate man who may be losing his mind and
Sutton is equally good as his estranged agent.Also the direction is
brilliant ranking right up there with "Eye of the Beholder". The stark
backgrounds,the frantic camera shots and the surrealistic images plus
the editing helps puts us in Jerry's world. And then there is the shock
at the end-and no matter what people say no one could ever predict or
I know that this episode seems derivative but give Serling and the director's credit.The ending is both fascinating and truly original This was one of the most entertaining episodes from the series and it will suck you right into the story and not let go-not even during the commercials. This is one act you DON'T want to miss
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I can agree with other reviewers on this board about how the story has been done before and since. However, I take myself back in time to when I saw this episode as a kid when The Twilight Zone was airing these shows for the first time. Man, this one was truly frightening and it really creeped me out. All those mirror reflection shots with Willie changing position is the stuff of real horror if you let your imagination run away with you. Cliff Robertson balances his character out nicely between the rational ventriloquist trying to make his agent understand, and the unhinged alcoholic who forces his way back to the dressing room to confront Willie for the last time. I wasn't perceptive enough as a kid to figure out the ending those many years ago, but subsequent viewings reveal just what a brilliant finale it was. The classic Serling hook that flips the characters around and provides the twist you were looking for. Very cool.
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'.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
**Spoilers** Undoubtedly influenced by the 1945 British anthology
horror flick "Dead of Night" with Michael Redgrave and his
ventriloquist dummy "Hugo" the "Twilight Zone" episode of "The Dummy"
stands on its own with the amazing performance of night club
entertainer Jerry Etherson, Cliff Robertson, and his sidekick Willie a
dummy that's not that dumb at all.
Jerry feeling that he's been playing second banana to his partner ventriloquist dummy Willie wants to get rid of him and turn Willie into a pile of sawdust. Jerry is made to feel like a dummy himself in him really doing nothing on stage and looking a bit stupid as dummy Willie ends up getting all the attention and laughs from the audience. This seems a bit strange since Willie is Jerry's meal ticket and not even alive or much less human! That's not what Jerry thinks about Willie in that the dummy makes up his own material on stage with Jerry acting as straight man to it! Or that's what Jerry thinks!
Feeling that Willie is controlling his life Jerry has him replaced with his second string dummy Goofy Goggles who's not anywhere as funny as Willie and later ends up being broken to pieces by Jerry who mistakes, how could he, him for Willie whom he wants to put out of both his life and night club act! With him falling to pieces and suffering from a severe case of burn out Jerry in an attempt to get rid of Willie ends up with not only a nervous breakdown but complete makeover in him trying to do it!
***SPOILER*** As the "Twilight Zone" episode comes to an end we see who's the dummy and who's the ventriloquist in Jerry's night club act. By then Jerry has completely both gone nuts and out of the picture with Willie now, like he always did, pulling the strings. Which those of us watching knew all along!
Cliff Robertson stars as talented ventriloquist Jerry Etherson, who has a popular act in a nightclub, but still has trouble making all his dates, since Jerry drinks too much, and insists that his dummy Willie(voiced by George Murdoch) is alive and persecuting him mercilessly. Of course his agent doesn't believe him, and threatens to drop him if he doesn't get help, but it seems that poor Jerry is beyond help, as Willie appears to be gaining the upper hand, and about to make his move... Chilling episode is among the series' best, and certainly the scariest, with an excellent performance by Robertson and voice work by Murdoch, and contains the most effective, jump-out-of-your-seat twist ending in television history. A true classic of its kind.
Episode 5.28 and this one, 3.33, are about living ventriloquist
dummies--dolls that seem to have a life of their own! This idea was
pretty creepy and I must applaud this particular episode--not the
re-tread of season five. The idea, by the way, was used in the movie
"Magic" as well as in many of the Goosebumps stories for kids.
In this particular show, the guy with the dummy is played by Cliff Robertson. He's a down-and-out guy--thanks to too much booze. In an odd twist, Robertson blames all this on the dummy--telling his agent (Frank Sutton) that the drinking and act will improve if only be can use a different dummy! Naturally, being the Twilight Zone, the old dummy has plans of its own!! This is a very creepy episode. The only serious negatives are that the dummy's lip movements are often out of sync and the performance is a tad over the top. Still, it's a very good episode and the first of its kind for the series.
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