The Twilight Zone: Season 5, Episode 7

The Old Man in the Cave (8 Nov. 1963)

TV Episode  |  TV-PG  |   |  Fantasy, Horror, Mystery
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 609 users  
Reviews: 13 user

In a post-apocalyptic settlement in 1974, the inhabitants' survival is dependent on the advice of an unseen man living in a nearby cave. This dependence is tested when a band of soldiers descends on their town.



(teleplay by), (based on a short story "The Old Man" by), 1 more credit »
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Episode complete credited cast:
Josie Lloyd ...


Ten years after an atomic apocalypse, a small group of survivors manage to eke out a very difficult existence. They've managed to survive in large part due to the advice they receive from an old man who lives in a cave outside of the town. Goldsmith acts as the intermediary and the old man's advice on things like crops or the safety of a batch of old canned goods are usually correct. When four soldiers led by Major French arrive in the town, the social order is upended with the townsfolk attacking the old man's cave but not really prepared for what they find inside. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

cave | advice | soldier | elderly | attack | See All (16) »





Release Date:

8 November 1963 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This episode takes place in 1974. See more »


When playing the dead Major French, James Coburn's eyelids flicker. See more »


Narrator: [Closing Narration] Mr. Goldsmith, survivor, an eye witness to man's imperfection, an observer of the very human trait of greed, and a chronicler of the last chapter - the one reading 'suicide.' Not a prediction of what is to be, just a projection of what could be. This has been the Twilight Zone.
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User Reviews

A riddle within an enigma ?
7 December 2013 | by (Ireland) – See all my reviews

Not one of my favourite entries. Thought provoking, yes, but Serling's closing statement tends to annoyingly simplify the meaning in a way that I just cant accept. The people who have survived a nuclear war are so wretchedly hungry and miserable it is hard to judge them whoever they follow. Other TZs depict some sort of survival after a nuclear war but this one shows a pointless encore for the human race. From the start I'm reminded of a line from A Midsummer Night's Dream, 'Moonshine and Lion are left to bury the dead'. There just isn't a palpable human spirit among the survivors, and why should there be? How far can we expect people to cling on desperately to life when the identity of the 'old man' is not explained to them. Who's to say faith is more useful than knowledge? An 'old man' in a cave who never comes out is an absurd rationale for detecting which food sources are contaminated by radiation. This story shows me that a lack of knowledge is dangerous.

You can easily find real world counterparts to Major French and Mr Goldsmith but I soon grew tired of this post-apocalypse preachy stuff.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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