Jamie Tennyson is an overly talkative member of a private men's club. He is challenged by fellow member Col. Archie Taylor to keep his mouth shut for one year. Should he do so, he would win $500,000. Taylor dislikes Tennyson and if nothing else, finds this a way to get a bit of peace and quiet at the club. Tennyson will live in a room in the club, under observation and will communicate in writing only. As the months go by, Taylor begins to worry that Tennyson may just succeed. He can't believe Tennyson's will but neither party proves to be completely honorable. Written by
The plot of a man accepting a bet that he could remain isolated (being unable to speak rather than having no direct human contact) for a year and the desperation of the one waiting for the bet to finish, was inspired by Anton Chekhov's short story "The Bet". See more »
Himself - Host:
Mr. Jamie Tennyson, who almost won a bet, but who discovered somewhat belatedly that gambling can be a most unproductive pursuit, even with loaded dice, marked cards, or, as in his case, some severed vocal chords. For somewhere beyond him, a wheel was turned, and his number came up black thirteen. If you don't believe it, ask the croupier, the very special one who handles roulette - in The Twilight Zone.
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The Silence, like many Twilight Zone episodes, has a good twist at the end that lands it solidly in the realm of the supernatural, but unfortunately (and also like a lot of other twilight zone episodes), that supernaturalness is reached more because of the main character's astonishing stupidity than anything really supernatural. Not that there is anything wrong with that. I appreciate wildly different behavior from what I would expect from myself in a show like the twilight zone infinitely more than in, for example, modern Hollywood horror movies, so The Silence ranks as one of the more entertaining episodes to me. Regardless of why the twist is as shocking as it is, the story is undeniably absorbing.
In a hugely exclusive men's club, one elderly gentleman is enormously disturbed by one of the members' constant, constant babbling. It's clear that all of the men are more than a little irritated by this one man and his unending, horizonless barrage of nonstop speaking, but one of them much more than anyone else. So much so, in fact, that he bets the man $500,000 that he can't keep his mouth shut for a year. One IMDb user states that this was a huge amount of money for the time period. I'm going to go ahead and suggest that this might be an enormous amount of money for ANY time period. And for ANY bet.
It reminds me of a particular sentence from one of my favorite books (Mark Twain's "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court") that, for some reason, managed to stay with me. The main character is describing a rather unfortunate relationship he is in with an intensely uneducated woman who never seems to stop talking. One day he wanted to say something to her (generally he would just let her talk and let his mind wander), so he says something like, "One afternoon I interrupted her in the middle of a sentence that she had begun that morning..." You get the idea. This guy is one of those people.
I hear that the main actor suffered an injury that prevented him being filmed in anything other than profile from the right. This sounds like gossip to me, probably generated by an unusual filming style, although not exactly impossible, I suppose.
What I love about this episode is how confident at the beginning the man who suggests the wager is. He is absolutely certain that this man won't be able to be quiet for a year, saying that he might last several weeks, maybe even a couple months, but the idea that such a man could last a full year was preposterous to him (and maybe to us).
As the end of the bet gets closer, the man gets increasingly desperate, even offering the guy $1,000 and then $5,000 to just quit the bet and walk away, even though there was only a couple months or weeks left by then.
There is one thing though, I was curious about what kind of a guy would not only accept this kind of bet, but what kind of guy had the free time to drop everything in his life and lock himself in a glass room for a year. Didn't he have a job? The exclusiveness of the gentlemen's club suggests that many of its patrons were independently wealthy, but if that was the case, why accept the bet in the first place?
At any rate, the show makes a great comment on upper class superficiality and the lengths people will go to in order to make money and, even more, boast their wealth and social status. Both, Serling says, can lead to disaster...
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