Produced at the same time as the more well-known Twilight Zone, this series fed the nation's growing interest in paranormal suspense in a different way. Rather than creating fictional ... See full summary »
Will J. White
Henry Bemis loves to read. The only problem is that he can find neither the time nor the place to enjoy his pastime. At work, his boss has let him know in no uncertain terms that he is not to read during working hours. At home, his shrewish wife won't even let him read a newspaper, let alone a book. One day, he sneaks down to the vault in the bank's basement to read a bit and suddenly, there is a huge explosion above. He emerges to find the world destroyed in a nuclear holocaust. He does find books from the library and he sees a great deal of reading time ahead of him. Except for one small unintended event. Written by
Rod Serling's closing narration for this 1959 episode begins, "The best laid plans of mice and men..." a quote from John Steinbeck's classic novel. Exactly 20 years earlier, actor Burgess "Harry Bemis" Meredith starred in the film adaptation of "Of Mice and Men." See more »
Mr. Bemis expects to live "years and years and years" post-attack. In 1959, the effects of nuclear fallout were still under initial study and not widely understood. We see Bemis emerging from the bank vault more or less immediately after a thermonuclear blast (bomb-shelter protocol says to wait at least two weeks for the worst of the radioactivity to decay), eating packaged food that was probably irradiated, etc. So even with his glasses, Bemis would have not lived to enjoy his books for very long. See more »
Witness Mr. Henry Bemis, a charter member in the fraternity of dreamers. A bookish little man whose passion is the printed page but who is conspired against by a bank president and a wife and a world full of tongue-cluckers and the unrelenting hands of a clock. But in just a moment, Mr. Bemis will enter a world without bank presidents or wives or clocks or anything else. He'll have a world all to himself - without anyone.
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Burgess Meredith was apparently a favored performer of Rod Serling as he appeared in several Twilight Zone episodes. This multi-faceted player did such a variety of roles that no wonder he was a favorite and Serling found so much material for him.
In this episode Meredith is Henry Bemis a most nearsighted employee of a bank who gets locked in the bank's vault when nuclear war hits his city. When he gets out he's all that's left of humanity.
But that suits him fine because he finds the library's store of books has been left undamaged. Shakespeare, Keats, Milton, everything he ever wanted to go through is at his fingertips.
Of course there is a joker in this deck and it wouldn't be the Twilight Zone without one. Let's hope that Meredith really is not the only human being left alive and he finds some companionship soon. Even just for some conversation about all these classics.
Burgess Meredith was never bad in anything and this is no exception.
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