A henpecked book lover finds himself blissfully alone with his books after a nuclear war.



(teleplay by), (based on a short story by)

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Episode complete credited cast:
Jacqueline deWit ...
Helen Bemis (as Jaqueline deWit)
Lela Bliss ...


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 garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis





Release Date:

20 November 1959 (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?


The exterior, long library steps were filmed some months later and used as the steps up into an Eloi public building, in MGM's 1960 film The Time Machine (1960). They were also seen in John Brahm's later work, The Twilight Zone: A Nice Place to Visit (1960). 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 »


Rod Serling - Narrator: [Opening Narration] 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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Referenced in Family Guy: Brian & Stewie (2010) See more »

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User Reviews

The Reader
25 October 2014 | by (North America) – See all my reviews

Burgess Meredith is indelible as poor bank teller Henry Bemis, who is much put-upon by his shrewish, cold wife Helen, who cannot stand Henry's desire to read, and his love of books. Neither can his boss or customers, but when an atomic war occurs as he is reading in the bank vault, Henry is at first desolate, but when he realizes that he now has all the time in the world to read, his spirits briefly rise, until cruel fate and broken eyeglasses leaves him just another victim in a smashed landscape... Masterpiece of imagery and character, with Bemis the ultimate victim in a cruel, indifferent world not of his making. Superb direction and set design as well in unforgettable episode.

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