The Twilight Zone (1959–1964)
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Showdown with Rance McGrew 

The star of a Western TV series suddenly finds himself transported back in time to the real Wild West, and face-to-face with the real Jesse James.


Christian Nyby


Rod Serling, Frederick Louis Fox (based on an idea by) (as Frederic L. Fox) | 1 more credit »

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Episode complete credited cast:
Larry Blyden ... Rance McGrew
Arch Johnson ... Jesse James
Robert Cornthwaite ... Director
Robert Stevenson ... TV Bartender (as Robert J. Stevenson)
Bill McLean ... Prop Man (as William McLean)
Troy Melton ... Cowboy #1
Jay Overholts Jay Overholts ... Cowboy #2
Hal K. Dawson Hal K. Dawson ... Old Man
Bob Kline Bob Kline ... TV Jesse James (as Robert Kline)
James Turley James Turley ... Rance's Double (as Jim Turley)


Rance McGrew is the star of a weekly TV western where he plays the town Marshal. He is, to say the least, difficult to deal with. He is frequently late on the set, arrives unprepared and often requests script changes just as they are about to shoot a scene. To top it off, he's quite inept at handling his gun which he inadvertently tosses into the saloon mirror on more than one occasion. He's given a dose of reality however when he inexplicably finds himself back in time, coming face to face with the real Jesse James. Written by garykmcd

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Release Date:

2 February 1962 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


This episode reunites director Christian Nyby and actor Robert Cornthwaite, who previously worked together on The Thing from Another World (1951). In this episode, Cornthwaite plays a nervous and frustrated director who has to deal with a vain, bumbling cowboy actor. On the DVD commentary, Cornthwaite states that Nyby told him to play the director character as a funny version of Nyby himself. Cornthwaite praised Nyby's sense of humor. See more »


In the opening scene, when the car pulls up to the saloon, the palomino horse tied to the hitching post is wearing a bridle. Shortly thereafter, on the closeup of the horse making a face, he is wearing a halter. See more »


Rance McGrew: Last year we had a script where one of the Dalton boys got away.
Jesse James: I know, he TOLD me.
Rance McGrew: Oh.
See more »

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User Reviews

Headed off at the pass by time.
31 January 2014 | by darrenpearce111See all my reviews

Rod Serling wrote two scripts for series three that were inspired by an idea from another writer, Frederick Louis Fox. The other was the quaint but likable 'Hocus-Pocus and Frisby'. Fox was generally a writer of TV western screenplays, so unsurprisingly this one is set in the world of the then popular TV-west-that-never-was.

Rance McGrew (Larry Byden) is TV cowboy who suddenly steps out of his make-believe world and into the 'real' west where he is confronted by Jesse James.

It starts brightly with visual gags, a film crew and the ridiculousness of the sixties' TV western. However when Jesse James came in he was such an anodyne character of the TV western ilk anyway, when the show needed a dynamic and deadly, movie type like Lee Marvin ('The Grave', series three) or Martin Landau ('Mr Denton On Doomsday',series one). The rest falls very flat as there is nothing to consider remotely realistic about Jesse James, and so the story peters out badly.

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