After a derelict Santa Claus is fired on Christmas Eve, he finds a mysterious bag that gives out presents. With this bag he sets out to fulfill his one wish - to see the less fortunate inherit the bounties of Christmas.
Henry Corwin is a down and outer who is normally unemployed and who definitely drinks too much. Every year however, he works as a department store Santa Claus. This year however, he's spent just a little too much time in the bar and is quite drunk by the time he shows up for work. He's fired of course and deeply regrets what he's done. In fact, Henry has a big heart and worries not only about the children he's disappointed at the store but about all of those children who will not get what they've asked for Christmas. When he comes across a large bag of gifts, everything changes for the kids and for himself as well.Written by
In the syndicated reruns and DVD versions, Rod Serling's final line "And a Merry Christmas, to each and all" is deleted. The line was restored in the Blu-ray release and the Netflix streaming version. See more »
Look out, now, here it comes – a double-barreled spoiler. I'm not only going to tell you how "The Night of the Meek," that famous Twilight Zone Christmas episode ends, I'm going to give you two different endings, or two ways of seeing the ending, from two people who saw it so differently more than fifty years ago.
My neighbor and I are both old enough so when the episode originally aired, December 23, 1960, we were at the age when we still believed in Santa Claus, barely; we were in the nebulous between, doubtful about him but unwilling to forsake him. At least not until after we got our Christmas loot.
The episode was a nice break from all those scary Twilight Zone episodes, the guy in the diner with a third eye on his forehead, the telephone wire that falls across the grave, the little boy who knows what everyone is thinking and who punishes them for their thoughts. My neighbor and I agreed ─ the Night of the Meek had our favorite Twilight Zone ending, ever. We just couldn't agree on how it ended.
The episode is pure Christmas magic. It's an old time Christmas with Art Carney as Santa Claus and with Burt Mustin as, well, who else, Burt Mustin.
How I always got the episode, Santa wishes the world was a nicer place than it is, especially for the poor, especially for the poor kids. He grieves for them and wants to give them something on Christmas. He can't, though, because he's fallen off the wagon, uh, sleigh. He's a drunk now, the jolliness driven out of him by the hopelessness and misery he sees around himself. He's fallen so far, he doesn't even remember having once been Santa. That is, until he stumbles upon a garbage bag full of empty tin cans and it all turns into a magic bag of gifts. Tell Santa what it is you want, a train set if you're a little boy, a pipe and smoking jacket if you're Burt Mustin, and Santa reaches into his bag and presto! With the help of the magic sack, which must have been his all along, and with the wide-eyed wonder of the poor kids and the skid row bums and with the chiding assistance of a cute little elf, Santa regains his former jolly garrulousness, steps back onto his sleigh and bells jingling, rides triumphantly across the sky.
Not so, said my neighbor. Santa wasn't Santa. He was Henry Corwin, a drunken department store Santa Claus until the magic of Christmas and his own goodness turned him into Santa Claus! That had me scratching my head. Had I got it all wrong fifty years ago? I went back and watched it a few times, pondered it, and it turns out my neighbor is correct. Her version is the real one, although I still like my own version better.
So go ahead, indulge yourself by watching it. It's only twenty-five minutes long and it captures the magic of the season as well or better than anything else and whether you agree with me or with my neighbor, (probably with her,) you'll get a nice warm feeling from it.
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