|A Favorite Twilight Zone Episode, #47: "Night of the Meek."
||[Dec. 4th, 2004|10:30 pm]
Last night, I pulled out the Twilight Zone collection.
The episode of choice for last evening was "Night of the Meek," written by Rod Serling. It is a timeless episode in the Twilight Zone series, and it never fails to bring tears to my eyes.
Art Carney plays a most excellent performance as Henry Corwin, an unemployed alcoholic who plays a part in a Santa suit at a department store, run by a Mr. Gundy. Mr. Corwin feels that he is a "aging, purposeless relic of another time."
Corwin ties on too many drinks at the local bar near the store. He shows up one hour late for the department store gig. Mr. Gundy chastises Corwin for his tardiness and inebriation, and Corwin, so drunk, manages to trip over himself in front of the waiting kids. Mr. Gundy loses his cool, and he fires Corwin on the spot in front of the waiting crowd.
Corwin thanks Mr. Gundy for the opportunity, and he begins his defense of his position. Corwin cannot bear to weep any further over the plight of his own life and those in the tenements, so he drinks. He appeals to Mr. Gundy over the commercialism of Christmas in favor of patience, love, charity, and compassion. Mr. Gundy cannot bear to hear any more of his position, and he asks Corwin with indignation how all people can live up to his wonderful standards for the season.
Corwin tells him that he does not know how to tell him. However, he continues.
Henry lets Mr. Gundy what he wants. "I just wish Mr. Gundy, that on one Christmas . . . only one . . that I could see some of the hopeless ones, and the dreamless ones, just on one Christmas, I'd like to see the meek inherit the Earth."
Mr. Corwin departs from the store, and he quickly stumbles upon how his wish could come true.
The story features some unique qualities. It seems to have been filmed with videotape, as if it was a live broadcast.
In the department store, a small black child plays with the display train set. The small child is one among the many whites in the store. The show was filmed in 1960, in the storm of the equal rights movement.
Rod's screenplays often dealt with the strongest issues of reason, morality, and ethical behavior. He used science fiction, in the form of The Twilight Zone, as a stroke of genius to avoid fallout over then-controversial topics. To cloud the controversy of the issues of his day, often he would sneak in brief moments of detail, such as a little black child in a white department store . . . or he would deliver the powder-keg lines and actions through an alien.
Serling's treatment of "Night of the Meek" is a wonderful testament to his ability to appeal to the masses.
"Night of the Meek" is a wonderful screenplay on the subject of Christmas.
A Literary Kicks Link to an Article on Rod Serling.