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The Twilight Zone

Season 2 Episode 12


Aired Unknown Jan 06, 1961 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
134 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

After selling the rope for a hanging, a greedy peddler, tries to sell the condemned man's father a bag of "magic dust."

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  • A moving melodrama on the human condition...unfortunately diluted a bit for secular Hollywood.

    (The new rating system is another thing that tv.com should have left alone. This episode is not an "8.5," but it wasn't a "9" either. It is an "8.8" and I'll explain why).

    A young man is sentenced to hang for accidentally running over a little girl in a drunken stupor. The fact that he is Hispanic doesn't gain him any sympathy from the already soulless, and his only friend appears to be the gentle and philosophical sheriff, who must lead him to his execution.

    A diabolical peddler, himself a drunk, has sold the rope for which to hang the young man. After mercilessly taunting him, the peddler tells the doomed man's little sister to inform their father that he has "magic dust" to sell him for 100 Pesos, and to meet him immediately if he wants his son to live. The little girl does as she's told, and the ruthless peddler laughs hysterically out of heartless greed.

    To everyone's astonishment, when the father of the condemned man shows up beside the scaffolding, he begins flinging dust everywhere. Everyone begins laughing at him derisively, but they are all in for a surprise when the trapdoor falls through, and the young man remains alive.

    This was a very touching episode, and to my surprise I had never seen it before today. I thought it ranked among the best for themes of the Twilight Zone, with superior acting, great writing, and a gripping plot. My one fault for this episode was watering down the "grace" message at the end. They hinted at it, even said it was "Providence," then rid it of all its potency by defining the substance of the change that took place in the townsfolk's hearts as "magic." In other words, they took a profound, central theme and assigned a Mickey Mouse explanation for it at the end. It could have been a "9.5" otherwise.moreless
Paul Genge

Paul Genge

John Canfield

Guest Star

Dorothy Adams

Dorothy Adams

Mrs. Canfield

Guest Star

Duane Grey

Duane Grey

Mr. Rogers

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (7)

    • (Opening Narration)
      Narrator: There was a village, built of crumbling clay and rotting wood, and it squatted ugly under a broiling sun like a sick and mangy animal wanting to die. This village had a virus, shared by its people. It was the germ of squalor, of hopelessness, of a loss of faith. For the faithless, the hopeless, the misery-laden, there is time, ample time, to engage in one of the other pursuits of men. They begin to destroy themselves.

    • Sykes: Well, what'll it be for you today, Mr. Koch? Don't need any more rope, do you? Hey, you oughta see the fancy five-strand hemp I sold the town for your party, Gallegos. It could lift five of you. Any more at home like you, Gallegos? Well, what'll be your fancy, Mr. Koch?
      Sheriff Koch: What do I fancy, Sykes? I'll tell you what I fancy. I'd like you to take your fat carcass and your loud mouth out into the open air. This is a small room and it's a hot time of the morning.

    • Sheriff Koch: I don't touch dog meat, Sykes.
      Sykes: You talk big behind a badge, Koch.
      Sheriff Koch: It just sounds big to you because you're a midget, Sykes.
      Sykes: You know, I always had a little question about you. You always had a thing for foreigners and strays, but you're mighty tight-lipped when it comes to one of your own.
      Sheriff Koch: You're not my own, Sykes, so don't claim any kinship. As for that boy in there, he had his trial and today he's gonna swing for it. There's nothing in his sentence that says he's gotta be tormented by a pig who sells trinkets at funerals. Go on, Sykes. Get out of here.
      Sykes: When this day is over, which one will you weep for, Koch?
      Sheriff Koch: I have tears enough for both.

    • Sheriff Koch: When was it God made people? The sixth? He should have stopped on the fifth.

    • Rogers: The kids, they've ain't never seen a hanging. I figured it was about time.
      Sheriff Koch: Why?
      Rogers: Why not? They'll learn a lesson. They'll see what happens to drunks that kill kids.
      Sheriff Koch: I guess that's pretty fine. How do you teach them pain, Rogers, shoot one of them in the arm?

    • Luis: I'm... I'm free?
      Sheriff Koch: Are any of us free, Luis. But you can go home now, you have that much freedom.

    • (Closing Narration)
      Narrator: It was a very small, misery-laden village on the day of a hanging, and of little historical consequence. And if there's any moral to it at all, let's say that in any quest for magic, in any search for sorcery, witchery, legerdemain, first check the human heart. For inside this deep place there's a wizardry that costs far more than a few pieces of gold. Tonight's case in point in the Twilight Zone.

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