The Twilight Zone

Season 1 Episode 4

The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine

Aired Unknown Oct 23, 1959 on CBS

Episode Recap

Former leading lady Barbara Jean Trenton spends all of her time in her luxurious manor locked up in her study. Every day she watches the movies that she starred in, many of them with her former leading man, Jerry Hearndan. Her housekeeper, Sally, is the only other person living in the house. When Barbara's agent, Danny Weiss, comes to see his client, Sally lets him in and warns him that Barbara is getting worse. He tells the housekeeper that he'll do what he can and goes into the study.

Danny throws open the curtains to let in some sunlight and points out that all she does is sit in the dark watching her movies. Barbara tells him not to bother her but Danny informs her that he has a part for her and that she'll be meeting with the studio executive, Marty Sall. Barbara remembers Marty from the old days when they didn't get along but Danny assures her that the executive has mellowed. The actress is eager to star in another movie but Danny warns her that it's been 26 years since she's had a leading role and she's not as young as she once was. Barbara dismissively ignores his concerns and is eager to go.

That afternoon, Barbara and Danny go to Marty's office. However, when Barbara hears that Marty wants to give her a secondary role as a mother to the leading character, she insists that she doesn't take that kind of role. Marty realizes that Danny didn't explain and warns her that she's no longer a leading lady. When Barbara continues to insult her, Marty tells her that any parts she gets would be charity. The ex-actress angrily walks out and a disgusted Danny promises to come back when Marty is old and kick him so he knows what it feels like.

Barbara returns to her manor with Danny, who tries to calm her down. He tells her not to pay attention to Marty, but Barbara says that from now on she'll seal herself off from the outside world and ignore Marty and everything else that has happened since the 1930s when she was a star. Danny warns her that she can't change the world but Barbara says that she's going to shut her eyes and wish it all away. The actress wants to throw a party and invite all of her old friends, but Danny warns her that they are all dead or retired. Frustrated, Danny walks out and Barbara desperately locks the door behind him.

Danny returns later and Sally tells him that Barbara has remained in her study since his last visit. The housekeeper admits that once when she went in, she saw Barbara up on the screen for a moment. Danny tells Sally to be ready for a visitor: Jerry Hearndan, who is in town and coming by. Danny convinces Barbara to let him in and tells her that Jerry is coming to see her. Flustered and excited, Barbara rushes off to put on her best dress and make up her face.

When Jerry arrives, Barbara enters the parlor and goes to her co-star... only to discover that he has aged considerably in the last 20+ years. She admits that she had expected him to look the same as he did in one of their movies and suggests that they might make a movie together. Jerry dismisses the idea, explaining that he retired from acting long ago and now runs a chain of supermarkets in Chicago. A stunned Barbara goes to the wall where she has photos of a young Jerry hanging up, and admits that she had expected that man to visit her. She says that "her" Jerry is dead and tells them both to get out. Jerry tries to talk to her one last time but she ignores him and looks away while he and Danny leave. Once they're gone, Barbara runs back to her study, turns off the lights, and turns the projector back on to one of her movies. She goes to the screen and strokes her aged face, wishing as hard as she can that everything could be the way it once was for her.

Later, Sally knocks at the door but Barbara doesn't answer. When the housekeeper goes in, she discovers that the projector is running but there's no sign of Barbara. Sally glances at the screen and then gasps in horror, drops her tray, and backs out of the room to call Danny. When the agent gets there, the two of them search the house but find no sign of Barbara. They go back to the study and Danny turns on the projector. A new movie appears on the projection screen: a young Barbara is on-screen with an equally-young Jerry. She is hosting a party in her manor and goes to the foyer to greet all of her unaging co-stars as they arrive. As Barbara walks off-screen with Jerry, Danny calls desperately to her, begging her to come back. She hears the agent, turns, and tosses a scarf to him where it lands off-camera. Despite Danny's pleas, Barbara then leaves for good.

Danny shuts off the projector and goes out to the foyer. Lying on the floor is Barbara's scarf, just where she dropped it. Picking it up, Danny looks up and tells Barbara that he hopes that she enjoys her wish.