Friday, October 19, 2012

Don't Open the Door: The Twilight Zone: "Nothing in the Dark"

Wanda (Gladys Cooper) has been a shut-in for a long time.

You would shut yourself in, too, if you feared death. Wanda has lived for years in the basement of a tenement, never opening the door for anyone in case Mr. Death comes to the door to take her.

Instead, young policeman Harold (Robert Redford) is shot and wounded right outside of her door. She brings him in, and begins nursing him back to health, never notifying anyone that he is there. Soon, a construction worker (R.G. Armstrong) comes to tear the building down, and all is revealed.

Of all the "Twilight Zone" episodes, this small cast is one of the most impressive. Gladys Cooper does a bang-up job as Wanda, her reminiscing of younger days is sad and touching. Say what you want about him, Redford is great here, sporting such a trustworthy face. His nonthreatening manner is key to the story. Armstrong is always reliable.

Despite the one room set, director Johnson does a good job of keeping the pace going. Screenwriter Johnson revisits Serling's oft-told tales of Death personified, and does a nice if not sometimes predictable job with it.

"Nothing in the Dark" lets us know that we fear things in the dark, yet those fears are still there when the lights are on. A spooky entry in the television canon. (* * * *) out of five stars.