Friday, October 19, 2012

Send Me an Angel: The Twilight Zone: "One for the Angels"

Ed Wynn is Lou Bookman, a pitchman who tries to sell anything he can out of his suitcase, usually embellishing facts about ordinary things like thread and neckties.

He is being watched by a mysterious man played by Murray Hamilton. The man follows Lou back to his modest one room apartment, and tells him he is Death and must take him at midnight, unless Lou can delay it with one of three loopholes. Lou has no family, save a bunch of neighborhood children who love playing with his toy merchandise, he is not on the verge of a scientific breakthrough, and he has no unfinished business. Lou convinces Death that he wants to make a big sale, a big pitch that would cause the skies to open, "one for the angels." Death concedes, and Lou promptly retires, never to pitch again, and buying himself a few years. Death has another plan, and decides to take one of Lou's neighborhood kids instead. Lou then decides to delay Death's appointment with the child, by giving a delaying pitch.

While this episode, written by Serling, is more predictable than others, it succeeds thanks to Wynn and Hamilton. Wynn has always been great onscreen, and the viewer quickly likes him and feels for him. Hamilton's Death is not threatening at all, he is more of a bureaucrat, but he plays the role coolly.

"One for the Angels" is a good entry in the "The Twilight Zone" body of work. (* * * *) out of five stars.