Richard Donner and The Twilight Zone
Richard Donner passed away yesterday (Monday 05JUL21 at 91.
The term iconic or prolific is apt -
Donner's career reads like a quick hit list of my tops: The Omen, Superman, The Goonies, The Toy, Ladyhawke, Lethal Weapon, Scrooged. Some directors get more accolades for a less prodigious body of work - yet these movies are perfectly toned and have identities all their own. This is perhaps why a 'Donner' picture may be hard to define, but to say they consistently (or perfectly) kept to the spirit of their subject.
Donner was purely an industry professional - he cut his teeth in the golden age of television, directing episodes of The Twilight Zone, Gilligan's Island, The Fugitive, Combat!, Get Smart, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and Kojak.
Of The Twilight Zone - they were equally iconic, here's a quick overview of these episodes directed by young Richard Donner.
"Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" S5E3 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nightmare_at_20,000_Feet
Much has been said, or done in homage, to add anything meaningful - but this episode could be considered *the* preeminent episode of The Twilight Zone.
"From Agnes - with Love" S5E20 https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0734571/
PREMISE: A computer programmer, overly impressed with 'Agnes' a super computer, falls victim to its 'female' wiles.
- AGNES: "Aut amat aut odit femina." or "A woman only loves or hates."
- AGNES: "I love you! I love you! I love you!"
- Raymond Bailey, or Milburn Drysdale of The Beverly Hillbillies, is the programmer's supervisor, managing a key Venus rocket launch.
- Wally Cox, the junior computer programmer, was the voice of Underdog, the early sixties cartoon.
"Sounds and Silences" S5E27 https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0734620/
PREMISE: A boisterous Roswell G Flemington, torturing everyone with as much sound as he can, finds the tables are turned in the Twilight Zone.
- ROSWELL: "Better get ready out there. This will galvanize you properly!"
- John McGiver, playing naval character Flemington, actually enlisted as a private in the US Army in 09JAN42 (accomplished fighter Joe Louis enlisted the day after). McGiver went on to serve as an officer with the 7th Armored Division.
"The Jeopardy Room" S5E29 https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0734649/
PREMISE: A Soviet defector is caught and sentenced to death in his own apartment, but his executioner plays a nefarious game first.
- NARRATOR: "The cast of characters: a cat and a mouse. This is the latter. The intended victim who may or may not know that he is to die, be it by butchery or ballet."
- VASSILOFF: "As you've probably perceived, I'm rather a gamesman when it comes to killing."
- Stars Martin Landau, who likewise goes on to play many memorable and intense television roles in his early career. Interesting as a psuedo-nod to his stint on Mission: Impossible, Landau receives critical instructions from a reel-to-reel player.
"The Brain Center at Whipple's" S5E33 https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0734633/
PREMISE: A heartless owner of a factory upgrades his plant with maximum efficiency through automation and machinery, not understanding an ultimate conclusion for him as well.
- WHIPPLE: "This is the X109B14 modified, transistorized, totally automatic assembly machine which eliminates 61,000 jobs, 73 bulky, inefficient machines, 81,000 needless man hours per 11 working days, and $4 million in expenditures each year for employee hospitalization, employee insurance, employee welfare and employee profit participation."
- Thalmus Rasulala, playing the passionate 'Technician', played Captain Donald Varley on Star Trek: the Next Generation - a noble Captain that warned Jean-Luc Picard of a deadly Iconian transmission virus before succumbing to it.
"Come Wander with Me" S5E34 https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0734560/
PREMISE: A wandering folk singer, looking for inspiration, wanders deeper into self-immolation and a prophetic end.
- MARY: "They sought out their brother and found him alone. They wept by the lakeside for a boy hardly grown. They wept by the lakeside and vowed he must die. The wandering stranger..."
- Gary Crosby, son of Bing, played Floyd Burney and Bonnie Beecher played Mary Rachel. Bonnie Beecher had a role in Star Trek's TOS episode "Spectre of the Gun' as Sylvia. Link below will take you to yT.
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Goonies never say 'die'!