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Lunch » Tags » Movies » Reviews » Twilight Zone Collector's Edition (Big Tall Wish, I Shot an Arrow into the Air and Printer

Twilight Zone Collector's Edition (Big Tall Wish, I Shot an Arrow into the Air and Printer

1 rating: 5.0
A Twilight Zone Collector's Edition tape
1 review about Twilight Zone Collector's Edition (Big Tall...

Two superb and one really, really bad episode

  • Feb 8, 2010
Rating:
+5
"The Big Tall Wish" is notable more for the ethnicity of the major players than it is for the story, because all of the major characters are black. Four minor characters and the faces in the crowd are all the whites that appear in this episode, given that it aired in 1960 and portrayed the blacks as speaking ethnically neutral English, this was almost unheard of.
Bolie Jackson is an over-the-hill fighter than can read his career in his face. He is going up against a much younger man so the conventional wisdom is that he doesn't have a prayer. Yet, he does have a wish, he is friends with Henry, a boy that believes in magic. Unfortunately, a sleazy promoter talks to Bolie in the locker room before the fight and so angers him that Bolie punches the wall and breaks his right or power hand.
The predictable happens and Bolie is knocked down, but Henry makes a big, tall wish and suddenly it is Bolie's opponent that is being counted out. Bolie is so cynical that he still finds it difficult to believe in the magic of a big, tall wish. Of course, wishes will never come true if you do not believe in them.
This is one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes because it is a fairy tale grounded hard in reality. Furthermore, in retrospect the depiction of blacks as people with aspirations and hopes is a welcome relief from their regular depiction as slang-talking maids and houseboys.
"I Shot an Arrow Into the Air" is a bad episode; I cringed my way through most of it. Arrow One is the first manned ship being sent into space and shortly after launch it disappears from the radar screen. It has crashed in a desolate area with no water or vegetation, and four of the astronauts die in the crash and a fifth is critically injured. The astronauts are only able to salvage a small amount of food and water from the ship and it is this that causes one of the survivors to start falling apart. When the commander, a Colonel, gives some water to the injured crewman, the distraught crewman objects. This behavior continues throughout, even to the point where the crewman mutinies, only to find out there was no need.
This episode is a scientific clunker in many ways. The crewmen state their belief that they are on an asteroid, yet their weight and the atmosphere is Earth normal. Furthermore, these are highly trained astronauts that would be well skilled in celestial navigation; they would have had no trouble in determining what body they were on from simply looking at the sky and plotting the planets, moon and stars. Finally, astronauts would be subjected to an extensive battery of psychological tests to screen them; the idea of one of them losing their mind so quickly is absurd.
"Printer's Devil" is a great episode; Burgess Meredith is superb as an incarnation of the Devil. Douglas Winter is the publisher of a small-town paper that has gone broke; his last employee has resigned after going weeks without pay and the creditors are demanding action. Winter drives to a bridge and while he is standing on the bridge contemplating suicide a short man with a raspy voice named Mr. Smith comes up to him. Before Winter seems to realize it, Mr. Smith offers to pay of the debts of the paper and work as a linotype operator and reporter.
While circulation of the paper goes up dramatically, Winter quickly learns that his success comes at a price, namely that of his soul, for Mr. Smith is in fact the devil in disguise. There are some movies or television episodes where it is clear that the actors were having a great deal of fun making it and this is one of those times. Meredith is truly rascally as he rapidly seduces Winter into signing the contract for his soul. However, when Smith threatens Winter's fiance, Winter is able to find a way to save his fiance and void the contract. Making a pact with the devil is a very old theme; in this case it is simultaneously a goody as well.

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