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"And When the Sky Was Opened" is the eleventh episode of the The Twilight Zone.
From the CBS Video Library cover:
"During man's first flight into space, the X-20 disappears from radar then crashes in the desert. Major Gart is laid up with a broken leg, but Colonels Harrington and Forbes go out for a night of revelry. Suddenly getting a strange feeling, Harrington calls his parents—and finds they have no son! Abruptly, he disappears, and no one but Forbes remembers him. Forbes is desperate to find out what's going on—for whatever yanked Harrington away may not be satisfied with just one."
- 1 Episode Details
- 2 Themes
- 3 Critical Response
- 4 Background Information
- 5 Trivia
- 6 Notes and References
- 7 External Links
"Her name: X-20. Her type: an experimental interceptor. Recent history: a crash landing in the Mojave Desert after a thirty-one hour flight nine hundred miles into space. Incidental data: the ship, with the men who flew her, disappeared from the radar screen for twenty-four hours. But the shrouds that cover mysteries are not always made out of a tarpaulin, as this man will soon find out on the other side of a hospital door."
A crew of astronauts flying the X-20 DynaSoar into space for the first time disappears from radar on a test flight, then reappears. The X-20 crashlands, sending one of its crew - Gart - to the hospital.
While recovering Gart receives a hospital visit from Forbes, who was also on the flight. Forbes is seized by a horrible anxiety and also by an insistence that a third astronaut, Harrington, was on their flight, and has disappeared. Gart is baffled, "knowing" that the X-20 only carried Forbes and himself, and not having any memory of any man named Harrington. In fact, no one remembers Harrington, and the newspapers - which covered the flight - have pictures of the crew showing only Gart and Forbes.
Desperate to make Gart remember, Forbes recounts what happened after both he and Harrington were discharged from the hospital. That evening, the two go to a bar, where, Harrington is suddenly seized by a strange feeling that he no longer belongs in the world. Harrington phones his parents from the bar, only to be told by them that they have no son. Forbes gets up from his seat for a moment. When he returns, Harrington is no longer there. Forbes asks others in the bar if they saw what happened to Harrington, but no one there remembers that anyone had been there with Forbes. Forbes notices the day's newspaper with a picture of the X-20's crew on the front page. He had noticed it earlier and that he, Gart and Harrington had been on the front page, under a headline mentioning "Three Spacemen". The same paper now mentions only "Two Spacemen ...", and that Harrington is missing from the picture.
Having heard Forbes story, Gart insists that he never know any man named Harrington. Gart is despondent and also desperate. He too begins to feel as Harrington had, that he is no longer part of the world, and when he looks in the mirror, he sees no reflection looking back. Forbes snaps and flees the room. Gart runs after him, but does not see the astronaut in the hallway or anywhere else. Forbes has mysteriously disappeared too, and none of the hospital staff remember him. After getting back into bed, Gart notices the newspaper now says "Lone Spaceman ...", having only his picture on it. Gart now realizes that Forbes was right, and that the same fate awaits him.
The episode ends with hospital staff entering Gart's room, seeing no sign that anyone had been using it.
Although there are no special effects showing the spacecraft in flight, the disappearances are emphasized by props. There is one fewer bed in the hospital room when one man disappears. At the end, the hospital room is shown empty, as is the hangar where the X-20 was originally housed.
"Once upon a time, there was a man named Harrington, a man named Forbes, a man named Gart. They used to exist, but don't any longer. Someone - or something- took them somewhere. At least they are no longer a part of the memory of man. And as to the X-20 supposed to be housed here in this hangar, this, too, does not exist. And if any of you have any questions concerning an aircraft and three men who flew her, speak softly of them - and only in - The Twilight Zone.""
Preview for Next Week's Story
"This is the season of gift-giving - big gifts and little gifts and expensive ones and not-so-expensive ones. Well, next time, The Twilight Zone gives you its own peculiar, oddball brand of gift-giving. Mr. Steve Cochran and Mr. Ernest Truex combine talents to tell a story about a little man who has "What You Need", our next offering on The Twilight Zone."
- Rod Serling as Narrator (voice only); uncredited
- Rod Taylor as Lieutenant Colonel Gregg Forbes
- Jim Hutton as Major William Gart [Credited as James Hutton]
- Charles Aidman as Colonel Ed Harrington
- Maxine Cooper as Amy
- Paul Bryar as Bartender
- Sue Randall as Nurse
- Joe Bassett as Medical Officer
- Lisabeth Field as Nurse; uncredited
- Logan Field as Investigator; uncredited
- S. John Launer as Mr. Harrington; uncredited
- Oliver McGowan as Officer; uncredited
- Gloria Pall as Girl in Bar; uncredited
- Rod Serling (executive producer: Cayuga Productions)
- Buck Houghton (producer)
- George T. Clemens (director of photography)
- Fred Maguire (film editor)
- Millie Gusse (casting; credited: Mildred Gusse)
- George W. Davis (art director)
- William Ferrari (art director)
- Rudy Butler (set decorator)
- Henry Grace (set decorator)
- Ralph W. Nelson (production manager)
- Edward O. Denault (assistant director; credited: Edward Denault)
- Franklin Milton (sound; credited: Frank Milton)
- Jean G. Valentino (sound; credited: Jean Valentino)
- Van Allen James (sound effects editor; uncredited)
- United Productions of America (UPA) (animated title)
- Gloria Pall, who plays the woman that Rod Taylor picks up at the bar, spoke about her experiences filming the episode. "Rod Serling was on the set for the two days I was working; he was very nice and came over and said hello. My part was originally different — it was written with me and two other girls sitting at a table. Rod and the director changed it, and moved me up to the bar. I loved working with Rod Taylor. He was a very nice person—one of the best in the biz at the time, as one of Hollywood's rising stars."
- The title is a parody of a line from the children's nursery rhyme Sing a Song of Sixpence. "When the pie was opened, The birds began to sing; Wasn't that a dainty dish, To set before the king?"
- This episode is based on the short story Disappearing Act by Richard Matheson. The story was first published in the March 1953 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.
- Gart: When you walked out of here yesterday morning, you walked out alone! There's never been three beds in this room, only two. Yours and mine.
Notes and References
- CBS Video Library: Twilight Zone #0322 "The Silence/Kick the Can/A World of Difference/And When the Sky Was Opened" ; UPC: 000322060003, EAN: 0000322060003, ASIN: B0007LHU6O; Format: NTSC, VHS, Collector's Edition (1987)