"Mr. Denton On Doomsday" is the third episode of the The Twilight Zone, and is the first encore presentation of the show.
From the CBS Video Library cover:
"Town drunk Al Denton (Dan Duryea), once a feared gunslinger but now an object of pity and scorn is forced to draw against a sadistic bully (Martin Landau). A glance from mysterious peddler Mr. Fate (Malcolm Atterbury) allows Denton to get off two miraculous shots, saving his life. Now a town hero, Denton regains his self-respect and swears off liquor. But soon, the routine that drove him to the bottle in the first place begins again -Denton is challenged to a shootout by a young hotshot (Doug McClure). Practicing, Denton finds his ability with a gun is long gone, In desperation, he turns to Fate for more magic. What Fate provides might just save Denton from a bullet...or it might do much, much more."
- 1 Episode Details
- 2 Themes
- 3 Background Information
- 4 Trivia
- 5 Notes and References
- 6 External Links
"Portrait of a town drunk named Al Denton. This is a man who's begun his dying early—a long agonizing route through a maze of bottles. Al Denton, who would probably give an arm or a leg or a part of his soul to have another chance, to be able to rise up and shake the dirt from his body and the bad dreams that infest his consciousness. In the parlance of the times, this is a peddler, a rather fanciful-looking little man in a black frock coat. (a Gun appears beside Denton) And this is the third principal character of our story. Its function? Perhaps to give Mister Al Denton his second chance."
Al Denton was once known as the quickest draw in town, but his life was ruined after he killed a teenaged boy in a duel — he is now an alcoholic wreck and the laughing stock of the community. A mysterious salesman named Henry J. Fate ostensibly further dooms Denton by causing him to inexplicably regain his expert shooting touch and once again inspire the respect and awe of the townsfolk, which Denton explains will only cause reputation-hungry gunslingers from miles around to seek him out and, inevitably, kill him. Just as Denton predicted, soon enough a challenge is delivered which Denton dare not refuse.
The still-weary and not-so-sure-handed Denton practices in the desert for his suicidal duel, but he misses his targets miserably and concludes that he must skip town. As he quietly packs his things and tries to flee under the cover of night, he strikes up a conversation with Fate, who seems to know things about Denton and offers him a way out. Fate claims to possess a potion guaranteed to make the drinker the fastest gun in the West for exactly ten seconds. Denton is skeptical but Fate goads him into drinking a free sample, after which Denton immediately realizes its benefits.
Still, Denton knows that with Fate's magical potion he has extended his lease on life by only one gunfight; there will be no end to the challenges he will surely continue to receive.
At the appointed time, Denton faces his challenger Pete Grant, a young gunfighter who behaves like he knows he can't possibly lose. Denton downs his second potion only to find his opponent holding an identical empty bottle -- Fate had slyly provided the same elixir to young Grant. Each man shoots the other in the hand, causing injuries which are minor but forever ruin both men's ability to pull a trigger.
Denton tells his young opponent that they have both been blessed because they will never again be able to fire a gun in anger. Henry J. Fate tips his hat to Denton and rides quietly out of town. Just as Fate had helped one man out of a pit, he had simultaneously prevented another from falling into one.
"Mr. Henry Fate, dealer in utensils and pots and pans, linaments and potions. A fanciful little man in a black frock coat who can help a man climbing out of a pit—or another man from falling into one. Because, you see, Fate can work that way...in the Twilight Zone."
Preview for Next Week's Story
"This motion picture projector and this film provide a background in next week's story when a most distinguished actress takes a journey into The Twilight Zone. Ms. Ida Lupino stars in "The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine," a haunting story of a haunted woman, that I think you'll find interesting and perhaps shocking. We hope you'll join us then. Thank you and good night."
Preview for Another CBS Show
"Be sure to see the fun-filled family life on one of America's greatest entertainers, The Danny Thomas Show, Monday nights over the most of these stations!"
This episode dealt primarily with themes of Fate and Redemption of all kinds - from the physical, external redemption of Denton in town, to the internal redemption of Denton overcoming his alcoholism and moving on from the gunslinging world.
- Rod Serling as Narrator (voice only); uncredited
- Dan Duryea as Al Denton
- Martin Landau as Dan Hotaling
- Jeanne Cooper as Liz
- Malcolm Atterbury as Henry J. Fate
- Ken Lynch as Charlie
- Arthur Batanides as Leader
- Bill Erwin as Man
- Robert Burton as Doctor
- Doug McClure as Pete Grant
- Tex Holden as Barfly; uncredited
- Robert McCord as Stagecoach Driver; uncredited
- Jack Perrin as Barfly; uncredited
- Bob Reeves as Barfly; uncredited
- Allan Reisner (director)
- Rod Serling (executive producer: Cayuga Productions)
- Buck Houghton (producer)
- George T. Clemens (director of photography)
- Bill Mosher (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)
- Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) (1959) (USA) (TV) (original airing)
- Corporation, The (2008) (France) (DVD)
- United Productions of America (UPA) animated title
- Westrex Recording System recording system
- Dan Duryea was paid $5,000 for his four days of work on this episode.
- This episode was the first The Twilight Zone episode to be rerun.
- This episode originally had the lagoon opening used by most of the first season episodes, but the blinking eye opening was dubbed over when they aired this episode as a summer repeat.
- The harmonica music in the background is an old Russian folksong known as "Stenka Razin".
- Martin Landau would return again to The Twilight Zone as Major Ivan Kuchenko in Season 5's The Jeopardy Room. He would also be one of the distinct few actors to appear in more than one series of the show, appeeaing in The Beacon in The Twilight Zone (Second Series) episode The Beacon/One Life, Furnished in Early Poverty.
- Malcolm Atterbury appeared in the episode Season 4's No Time Like the Past, this time as a professor.
- Arthur Batanides would later guest star in Season 3's The Mirror.
- Bill Erwin made a total of four appearances in the Zone, the others being in Season 1's Walking Distance, Season 2's Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up? and Season 4's Mute.
Errors and Goofs
- This episode featured the following anachronisms: TV antennas can be spotted in the distance.
- Main article: List of memorable quotes from the first series
Notes and References
- Internet Movie Database. "Mr. Denton On Doomsday." Retrieved: 2009-04-30.