"Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room" is an episode of the The Twilight Zone.
"This is Mr. Jackie Rhoades, age thirty-four, and where some men leave a mark of their lives as a record of their fragmentary existence on Earth, this man leaves a blot, a dirty, discolored blemish to document a cheap and undistinguished sojourn amongst his betters. What you're about to watch in this room is a strange mortal combat between a man and himself, for in just a moment, Mr. Jackie Rhoades, whose life has been given over to fighting adversaries, will find his most formidable opponent in a cheap hotel room that is in reality the outskirts of The Twilight Zone."
An insecure, unsuccessful gangster named Jackie Rhoades waits in a cheap, dirty hotel room for his boss, George, who orders Jackie to shoot a barkeeper, or else he will kill Jackie on his return. George then exits, leaving Jackie wrestling with his conscience. Terrified and frustrated, he starts talking to his reflection in the mirror. He puts a cigarette in his lips but finds no match.
A puff of smoke comes out from the other side of the mirror, and he sees a different version of himself in the reflection: a strong, self-assured, confident Jackie Rhoades. Jackie looks into the mirror and asks, "Are you talking to me? Are you talking to me?" Jackie and his reflection enter a lengthy argument about how badly his life has turned out as a result of his listening to others and never himself. Jackie stubbornly resists the alternate Jackie's request to take over, and tries to flee, but he sees more mirrors in the hallway, the closet and the bathroom, and his reflection continues to argue with him out of each one. Finally, Jackie backs away in terror from the doppelganger he cannot escape. Jackie's double goes closer and closer to the real Jackie.
George returns, furious that Jackie has not done his job. "Whattaya gotta say for yourself, Crumb?", he sneers. Jackie turns around, and responds confidently, "I resign! You can have your gun back plus the following." He then kicks and punches a surprised George, throwing him out of the room along with his gun. Ringing the room clerk to check out, he refers to himself as "Jackie—JOHN Rhoades." He then tells the nervous Jackie, now the one on the other side of the mirror, that they're going to make something of their life.
"Exit Mr. John Rhoades, formerly a reflection in a mirror, a fragment of someone else's conscience, a wishful thinker made out of glass, but now made out of flesh and on his way to join the company of men. Mr. John Rhoades, with one foot through the door and one foot out - of The Twilight Zone."
Preview for Next Week's Story
These are familiar items, I'm sure - television set, electric razor, clock, typewriter, the normal, everyday accouterments that are part and parcel of 20th century progress, but next week, you'll see them under different circumstances and in a totally dissimilar guise: they'll be machines, but they'll also be monsters. Our story is called "A Thing About Machines" and it'll be here waiting for you in The Twilight Zone.
In Popular Culture
- The Jackie Rhoades character is the first to deliver the famous lines "You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me?" while facing a mirror. Most people know these lines from the films Taxi Driver and Dirty Harry, but they first appeared in this episode of The Twilight Zone.
- "You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? Oh yeah. Yeah, sure you are. Now me and the mirror we're havin' a talk. I've had it huh? All my marbles are gone. This is how it happens." —Jackie Rhoades
- The FOX sitcom Married...With Children paid homage to this story in the season eight episode, "Proud to Be Your Bud?" where Bud Bundy (David Faustino) builds a portal in his basement room and a clone of himself appears, who tells him that he's a loser and fights with him.
- In the CBS comedy series Two and a Half Men (Episode 15 of season 8, entitled "Three Hookers and a Philly Cheesesteak") the character of Alan is confronted by a more confident and decisive version of himself in a mirror. As the episode ends, we see that Alan and his alter ego have changed places, the latter heading out into the world.
- The title of the song "Paranoia Man in Cheap Shit Room" by Manchester band The Fall echoes that of this episode.
- Cayuga Productions
- Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) (in association with)
- Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) (1959) (USA) (TV) (original airing)
- Corporation, The (2008) (France) (DVD)