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"Perchance to Dream" is the ninth episode of the The Twilight Zone.

From the CBS Video Library cover:

"Edward Hall has a bad heart —and a [terrible] problem. Desperate, he barges into the office of Dr. Rathmann, a psychiatrist, and explains that each night, he’s been dreaming in chapters, as in a movie serial. The setting is always the same: an amusement park, in which Maya, an alluring carnival dancer, entices him into a funhouse and onto a rollercoaster…with the intention of scaring him to death. He knows if he goes to sleep again, he’ll suffer a fatal heart attack—and yet, if he stays awake much longer, he feels sure his heart won’t stand the strain. Whatever choice Hall makes…he’s brought a one-way ticket into the Twilight Zone."[1]

Episode Details

Title Sequence

Opening Narration

"Twelve o'clock noon. An ordinary scene, an ordinary city. Lunchtime for thousands of ordinary people. To most of them, this hour will be a rest, a pleasant break in the day's routine. To most, but not all. To Edward Hall, time is an enemy, and the hour to come is a matter of life and death."

Episode Summary

Hall, a man with a cardiac condition, has sought out the aid of Dr. Rathmann, a psychiatrist. He explains that he's been dreaming in chapters, as if in a movie serial. In his dream Maya, a carnival dancer, lures him into a funhouse and onto the roller coaster with the express intention of scaring him to death. If he goes to sleep, he knows he'll return to the dream and will have a fatal heart attack. On the other hand, if he stays awake much longer, the strain will be too much for his heart. Realizing that Rathmann can't help him, he starts to go, but stops when he realizes that the doctor's receptionist is a dead ringer for the girl in his dream. Terrified, he runs back into Rathmann's office and jumps out the window to his death. The doctor calls his receptionist into his office - where Hall lies on the couch, his eyes closed. Rathmann tells the receptionist that Hall came in, laid down, immediately fell asleep - and then a few moments later, let out a scream and died.

Closing Narration

"They say a dream takes only a second or so, and yet in that second a man can live a lifetime. He can suffer and die, and who's to say which is the greater reality: the one we know are the one in the dreams, between heaven, the sky, the earth . . . in the Twilight Zone."

Preview for Next Week's Story

"Once upon a time, there was a ship sailing from Liverpool, England to New York. It never got there and one man onboard knew why. Next week, we tell this man's story. The distinguished actor Nehemiah Persoff plays the role of Carl Lanser, a haunted man in a haunting story called "Judgment Night". This ship sails next week and we hope you'll see it off. Thank you and good night."


Critical Response

Background Information


  • Rod Serling as Narrator (voice only); uncredited
  • Richard Conte as Edward Hall
  • John Larch as Dr. Rathmann
  • Suzanne Lloyd as Maya/Miss Thomas
  • Eddie Marr as Girlie Barker; uncredited
  • Ted Stanhope as Man on Street; uncredited
  • Russel Trent as Rifle Range Barker; uncredited


  • Rod Serling (executive producer: Cayuga Productions)
  • Buck Houghton (producer)
  • George T. Clemens (director of photography)
  • Joseph Gluck (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)
  • Philip Mitchell (sound)
  • Van Allen James (sound effects editor; uncredited)

Production Companies


  • Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) (1959) (USA) (TV) (original airing)


  • United Productions of America (UPA) (animated title)

Home media release

This episode is included on the Image Entertainment Vol. 7 DVD along with "The Hitch-Hiker", "King Nine Will Not Return" and "Shadow Play".


  • This was the first episode to air that was not written by Rod Serling.
  • Beaumont's short story was first published in the November 1958 issue of Playboy.
  • In 2002, Suzanne Lloyd (Maya) recalled the experience of shooting the episode. "There wasn't much levity on that set and everything except the psychiatrist's office scenes were shot at an angle with the camera tilted throughout. I remember standing there for what seemed like forever, getting that laugh down. Richard Conte and I spent a fair amount of time working on the scenes which featured his terrified face. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life working with that dialogue and those actors. A real joy."
  • Beaumont was pleased with the episode, saying "They didn't hardly change a word of it; I was amazed."
  • The title of the episode, and the short story that inspired it, is taken from William Shakespeare's Hamlet's "to be or not to be" speech. "To sleep, perchance to dream-ay, there's the rub." The very next line, "For in that sleep of death what dreams may come," was used by fellow Twilight Zone writer Richard Matheson as the title of his novel/movie What Dreams May Come.

Cast Connections

Memorable Quotes

Notes and References

  1. CBS Video Library: Twilight Zone #0323 "Where is Everybody?/Perchance to Dream/The Jungle/Nick of Time" ; UPC: 003230803991, EAN: 0003230803991, ASIN: B000BUHEZ8; Format: NTSC, VHS, Collector's Edition (1987)

External Links