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"The After Hours" is the thirty-fourth episode of the The Twilight Zone.
From the CBS Video Library cover:
"When Marsha White gets off the express elevator on the ninth floor of the department store, she finds it a desolate place where the lone piece of merchandise is a gold thimble. She buys it, although the saleslady, who appears familiar, is extremely rude. As Marsha returns to the first floor, she notices the thimble is scratched, but when she complains, she’s told the store does not have a ninth floor. Looking around, Marsha spots the salesgirl who sold it to her, only to discover the figure is just a mannequin. Beset with panic, Marsha's assisted into an inner office where she falls asleep. When she wakes up, the mystery of the ninth floor will be revealed."
- 1 Episode Details
- 2 Themes
- 3 Critical Response
- 4 Background Information
- 5 Trivia
- 6 Notes and References
- 7 External Links
"Express elevator to the ninth floor of a department store, carrying Miss Marsha White on a most prosiac, ordinary, run-of-the-mill errand. Miss Marsha White on the ninth floor, specialties department, looking for a gold thimble. The odds are that she'll find it - but there are even better odds that she'll find something else, because this isn't just a department store. This happens to be The Twilight Zone."
Marsha White, a woman browsing for a gift for her mother in a department store, decides on a gold thimble. She is taken by the elevator man to the ninth floor, a floor beyond that shown on the elevator gauge. She enters the ninth floor and turns to complain to the elevator operator that there is nothing there, but the door closes abruptly, leaving her to ponder her situation. She is approached by a saleslady who guides her to the only item on the floor: the exact gold thimble that Marsha wants. During the sales transaction, she grows increasingly puzzled by the comments and actions of both the male elevator operator who transported her to the barren, seemingly deserted floor, and the aloof and clairvoyant female salesclerk behind the counter who addresses her by name and sells her the thimble. As Marsha rides the elevator down, she notices that the thimble is scratched and dented; she is directed by the elevator operator to the Complaints Department on the third floor. When she tries to convince Mr. Armbruster, the sales supervisor, and Mr. Sloan, the store manager, that she bought the item on the ninth floor, she is told that the store doesn't have a ninth floor. Marsha spots the back of the salesclerk who sold her the thimble, and is shocked to discover that the woman isn't a salesclerk at all; she's one of the department store's display mannequins. While resting in an office following her frightening discovery, Marsha finds herself accidentally locked inside the closed store. She attempts to find a way out and becomes alarmed by mysterious voices calling to her and by some subtle movements made by the supposedly lifeless mannequins around her. Moving about aimlessly, she topples the sailor mannequin, whom she recognizes as the somewhat frustrated elevator operator in earlier scenes. Becoming hysterical, she flees backward to the now-open elevator, which again transports her to the unoccupied ninth floor. There, she gradually realizes that the mannequins are alive, trying to help her, and that she is also a mannequin. It is explained to her that each mannequin takes turns going out into the world to live among the humans for one month every year, but Marsha had enjoyed her stay among "the outsiders" so much that she lost her identity and forgot her true nature. Being with the other mannequins, she realizes that she is back in her natural place, which allows the next mannequin in line—the female salesclerk—to go out and live among the humans for thirty days. As the other mannequins bid farewell to the salesclerk, the sailor asks Marsha her if she enjoyed her time among the humans. She says she had "ever so much fun, ever so much fun." As Marsha fondly recalls her brief sojourn out among the humans, and with a passing expression of regret, confusion, and a small sigh, she and the sailor assume their natural posing postures, and grow rigid as mannequins. The next day, Mr. Armbruster is making his energetic morning rounds on the sales floor and does a double-take upon passing the mannequin of Marsha White on display. The final shot moves in on her and then her face that fades into the stars with the closing narration.
"Marsha White in her normal and natural state: a wooden lady with a painted face, who, one month out of the year, takes on the characteristics of someone as normal and as flesh and blood as you and I. But it makes you wonder, doesn't it? Just how normal are we? Just who are the people we nod our hellos to as we pass on the street? A rather good question to ask - particularly in The Twilight Zone."
Preview for Next Week's Story
This locker and liniment emporium houses a Major League Baseball team known as the Hoboken Zephyrs, all of which by way of introduction to next week's show, a wild and woolly yarn about the great American pastime. It's called "The Mighty Casey" and it's all about a left-hander who pitches like nothing human, simply because he isn't. Mr. Jack Warden takes into the stadium for nine fast innings next week on The Twilight Zone.
As stated in the closing narration, the central theme of the episode regards who (or what) the people we see every day really are; a subtle idea of inanimate objects having some kind of sentience that human beings are unaware of (this idea is explored in several other episodes). In extension of this idea, as shown in Marsha forgetting what she really is, the episode brings to mind whether or not people themselves actually are what they believe themselves to be. Perhaps the viewer is also a mannequin or other such humanoid object, and merely doesn't remember the truth.
The After Hours was very well received and considered to be one of the finest episodes in the series. However, it was remade in 1986 and many think of the remake episode as superior. It starred Terry Farrell as Marsha Cullen. The plot is similar, but the emphasis is more on suspense. In addition, the Marsha in the remake is in extreme denial of her identity and doesn't want to be a mannequin. She wants to be truly human, unlike the Marsha in the original, who simply forgot who she was and enjoyed feeling human for the month in which she lived among the outsiders.
- Rod Serling as Narrator (voice only); uncredited
- Anne Francis as Marsha White
- Elizabeth Allen as Saleswoman
- James Millhollin as Mr. Armbruster
- John Conwell as Elevator Man
- Patrick Whyte as Mr. Sloan
- Nancy Rennick as Ms. Keevers
- Rod Serling (executive producer: Cayuga Productions)
- Buck Houghton (producer)
- George T. Clemens (director of photography)
- Bill Mosher (film editor)
- George W. Davis (art director)
- Merrill Pye (art director)
- F. Keogh Gleason (set decorator; credited: Keogh Gleason)
- Henry Grace (set decorator)
- William Tuttle (makeup artist)
- Charles H. Schram (life mask: Anne Francis; uncredited)
- Ralph W. Nelson (production manager)
- Donald C. Klune (assistant director; credited: Don Klune)
- Franklin Milton (sound; credited: Frank Milton)
- Philip Mitchell (sound)
- Van Allen James (sound effects editor; uncredited)
- Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) (1960) (USA) (TV) (original airing)
- This is one of three episodes that feature a different opening title sequence (the camera zooms in on a large, live human eye) and narration.
- This is the first appearance of Anne Francis in the starring role of a Twilight Zone episode. She would appear again in the season four episode "Jess-Belle".
- Elevator Operator: "Well, this is an express elevator, ma'am - to the ninth floor. The others are all locals this time of day."
- Salesclerk: "Was someone helping you? Can I show you something?"
- Marsha White: "Now that's odd."
- Salesclerk: "What is, Marsha?"
- Marsha White: "Well, you haven't any merchandise here at all, except the thimble -- except the very thing I needed! The whole floor, it looks so empty and -- you called me Marsha."
- Salesclerk: "Did I? I'm sorry. That was forward of me. I apologize."
- Mr. Sloan: "That's what makes it so difficult to understand. You see, we don't *have* a ninth floor."
- Salesclerk: "Now, Marsha dear - you'll forgive an observation, but you're acting like a silly child. Come now, Marsha. Think now. Concentrate. Remember now? All of us will try and help you."
- Marsha White: "I'm a mannequin. That's what I am, I'm a mannequin!"
- Elevator Operator: "Did you enjoy yourself, Marsha? Was it fun?"
- Marsha White: "Ever so much fun. (more slowly) Ever so much fun."
Notes and References
- CBS Video Library: Twilight Zone #0308 "Time Enough At Last/The Changing of the Guard/The After Hours/The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street" ; UPC: 000308100198, EAN: ?, ASIN: ?; Format: NTSC, VHS, Collector's Edition (1987)