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"The Fever" is the seventeenth episode of the The Twilight Zone.
- "Mr. & Mrs. Franklin Gibbs, 3 days and 2 nights, all expenses paid, at a Las Vegas hotel, won by virtue of Mrs. Gibbs' knack with a phrase. But unbeknownst to either Mr. or Mrs. Gibbs is the fact that there's a prize in their package neither expected nor bargained for. In just a moment, one of them will succumb to an illness worse than any virus can produce, a most inoperative, deadly, life-shattering affliction known as the fever."
Franklin and his wife Flora go to Las Vegas because she won a slogan contest. He detests gambling, but his wife is excited about their vacation. Franklin is given a coin by a drunk man at the casino, who makes Franklin use it in a slot machine. He wins and tells his wife that they should keep the winnings and not lose it back like the other people. As they depart, Franklin believes he hears the slot machine calling his name. He continues to hear this as he tries to sleep. As he imagines his winnings piling up, he decides to try his luck, telling his wife he cannot keep "tainted" money, and that he is going to get rid of it by putting it back in the machine. Later, Flora goes to the casino and finds him playing the machine obsessively. Addicted, Franklin has lost a great deal of their money. When Flora tries to coax him to stop, Franklin declares that he has lost so much, that he has to try to win some of it back. He becomes enraged when she presses for him to leave, declaring that the machine is "inhuman", that it "teases you, sucks you in." Others observe that he has been playing the machine for hours. When Franklin puts his last dollar into the machine, it malfunctions and will not spin. Feeling fiendishly cheated out of his last chance to strike it rich, Franklin begins yelling and attacking the machine to give him back his "last dollar." He is taken out of the casino screaming. Later in bed, Franklin tells Flora that the machine was about to pay off, but deliberately broke down so that it wouldn't have to. He then hears the machine again calling his name. To his horror, he sees the slot machine coming down the hallway towards their room, "chasing" him, but Flora cannot see it and believes that he is going crazy. When the machine continues to follow him, repeating his name over and over, "Franklin, Franklin, Franklin!", he backs up towards the window, his hands over his ears, finally crashing through the glass and falling to his death. The police stand over his body, noting that his wife had stated that he had not slept in 24 hours. A casino manager comments that he's "seen a lot of 'em get hooked before, but never like him." The last scene shows Franklin's last dollar rolling up and spinning out flat near his outstretched, dead hand. The camera pans over to the direction from which the coin came and there sits the slot machine "smiling" at him.
- "Mr. Franklin Gibbs, visitor to Las Vegas, who lost his money, his reason, and finally his life, all to an inanimate metal machine variously described as a one-armed bandit, a slot machine, or in Mr. Franklin Gibbs' words, a monster with a will all its own. For our purposes, we'll stick with the latter definition because we're in the Twilight Zone."
Preview for Next Week's Story
This is the model of a Nieuport, a fighter aircraft, vintage World War I. Next week, it's flown on a patrol over France in 1917 and its pilot discovers that time has passed him by. Kenneth Haigh stars next week in Richard Matheson's exciting story of "The Last Flight" on The Twilight Zone. We hope you'll join us. Thank you and good night.
An obvious theme of the episode is the dangers of addiction, particularly gambling; Franklin's uptight personality is turned completely on its head as he succumbs to his appetite for the machine to pay off. There also appears to be, as shown in the character of Franklin Gibbs, a warning against hypocritical self-righteousness. Franklin consistently compares himself to the gamblers of the casino up to the beginning of his addiction, calling himself "a normal, mature thoughtful man" and the people around him "baboons" (in actuality he uses his professed moral nature as an excuse to speak harshly to his wife Flora, and stifle her opinions and feelings. He also shows no qualms of screaming publicly at Flora when she attempted to gently coax him to stop). Later on, as pointed out by several of the casino patrons, Franklin is shown to have become worse than any of the people he previously ridiculed as "wild idiots" with his own obsession with the slot machine. Demonstrated by his vision of the piling coins in his room, Gibbs is, contrary to his claims of morality, motivated solely by greed. Even losing every cent he and Flora have fails to check his activities. As such, he is punished for his hypocrisy and avarice in the end.
- Rod Serling as Narrator (voice only); uncredited
- Everett Sloane as Franklin Gibbs
- Vivi Janiss as Flora Gibbs
- William Kendis as Hansen
- Lee Millar as Joe
- Lee Sands as Floor Manager
- Marc Towers as Cashier
- Art Lewis as Drunk
- Arthur Peterson as Sheriff
- Jeffrey Sayre as Croupier; 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)
- Jean G. Valentino (sound; credited: Jean Valentino)
- Van Allen James (sound effects editor; uncredited)
- Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) (1960) (USA) (TV) (original airing)
- Pacific Title (titles and opticals)
- In Serling: The Rise and Twilight of Television's Last Angry Man, Gordon F. Sander wrote, "Serling celebrated the signing of his new show, The Twilight Zone by spending a weekend in Las Vegas. While Carol Serling was having good luck nearby, he became enslaved by a merciless one-armed bandit, an incident he would turn into one of his first Twilight Zone episodes.
- In future episodes, the slot machine was used in "A Nice Place to Visit" and "The Prime Mover".
- This is one of several episodes from Season One with its opening title sequence plastered over with the opening for Season Two. This was done during the Summer of 1961 as to help the season one shows fit in with the new look the show had taken during the following season. This is also one of three Season One episodes with Marius Constant's theme instead of Bernard Herrmann's over the closing credits.
- In Stephen King's Danse Macabre, King (who admits to being more of a fan of The Outer Limits and Thriller) wrongly says the episode stars William Shatner instead of Everett Sloane (although Shatner does play a character battling a fortune telling machine in "Nick of Time").
- The book "Stories from the Twilight Zone" provides more to the story, including the events leading up to Flora winning the vacation to Las Vegas, and a brief glimpse of her life after Franklin's death, during which she encounters the slot machine once more.
- "Franklin!" - Slot Machine