"The Rip Van Winkle Caper" is an episode of the The Twilight Zone.

Episode Details

Opening Narration

"Introducing, four experts in the questionable art of crime: Mr. Farwell, expert on noxious gases, former professor, with a doctorate in both chemistry and physics; Mr. Erbie, expert in mechanical engineering; Mr. Brooks, expert in the use of firearms and other weaponry; and Mr. De Cruz, expert in demolition and various forms of destruction. The time is now, and the place is a mountain cave in Death Valley, U.S.A. In just a moment, these four men will utilize the services of a truck placed in cosmoline, loaded with a hot heist cooled off by a century of sleep, and then take a drive into The Twilight Zone."

Episode Summary

To escape the law after stealing $1 million worth of gold bricks from a train on its way from Fort Knox to Los Angeles, a band of four gold thieves, led by foreign-accented scientist-mastermind Farwell (Oscar Beregi, Jr.), hide in a secret cave in Death Valley, California. Farwell has designed suspended animation chambers and set them for approximately 100 years, figuring that by 2061, no one will remember the robbery, and the gang will be in the clear. When they wake up, things begin to go awry. All that remains of Erbie is his skeleton, his suspended animation chamber having been breached by a falling rock. Greed soon begins consuming the others. Brooks demands that DeCruz drive the getaway car. DeCruz kills Brooks by running him over with the getaway truck, but then finds that the brakes no longer work and barely escapes before the vehicle crashes into a ravine. Now Farwell and DeCruz must walk through the desert in the summer heat, carrying as much gold as they can on their backs. Farwell, who is older and heavier, loses his canteen, and DeCruz offers him a sip of water from his canteen, for the price of one gold bar. When the fee goes up to two bars, Farwell strikes DeCruz with the gold bricks, killing him. Farwell then continues to a highway, lugging the gold that he refuses to abandon. Finally, weak and dehydrated, he collapses. A futuristic car drives up, and Farwell offers his gold to the couple inside in exchange for water and a ride to the nearest town, but dies a few moments later. As the man named George gets back into his car to report Farwell's death to the police, he quizzically remarks to his wife, "Can you imagine that? He offered this to me as if it was really worth something." The wife vaguely recalls that gold had indeed been valuable at some time in the distant past. The husband replies, "Sure, about a hundred years or so ago, before they found a way of manufacturing it," and tosses the gold bar away, landing next to Farwell's corpse.

Closing Narration

"The last of four Rip Van Winkles, who all died precisely the way they lived, chasing an idol across the sand to wind up bleached dry in the hot sun as so much desert flotsam, worthless as the gold bullion they built a shrine to. Tonight's lesson - in The Twilight Zone."

Preview for Next Week's Story

There are all kinds of wagers and all kinds of odds from the spin of a roulette wheel to a $2 cross-the-board at a race track. But next week on The Twilight Zone, with the aid of Mr. Franchot Tone, we tell the story of possibly the strangest bet ever to occur in the annals of chance. Our program is called "The Silence". I hope we'll see you then.

Promo for Oasis Cigarettes

Here's something that doesn't require any imagination. It's Oasis. If you just took this puff, you'd agree it's the softest taste of all. Before we meet again, try Oasis for the softest taste of all.

Production Companies


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

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