A Nice Place to Visit
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (December 2011)|
|"A Nice Place to Visit"|
|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Episode no.||Season 1
|Directed by||John Brahm|
|Written by||Charles Beaumont|
|Original air date||April 15, 1960|
Larry Blyden: Henry Francis "Rocky" Valentine
"A Nice Place to Visit" is an episode of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone first aired on CBS on April 15, 1960. The title comes from the saying, "A nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there."
In 1965, a slightly modified version of this story was broadcast on the radio program Theater Five. The episode (number 154), "The Land of Milk and Honey", retained all of the important aspects of this episode, including the innuendos and the surprise ending.
|“||Portrait of a man at work, the only work he's ever done, the only work he knows. His name is Henry Francis Valentine, but he calls himself "Rocky", because that's the way his life has been - rocky and perilous and uphill at a dead run all the way. He's tired now, tired of running or wanting, of waiting for the breaks that come to others but never to him, never to Rocky Valentine. A scared, angry little man. He thinks it's all over now but he's wrong. For Rocky Valentine, it's just the beginning.||”|
Henry "Rocky" Valentine is a criminal who is robbing a pawnshop after taking out a night watchman. Before he can get away, he is shot by an offscreen police officer while trying to climb a fence. He wakes up to find himself seemingly unharmed by the encounter and in the company of a pleasant individual named "Pip" who tells Rocky that he is his guide and has been instructed to grant him whatever he desires. Rocky is suspicious, having never received anything for free in his life. He believes Pip is trying to con him and asks him if he is a cop. Pip proceeds to quote personal information about Rocky's tastes and hobbies from a notebook. Irritated, Rocky demands that Pip give him his wallet. Pip says he has no wallet but obligingly gives him a large amount of money and is willing to give him as much as he desires. Rocky believes Pip wants him to commit a crime on his behalf and that the money is an incentive.
Rocky holds Pip at gunpoint, following him to a luxurious apartment that Pip insists is Rocky's. Demanding to know what he must do to acquire all this luxury, Rocky remains skeptical when he is told that it's all free. Despite his suspicions, he begins to relax, changing his clothes and taking a shower, after which he is presented with a meal served on a silver platter. He abruptly becomes suspicious again and demands that Pip taste the food, believing it to be poisoned. When Pip claims he can't remember how to eat, Rocky shoots him in the head but finds that the bullets just bounce off, leaving Pip unharmed. Rocky now realizes that he is dead and immediately assumes that he is in Heaven and that Pip is his guardian angel.
Later, we see Rocky in a casino, surrounded by beautiful girls and winning every game he plays. Outside he sees a tall policeman and is able to make him smaller and thus pick on him. After returning to his apartment with Pip and the "dolls" (as Rocky refers to them), Rocky asks to see some of his former friends who have died. Pip says that won't be possible, as this "paradise" is his own private world, and none of the people are real except for Rocky and Pip.
Rocky becomes curious as to why he was allowed into Heaven. "I must have done something good that made up for all the other stuff. But what? What did I ever do that was good?" With Pip, he visits the Hall of Records, but it merely contains a list of his sins. Rocky is puzzled but he decides that if God is okay with him being there, he won't bother worrying.
After a month, Rocky becomes thoroughly bored by always having his whims satisfied and predictably winning at anything he attempts. He calls up Pip and asks if he can put a challenge where he would actually get caught in a robbery. Pip is able to do that, but Rocky backs off claiming there would be no fun if he knew the outcome. He then tells Pip, "If I gotta stay here another day, I'm gonna go nuts! I don't belong in Heaven, see? I want to go to the other place." Pip retorts, "Heaven? Whatever gave you the idea that you were in heaven, Mr. Valentine? This is the other place!!" Shocked and horrified, Rocky unsuccessfully tries to open his apartment door in order to escape his endless "paradise," as Pip begins to laugh malevolently at Rocky's predicament.
|“||A scared, angry little man who never got a break. Now he has everything he's ever wanted - and he's going to have to live with it for eternity - in The Twilight Zone.||”|
Mickey Rooney was the first choice to play Valentine. In a memo to Rod Serling, Charles Beaumont suggested, should Rooney not be available, that Serling himself consider playing the part. Serling declined and Rooney ended up being unavailable. (He guest starred in a later episode.)
Guest star Cabot had to bleach his hair white for the role; it took three months for the actor's hair to return to its original dark color.
One version of this episode has Valentine throwing an apple at a table which changes into a pool table - although another version has this scene cut out.
"A Nice Place to Visit" was also singled out for its brazen sexual innuendo. Program Practices requested that Valentine not refer to a girl as "a broad ... really stacked," even though the crudity was essential to establishing the unsavory qualities of the character. Nor could the protagonist refer to a party as "a ball", since that word had more than one meaning. In another "Nice Place" sequence, a voluptuous young lady tends to Blyden's every need, then says "is there anything else I can do for you?" CBS's comment: "Please be certain that the girl's third speech be delivered in a sweet manner, as described."
Elliott Murphy alludes to this episode in the song "Sacrifice" from his "Unreal City" album. The lyrics to the song's bridge are as follows: "On TV was a petty thief shot by the police, he came to in Las Vegas in a penthouse suite, he had a magic butler gave him all that he desired, a feast of wine and women 'til his passions were expired. He couldn't understand why a crook like him had died and gone to heaven when his life was full of sin, and when he shot pool and every ball quickly fell, he saw his butler was the devil and the penthouse was in hell."
- Theater Five internet archive
- Zicree, Marc Scott (1989). The Twilight Zone Companion (second ed.). Hollywood: Silman James. pp. 114–115. ISBN 1-879505-09-6.
- Erikson,Hal(October 1985). "Censorship: Another Dimension Behind the Twilight Zone", The Twilight Zone Magazine.
- Weiskopf, Myke (1996). "Early Years Handbook". TMBG.org.
- Zicree, Marc Scott: The Twilight Zone Companion. Sillman-James Press, 1982 (second edition)
- DeVoe, Bill. (2008). Trivia from The Twilight Zone. Albany, GA: Bear Manor Media. ISBN 978-1-59393-136-0
- Grams, Martin. (2008). The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic. Churchville, MD: OTR Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9703310-9-0
- "A Nice Place to Visit" at the Internet Movie Database
- Twilight Zone trivia provided by tzone.
- Full video of the episode at CBS.com