|This article relies too much on references to primary sources. (December 2011)|
|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Episode no.||Season 1
|Directed by||Mitchell Leisen|
|Written by||Rod Serling|
|Original air date||November 6, 1959|
Mean-spirited, abusive hypochondriac Walter Bedeker sells his soul to the devil (appearing as a rotund rogue who calls himself "Cadwallader" here, as he likes the way the name rolls off his tongue) in exchange for immortality, adding enough conditions to keep him out of Cadwallader's clutches forever. To Bedeker's surprise, Cadwallader readily agrees to his demands, only stipulating an escape clause which allows Bedeker to choose the time of his death if he tires of being immortal.
Bedeker uses his new-found invulnerability to collect insurance money and cheap thrills by hurling himself into life-threatening accidents. Soon growing bored with this game, he confesses to the murder of his wife (who actually accidentally fell off the roof of their apartment building trying to stop him from jumping), hoping to experience the electric chair. However, due to his lawyer's defense strategy, he is instead sentenced to life in prison without parole. Cadwallader visits Bedeker in his holding cell to remind him of the escape clause. Realizing he will face eternity in prison if he does not use it, Bedeker nods and suffers a fatal heart attack. The guard discovers his lifeless body and sighs, "Poor devil..."
- David Wayne as Walter Bedeker
- Thomas Gomez as Mr. Cadwallader
- Virginia Christine as Ethel Bedeker
- Joe Flynn as insurance man
- Wendell Holmes as Bedeker's lawyer
|“||You’re about to meet a hypochondriac. Witness Mr. Walter Bedeker age forty-four. Afraid of the following: death, disease, other people, germs, draft, and everything else. He has one interest in life and that’s Walter Bedeker. One preoccupation, the life and well-being of Walter Bedeker. One abiding concern about society, that if Walter Bedeker should die how will it survive without him?||”|
|“||There's a saying, "Every man is put on Earth condemned to die, time and method of execution unknown." Perhaps this is as it should be. Case in point: Walter Bedeker, lately deceased. A little man with such a yen to live. Beaten by the devil, by his own boredom, and by the scheme of things in this, the Twilight Zone.||”|
"Escape Clause" was one of the three episodes-in-production mentioned by Rod Serling in his 1959 promotional film pitching the series to potential sponsors, the others being "The Lonely" and "Mr. Denton on Doomsday" (referred to as "Death, Destry, and Mr. Dingle").
"Here was a little gem. Good work, Rod Serling. This little piece about a hypochondriac who gets tangled up with an obese, clerical devil ranked with the best that has ever been accomplished in half-hour filmed television." —Excerpt from the Daily Variety review.
Disney's Twilight Zone Tower of Terror has a reference to this episode located in the basement of the attraction. The elevators have a certificate of inspection plaque, signed by "Cadwallader", bearing the inspection number "10259". These numbers represent October 2, 1959, the date The Twilight Zone first aired.
- 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