|The Twilight Zone episode|
Burgess Meredith, Robert Sterling and Patricia Crowley
|Episode no.||Season 4
|Directed by||Ralph Senensky|
|Written by||Charles Beaumont (Based on his story "The Devil, You Say?")|
|Featured music||Stock from "The Big Tall Wish" and "Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room" by Jerry Goldsmith|
|Original air date||February 28, 1963|
|List of Twilight Zone episodes|
The initial plot set-up borrows from the classic American short story "The Devil and Daniel Webster", although this tale ultimately goes in a different direction. This hour-long episode was written by Charles Beaumont, and based on his 1951 short story "The Devil, You Say".
Douglas Winter, the editor of The Courier, a failing newspaper, feels there is nothing to live for after a number of employees quit, including the Linotype operator. On a bridge while drunk, he looks down into the inviting water below. When he is going to commit suicide, he is approached by one "Mr. Smith", who comments that it's a short fall and probably wouldn't do a very good job. He then asks Doug for a light, and, if he wasn't quite ready, a ride into town. Amused and forgetting about suicide, Winter gives him a lift to a café, where Mr. Smith agrees to provide the editor with money to pay off debts and continue the operation of the newspaper. Mr. Smith also signs up to replace the linotype operator and be the sole reporter. With nothing to lose, Doug agrees to the proposition.
The first scoop is a large bank robbery. Business booms for the little newspaper, as Mr. Smith out-scoops other reporters from the rival Gazette on dramatic news stories, many involving disasters. The Courier becomes a success as its stories hit the streets seemingly minutes after the events happen. It is so successful that a man from The Gazette, Mr. Franklin, tries to buy up the little newspaper. Winter is now in a position to say "No!" with confidence. Not many days later, there is a fire at The Gazette, and they accuse someone at The Courier of arson.
With all the success the newspaper is having, Mr. Smith asks the editor to humor him by signing a contract guaranteeing continued success as the newspaper editor in exchange for his immortal soul, pointing out that it doesn't mean much; "it's almost like an appendix these days, not really necessary," and besides, since the devil is not real, Winter shouldn't have a problem with it. Winter hesitates, but Mr. Smith goads him by saying, "Imagine a grown man believing in the devil!" More importantly, Mr. Smith has modified the newspaper's linotype machine so that whatever is set in type subsequently happens.
Eventually, Mr. Smith makes a pass at Miss Benson, who sternly rebuffs him. Mr. Smith vows that Benson will pay the price. In retaliation for this, and trying to turn the screws on Winter, he writes a story that has the editor's girlfriend gravely injured in an auto accident. The editor concludes that Mr. Smith is, in fact, the devil, and he discovers the story that has his girlfriend apparently dying. Smith demands that Winter kill himself to fulfill his part of their bargain, or Jackie dies. In desperation, Winter uses the linotype machine to change the story so that his girlfriend survives the crash (with Mr. Smith himself the catalyst behind the steering wheel, trying to destroy Jackie as well), but also writes it so that Mr. Smith's contract is rendered void, and he must leave. When the car is found, Jackie is safe in the passenger seat, but Mr. Smith has vanished. Winter decides to run the newspaper fairly and to destroy the infernal linotype machine.
- 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