Showdown with Rance McGrew
|"Showdown with Rance McGrew"|
|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Episode no.||Season 3
|Directed by||Christian Nyby|
|Written by||Rod Serling|
|Original air date||February 2, 1962|
Larry Blyden: Rance McGrew
Mr Serling's Opening Narration
|“||Some one-hundred-odd years ago, a motley collection of tough moustaches galloped across the West and left behind a raft of legends and legerdemains, and it seems a reasonable conjecture that if there are any television sets up in cowboy heaven and any of these rough-and-wooly nail-eaters could see with what careless abandon their names and exploits are being bandied about, they're very likely turning over in their graves - or worse, getting out of them. Which gives you a clue as to the proceedings that will begin in just a moment, when one Mr. Rance McGrew, a three-thousand-buck-a-week phoney-baloney discovers that this week's current edition of make-believe is being shot on location - and that location is the Twilight Zone.||”|
TV cowboy star Rance McGrew is ready to shoot a scene—in which Jesse James shoots him in the back. As the scene starts shooting, he says, "I guess you know that I know that Jesse James is on his way here looking for me....There's something else I know that you don't know. That you don't know that I know that you know Jesse James." He goes on to say he will be right there waiting for him.
The movie Jesse enters and says his lines. A fight ensues in which Rance keeps calling for a stuntman every time the action gets the least difficult. The man playing Jesse says shooting Rance in the back is not how Jesse would have done it, but Rance insists on the scene playing that way. Suddenly, Rance finds himself in a real Old West saloon. The real Jesse James walks in and confronts Rance, saying, "So you don't shoot, you don't ride, and you don't fight. You just strut around wearing a phony badge goin' through the motions of killin' fellows like me." He continues to criticize Rance and explains that he, Billy the Kid, and other famous outlaws are not pleased with the way that they are portrayed on McGrew's show.
James then challenges Rance, who has never shot a gun in his life, to a showdown, with no stuntman, just Rance and Jesse. Rance attempts to flee, but James corners him. Rance drops to his knees, pleading. He says that he will do anything if James will only spare him. James accepts ("We may be stiffs up there...but we're sensitive."). Rance finds himself back on the set, and his agent is announced. The agent turns out to be Jesse James himself, in Hollywood garb (wearing a beret and a loud sport shirt), come to ensure that outlaws get their due, beginning with the TV bad guy throwing Rance out the saloon window.
Mr. Serling's Closing Narration
|“||The evolution of the so-called 'adult' western, and the metamorphosis of one Rance McGrew, formerly phony-baloney, now upright citizen with a preoccupation with all things involving tradition, truth and cowpoke predecessors. It's the way the cookie crumbles and the six-gun shoots in the Twilight Zone.||”|
The real Jesse James was in fact left-handed whereas in this episode he is shown to draw and hold his gun with his right hand.
- Amory, C. (1966, January 15-21). Review: The Loner. TV Guide, p. 2
- 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
Zicree, Marc Scott. The Twilight Zone Companion, Bantam Books, 1982. ISBN 0-553-01416-1