A Penny for Your Thoughts (The Twilight Zone)
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|"A Penny for Your Thoughts"|
|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Episode no.||Season 2|
|Directed by||James Sheldon|
|Written by||George Clayton Johnson|
|Original air date||February 3, 1961|
|“||Mr. Hector B. Poole, resident of the Twilight Zone. Flip a coin and keep flipping it. What are the odds? Half the time it will come up heads, half the time tails. But in one freakish chance in a million, it'll land on its edge. Mr. Hector B. Poole, a bright human coin - on his way to the bank.||”|
Hector B. Poole is a sensitive, insecure bank clerk. On the way to work he tosses a coin into a vendor's open box to pay for a newspaper, and it miraculously lands on its edge. Suddenly he can hear other people's thoughts, but at first does not understand that they are not speaking. Distracted, he is nearly hit by a car, and is confused when he hears the driver expressing concern while thinking angrily about Hector's carelessness.
At work, he hears his boss, Bagby, thinking about a weekend affair he is planning with his mistress. Hector also hears the thoughts of Helen Turner, a co-worker who admires him from afar and wishes he would be more assertive. While finalizing the paperwork for a $200,000 loan to a businessman named Sykes, he hears Sykes thinking about using the money for a run at the horse track to win back money he has embezzled from his company. Hector challenges Sykes, who accuses him of lying and withdraws his business from the bank, to Bagby's annoyance. Despite this embarrassment, Hector finally summons the courage to talk to Helen. When one of Poole's coworkers thinks inappropriate thoughts about her, Hector pours water on his head.
Next Hector hears an old, trusted employee, Smithers, thinking about how he will steal cash from the bank and escape to Bermuda. He takes Helen fully into his confidence; she doesn't believe in his powers, but urges him to tell Bagby about Smithers. Hector does, saying he overheard Smithers talking about the theft; incredulous at first, Bagby decides the story is plausible enough to try to catching Smithers in the act. Smithers proves to be innocent, and Bagby fires Hector. Smithers then privately admits to Poole that he has fantasized for years about just such a theft as an escape from his dead-end job, but is too set in his ways to go through with it.
Hector vents his unhappiness to Helen: being able to read minds has taught him more than he wanted to know about the disconnect between people's thoughts and their actions. Bagby learns that Sykes has been arrested for gambling with company money, and offers to reinstate Hector. At Helen's telepathic prompting, Hector says he deserves to become accounts manager instead, but Bagby resists. Hector then blackmails Bagby using his knowledge of the man's adultery; he gets his promotion and also insists on a Bermuda vacation for Smithers at the bank's expense.
After work, as Hector returns home with Helen (for the first time calling her by her first name), he returns to the newsstand, where his coin is still standing. Buying an afternoon paper, he knocks it over, and then finds his mind-reading ability is gone. But he is a man changed for the better, with a new job, a girlfriend, and a new-found confidence in himself.
|“||One time in a million, a coin will land on its edge, but all it takes to knock it over is a vagrant breeze, a vibration, or a slight blow. Hector B. Poole, a human coin, on edge for a brief time - in the Twilight Zone.||”|
- Dick York as Hector B. Poole
- June Dayton as Helen Turner
- Dan Tobin as Mr. Bagby
- Hayden Rorke as Mr. Sykes
- Cyril Delevanti as Mr. Smithers
- James Nolan as Mr. Brand
- Frank London as The Driver
- Anthony Ray as The Paperboy
- Patrick Waltz as The Security Guard
- 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