A Short Drink from a Certain Fountain
|"A Short Drink From a Certain Fountain"|
|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Episode no.||Season 5
|Directed by||Bernard Girard|
|Written by||Rod Serling
(From an idea by Lou Holtz)
|Original air date||December 13, 1963|
|“||Picture of an aging man who leads his life, as Thoreau said, 'in quiet desperation.' Because Harmon Gordon is enslaved by a love affair with a wife forty years his junior. Because of this, he runs when he should walk. He surrenders when simple pride dictates a stand. He pines away for the lost morning of his life when he should be enjoying the evening. In short, Mr. Harmon Gordon seeks a fountain of youth, and who's to say he won't find it? This happens to be the Twilight Zone.||”|
Harmon Gordon, a wealthy old man married to a much younger woman, is exhausted by his wife Flora's youthful and selfish lifestyle. Seeking to keep up the pace, he asks his scientist brother Raymond to inject him with an experimental youth serum (if Raymond doesn't, Harmon claims he [Raymond] will find out which one of them "reaches the pavement first"). Reluctantly, his brother agrees. The serum works wonders; the old man grows younger by the hour. Unfortunately, it does not stop when he hopes, and the regression continues until he has become a toddler.
Flora tries to leave, but Raymond, whom abhors her for her cruel treatment of his brother, forces her to stay and raise the infant Harmon or else she will be cut off from Harmon's fortune and she will receive nothing else. If she abandons the child, Raymond threatens to take legal action against her and battle her to the death. Now she is stuck...forever. Raymond reminds Flora, "As he grows older, you'll be growing...old." And he caustically predicts that when his brother does grow old enough, another woman is sure to take him away from her. "It's not fair, Raymond," Flora shudders to her brother-in-law. "Everything...is on his side!" "Well, you see, Flora?", Raymond Gordon responds somewhat sarcastically. "As you get older...see how wise you get?"
|“||It happens to be a fact: as one gets older, one does get wiser. If you don't believe it, ask Flora. Ask her any day of the ensuing weeks of her life, as she takes note during the coming years and realizes that the worm has turned: youth has taken over. It's simply the way the calendar crumbles...in the Twilight Zone.||”|
Initially, the Raymond Gordon character was to be a typical family physician. Disturbed by the character's willingness to experiment on a fellow human (Harmon, his brother), CBS asked that his occupation be changed to that of a research scientist. Serling complied.
The opening narration uses an allusion to the respected poet Henri Thoreau, a poet, essayist, and philosopher who spoke extensively on aging, maturity, and romantic themes—all of which feature extensively in the narrative.
This episode (because of a lawsuit filed by someone claiming they had the idea for the story first) was not included in the Twilight Zone syndication package until 1984. When this and other long unseen episodes became available (including Miniature), a series of short introductions were shot featuring commentary from the cast and crew of the original episodes.
In the segment with Patrick O'Neal for this episode, O'Neal remarked on how accurately the show's makeup effects artists had aged him, as he now very closely resembled his older appearance in this episode. O'Neal was actually only eight years older than Lee.
- 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. Sillman-James Press, 1982 (second edition)
- Hal Erikson, "Censorship: Another Dimension Behind the Twilight Zone", published in the October 1985 edition of The Twilight Zone Magazine