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|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Directed by||Mitchell Leisen|
|Written by||Rod Serling|
|Original air date||November 6, 1959|
|“||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?||”|
Mean-spirited, abusive hypochondriac Walter Bedeker sells his soul to the devil (appearing as a rotund rogue who calls himself "Mr. Cadwallader" here) in exchange for immortality, adding enough conditions to keep him out of Cadwallader's clutches forever. 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 newfound invulnerability to collect insurance money and cheap thrills by hurling himself into life-threatening accidents. Soon growing bored with this, he comes to the realization that his constant fear of fatal illness was the one thing which gave him any interest in life. He tells his wife that he is going to attempt to regain the thrill by jumping off the roof of their apartment building.
While trying to stop him, his wife accidentally falls off the edge herself. Bedeker tells the authorities he murdered his wife, 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..."
|“||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.||”|
- David Wayne as Walter Bedeker
- Thomas Gomez as Mr. Cadwallader
- Virginia Christine as Ethel Bedeker
- Dick Wilson as insurance man #1 (Jack)
- Joe Flynn as insurance man #2 (Steve)
- Wendell Holmes as Bedeker's lawyer
- Raymond Bailey as Bedeker's doctor
"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