Kick the Can
|"Kick the Can"|
|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Episode no.||Season 3
|Directed by||Lamont Johnson|
|Written by||George Clayton Johnson|
|Featured music||Stock (many cues taken from Bernard Herrmann's score to Walking Distance)|
|Original air date||February 9, 1962|
|“||"Sunnyvale Rest, a home for the aged – a dying place and a common children's game called kick-the-can, that will shortly become a refuge for a man who knows he will die in this world, if he doesn't escape into – The Twilight Zone."||”|
Charles Whitley (Ernest Truex), a retiree at Sunnyvale Rest Home, thinks he has discovered the secret of youth. He is convinced that if he acts young, he will become young. His oldest and best friend Ben Conroy (Russell Collins), whom he has known since childhood, thinks he is going crazy. One night, Charles convinces a number of residents to play a game of kick the can with him. He tries to talk Ben into joining them, but Ben refuses.
Late that night, when Conroy and the home's superintendent, Mr. Cox (John Marley), hear a ruckus outside the rest home, they find a group of children playing kick the can. Mr. Cox chases them away except for one, whom Conroy recognizes as his boyhood friend Whitley, become young again. He begs young Whitley for a chance to go with him, but the boy seems not to know him, and dashes away into the darkness. Mr. Cox expects Ben to help him search for the elderly residents, but Ben knows that they will not be found. He walks slowly to the front steps of Sunnyvale and sits there with the can . . . alone.
|“||"Sunnyvale Rest, a dying place for ancient people, who have forgotten the fragile magic of youth. A dying place for those who have forgotten that childhood, maturity, and old age are curiously intertwined and not separate. A dying place for those who have grown too stiff in their thinking – to visit – The Twilight Zone."||”|
- Ernest Truex as Charles Whitley
- Barry Truex as Charles's son
- Russell Collins as Ben Conroy
- John Marley as Mr. Cox
- Burt Mustin as Carlson
- Earle Hodgins as Agee
- Hank Patterson as Freitag
- Marjorie Bennett as Mrs. Summers
- Lenore Shanewise as Mrs. Densley
- Eve McVeagh as Night nurse
- Anne O'Neal as Mrs. Wister
- Gregory McCabe as Boy #1
In this version, an old man named Mr. Bloom has just moved into Sunnyvale Retirement Home. Upon his arrival, he sits around kindly and smiles as he listens to the other elders reminisce about the joys they experienced in their youth. Mr. Bloom implies to them just because they are old does not mean they cannot enjoy life anymore, and that feeling young and active has to do with your attitude, not your age. He tells them that later that night, he will wake them and that they can join him in a game of kick the can. All agree; however, Leo Conroy (Bill Quinn) disagrees, saying that now that they are all old they cannot engage in physical activity and play the games they once did as children.
That night, Mr. Bloom gathers the rest of the optimistic residents outside and plays the game, during which they are transformed into childhood versions of themselves. Although they are extremely ecstatic to be young again and engage in the activities they once enjoyed so long ago, they also realize that being young again means you not only experience the good aspects of life again but also the bad. They request to be old again, which Mr. Bloom grants to them. Leo Conroy witnesses one resident, Mr. Agee (Murray Matheson, who had a role in "Five Characters in Search of an Exit") that still remains young, and says that he wants to go with him before the boy runs off. Conroy realizes that he does not have to stop enjoying life because of his old age.
The segment ends with Mr. Bloom leaving to another retirement home and Conroy outside happily kicking a can around the yard, having learned being young at heart is what really matters.
- 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