|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Episode no.||Season 5|
|Directed by||Jacques Tourneur|
|Written by||Richard Matheson |
(From his story "Long Distance Call" originally published in Shock 1961.)
|Original air date||February 7, 1964|
"Night Call" is episode 139 of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone. The story follows an elderly woman, played by Gladys Cooper, who receives persistent disturbing phone calls from an anonymous caller. It is based on Richard Matheson's short story, "Long Distance Call", although it ends much differently.
|“||Miss Elva Keene lives alone on the outskirts of London Flats, a tiny rural community in Maine. Up until now, the pattern of Miss Keene's existence has been that of lying in her bed or sitting in her wheelchair, reading books, listening to a radio, eating, napping, taking medication—and waiting for something different to happen. Miss Keene doesn't know it yet, but her period of waiting has just ended, for something different is about to happen to her, has in fact already begun to happen, via two most unaccountable telephone calls in the middle of a stormy night, telephone calls routed directly through—the Twilight Zone.||”|
An elderly woman, Elva Keene (Gladys Cooper), receives strange anonymous phone calls in the middle of a stormy night. During the first calls she hears only static. Later she hears a man moaning and she repeatedly demands to know who is calling. Finally he says "Hello? Where are you? I want to talk to you." Elva, terrified, screams at the man to leave her alone.
The phone company traces the calls to a telephone line that has fallen in a cemetery.
Elva and her housekeeper visit the cemetery where she finds that the line is resting on the grave of her long-deceased fiancé, Brian Douglas. Elva says that she always insisted on having her own way, and Brian always did what she said. Brian died a week before they were to be married. That day, she insisted on driving, lost control of the car and hit a tree. The accident crippled her and caused Brian to fly through the windshield, killing him.
Now that she can talk to him again, she won't have to be alone. At home, she picks up the phone and calls to Brian's ghost, pleading with him to answer. He replies that she told him to leave her alone and that he always does what she says. Then the line goes dead, leaving Elva alone and crying in her bed.
|“||According to the Bible, God created the Heavens and the Earth. It is man's prerogative—and woman's—to create their own particular and private Hell. Case in point, Miss Elva Keene, who in every sense has made her own bed and now must lie in it, sadder, but wiser, by dint of a rather painful lesson in responsibility, transmitted from the Twilight Zone.||”|
The original short story ends when Elva Keene finds out the call is coming from the cemetery. The caller is never identified; instead, the story ends the following night, when the phone rings and she answers. The voice says: "Hello, Mrs. Keene. I'll be right over."
The premiere of "Night Call" was scheduled for Friday, November 22, 1963. Hours before it was to air, however, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. It was rescheduled, as were all of the other network shows. "Night Call" finally premiered on February 7, 1964.
- New York Times television listings 11/22/63
- 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)