One for the Angels
||This article consists almost entirely of a plot summary. It should be expanded to provide more balanced coverage that includes real-world context. (December 2011)|
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (December 2011)|
|"One for the Angels"|
|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Episode no.||Season 1
|Directed by||Robert Parrish|
|Written by||Rod Serling|
|Featured music||Stock (mostly from Bernard Herrmann's "Outer Space Suite")|
|Cinematography by||Joseph La Shelle|
|Original air date||October 9, 1959|
|List of The Twilight Zone episodes|
"One for the Angels" is the second episode of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone.
A sidewalk pitchman, Lou Bookman (Ed Wynn), makes a living selling toys, notions and trinkets. It's seen that all the children in the neighborhood enjoy this gentle, kindly man. One summer day Mr. Bookman is accosted by Death and told that he is to die at midnight. Lou argues that his life's work as a pitchman is not quite complete, and convinces Mr. Death to give him enough time to give one last, great sales pitch—"one for the angels" as Lou puts it. Once Mr. Death agrees, Bookman announces his intention to quit his profession and find another line of work.
Proud of having outsmarted Mr. Death and now virtually assured of immortality, Lou is informed by Mr. Death that other arrangements must now be made, that someone else will have to take his place. Because of this, Mr. Death chooses a little girl, one of Lou's good friends who lives in the same building. When she is hit by a truck Lou immediately offers to go with Mr. Death but is told it's too late.
Later that night, as the girl lies comatose, Death comes to claim her. Bookman pleads with Mr. Death to take him instead, despite their agreement. Mr. Death is adamant; a deal is a deal. He must be in the little girl's room at midnight to take her. As the appointed time nears Bookman distracts Death by beginning a sales pitch. So well does Bookman describe the wonders of his wares that Mr. Death is enticed into purchasing everything: "Gimme all you have." So enthralled is Mr. Death with Lou's eloquence he forgets to claim the girl's life. The town clocktower tolls midnight before Death realizes that he's missed his appointment. The little girl will live.
In making this marvelous pitch, one so compelling that even Death himself was moved—"a pitch for the angels"—Bookman has willingly sacrificed his own life to save that of his friend, thus fulfilling his original agreement. Before leaving with Death, Bookman packs up his suitcase on legs containing his wares, hopefully remarking "You never know who might need something up there." He repeats, with a note of uncertainty, "Up there?" Mr. Death smiles, "Up there, Mr. Bookman. You made it."
Rod Serling, in his summation, notes that, while Lou Bookman lived a very ordinary life as lives go, he was "...throughout his life a man beloved by the children and, therefore, a most important man."
- 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