One for the Angels
|"One for the Angels"|
|The Twilight Zone episode|
|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|
|“||Street scene: Summer. The present. Man on a sidewalk named Lou Bookman, age sixtyish. Occupation: pitchman. Lou Bookman, a fixture of the summer, a rather minor component to a hot July, a nondescript, commonplace little man whose life is a treadmill built out of sidewalks. And in just a moment, Lou Bookman will have to concern himself with survival – because as of three o'clock this hot July afternoon, he'll be stalked by Mr. Death.||”|
A big sidewalk pitchman named Lou Bookman makes a living selling toys, notions, and trinkets. 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 of natural causes 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.
Lou Bookman is proud of having outsmarted Mr. Death, as he both got out of the deal and has virtually guaranteed himself immortality. Mr. Death, however, warns Lou that "other arrangements" must now be made, that someone else will have to take his place. Mr. Death chooses Maggie, a little girl who's one of Lou Bookman's good friends and lives in the same apartment building. After she is hit by a truck and not expected to live, Lou begs to be taken instead, but Mr. Death will not be moved.
Later that night, as the girl lies comatose, Death comes to claim her. Bookman again 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 the stroke of midnight to take her. As midnight, the appointed time, nears, Bookman distracts Death by beginning a sales pitch. Bookman describes the wonders of his wares so well that Mr. Death, at first amused, becomes enticed by Bookman's patter and finds himself enticed into purchasing everything. Mr. Death is so enthralled with Lou's eloquence that he completely forgets to claim the little girl's life. Only when the town's clock tower begins to toll midnight does Mr Death realize what's happened. Leaving the family's apartment the doctor sees Lou and assures him that Maggie will live. Mr. Death exclaims, "You made me miss my appointment!" "Thank God," Lou replies with quiet humility.
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 the terms of the original deal he made. 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." Lou smiles and joins Mr. Death on the road to eternal life.
|“||Louis J. Bookman, age sixtyish. Occupation: pitchman. Formerly a fixture of the summer, formerly a rather minor component to a hot July. But, throughout his life, a man beloved by the children, and therefore, a most important man. Couldn't happen, you say? Probably not in most places – but it did happen in the Twilight Zone.||”|
- 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
- Sander, Gordon F. Serling: the rise and twilight of television's last angry man. New York: Penguin Books, 1992. ISBN 0-525-93550-9