Shadow Play (1961 The Twilight Zone episode)
|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Episode no.||Season 2
|Directed by||John Brahm|
|Written by||Charles Beaumont (adapted from his short story, "Traumerei")|
|Original air date||May 5, 1961|
A man convicted of murder, Adam Grant (Weaver), tries to convince those about to execute him that the world all around them is just his recurring nightmare. The story opens with the jury finding Grant guilty of murder and the judge sentencing him to death. He laughs uncontrollably and then rants that he refuses to die again. He claims that the district attorney and lawyers are all people he has known in his past who are playing parts in his dream.
Speaking to others, including his cellmate and the district attorney, he points out obvious logical errors accepted as normal by those around him, such as the fact that his arrest, trial, and execution are happening on the same day, and the fact the prisoners seem to stereotypically look like what you'd see in a story. Paul Carson, a reporter and friend of the district attorney, who is questioning reality given the impossibly perfect life that he enjoys, persuades the district attorney to visit Grant. He speaks to Grant, but does not believe him. He asks Grant why he cares about dying if it's all a dream. Grant explains that he cannot get a decent night's sleep because he always wakes up screaming. He tells the district attorney to go home and he will find that what he thought was for dinner will be something else.
This happens and unnerves the district attorney, who discusses the issue with Carson. Carson reasons that the man's claims constitute reasonable doubt as to his sanity, and that the district attorney should ask the governor to issue a stay of execution. With reservations, he places the call and asks the governor to do so as Grant is being prepared for execution. He tells the reporter that the governor said he would make the necessary phone call. The stay of execution arrives too late, and it is revealed that Grant was correct: the world was a dream for them and a nightmare for him. Everything vanishes and goes dark.
Grant then finds himself in the courtroom being sentenced to death for murder again, with the same people each now in different roles (e.g., a fellow inmate is now the judge behind the bench).
- Dennis Weaver as Adam Grant
- Harry Townes as District Attorney Henry Ritchie
- Wright King as Paul Carson
- Bernie Hamilton as Coley
- William Edmonson as Jiggs
- Anne Barton as Carol Ritchie
- Tommy Nello as Phillips
- Mack Williams as Father Beaman
- Gene Roth as Judge
|“||Adam Grant, a nondescript kind of man, found guilty of murder and sentenced to the electric chair. Like every other criminal caught in the wheels of justice, he's scared, right down to the marrow of his bones. But it isn't prison that scares him, the long, silent nights of waiting, the slow walk to the little room, or even death itself. It's something else that holds Adam Grant in the hot, sweaty grip of fear, something worse than any punishment this world has to offer, something found only in - The Twilight Zone.||”|
|“||We know that a dream can be real, but who ever thought that reality could be a dream? We exist, of course, but how, in what way? As we believe, as flesh-and-blood human beings, or are we simply parts of someone's feverish, complicated nightmare? Think about it, and then ask yourself, do you live here, in this country, in this world, or do you live, instead, - in The Twilight Zone?||”|
References in popular culture
- List of The Twilight Zone episodes
- 12:01 PM
- Allegory of the Cave
- Dark City
- End Day
- Groundhog Day
- 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
- "Shadow Play" at the Internet Movie Database
- TV.com episode page
- Full video of the episode at CBS.com