The After Hours
|"The After Hours"|
|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Episode no.||Season 1|
|Directed by||Douglas Heyes|
|Written by||Rod Serling|
|Featured music||Bernard Herrmann (from Where Is Everybody?)|
|Original air date||June 10, 1960|
Express elevator to the ninth floor of a department store, carrying Miss Marsha White on a most prosaic, ordinary, run-of-the-mill errand.
The opening narration involves Marsha White riding an elevator to the ninth floor. Then the rest of the narration is heard.
Miss Marsha White on the ninth floor, specialties department, looking for a gold thimble. The odds are that she'll find it—but there are even better odds that she'll find something else, because this isn't just a department store. This happens to be The Twilight Zone.
Marsha White (Anne Francis), browsing for a gift for her mother in a department store, decides on a gold thimble. She's taken by the elevator man to the ninth floor, although the elevator's floor indicator only shows eight floors. She walks out onto the ninth floor and turns to complain to the elevator operator that there's nothing there, but the door closes abruptly, leaving her to ponder her situation. As she wanders around, confused, she's approached by a saleslady who guides her to the only item on the floor: the exact gold thimble that Marsha wants. During the sales transaction, she grows increasingly puzzled by the comments and actions of both the male elevator operator who transported her to the barren, seemingly deserted floor, and the aloof and clairvoyant female salesclerk behind the counter who addresses her by name and sells her the thimble. The sales lady asks Marsha if she's happy; Marsha responds that it's not the sales lady's business. The sales lady appears surprised and insulted, and Marsha leaves. As Marsha rides the elevator down, she notices that the thimble is scratched and dented; she's directed by the elevator operator to the Complaints Department on the third floor.
When she tries to convince Mr. Armbruster, the sales supervisor, and Mr. Sloan, the store manager, that she bought the item on the ninth floor, she's told that the store doesn't have a ninth floor. She has no evidence of the transaction as she paid cash, and has no receipt. Marsha believes she spots the salesclerk who sold her the thimble, and is shocked to discover that the woman is not a salesclerk at all; she's one of the department store's display mannequins. While resting in an office after the shock of her frightening discovery, Marsha finds herself accidentally locked inside the closed store (after hours). She attempts to find a way out and becomes alarmed by mysterious voices calling to her and by some subtle movements made by the supposedly lifeless mannequins around her. Moving about aimlessly, she topples the sailor mannequin, whom she recognizes as the somewhat frustrated elevator operator in earlier encounters.
Becoming hysterical, she flees backward to the now-open elevator, which again transports her to the unoccupied ninth floor. There she gradually realizes that the "ninth floor" is a storage area occupied by thinking, animated mannequins. With the mannequins' gentle encouragement, she eventually realizes that she herself is also a mannequin. Within their society, the mannequins take turns, one at a time, to live among humans for one month. Marsha had enjoyed her stay among "the outsiders" so much that she had forgotten her identity and has arrived back a day late. Now that she's returned, the next mannequin in line — the female salesclerk — departs the store to live among humans for 30 days. As the other mannequins bid farewell to the salesclerk, the sailor asks Marsha if she enjoyed her time among humans. Sweetly and sadly, she replies, "Ever so much fun... Ever so much fun." She and the sailor assume "mannequin" postures, and grow rigid.
The next day, Mr. Armbruster is making his energetic morning rounds on the sales floor and does a double-take upon passing the mannequin of Marsha White on display. The final shot moves in on her, and then her face, which fades into the stars as the closing narration begins.
Marsha White, in her normal and natural state, a wooden lady with a painted face who, one month out of the year, takes on the characteristics of someone as normal and as flesh and blood as you and I. But it makes you wonder, doesn't it, just how normal are we? Just who are the people we nod our hellos to as we pass on the street? A rather good question to ask . . . particularly in the Twilight Zone.
The head of the mannequin double for Anne Francis was made from a cast of Francis's face done by noted make-up artist William J. Tuttle. Tuttle displayed the mannequin head in the 1968 MGM short film "The King of the Duplicators".
The episode was remade in 1986 for the first revival of The Twilight Zone. It starred Terry Farrell as Marsha Cole and Ann Wedgeworth as the Saleswoman. The plot is similar, but the emphasis is more on suspense. In addition, the Marsha in the remake is in denial of her identity and doesn't want to be a mannequin. She wants to be truly human, unlike the Marsha in the original, who simply forgot who she was and enjoyed feeling human for the month in which she lived among the outsiders.
- 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