The Big Tall Wish

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"The Big Tall Wish"
The Twilight Zone episode
Ivan Dixon Steven Perry Kim Hamilton Twilight Zone 1960.JPG
Ivan Dixon, Steven Perry and Kim Hamilton
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 27
Directed by Ron Winston
Written by Rod Serling
Featured music Jerry Goldsmith with harmonica solos
Production code 173-3630
Original air date April 8, 1960
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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List of season 1 episodes
List of Twilight Zone episodes

"The Big Tall Wish" is episode twenty-seven of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone, with an original score by Jerry Goldsmith. It originally aired on April 8, 1960 on CBS.


Bolie Jackson is a washed-up boxer who accidentally breaks the knuckles of his hand right before his big comeback fight. He is knocked down and just about to be counted out when he suddenly, magically switches places with the other boxer. Bolie is now standing over his vanquished opponent.

Bolie celebrates his victory, though he cannot understand what happened. He remembers being knocked down and has no memory of getting back up to win, nor can he figure out why his knuckles feel fine. His manager tells Bolie that he must be crazy, that he was never knocked down at all. Bolie figures his knuckles must have only been bruised.

However, there is one other person who knows Bolie lost. Henry Temple, the young son of Bolie's girlfriend Frances, not only remembers, he also has an explanation for what happened. Henry tells Bolie that he made "the biggest, tallest wish" he could come up with for Bolie, for the two boxers to switch positions, and it came true.

Bolie cannot accept this. Henry warns him that the only way the wish can have its power is if you believe in it. If Bolie does not believe, the wish will not work. But ultimately he is unswayed. As soon as he finally rejects the idea that a wish could have been responsible for what happened, he is returned to the fight, on the canvas. This time the referee finishes counting Bolie out.

Neither Bolie nor Henry have any memory of the alternate outcome. Henry remembers making the biggest wish he possibly could for Bolie, but obviously it did not work, so he declares with resignation that he will not be making any more wishes. "There ain't no such thing as magic, is there?", he asks Bolie. "I guess not, Henry", Bolie replies sadly. "Or maybe...maybe there is magic. And maybe there's wishes, too. I guess the trouble is...there's not enough people around to believe..."


Episode notes[edit]

The all-black principal cast was a novelty for television in 1960. Said Rod Serling at the time (quoted in The Twilight Zone Companion by Marc Scott Zicree):

Television, like its big sister, the motion picture, has been guilty of the sin of omission... Hungry for talent, desperate for the so-called 'new face,' constantly searching for a transfusion of new blood, it has overlooked a source of wondrous talent that resides under its nose. This is the Negro actor.

A few other Twilight Zones would follow the example of this episode and cast blacks in significant roles, including the pastor in "I Am the Night—Color Me Black", with Ivan Dixon, and the electrician in "The Brain Center at Whipple's". These inclusions, though seemingly insignificant by modern standards, were so revolutionary at the time that The Twilight Zone was awarded the Unity Award for Outstanding Contributions to Better Race Relations in 1961.

Originally cast in the lead role was champion boxer Archie Moore, who would later exclaim, "Man, I was in the Twilight Zone!" when describing the knockout punch delivered by his opponent Yvon Durelle in a 1961 match.

This is one of several Season One episodes where some broadcast prints have the opening title sequence replaced with that of Season Two. This was done during the summer of 1961 to help the season one shows fit in with the new look the show had taken during the following season.

They use the same hallway shown in this episode in episode 33, "Mr. Bevis", but slightly altered. However, the door and stair railings remain the same.

The boxing match takes place at "St. Nick's Arena" which was the name of a boxing arena in New York City, the St. Nicholas Rink.[1][2]


Further reading[edit]

  • Zircee, 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

External links[edit]