The Fever (The Twilight Zone)
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|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Directed by||Robert Florey|
|Written by||Rod Serling|
|Featured music||Stock (taken primarily from Jerry Goldsmith's "jazz themes", which are used as incidental music on many other Twilight Zones, and Rene Garriguenc's "Street Moods In Jazz")|
|Original air date||January 29, 1960|
|“||Mr. and Mrs. Franklin Gibbs, three days and two nights all expenses paid at a Las Vegas hotel, won by virtue of Mrs. Gibbs's knack with a phrase. But unbeknownst to either Mr. and Mrs. Gibbs is the fact that there's a prize in their package, neither expected nor bargained for. In just a moment, one of them will succumb to an illness worse than any virus can produce. A most inoperative, deadly life-shattering affliction known as the Fever.||”|
Franklin and his wife Flora go to Las Vegas because she won a slogan contest. He detests gambling, but his wife is excited about their vacation. She puts a nickel in a machine and Franklin admonishes her for wasting money. She convinces him to let her pull the arm since she already put the money in she doesn't win anything. Happy that his point was made, he implores her to go back to their room so they can get ready for dinner. As they walk, Franklin is given a coin by a drunk man at the casino, who makes Franklin use it in a slot machine. He wins and tells his wife that they should keep the winnings and not lose it back like the other people.
As they depart, Franklin believes he hears the slot machine calling his name. He continues to hear this as he tries to sleep. He gets out of bed, telling his wife he cannot keep "tainted" money, and that he is going to get rid of it by putting it back in the machine. Later, Flora goes to the casino and finds him playing the machine obsessively. Addicted, Franklin has cashed numerous checks and draws crowds that watch him continuously plunk coins into the machine. When Flora tries to coax him to stop, Franklin declares that he has lost so much, that he has to try to win some of it back. He becomes enraged when she presses for him to leave, declaring that the machine is "inhuman", that it "teases you, sucks you in." The casino workers watch and talk about him as he constantly plays while ignoring his wife's pleas to go to bed.
When Franklin puts his last dollar into the machine, it malfunctions and will not spin. Franklin begins yelling and pushes the machine over. He is taken out of the casino screaming. Later in bed, Franklin tells Flora that the machine was about to pay off, but deliberately broke down so that it would not have to give him his money. He then hears the machine again calling his name. To his horror, he sees the slot machine coming down the hallway towards their room, chasing him, but Flora cannot see it. The machine hounds him towards the window, repeating his name over and over. He crashes through the glass and falls to his death. The police stand over his body, noting that his wife had stated that he had not slept in 24 hours. A casino manager comments that he's "seen a lot of 'em get hooked before, but never like him." The last scene shows Franklin's last dollar rolling up and spinning out flat near his outstretched, dead hand. The camera pans over to where the coin came and there sits the slot machine, "smiling" at him.
|“||Mr. Franklin Gibbs, visitor to Las Vegas, who lost his money, his reason, and finally his life to an inanimate, metal machine, variously described as a "one-armed bandit", a "slot machine", or, in Mr. Franklin Gibbs' words, a "monster with a will all of its own." For our purposes, we'll stick with the latter definition because we're in the Twilight Zone.||”|
In Serling: The Rise and Twilight of Television's Last Angry Man, Gordon F. Sander wrote, "Serling celebrated the signing of his new show, The Twilight Zone by spending a weekend in Las Vegas. While Carol Serling was having good luck nearby, he became enslaved by a merciless one-armed bandit, an incident he would turn into one of his first Twilight Zone episodes."
This is one of several episodes from Season One with its opening title sequence plastered over with the opening for 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. This is also one of three Season One episodes with Marius Constant's theme instead of Bernard Herrmann's over the closing credits.
- Sander, Gordon F.: Serling: The Rise And Twilight of Television's Last Angry Man. New York: Penguin Books, 1992.
- 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