The Four of Us Are Dying
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|"The Four of Us Are Dying"|
|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Episode no.||Season 1
|Directed by||John Brahm|
|Written by||Rod Serling, adapted from "All of Us Are Dying", an unpublished story by George Clayton Johnson|
|Featured music||Jerry Goldsmith|
|Original air date||January 1, 1960|
This is one of the few episodes of the series where Rod Serling does not mention the name of the show in the closing narration.
|“||His name is Arch Hammer, he's 36 years old. He's been a salesman, a dispatcher, a truck driver, a con man, a bookie, and a part-time bartender. This is a cheap man, a nickel-and-dime man, with a cheapness that goes past the suit and the shirt; a cheapness of mind, a cheapness of taste, a tawdry little shine on the seat of his conscience, and a dark-room squint at a world whose sunlight has never gotten through to him. But Mr. Hammer has a talent, discovered at a very early age. This much he does have. He can make his face change. He can twitch a muscle, move a jaw, concentrate on the cast of his eyes, and he can change his face. He can change it into anything he wants. Mr. Archie Hammer, jack-of-all-trades, has just checked in at three-eighty a night, with two bags, some newspaper clippings, a most odd talent, and a master plan to destroy some lives.||”|
Arch Hammer (Harry Townes) is a con man who can change his face to make it look like anyone he chooses.
Hammer then pays a visit to Mr. Pennell (Bernard Fein) while impersonating murdered gangster Virgil Sterig (Phillip Pine) to extort money from Pennell, the man who had had Sterig killed. Pennell sends his men after Hammer.
Trying to escape down an alley, Hammer changes his face to one he sees on a poster of boxer Andy Marshak (Don Gordon). Thinking he is in the clear, he runs into Marshak's father (Peter Brocco) at a street newsstand, who mistakes him for the son who broke his mother's heart and "did dirt" to a sweet decent little girl who would've "cut off an arm" for him. As Mr. Marshak states how he hates him for his actions, Hammer pushes the old man out of the way and returns to his hotel room. A detective comes to the hotel to pick him up for questioning at the police station. In order to escape from the police officer in a revolving door, Hammer assumes Marshak's appearance again.
On the street, he again bumps into Marshak's father who pulls a gun on him. Hammer tries to show the old man he is not who he thinks he is. Before he can concentrate and change, Mr. Marshak shoots him. As Hammer lies dying, his face shifts from one person to another until he dies wearing his own face as Marshak's father is surprised at what he sees.
|“||He was Arch Hammer, a cheap little man who just checked in. He was Johnny Foster, who played a trumpet and was loved beyond words. He was Virgil Sterig, with money in his pocket. He was Andy Marshak, who got some of his agony back on a sidewalk in front of a cheap hotel. Hammer, Foster, Sterig, Marshak—and all four of them were dying.||”|
"After the first half-dozen stories had been written, part of the hustle was getting an agent. Through those years I found several who would let me use their names, though few cared to sign a contract with me. One of these men, Jay Richards - at the time head of the television department of the Famous Artists Agency, long since absorbed by I.F.A. (International Famous Agency), and since embedded in I.C.M. (International Creative Management), which represents me now in television and movies - agreed to read something. I showed Jay 'All of Us Are Dying.' After reading it, he crossed out the title with a ballpoint pen and wrote in 'Rubberface!' Then he sent it to Rod Serling, who had a new series that season called The Twilight Zone." — George Clayton Johnson, writing in the August 1981 issue of The Twilight Zone Magazine
In 2005, "The Four of Us Are Dying" was produced for the stage by 4 Letter Entertainment.
In popular culture
- 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