The Rip Van Winkle Caper
|"The Rip Van Winkle Caper"|
|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Episode no.||Season 2|
|Directed by||Justus Addiss|
|Written by||Rod Serling|
|Original air date||April 21, 1961|
Introducing, four experts in the questionable art of crime: Mr. Farwell, expert on noxious gases, former professor, with a doctorate in both chemistry and physics; Mr. Erbie, expert in mechanical engineering; Mr. Brooks, expert in the use of firearms and other weaponry; and Mr. De Cruz, expert in demolition and various forms of destruction. The time is now, and the place is a mountain cave in Death Valley, U.S.A. In just a moment, these four men will utilize the services of a truck placed in cosmoline, loaded with a hot heist cooled off by a century of sleep, and then take a drive into The Twilight Zone.
To escape the law after stealing $1 million worth of gold bricks (equal to $8.6 million today) from a train on its way from Fort Knox to Los Angeles, a band of four thieves, led by scientist-mastermind Farwell, hide in a secret cave in Death Valley, California. Farwell explains to his three assistants that he has designed suspended animation chambers in which they will sleep for approximately 100 years, figuring that by 2061 the gold will no longer be "hot" and they can sell it without arousing suspicion. DeCruz has reservations about going along with the plan, but all four undergo the procedure simultaneously.
When they wake up, all that remains of the mechanical engineer Erbie is his skeleton, his suspended animation chamber having been cracked by a falling rock. The demolitions expert, De Cruz, offers to guard the gold in the back of their truck while the firearms expert, Brooks, drives to civilization, but Brooks does not trust De Cruz and insists that he drive. De Cruz kills Brooks by running him over with the truck, then purposely ditches it in a ravine. Farwell and De Cruz now must walk through the desert in the summer heat, carrying as much gold as they can on their backs.
Farwell loses his canteen, and De Cruz sells him a sip of water from his canteen, for the price of one gold bar. When the water is nearly gone and the fee goes up to two bars, Farwell strikes De Cruz with a gold brick, killing him. Farwell continues, gradually discarding gold bars as their weight becomes increasingly burdensome. Finally, weak and dehydrated, he collapses.
Farwell regains consciousness and finds a man standing over him. Farwell feebly offers him his last gold bar in exchange for water and a ride to the nearest town, but dies before the man can respond. The man returns to his futuristic car and tells his wife the man is dead. He remarks about the oddity of Farwell offering him a gold bar as if it were valuable. She reminds him that people once used it for money, but he points out that was a long time ago, before they found a way to manufacture it.
The last of four Rip Van Winkles, who all died precisely the way they lived, chasing an idol across the sand to wind up bleached dry in the hot sun as so much desert flotsam, worthless as the gold bullion they built a shrine to. Tonight's lesson - in The Twilight Zone.
- Simon Oakland as DeCruz
- Oscar Beregi, Jr. as Farwell
- Lew Gallo as Brooks
- John Mitchum as Erbie
- Wallace Rooney as George
- Shirley O'Hara as George's wife
- List of The Twilight Zone (1959 TV series) episodes
- "Rip Van Winkle", the 1819 short story by Washington Irving
- Paradox of value
- 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