The Silence (The Twilight Zone)
|The Twilight Zone episode|
Franchot Tone in "The Silence"
|Episode no.||Season 2
|Directed by||Boris Sagal|
|Written by||Rod Serling|
|Original air date||April 28, 1961|
"The Silence" is episode 61 of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone. The plot of this episode was based in part on Anton Chekhov's "The Bet". It originally aired on April 28, 1961 on CBS.
Colonel Archie Taylor, a gruff aristocrat, has difficulty enjoying his men's club because of the constant chatter of fellow member Jamie Tennyson. Just as irritating is the content, which usually concludes with a transparent attempt to curry investors.
In an effort to shut Tennyson up, Taylor proposes a wager: he bets $500,000 that Tennyson cannot remain silent for one year. If Tennyson accepts the wager, he will be enclosed in the club's game room, in which a small glass-walled apartment has been erected. There, Tennyson will be monitored by microphones so that he cannot speak without detection. Any requests he makes will be made in writing, and any member may come to visit him at any time. Tennyson is offended but agrees. He requests that Taylor put a check on deposit in his name. This measure is refused by all in the club as the Colonel has a strong standing of honor and credit within the club. "My courage against your credit" is then accepted by both.
Though he had assumed Tennyson would be successful for only a few weeks, Taylor is astonished by how long the younger man is able to go without speaking. After nine months, Taylor gets nervous and offers Tennyson $1,000 to leave immediately. Tennyson points to the calendar and writes a note in reply: "Three months to go / The bet stands!"
Taylor counters by bringing up the subject of Tennyson's wife. Though Tennyson has sent several notes requesting that she visit, his wife has never responded. Taylor mentions that she has been seen around town in the company of other young men. Over the remaining months, Taylor continues to bring Tennyson gossip about his wife until Tennyson seems ready to break. Taylor offers him $5,000 to leave the room, but when he isn't actually shown any money, the latter sees through the loophole and refuses to give up.
The fateful evening arrives. Tennyson emerges to the congratulations of his fellow club members and silently approaches Taylor for the money. The embarrassed Taylor admits that he had lost his fortune a decade ago and has been scrambling to maintain the charade ever since—all in vain now, due to Tennyson's triumph. Actually, Taylor was offering more than he could afford just in hope that Tennyson would call the bet off. He praises Tennyson's resolve and character and then announces his decision to resign from the club.
The distraught Tennyson scribbles furiously on a sheet of paper. The other men tell him that the year is over and he can now speak. Taylor reads the note aloud: "I knew that I would not be able to keep my part of the bargain, so one year ago I had the nerves to my vocal cords severed!" Tennyson displays the scar on his throat from the operation, which he has concealed for the past 12 months under scarves and turtlenecks.
- Franchot Tone as Archie Taylor
- Liam Sullivan as Jamie Tennyson
- Jonathan Harris as George Alfred
- Cyril Delevanti as Franklin
- Everett Glass as Club Member
- Felix Locher as Club Member
- John Holland as Club Member
"The note that this man is carrying across a club room is in the form of a proposed wager, but it's the kind of wager that comes without precedent. It stands alone in the annals of bet making as the strangest game of chance ever offered by one man to another. In just a moment we'll see the terms of the wager and what young Mr. Tennyson does about it, and in the process we'll witness all parties spin a wheel of chance, in a very bizarre casino called the twilight zone."
- Twilight Zone, Laserdisc release
- 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