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 the short story "The Bet" by Anton Chekhov. It originally aired on April 28, 1961 on CBS.
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.
Colonel Archie Taylor, a gruff aristocrat, has difficulty enjoying his men's club because of the constant chatter of fellow member Jamie Tennyson. 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, a small glass-walled apartment will be erected in the club's game room to house him. There, he will be monitored by microphones so that he cannot speak without detection. He may only write notes to communicate or make requests, and the other members may observe him through the glass at their leisure.
Tennyson is offended but agrees, telling fellow club member George Alfred that he deeply loves his wife and needs the money to pay the debts incurred by her exorbitant spending. 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. "My courage against your credit" is then accepted by both, and the challenge begins at 10:00 the following night.
Though he had assumed Tennyson would be successful for only a few weeks, after nine months Tennyson remains silent. Taylor gets nervous and offers Tennyson first $1,000, then $5,000, and finally $6,000 to call off the bet. He begins suggesting that Tennyson's wife is planning to leave him for another man rather than wait out his year of silence. Though Tennyson has sent several notes requesting that she visit, his wife has never responded, giving weight to Taylor's insinuations. Tennyson seems gripped by despair at the thought of losing his wife, but nonetheless refuses to call off the bet.
On the last evening of the year, Alfred tells Taylor his behavior over the past few months, particularly using Tennyson's wife as a threat, has severely damaged the club members' esteem for him. As the clock chimes to officially signal one year has passed since the start of the bet, Tennyson emerges to the congratulations of his fellow club members before he approaches Taylor and silently puts his hand out for the money. The embarrassed Taylor admits that he had lost his fortune several years earlier. 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, perplexing the other men who wonder why he does not speak aloud. 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, with tears in his eyes, displays the scar on his throat from the operation, which he has concealed for the past twelve months under scarves and turtlenecks.
Mr. Jamie Tennyson, who almost won a bet, but who discovered somewhat belatedly that gambling can be a most unproductive pursuit, even with loaded dice, marked cards, or, as in his case, some severed vocal cords. For somewhere beyond him, a wheel was turned, and his number came up black thirteen. If you don't believe it, ask the croupier, the very special one who handles roulette – in The Twilight Zone.
- 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
- 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