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, and was the first of only three Twilight Zone episodes (the other two being season five's "The Jeopardy Room" and season three's "The Shelter") to feature a story without any supernatural or science fiction elements. It does, however, contain one of the series' signature twist endings.[not verified in body]
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 (equal to $4.0 million today) 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, he 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, through the glass. 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 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, after nine months Tennyson remains silent. Taylor gets nervous and offers Tennyson first $1,000, then $5,000 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.
The last evening of the year. Alfred tells Taylor his behaviour over the past few months, particularly using Tennyson's wife as a threat, has severely damaged the club members' esteem for him. 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 a decade ago. 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.||”|
|“||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.||”|
- 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