Requiem for Rod Serling "In his work, Serling would return often to the hardships of the war-weary, but he reserved some of his most powerful observations for broken-down boxers, particularly those who failed to achieve stardom."
Sponsored by Xerox and the United Nations, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, scripted by Rod Serling, scored by Henry Mancini, starring Sterling Hayden, Eva Marie Saint, and Robert Shaw, and featuring Peter Sellers as a post-apocalyptic pseudo-Randian cult leader in a spangly hat—it's A Carol for Another Christmas, the rare 1964 television special in which three ghosts teach a melancholy industrialist a Christmas lesson about the virtues of multilateral peacekeeping!
On this day in 1959, The Twilight Zone premiered. Here is the orginal pilot with a long pitch from Rod Serling to sponsors explaining the show, and previewing the first season up front
Rod Serling discusses writing. A conversation.
Just wait till we're alone together. Then I will tell you something new, something cold, something sleepy, something of cease and peace and the long bright curve of space. Go upstairs to your room. I will be waiting for you... As a rare October blizzard drifts a blanket of white across the Northeast just before Halloween, what better time to settle in and read (or watch) Conrad Aiken's most famous short story, "Silent Snow, Secret Snow." About a small boy who increasingly slips into an ominous fantasy of isolation and endless snow, it could be viewed as a metaphor about autism, Asperger's syndrome, and even schizophrenia before such conditions even had names. In addition to the 1934 short story, the tale has also been adapted as a creepy 1966 black-and-white short film (also at the Internet Archive) and as a Night Gallery episode (1, 2) narrated by Orson Welles. Or for a more academic take, see the essay "The Delicious Progress" examining Aiken's use of white as a symbol of psychological regression.
A week after Halloween in 1969, the great Rod Serling debuted a new television program. Night Gallery [more inside]
In 1963, French novelist (and former secret agent!) Pierre Boulle, released a smashing new Sci-Fi novel called La planète des singes (Monkey Planet in the UK). Like his previous 1952 bestseller, Le Pont de la rivière Kwaï (Bridge Over the River Kwai), the book was adapted into a classic film - and eventually a franchise of some note. Interested in how Boulle's sociopolitical satire became one of the iconic films of our time? You can read some of the backstory about Serling's involvement with the project, then have a look at the various drafts themselves and final shooting script. [Previously].
Where Is Everybody? Perhaps they've somehow arrived at the Rod Serling Conference, as The Twilight Zone celebrates 50 years next Friday. To mark the anniversary there is TZ@50 - a celebration in Binghamton, NY Oct 1-4, and a two-day mini course on Serling worth credit. The Syfy channel will be running a TZ marathon Oct 2 at 8am. Last month, a Stamp was unveiled in Serling's honor. [more inside]
Mike Wallace interviews Rod Serling in 1959, discussing timidity and censorship in television programming, and Serling's upcoming series The Twilight Zone. Part one. Part two. Part three. (TouTube links)
A Shadowy Museum of the Outre - "Good evening, and welcome to a private showing of paintings, displayed here for the first time. Each is a collector's item in its own way - not because of any special artistic quality, but because each captures on a canvas, suspends in time and space, a frozen moment of a nightmare." [ Click on "The Paintings". ]