I confess I blinked a couple of times when I sat down and looked at IMDB a few years ago and decided which Twilight Zones I wanted to watch. Robert Redford! You catch a lot of rising stars watching television from the early sixties, but it’s always a treat to find somebody of Redford’s caliber doing a very low budget half hour with two other speaking parts and one set.
And then what’s really funny is that Redford’s character is introduced on his back and upside down to us. He plays a policeman in George Clayton Johnson’s “Nothing in the Dark” who has been shot and fallen down to the basement apartment of an old tenement, and we meet him in this unflattering angle from the POV of the woman who lives in the apartment. Since I made my list of episodes years ago and stopped thinking about who we might meet when we got around to watching them, I completely forgot that Redford was in this one. Since he was upside down and so darn young, I actually thought he was Van Johnson for a minute.
But this is just like a man, yammering about the famous guest star when the episode is owned by Gladys Cooper and Redford just sits back and lets her dominate the story. She is amazing in this, an old lady who has become convinced that Death is a real person stalking her, and has consequently spent years in hiding, avoiding anybody who might be Death in disguise. When she pours out her soul to the wounded policeman, our sympathy is naturally with her because she’s given herself a horrible, hardscrabble existence to fuel a delusion… but then again, this is The Twilight Zone and she might be right.
This was the first of three Zone appearances for Cooper, who lived and worked in the US from about 1960 to 1966. Before and after that, she acted regularly in the UK, where her very long career began in short subjects prior to World War One! In fact, we’ll see one of her British television performances in something I’ve selected for next year. Her final role was as the Grand Duchess Ozerov in a wonderful episode of The Persuaders! in 1972.