Exploring The Twilight Zone, Episode #41: "The Howling Man"
Our friends at Film School Rejects have been covering the series exclusively for the past month while Scott Weinberg and I were spending time in another dimension, but we're back in the known universe, and yours truly will be your host for this week's strip of episodes. First up, John Carradine looking like Moses!
The Twilight Zone, Episode #41: "The Howling Man" (airdate 11/4/60)
The Plot: On a dark and stormy night, David Ellington (H.M. Wynant) seeks refuge at The Hermitage, a monastary where he is greeted at the door by a heavily bearded man who resembles Charlton Heston as Moses in The Ten Commandments, complete with a big old staff. Mr. Ellington is granted accommodation, but he is disturbed by howling in the night, which he discovers is emanating from a man locked up in a cell. Upon inquiry, he is directed to the man in charge, Brother Jerome (John Carradine), who looks like Charlton Heston as Moses in The Ten Commandments at the end of the movie, after he's talked to God on Mount Sinai, all flowing white hair and bushy white beard. Brother Jerome tells Mr. Ellington that the imprisoned man is nothing other than ... [SPOILER REDACTED].
The Goods: Having not watched the series for a month, this episode, written by Charles Beaumont, was quite disappointing. There's only the merest sliver of a moral lesson, the "twist" is telegraphed, and the identity of the howling man is not exactly a shocker. John Carradine normally enlivens any movie or TV show in which he appears, but even he appears bored by his long speech, which Mr. Ellington promptly ignores anyway. I'm very reluctantly grading this one a D.
The Trivia: Carradine was only 54 at the time of filming, but was made up to look much older. Of course, many of us first saw him when he actually was much older, in the 70s and 80s, and known primarily as the father of David, Keith, and Robert, but he definitely fits the role of an old school prophet. H. M. Wynant started in television, becoming a busy supporting player, later appearing as an inspector in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. Writer Beaumont originally wanted a cross to be used to keep the howling man in his cell, but due to potential religious objections, the cross was changed to a staff. This was the fifth episode that he wrote, out of a total of 22 during the original run.
On the Next Episode: What is normal? A young woman lying in a hospital bed, her face encased in bandaging, is about to find out, in one of my favorite episodes.
We're running through all 156 of the original Twilight Zone episodes over the next several weeks, and we won't be doing it alone! Our friends at ScreenAnarchy will be entering the Zone as well on alternating weeks. So definitely tune in over at ScreenAnarchy and feel free to also follow along on our Twitter accounts @ScreenAnarhcy and @rejectnation.