Thursday, January 17, 2013

Shakespeare in The Twilight Zone: “The Passersby”

“The Passersby.” By Rod Serling. Perf. James Gregory, Joanne Linville, Warren Kemmerling, and Austin Green. Dir. Elliot Silverstein. The Twilight Zone. Season 3, episode 4. CBS. 6 October 1961. DVD. Image Entertainment, 2005.

I haven't yet seen the new movie Lincoln, but, true to Lincoln's character, the film contains (as I gather) a fair bit of Shakespeare.

I told you that to tell you this: When Abe Lincoln shows up in The Twilight Zone, it's with Shakespeare on his lips.

This episode, which is on the dramatic side, features a road—a road that the dead of the Civil War walk as they leave this earth. I hope I'm not giving away a spoiler by saying that Lincoln has to walk this road as well.

As he does so, a line from Julius Caesar seems fitting to him:
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
It seems to me most strange that men should fear,
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come. (II.ii.34-37)
Perhaps because they're too familiar, Lincoln leaves out the first two lines of Caesar's words—the more famous part of the speech:
Cowards die many times before their deaths,
The valiant never taste of death but once. (II.ii.32-33)
The result is that the speech seems more sensitive—less prone to accusations of bragging—and that, too, seems in keeping with Lincoln's character.

Links: The Episode at Wikipedia.

Click below to purchase the complete series from
(and to support Bardfilm as you do so).



Anonymous said...

Great timing with this post (Lincoln killing it at Awards season). I put the quote in my new book as something a character says. I was too afraid to use the second half and went in for 'Coward die...' and then I was so overcome with guilt for leaving out the second part I ended up putting the whole bit in. I guess some readers will think I quoted too much but maybe once in a while someone will dig it. I respect Rod Serling big time for having the balls to just use part 2 standalone

e meritus prauf said...

While you're waiting to see Spielberg's "Lincoln,", you might want to read Guelzo's "Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates that Defined America." The drama of the debates are the best preparation for the drama of the movie. Great tandem pieces.

e meritus prauf said...

Now I can't wait to see how Caesar delivers these lines in Gregory Doran's African setting of the play.

Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
All material original to this blog is copyrighted: Copyright 2008-2039 (and into perpetuity thereafter) by Keith Jones.

The very instant that I saw you did / My heart fly to your service; there resides, / To make me slave to it; and, for your sake, / Am I this patient [b]log-man.

—The Tempest