The Twilight Zone: Season 2, Episode Twenty-Three “A Hundred Yards Over The Rim”

Original Air Date: April 7, 1961
Writer: Rod Serling
Director: Buzz Kulik

I found “A Hundred Yards Over The Rim” to be a brilliant installment in the series. It plays on several recurring themes of time travel and exploration of the mythology of the old west.

“The year is 1847. The place is the territory of New Mexico. The people are a tiny handful of men and women with a dream. Eleven months ago they started out from Ohio and headed west. Someone told them about a place called California. About a warm sun and a blue sky. About rich land and fresh air. And at this moment, almost a year later, they have seen nothing but cold, heat, exhaustion, hunger, and sickness. This man’s name is Christian Horn. He has a dying eight year-old son and a heartsick wife. And he’s the only one remaining who has even a fragment of the dream left. Mr. Chris Horn…who’s going over the top of a rim to look for water and sustenance. And in a moment will move into…the Twilight Zone.”

Rod Serling

We encounter a dusty and starving family traveling by conestoga wagon through the rugged and unforgiving New Mexico desert. The family patriarch is Christian Horn (played by returning series actor Cliff Robertson). Horn and his family left Ohio some eleven months earlier with a group en route to California. Currently Horn’s eight year old son is dying and badly in need of medicine. Horn decides he will venture ahead a little further on foot to find water and hopefully a town. As he crosses a sand dune he looks back and the wagon train has disappeared. Up ahead he sees a sight unfamiliar -power lines and a highway.

He is frightened by the sound of a big rig that comes whizzing by. He leaps out of the way and accidentally fires his rifle, wounding his hand. He stumbles a little further ahead to a cafe (the Airflite Café) where he meets a man named Joe and his wife Mary Lou. There is considerable confusion until Horn realizes the year on a calendar reads 1961. He is given water, bandages, and penicillin (something he is wholly unaware of). In a nearby encyclopedia Horn discovers that his son will live become a famous doctor. He runs out of the cafe and back up over the giant sand dune while being chased by police. Horn accidentally drops his rifle into the sand. Moments later, he sees his family again. He rushes to them and offers life-saving penicillin. He remembers a conversation with Joe saying there was a water spring nearby.

Meanwhile back in 1961, Joe picks up Horn’s old rifle but by now it appears worn being over a hundred years old.

“Mr. Christian Horn. One of the hardy breed of men who headed west during a time when there were no concrete highways or the solace of civilization. Mr. Christian Horn and family and party, heading west after a brief detour…through the Twilight Zone.”

Rod Serling

The Twilight Zone Trivia:

  • This was Buzz Kulik’s fourth directorial appearance in the series.
  • The beautiful, scenic snow-packed mountains over the desert were shot in Lone Pine, California.
  • The top hat that Cliff Robertson sports in this episode was his idea even though Buzz Kulick is said to have hated it.

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