Original Air Date: January 12, 1962
Writer: Rod Serling
Director: Lamont Johnson
A rather sinister and eccentric millionaire named Paul Radin (played Joseph Wiseman, known for his role as Julius No in the first James Bond film Dr. No) invites three people from his past down to an elaborate bomb shelter he constructed three hundred feet below New York City.
“What you have just looked at takes place three hundred feet underground, beneath the basement of a New York City skyscraper. It’s owned and lived in by one Paul Radin. Mr. Radin is rich, eccentric and single-minded. How rich we can already perceive; how eccentric and single-minded we shall see in a moment, because all of you have just entered the Twilight Zone.”
The three people Radin brings down to his bomb shelter are Mrs. Langford (Katherine Squire), Radin’s former grade school teacher who once embarrassed a young Radin as he tried to frame another student for cheating, Colonel Hawthorne (Trevor Bardette), Radin’s former commanding officer in the army who had Radin court-martialed for cowardly acts which cost the lives of dozens of men, and Reverend Mr. Hughes (Gage Clarke) who made a public scandal regarding a girl who committed suicide who was connected to Radin. Each of these people has been lured down to the shelter in an elaborate hoax –by using sound effects and electronic screens Radin claims a nuclear holocaust is only moments away but that he will protect each of the three people if only they will apologize to him for past wrongs, however they all refuse, preferring their own honor and dignity over their own lives.
Mrs. Langford, Col. Hawthorne, and Mr. Hughes all solemnly return to the surface with Radin in tow begging for an apology but after throwing a tantrum Radin emerges to find there truly has been a nuclear war leaving the city in smoldering ruins. But then the twist comes. Radin has fabricated the whole nuclear war after having suffered a mental collapse. In truth, the city is normal, unblemished by war as pedestrians go about their business. He is found clutching a fountain as a New York police officer strolls up to question him.
“Mr. Paul Radin, a dealer in fantasy, who sits in the rubble of his own making and imagines that he’s the last man on Earth, doomed to a perdition of unutterable loneliness because a practical joke has turned into a nightmare. Mr. Paul Radin, pallbearer at a funeral that he manufactured himself in the Twilight Zone.”
Playing on very real anxieties of nuclear war, “One More Pallbearer” continues a familiar theme perhaps most famously portrayed in the Season 1 episode “Time Enough At Last.” However, “One More Pallbearer” is a more forgettable episode in the series.
The Twilight Zone Trivia:
- While the script for this episode has causes a furrowed brow among many fans, an earlier version of the plot further explicated Radin’s trio of grievances.