The Twilight Zone: Season 3, Episode Thirty-One “The Trade-Ins”

Original Air Date: April 13, 1962
Writer: Rod Serling
Director: Elliot Silverstein

Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be…”

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The shadows of two people appear outside the door to the New Life Corp. It is an unspecified date in the future. Mr. John Holt is 79 years old (Joseph Schildkraut) and his wife Mrs. Marie Holt is 74 years old (Alma Platt). They have entered the New Life Corporation hoping to find new life, freedom from chronic pain, and for $10,000 they both can be transferred into newer, younger bodies. However, the Holts only have $5,000 in their life savings. Unfortunately they do not have enough money for the operation, so they dejectedly leave the New Life Corp.

“Mr. and Mrs. John Holt, aging people who slowly and with trembling fingers turn the last pages of a book of life and hope against logic and the preordained that some magic printing press will add to this book another limited edition. But these two senior citizens happen to live in a time of the future where nothing is impossible, even the trading of old bodies for new. Mr. and Mrs. John Holt, in their twilight years, who are about to find that there happens to be a zone with the same name.”
-Rod Serling

Later that evening, Mr. Holt sneaks out to a secret gambling den where has a showdown with a man named Mr. Farrady (Theo Marcuse) who takes pity on the old man and allows him to walk away with the $5,000 he came in with, though secretly Mr. Holt would have lost the game. Then Mrs. Holt leads her husband back to the New Life Corp. so that he may receive his new body. He comes out of the procedure a new and spry young man (Edson Stroll). He is vivacious, jumping around the whole room, but then suddenly he is reminded of his wife’s old age. He solemnly asks the New Life Corporation to return him to his aged body and in the end they walk away arm-in-arm to grow old together.

“From Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet: “Love gives not but itself and takes not from itself, love possesses not nor would it be possessed, for love is sufficient unto love.” Not a lesson, just a reminder, from all the sentimentalists in the Twilight Zone.”
-Rod Serling

‘Youth is wasted on the young,’ says the aging man. This is a beautiful, sentimental episode with some personal tragedy lurking behind the scenes, however one glaring question remains: why can Mr. Holt not keep his young body and work to earn the additional $5,000 needed for his wife to receive the procedure, as well? All criticism aside, this is a charming episode that is part romance tale and part science fiction.

The Twilight Zone Trivia:

  • Joseph Schildkraut was 66 playing a 79 year old, Alma Platt was five years older at 71 playing a 74 year old.
  • Tragically, Joseph Schildkraut’s second wife died during the filming of this episode. Ever the professional thespian, he insisted on finishing his performance for the episode before mourning. He came from a European family of professional theatrical virtuosos. While memorable for being a sentimental onscreen performance, offscreen Schildkraut was in tears. He also appeared in the season three episode “Deaths-head Revisited.”
  • Effects man William Tuttle completed the aging make-up displayed in this episode.
  • Marc Scott Zicree notes in his book The Twilight Zone Companion in several places that despite the writers of the show being in their thirties they displayed a remarkably empathic perspective on the idea of aging and the elderly.
  • Apparently, Rod Serling misquotes Kahlil Gibran in his closing narration. The line should read: “Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.”
  • Many of the secondary actors in this episode appeared in other Twilight Zone episodes, Alma Platt also appeared in an episode of Rod Serling’s Night Gallery.

Click here to return to my survey of The Twilight Zone series.

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