The Twilight Zone: Season 3, Episode Thirty-Four “Young Man’s Fancy”

Original Air Date: May 11, 1962
Writer: Richard Matheson
Director: John Brahm

“Come back to me mother…”

Rating: 5 out of 5.

“You’re looking at the house of the late Mrs. Henrietta Walker. This is Mrs. Walker herself, as she appeared twenty-five years ago. And this, except for isolated objects, is the living room of Mrs. Walker’s house, as it appeared in that same year. The other rooms upstairs and down are much the same. The time, however, is not twenty-five years ago but now. The house of the late Mrs. Henrietta Walker is, you see, a house which belongs almost entirely to the past, a house which, like Mrs. Walker’s clock here, has ceased to recognize the passage of time. Only one element is missing now, one remaining item in the estate of the late Mrs. Walker: her son, Alex, thirty-four years of age and, up till twenty minutes ago, the so-called perennial bachelor. With him is his bride, the former Miss Virginia Lane. They’re returning from the city hall in order to get Mr. Walker’s clothes packed, make final arrangements for the sale of the house, lock it up and depart on their honeymoon. Not a complicated set of tasks, it would appear, and yet the newlywed Mrs. Walker is about to discover that the old adage ‘You can’t go home again’ has little meaning in the Twilight Zone.”
-Rod Serling

Newlyweds Alex Walker (Alex Nicol) and Virginia Lane Walker (Phyllis Thaxter) arrive at Alex’s childhood home. His mother has died and they are intending to sell the house which is filled with old broken devices –a record player, radio, grandfather clock and so on. However, upon entering his childhood home Alex is flooded with fond memories of his mother.

Wen a realtor named Mr. Wilkinson (Wallace Rooney) arrives to sign the escrow papers Alex refuses to sign. He runs up into his room, and at the same time strange things begin to happen in the house –Alex’s deceased mother’s favorite record suddenly starts playing (“Lady In Red”), the clock starts ticking, and a plate of fudge appears just as the late Mrs. Walker once laid out. “He’s mine now, you’ll never get your claws on him again,” says Virginia with piercing eyes at a photo of her late mother-in-law. But it is no use. Alex seems to have become a hostage to his childhood and Virginia begins frantically rummaging through the house as the presence of Alex’s mother only seems to grow stronger until suddenly the ghostly figure of Mrs. Henrietta Walker (Helen Brown) appears standing at the top of the stairs. She claims this was all her son’s doing. Turning to her side, we see Alex transform back into a little boy (Ricky Kelman). He asks his mother to go to the park, the zoo, and then for ice cream before looking back at Virginia. “Go away, lady—we don’t need you anymore,” he declares as his new wife flees in terror.

“Exit Miss Virginia Lane, formerly and most briefly Mrs. Alex Walker. She has just given up a battle and in a strange way retreated, but this has been a retreat back to reality. Her opponent, Alex Walker, will now and forever hold a line that exists in the past. He has put a claim on a moment in time and is not about to relinquish it. Such things do happen in the Twilight Zone.”
-Rod Serling

This episode is another brilliant installment from the legendary writer Richard Matheson (his last script of the third season). The horror in this episode is every bride’s worst nightmare –the fear that she has married a man who is still dependent upon his mother. The psychological/spiritual battle between wife and mother-in-law in “Young Man’s Fancy” is as amusing as it is memorable.

The Twilight Zone Trivia:

  • This was the third and final teleplay by Richard Matheson for the third season. In his original story Virginia does not flee at the end, but rather she enters Alex’s room and just then the room swirls and transforms into the present-day.
  • This was one of two episodes in which Nathan Scott composed the score. He also composed the music for the classic season one episode “A Stop at Willoughby.”
  • Alex Nicol was either 46 or 47 at the time this episode was filmed (even though his character is intended to be 34-years old). Ricard Matheson later commented on how he thought Nicol was too old for the part.
  • This was one of sixteen episodes in The Twilight Zone series to feature a ghost.

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

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