The Twilight Zone: Season 4, Episode Seventeen “Passage on the Lady Anne”

Original Air Date: May 9, 1963
Writer: Charles Beaumont
Director: Lamont Johnson

“Love has its own particular point of view. It sees everything larger than life. Nothing is too ornate, too fanciful, too dramatic. Love demands the theatrical, and then transfigures it. It turns the grotesque into the lovely, as a child does. With it, we can see what we wish to see in other people. Without it, we can’t see anything at all. We can search forever, and never find.”

Rating: 3 out of 5.

“Portrait of a honeymoon couple getting ready for a journey – with a difference. These newlyweds have been married for six years, and they’re not taking this honeymoon to start their life but rather to save it, or so Eileen Ransome thinks. She doesn’t know why she insisted on a ship for this voyage, except that it would give them some time and she’d never been on one before – certainly never one like the Lady Anne. The tickets read ‘New York to Southampton,’ but this old liner is going somewhere else. Its destination – the Twilight Zone.”
-Rod Serling

Lee (Lee Philips) and Eileen Ransome (Joyce Van Patten) are a young married couple who are sadly drifting apart. Eileen persuades her workaholic husband Lee to take a vacation together while en route to his next business trip abroad, however the travel agent says the only vessel available is an aging boat called the Lady Anne. While he strongly recommends that they not accept this mode of transportation, Eileen buys the tickets anyway.

The Ransomes arrive aboard the Lady Anne, bickering with each other the whole time, however they encounter something strange on the ship –all the passengers are elderly people. At first, the people try to persuade the Ransomes against boarding, but eventually they warm up to the young couple. Over time it is revealed that the Lady Anne is an “enchanted gondola,” en route to retirement. All the people on board have had a special connection to the ship in years past. The ship itself has become a symbol of a bygone era, before the noise and commotion of our present-day. Suddenly, Eileen disappears and Lee frantically searches the ship for her, but none of the other passengers seem fazed. They later reunite in their bedroom, more in love than ever before. Lee pledges to focus on the important things in life now that he has found her again.

Strangely enough, the passengers all request that the Ransomes depart the ship in an open dingy with a rescue team on the way.

“The Lady Anne never reached port. After they were picked up by a cutter a few hours later, as Captain Protheroe had promised, the Ransomes searched the newspapers for news – but there wasn’t any news. The Lady Anne with all her crew and all her passengers vanished without a trace. But the Ransomes knew what had happened, they knew that the ship had sailed off to a better port – a place called the Twilight Zone.”
-Rod Serling

While I thought the concept behind this episode was enticing as well as exquisite, I must say I found the ending rather disappointing and anti-climactic. Throughout the episode we are led to wonder, amidst considerable tension, what the great mystery of Lady Anne might be. Are the elderly passengers dead? Does the boat grant them special powers to live forever? Is the boat actually dying? Is it being decommissioned? Who is the Lady Anne? Why do they demand that it be referred to as a female? Why/how did Eileen mysteriously disappear in the middle of the episode? Why are the main characters so easily persuaded to hop into a dingy in the middle of the open ocean? While this episode gives us all the splendor and opulence of a ride aboard mysterious Titanic-esque ship, this episode is not among the best in the series due to unresolved questions that linger for me.

Nevertheless, it should be noted that this was the final episode Charles Beaumont contributed to the series (aside from adaptations of his short stories and a co-credit in Season 5). It aired shortly before his debilitating disease tragically took hold and prevented further work from a brilliant science fiction writer. “Passage on the Lady Anne” is a fitting farewell to one of the show’s great writers, as his old ship sails off into the murky seas one last time.

The Twilight Zone Trivia:

  • This was the last of six episodes Charles Beaumont wrote for the fourth season, his most prolific season on the show. Due to his sudden and tragically debilitating illness Mr. Beaumont never again wrote a teleplay for The Twilight Zone. Perhaps this fact adds a sense of allure to the episode, as well.
  • Charles Beaumont’s short story “Song for a Lady” was first published in his 1960 collection. According to Charles Beaumont’s son, Chris Beaumont, the idea for the story came when the Beaumont family took a trip aboard the Queen Elizabeth and noticed the high numbers of elderly people onboard the ship.
  • Actress Joyce Van Patten was divorced from fellow Twilight Zone performer Martin Balsam shortly before she appeared in this episode.
  • Composer René Garriguenc provided the scores for other Twilight Zone episodes including Season 1’s “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street,” and Season 5’s “In Praise of Pip,” and “Spur of the Moment,” along with stock music pieces for several additional episodes.
  • This episodes features a charming cast of older British actors: Wilfrid Hyde-White, Cecil Kellaway, Alan Napier, Cyril Delevanti, and Gladys Cooper.

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

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