The Twilight Zone: Season 5, Episode Fourteen “You Drive”

Original Air Date: January 3, 1964
Writer: Earl Hamner Jr.
Director: John Brahm

Rating: 4 out of 5.

“Portrait of a nervous man: Oliver Pope by name, office manager by profession. A man beset by life’s problems: his job, his salary, the competition to get ahead. Obviously, Mr. Pope’s mind is not on his driving.”
-Rod Serling

“You Drive” opens with the troubling scene of a hit and run as Oliver “Ollie” Pope (Edward Andrews, who previously played a similarly slimy individual in the Season 1 classic episode “Third From The Sun”) hits a bicycle-riding boy at a neighborhood park. A pair of ladies rush over to the scene of the crime and Oliver speeds off in his car.

“Oliver Pope, businessman-turned-killer, on a rain-soaked street in the early evening of just another day during just another drive home from the office. The victim, a kid on a bicycle, lying injured, near death. But Mr. Pope hasn’t time for the victim, his only concern is for himself. Oliver Pope, hit-and-run driver, just arrived at a crossroad in his life, and he’s chosen the wrong turn. The hit occurred in the world he knows, but the run will lead him straight into—the Twilight Zone.”
-Rod Serling

An agitated Oliver heads home to his wife (Helen Westcott) who begins hearing strange noises from the garage, it sounds like movement coming from his car. Later, Oliver makes an anonymous call to the police where he learns the fate of the boy he struck –tragically the boy has died but Oliver does not confess. In the evening, Oliver’s car horn cannot stop honking. The next day, he stays home from work and snaps at a colleague Pete Radcliffe (Kevin Hagen, best known for his future role as the doctor on the Little House on the Prairie series) who pays him a visit. Shortly thereafter Mr. Radcliffe is blamed for the hit and run –much to Oliver’s relief– but Oliver’s car begins operating with a mind of its own (this is the most memorable scene in the episode). It chases him down the street and very nearly runs him down before slowly opening its door and beckoning Oliver to sit down in the passenger seat. Oliver’s car then swiftly delivers him to the police station for him to report himself for his hit and run crime.

“All persons attempting to conceal criminal acts involving their cars are hereby warned: check first to see that underneath that chrome there does not lie a conscience, especially if you’re driving along a rain-soaked highway in the Twilight Zone.”
-Rod Serling

This is a fun albeit goofy and slightly uncomfortable episode in the series. Machinery is shown to have a superior moral compass to the guilty conscience of one man, and while the mechanical age poses great problems for us, ordinary human ethical dilemmas still persist. Good and evil, law and order, are not necessarily made better or worse by advent of technology.

The Twilight Zone Trivia:

  • The title for this episode was derived from an old Hertz rental car company advertisement: “U Drives.”
  • Apparently the home used in this episode still looks as it once did. It is located at 4183 Keystone Ave in Culver City, CA.
  • This was the second Twilight Zone episode to feature a driverless car. The first was the Season 2 classic “A Thing About Machines.”
  • Oliver’s car is a 1956 Ford Fairlane Club Sedan.
  • Apparently, Earl Hamner Jr. was something of a luddite. Marc Scott Zicree, author of The Twilight Zone Companion, quotes him as saying, “All mechanical things frustrate me.” He developed the idea for this story from the notion that machines have a mind of their own. He drove a Corvette.
  • In the scene which the empty car very nearly runs over Oliver’s head, George T. Clemens shot this in reverse with the car being parked next to Edward Andrews’s head and then backing it up. The scene was then reversed and edited into the episode.

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

One response to “The Twilight Zone: Season 5, Episode Fourteen “You Drive””

  1. I have Christine to thank for my fandom of stories about cars with minds of their own. It was most impactful how this Twilight Zone episode was specifically resolved and directed, when Oliver Pope (thanks to a splendid performance by Edward Andrews) walks very humbly out of the car and into the police station, ending right there with Serling’s closing narrative. Thanks for your review.

    Liked by 2 people

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