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Twilight Zone, Episode 1.15: I Shot An Arrow Into The Air
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by Chris Parry

"Human nature once again makes life tough for the humans."
4 stars

“I shot an arrow into the air, where it landed I know not where.” That’s the beginning of this Twilight Zone classic, as earth fires the first manned rocket into space but loses track of where it comes down. When three surviving astronauts climb from their battered spacecraft on a desolate piece of what they believe is an asteroid, greed, mistrust, desperation and violence take hold, bringing the usual Twilight Zone twist in the tale.

Directed by acclaimed director Stuart Rosenberg (Brubaker, Cool Hand Luke, Amityville Horror), this episode of the classic series holds up beautifully today and, despite it’s ‘been done a million times’ premise of a survival of the fittest situation bringing out the worst in man, the acting, storytelling and a decidedly ‘take that’ Rod Serling narration make this a memorable experience.

Dewey Martin stars as the devious Mr Corey, who is so determined to survive that he will go to any means to do so. Martin, who had starring roles in feature films like Harold Hawks’ The Big Sky and Thing From Another World around the same time as this episode was shot, was never destined for anything much bigger than a continuing role as Daniel Boone in the late 50’s TV mini-series by the same name. His performance is anything but subtle, even considering the exaggerated acting styles of the day, and his supporting star, Edward Binns, doesn’t help matters with his lack of thespian ability. Binns, had no shortage of big credits to his name in TV (To Catch A Thief, It Takes A Thief, Kraft Television Theater) and film (12 Angry Men, Patton, North By Northwest) and who worked right up until his death by heart attack in 1990, but here he looks lost in the realm of sci-fi and never convinces as Mr Corey’s commanding officer, Donellan. Despite this, he would appear in the Twilight Zone again, in the 6th season episode, The Long Morrow.

Penned by Rod Serling from a Madelon Champion story (the only screen credit she ever enjoyed), this episode is notorious in Twilight Zone lore for the tension of the shoot, due mainly to the particularly hot Death Valley location (go figure), and a CBS budget that only barely got the footage in the can, especially when re-shoots were required.

But for me, it’s Rod Serling’s words that make this 1959 episode most memorable. In most editions of Twilight Zone, Serling is merely a guide, showing us events as a neutral third party, but in I Shot an Arrow Into The Air, he seems almost vindictive in his words as he watches things fall apart.

“Now, you make tracks, My Corey. You move up and out like some kind of ghostly billy-club was tapping at your ankles and telling you that it was later than you think. You scramble up rock hills and feel the hot sand under your feet and every now and then, take a look over your shoulder at a giant sun suspended in a dead and motionless sky, like an unblinking eye that probes at the back of your head like a prolonged accusation. Make tracks Mr Corey. Keep pushing up and out, because if you stop… if you stop maybe sanity will get you by the throat. Maybe realization will pry open your mind and the horror you left down in the sand will seep in. Yeah, Mr Corey, you better keep moving…” Man, that Serling fellow can be harsh when the mood takes him.

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originally posted: 07/10/02 09:35:14
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This episode of Twilight Zone has been reviewed as part of an ongoing retro TV series. For more in the Twilight Zone Episodes series, click here.

User Comments

10/30/11 mr.mike OK TZ ep. 3 stars
8/23/06 David Cohen Hard to believe astronauts could be that dumb 3 stars
4/12/04 Craig Green Madelon Champion was the wife of Writer/Producer/Director John C. Champion 5 stars
7/10/02 Kilmore Trout The acting lets this episode down big time. 3 stars
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  15-Jan-1960 (NR)


  15-Jan-1960 (G)

Directed by
  Stuart Rosenberg

Written by
  Rod Serling
  Madelon Champion (story)

  Dewey Martin
  Edward Binns

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