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The Twilight Zone: Escape Clause

A hypochondriac makes a deal with the Devil for immortality, but he soon grows bored when he discovers that he no longer gets a kick out of life.

Episode Info  

Episode number: 1x6
Production Number: 173-3603
Airdate: Friday November 06th, 1959

Director: Mitchell Leisen
Writer: Rod Serling

Guest Stars
Thomas GomezThomas Gomez
As Mr. Cadwallader
David WayneDavid Wayne
As Walter Bedeker
Virginia ChristineVirginia Christine
As Ethel Bedeker

Co-Guest Stars
Raymond BaileyRaymond Bailey
As The Doctor
Dick Wilson (2)Dick Wilson (2)
As Jack
Nesdon BoothNesdon Booth
As The Prison Guard
Wendell HolmesWendell Holmes
As Mr. Cooper

Allan LurieAllan Lurie
As Guard
George BaxterGeorge Baxter
As Judge Cummings
Paul E. BurnsPaul E. Burns
As Janitor
Main Cast
Rod SerlingRod Serling
As Narrator/Host


Walter Bedeker is a self-obsessed hypochondriac who calls in his doctor for yet another house call. The doctor says that Bedeker is perfectly healthy despite all the pains that he complains about, and his illnesses are psychosomatic. Bedeker refuses to accept that and complains to his wife, Ethel, and then complains that she's driving him to illness with her gentle whispering. As Ethel ushers the doctor out, he gives her some vitamins and tells Ethel that her husband is one of his healthiest patients...

Read the full recap
Episode Quotes
Opening Narration
You're about to meet a hypochondriac. Witness Mr. Walter Bedeker, age forty-four, afraid of the following: death, disease, other people, germs, draft, and everything else. He has one interest in life, and that's Walter Bedeker. One preoccupation: the life and well-being of Walter Bedeker. One abiding concern about society: that if Walter Bedeker should die, how will it survive without him?

Walter Bedeker: You see, that's a doctor. Four years pre-med, four years medical school, two years internship, two years residency, and what is he? I ask you what is he? A quack!
Ethel Bedeker: Doctor, how is he?
Walter Bedeker: Oh, don't ask him. The man's an idiot.
Ethel Bedeker: Now, Walter, don't excite yourself, please!
Walter Bedeker: Well, then stop whispering. Now there's half my trouble right there. This woman goes around whispering, making me think I'm sick even when I'm not, and I am. Here I am, on the threshold of death and who is ushering me out? A quack and a whispering woman who doesn't know her mind.
The Doctor: I'll call tomorrow, Mr. Bedeker.
Walter Bedeker: Oh, don't bother to do that. Just come right over with the death certificate! You can sign it right here!
Ethel Bedeker: Oh, Walter!
Walter Bedeker: Oh, stop those crocodile tears. She'd love to see me gone, I can't tell you.

Walter Bedeker: Ethel, there's a draft in here, and I feel a coma coming on.

Bedeker: Who are you?
Cadwallader: Cadwallader's my name. At least, that's the name I'm using this month. It has a nice feel on the tongue. Cad-wall-ah-der.

Mr. Cadwallader: No, it's for your benefit, I assure you. Ah, article ninety-three, yes. Here it is. Well, it's in the nature of an escape clause--your escape clause. Whereas the party of the first part upon due notification of the party of the second part... well, I'll just give it to you thumbnail. It's simply that if you ever get tired of living, Mr. Bedeker, you can exercise this escape clause by calling upon me to, uh, furnish your... well, there go those terms again. To furnish your demise. At which point I shall see to it that you are given a rapid and uncomplicated... departure.
Walter Bedeker: Let me assure you, Mr. Cadwallader, that I am not the sort of fellow who goes around killing the goose that lays the golden egg. When you talk of immortality to me, brother, I mean immortality. You going to have a long, long, long wait.
Mr. Cadwallader: Mr. Bedeker, nothing could please me more.

(Bedeker jumps in front of oncoming subway; people around gasp and faint. Bedeker gets up, unscathed with only a torn jacket)
Policeman: How did you,
Walter Bedeker: Take your hands off me and go get your claims adjuster!

Walter Bedeker: Iodine … rubbing alcohol. Have we got any ammonia?
Ethel Bedeker: Ammonia?
Walter Bedeker: That's what I said, ammonia. (he drinks the concoction)
Ethel Bedeker: Walter!!
Walter Bedeker: Nothing. I have just drunk enough to kill twelve men and it tastes like lemonade to me. Weak lemonade.

Walter Bedeker: You will not call the doctor. If you had any imagination at all, you'd find some way for me to get some excitement out of all this. I've been in subway crashes, bus accidents, major fires. I've even drunk poison here. Nothing! You know what I think I'll do? I think I'll go up on the roof and I'll jump down the light well. Straight smack dab down the light well! Fourteen stories just for the excitement of it.
Ethel Bedeker: Walter, please, come back to the apartment. I'll make you potato pancakes. Remember, you used to always love potato pancakes.
Walter Bedeker: Ethel, you are a potato pancake. You're as tasteless as a potato pancake. Now leave me alone.
Ethel Bedeker: Walter, don't do it!
Walter Bedeker: Ethel, get out of my way.
Ethel Bedeker: No! No! No, please!
Walter Bedeker: Get out of my way, Ethel.
Ethel Bedeker: Please, Walter! (she loses her balance and falls backwards off side of building)
Walter Bedeker: (unfazed) I wonder what it felt like...

Walter Bedeker: Hello, operator, would you get me the police, please? Hurry, it's an emergency. Hello, police station? My name is Walter Bedeker. I live at 11 North 7th Street. That's right. Apartment 1214. Could you come over here right away, please? No, no trouble. I just killed my wife. I'll stay right here. Goodbye. Now let's give the electric chair a little whirl!

Mr. Cadwallader: Mr. Bedeker, about that escape clause. Care to utilize it now? (Bedeker nods) That's a wise man. Odd thing--you look like a man having a heart attack. Just like a man having a heart attack…

Cadwallader: (to Bedeker in jail cell, after the 'escape clause' is invoked) Funny look like a man having a heart attack...just like a man having a heart attack.

Closing Narration
There's a saying, 'Every man is put on Earth condemned to die, time and method of execution unknown.' Perhaps this is as it should be. Case in point: Walter Bedeker, lately deceased, a little man with such a yen to live. Beaten by the Devil, by his own boredom, and by the scheme of things in this, the Twilight Zone.

Episode Goofs
Actor Nesdon Booth's credit is mispelled as "Nesden Booth" in the closing credits.

During the scene where the "new Walter Bedeker" is introduced, you can see the film runs back and forth.

Other Episode Crew

CreatorRod Serling
Executive ProducerRod Serling
ProducerBuck Houghton
EditorBill Mosher
CastingMillie Gusse
Set DecoratorRudy Butler
Director of PhotographyGeorge T. Clemens
Art DirectorWilliam Ferrari  |  George W. Davis
Production ManagerRalph Nelson
Sound EditorFranklin Milton  |  Jean Valentino
Main Title ThemeMarius Constant
Sound Effects EditorVan Allen James
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