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The Twilight Zone: Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room

An insignificant hood assigned to murder an old man, finds his reflection from a mirror confronting him about having the guts to pull off the caper.

Episode Info

Episode number: 2x3
Production Number: 173-3641
Airdate: Friday October 14th, 1960

Writer: Rod Serling


Guest Stars
Joe MantellJoe Mantell
As Jackie Rhoades
William D. GordonWilliam D. Gordon
As George


Jackie Rhoades, a cheap nervous petty crook, is sweltering in his hotel room when he gets a call from George, a local crook, who wants Jackie to do something special for him. Jackie tries to get an answer but quickly backs down and hangs up. A few minutes later George arrives and regards Jackie with contempt, then asks what kind of job he wants to do. Jackie admits that the last few jobs have been rough, and he'd rather stick to bunco and shakedowns. George explains that tonight Jackie is going to become a man and gives him a gun. He tells Jackie that he needs to knock off an old man who runs a local bar who's refusing to pay protection money. Jackie doesn't think he can handle it but when he tries to back out, George slaps him and tells Jackie that he's in hock to him and that if he doesn't do it, George will finish him off. The old man closes at 2 so Jackie is to kill him and then meet George back at the hotel at 2:30...

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Episode Notes
Rod Serling makes his entrance apparently standing on a wall parallel to the floor! This effect is achieved by shooting Serling against a back-screen of an overhead shot of the room.

Joe Mantell returns in "Steel."

William D. Gordon is also in "The Eye of the Beholder."

Episode Quotes
Opening Narration
This is Mr. Jackie Rhoades, age thirty-four, and where some men leave a mark of their lives as a record of their fragmentary existence on Earth, this man leaves a blot, a dirty, discolored blemish to document a cheap and undistinguished sojourn amongst his betters. What you're about to watch in this room is a strange, mortal combat between a man and himself, for in just a moment Mr. Jackie Rhoades, whose life has been given over to fighting adversaries, will find his most formidable opponent in a cheap hotel room that is in reality the outskirts of the Twilight Zone.

George: It's a gorgeous place you got here, Jackie.
Jackie Rhoades: Well, four bucks a night, you can't go wrong, you know, four bucks a night.
George: You can't go wrong, but you could get roasted to death, or poisoned by small creatures.

George: Anyone ever tell you what you look like? You look like a man trying to catch a subway at five o'clock. You always look like someone's squeezing you through a door. What do you do to sleep at night, Jackie, hide in a locked closet?

Jackie Rhoades: But George, I got no guts.
George: You're going to get guts, Jackie, I don't care where from. You get them under the bed, you buy them from a vendor, you grow them in a pot, I don't care, but you get them and you do the job.

Jackie Rhoades: Listen to me, listen to me. I'm having an argument with a big piece of glass.

(talking to his alter ego in a mirror)
Jackie Rhoades: No, I don't! And I'll tell you what I do know. I gotta go out and do a job. I gotta knock off an old gleep on 38th Street. And if I don't do it by 2:00am, you can take what's left of me and scrape it off that mirror with a spoon. I ain't got much time. I gotta go now.
John Rhoades: You got less time than you think, but you never had time. You didn't have time when that parole officer tried to help you. You could have listened to him, but you joined another gang. Six months later you were in jail again, and that parole officer couldn't help you any more than Janie Reardon could.
John Rhoades: She was a beautiful woman. She tried to set you straight. I loved her, Jackie. I loved Janie Reardon.
Jackie Rhoades: Janie Reardon? Janie Reardon. Janie Reardon. She was a nice kid.
Jackie Rhoades: You loved her? You got a nerve. How could you love anybody? You're just a piece of glass.
John Rhoades: I could love, Jackie. I could love. I needed her, Jackie. So did you. I tried to tell you how much we needed her, but you graduated from the street gang into the shakedown rackets. Big shot, huh? Two years we spent in the pen on that one, and when we got out, Janie Reardon had gotten married and moved away. She walked out of your life, Jackie, out of our life. You cheated me out of her.
Jackie Rhoades: Don't tell me your troubles. It's nothing to me. Dames I can take or leave alone.
John Rhoades: Dames you can take or leave, huh. That's a statement for the press. You wouldn't want to have a girl, would you, Jackie? Somebody sweet and pretty. Somebody who would love you. Somebody who would be kind and gentle with you. You don't need that, do you, Jackie?
Jackie Rhoades: Why don't you cut it out! Will you do that? Will you knock it off? What do you want from me anyway? I'm asking you, what do you want from me? I'm still waiting to hear. What do you want from me?
John Rhoades: I want to take over, Jackie. I want to call the shots. I want you to let me out. I want a chance to live. I want to live with all the guts and goodness you left behind. I want to live the dreams you dreamed and never had the guts to live.
Jackie Rhoades: Fat chance, buster. Big fat chance! I'm me and you're you. And that's no statement for the press. That's the goods. I'm going out and knock me off an old man now and I'm gonna cut me a nice slice of cabbage for my troubles. I'm calling the shots and neither you nor anybody else is telling Jackie Rhoades what to do. Neither you nor anybody else. (Phone rings) Yeah? Oh, yeah, George. George, I'm doing what you told me, George. I'm just on my way out now. Yeah, George, I'm just leaving. Yeah, honest, George, honest. I'm on my way now. Yeah, yeah, I'm gonna leave right now, George. I'll meet you back here at 2:30, okay? Yeah, I'll meet you right back here, George. Okay.
Jackie Rhoades: Hey? Hey, there? Hey, where are you? Hey, glass, come on out here. Come on. Do your job now. Hey, come on. I want to see how I look, glass. Come on.
John Rhoades: It don't make any difference, Jackie, because you're not going anywhere. You go out that door, you're finished. We're both finished. That's the door to nowhere. Jackie, Jackie, let me out. I wanna take over. I gotta take over. I want a decent job, some friends.
Jackie Rhoades: I got a job, I got friends, I got everything I want.
John Rhoades: You got nothing, you got nothing but a pain inside. You got no friends, no honor. You got nothing. You are nothing. It's time to be something. Jackie, let me out. Let me take over, Jackie. This is your last chance.
Jackie Rhoades: Alright, I'll let you out of there. Come on out of there, wiseguy! Come on out! You're a liar!
George: Get up, little man. I'm gonna take your skin off, foot by foot. Nobody went to the old man's bar tonight, Jackie. Nobody at all. At last reports, he was in excellent health, thanks to you. Thanks to you, you raunchy little welsher. Well, what have you got to say for yourself, crumb, huh? What have you got to say for yourself?
John Rhoades: What have I got to say for myself, George? Not much. Just two words: I resign. That's it, George. I resign.
George: You what?
John Rhoades: I resign. You can have your gun back, plus the following. (Kicks, elbows, and slugs George) Move out, George! And don't ever come back...for anything.
John Rhoades: Room Clerk, this is Jackie - this is John Rhoades, room 14. I'm checking out. No, I'm not coming back. No, as a matter of fact, nothings alright. The room's too hot, too small, and too dirty. It's just the place for bums, but not for me.
Jackie Rhoades: Hey, what's to do now?
John Rhoades: What's to do now? Now we go look for a job. Now maybe we get married. Now maybe we stop biting our nails.

Closing Narration
Exit Mr. John Rhoades, formerly a reflection in a mirror, a fragment of someone else's conscience, a wishful thinker made out of glass, but now made out of flesh and on his way to join the company of men. Mr. John Rhoades, with one foot through the door and one foot out of the Twilight Zone.

Episode Goofs
Just before George leaves the room after giving him the gun, he suddenly changes from in front of Jackie to behind him.

When Jackie pulls the wardrobe from the wall, as he twists it around you can briefly see the edge of the set.

While looking in the mirror and seeing his own reflection, they forgot to reverse the button holes on the main characters shirt.

Other Episode Crew

Executive ProducerRod Serling
ProducerBuck Houghton
CastingEthel Winant
MusicJerry Goldsmith
Set DecoratorH. Web Arrowsmith  |  Henry Grace
Director of PhotographyGeorge T. Clemens
Art DirectorPhilip Barber
Production ManagerE. Darrell Hallenbeck
Sound EditorCharles Scheid  |  Franklin Milton
Main Title ThemeMarius Constant
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