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The Twilight Zone: The Silence

A loquacious man takes a bet for half a million dollars that he can't keep silent for exactly one full year, and goes to extreme lengths to make sure he wins the wager.

Episode Info

Episode number: 2x25
Production Number: 173-3658
Airdate: Friday April 28th, 1961

Director: Boris Sagal
Writer: Rod Serling


Guest Stars
Liam SullivanLiam Sullivan
As Jamie Tennyson
Jonathan Harris (1)Jonathan Harris (1)
As George Alfred
Franchot ToneFranchot Tone
As Col. Archie Taylor

Co-Guest Stars
Cyril DelevantiCyril Delevanti
As Franklin
Everett GlassEverett Glass
As First Club Member
John HollandJohn Holland
As Third Club Member
Felix LocherFelix Locher
As Second Club Member
Main Cast
Rod SerlingRod Serling
As Narrator/Host


At a gentleman's club, braggart Jamie Tennyson speaks incessantly about all of his business ventures while forcing himself on anyone and everyone. Club member Colonel Archie Taylor grows increasingly irritated with Tennyson and then calls in his attorney, George Alfred. Taylor notes that in 30 seconds Tennyson will try to get a loan, while Alfred notes that Taylor's plan is incredible. He admits that Taylor's wager is not criminal and Taylor gives a note to the manservant to deliver to Tennyson...

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Episode Notes
Franchot Tone filmed the club sequences in the early part of production. Then, something happened that caused him damage to the left side of his face. Tone's account of the incident, according to Liam Sullivan, is that it was an accident. He fell off a terrace trying to pick a flower for his girlfriend and fell on a driveway. Serling says it was Tone hitting on someone else's girlfriend in a parking lot. The boyfriend took offense and beat up Tone. Regardless of the cause, the left side of his face was temporarily puffed up. Rather then reshoot with a different actor, the director filmed the remainder of Tone's scenes, in the glass-room chamber, with the actor in profile so that you never see the left side of his face. This means that Tone's character is taunting Tennyson without ever actually facing him, giving the character an even more sinister aspect.

One of the few TZ episodes with no fantastical or supernatural elements.

Episode Quotes
Opening Narration:
The note that this man is carrying across a club room is in the form of a proposed wager, but it's the kind of wager that comes without precedent. It stands alone in the annals of bet-making as the strangest game of chance ever offered by one man to another. In just a moment, we'll see the terms of the wager and what young Mr. Tennyson does about it. And in the process, we'll witness all parties spin a wheel of chance in a very bizarre casino called the Twilight Zone.

Jamie Tennyson: May I ask what is the reason for this wager?
Archie Taylor: What I'm about to say might horrify the average person, but to someone as insensitive as you, it probably won't mean a thing. I dislike you intensely, Tennyson. It goes much beyond the ordinary distaste I feel for someone without breeding, without principles, without manners. Your voice has become intolerable. I sit here each night and the sound of it makes me wince. I cannot ask you to resign from the club. I haven't got that right. So, it occurred to me that I'd be willing to offer a large sum of money just to have some quiet. You see, Tennyson, you could not possibly remain silent for a year. It's not in your nature. You're a shallow, talkative, empty-headed ne'er-do-well, and to remain silent would destroy you. So what I assume will happen. You will perhaps withstand the pressures for three or four weeks, maybe a couple of months, and then you will succumb. That's again, your nature. In the meantime, I will derive, oh, several months of exquisite silence. Well, Tennyson? Does it appeal to your sporting blood?
Jamie Tennyson: Oddly enough, it does appeal to my sporting blood.
Archie Taylor: Now that, too, is patently ridiculous. There's nothing sporting about you, Tennyson. I happen to know that you're delivering your nightly financial falderal because you're in desperate straits. You've run through your inheritance, your debts are insurmountable, and you'd do practically anything for money, except perhaps to remain silent for a year.

Archie Taylor: You'll have to take my word.
Jamie Tennyson: I see. It's my courage against your credit. Well a year from tomorrow night both can be proved.

Jamie Tennyson: Do you know my wife, sir? Her name is Doris. She's a lovely thing, frail, beautiful, fragile. Like a cameo brooch, but her tastes run to unfragile things. Sizable baubles with sizable price tags. She shops at Tiffany's the way other women enter a supermarket. My miserable misfortune is that I happen to be very much in love with her.

Alfred Taylor: But the ugly affair has proved two things, hasn't it, Archie? That that boy down there is stronger than you gave him credit for, and you are considerably weaker.

Closing Narration:
Mr. Jamie Tennyson, who almost won a bet, but who discovered somewhat belatedly that gambling can be a most unproductive pursuit, even with loaded dice, marked cards, or as in his case some severed vocal cords. For somewhere beyond him a wheel was turned and his number came up black thirteen. If you don't believe it, ask the croupier, the very special one who handles roulette in the Twilight Zone.

Other Episode Crew

CreatorRod Serling
Executive ProducerRod Serling
ProducerBuck Houghton
Set DecoratorH. Web Arrowsmith  |  Henry Grace
Director of PhotographyGeorge T. Clemens
Art DirectorPhilip Barber  |  George W. Davis
Production ManagerRalph Nelson
Sound EditorFranklin Milton
Main Title ThemeMarius Constant
Film EditorLeon Barsha
SoundWilliam Edmondson
Assistant DirectorE. Darrell Hallenbeck
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