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The Twilight Zone: Nightmare at 20,000 Feet

No one can see the gremlin tearing apart an airplane's wing, except a newly released mental patient.


Episode Info


Episode number: 5x3
Production Number: 2605
Airdate: Friday October 11th, 1963



  • Currently 7.7/10
7.7/10 (7 Votes cast)
Guest Stars
William ShatnerWilliam Shatner
As Bob Wilson
Recurring

Co-Guest Stars
Christine WhiteChristine White
As Julia Wilson
Recurring
Ed KemmerEd Kemmer
As Flight Engineer (as Edward Kemmer)
Asa MaynorAsa Maynor
As Stewardess

Uncredited
Nick CravatNick Cravat
As Gremlin
Main Cast
Rod SerlingRod Serling
As Narrator/Host

Recap

Salesman Bob Wilson and his wife Julia board a flight and Bob ends up sitting next to the auxiliary exit window. Realizing her husband nervous, Julia offers to get them moved. Bob lights up a cigarette and admits that he isn't acting like a man who is cured. Julia assures him that he's fine now, and that she's missed him for the last six months when he had a breakdown on a similar flight. Bob jumps when they close the cabin door and admits he's suffering from confidence after his breakdown. ..

Read the full recap
Episode Notes
Some of the music was used in the episode "Back There."

This episode was remade for the Twilight Zone-The Movie.

William Shatner later starred in a TV movie called "Horror at 37,000 Feet." It featured two other Twilight Zone alumni: Buddy Ebsen, and Russell Johnson.

Christine White is also in "The Prime Mover."

William Shatner was also in "Nick Of Time." He is best known for playing Captain James T. Kirk in Star Trek.

The episode is based on the short story "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" by Richard Matheson. The story was first published in the anthology Alone by Night (1961).



Episode Quotes
Bob Wilson: It must have been awful for you. Taking care of the kids. Bearing the full responsibility.
Julia Wilson: Well, everything is still intact.
Bob Wilson: Except me.

Bob Wilson: Just a little... abject cowardice, that's all. I'm going to be all right. Had a teensy weensy breakdown. But now, I'm cured. Understanding--it's wonderful. It isn't the airplane at all. Overtension and overanxiety due to underconfidence.

Opening Narration
Narrator: Portrait of a frightened man: Mr. Robert Wilson, thirty-seven, husband, father, and salesman on sick leave. Mr. Wilson has just been discharged from a sanitarium where he spent the last six months recovering from a nervous breakdown. The onset of which took place on an evening not dissimilar to this one on an airliner very much like the one in which Mr. Wilson is about to be flown home. The difference being that, on that evening half a year ago, Mr. Wilson's flight was terminated by the onslaught of his mental breakdown. Tonight, he's traveling all the way to his appointed destination which, contrary to Mr. Wilson's plan, happens to be in the darkest corner of the Twilight Zone.

(Bob trying to awaken Julia)
Bob Wilson: Honey... Julia, wake up!
Julia Wilson: What? What are you looking at? Bob? Is it the storm? Does it bother you?
Bob Wilson: No. Honey, you remember what I told you before about seeing something outside?
Julia Wilson: Yes.
Bob Wilson: I don't mean a man, I mean..I don't know what I mean. I mean, maybe a ... what'd they call them during the war? You know, the pilots? Gremlins! Gremlins. You remember the stories in the... Julia, don't look at me like that.
Julia Wilson: Bob...
Bob Wilson: I am not imagining it! I'm not imagining it! He's out there! Don't look. He's not there now. He... he jumps away whenever anyone might see him. Except me. Honey, he's there. I realize what this sounds like. Do I look insane?

Bob Wilson: I know I had a mental breakdown. I know I had it in an airplane. I know it looks to you as if the same thing's happening again, but it isn't. I'm sure it isn't. Look, the reason I'm telling you this... isn't just to worry you. You notice I didn't tell you before.
Julia Wilson: I want you to tell me.
Bob Wilson: I didn't tell you before because I wasn't sure whether it was real or not. But I am sure now. It is real. There's a man out there. Or a... a gremlin, or... whatever. If I described him to you, you'd really think I was gone.

Julia Wilson: It's all right now, darling.
Bob Wilson: I know. But I'm the only one who does know... right now.

Closing Narration
Narrator:
The flight of Mr. Robert Wilson has ended now, a flight not only from point A to point B, but also from the fear of recurring mental breakdown. Mr. Wilson has that fear no longer, though, for the moment, he is, as he has said, alone in this assurance. Happily, his conviction will not remain isolated too much longer, for happily, tangible manifestation is very often left as evidence of trespass, even from so intangible a quarter as the Twilight Zone.



Other Episode Crew

CreatorRod Serling
Executive ProducerRod Serling
ProducerBert Granet
EditorThomas Scott (2)
CastingPatricia Rose
Make-upWilliam Tuttle
Set DecoratorHenry Grace  |  Robert R. Benton
Director of PhotographyRobert Pittack
Art DirectorWalter Holscher  |  George W. Davis
Production ManagerRalph Nelson
Sound EditorFranklin Milton
Main Title ThemeMarius Constant
Assistant DirectorCharles Bonniwell
 
Warning: The Twilight Zone season 5 episode 3 guide may contain spoilers
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