009 – Perchance to Dream

Original air date – 11/27/59

Based on short story by Charles Beaumont  |  Directed by Robert Florey

Starring Richard Conte, John Larch, Suzanne Lloyd

The purpose of this blog, besides reliving The Twilight Zone one episode after another in chronological order as though I’ve traveled back in time to 1959, is also to educate myself as I go. From researching this episode, I discovered Charles Beaumont. After a short synopsis of this episode, we’ll get into some interesting tidbits about this talented writer…

In Perchance to Dream (watch it here on YouTube) we follow a very troubled Edward Hall (Richard Conte) as he is making his first visit to a therapist, Dr. Eliot Rathman (John Larch).

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In Dr. Rathman’s office, the exhausted Hall lies down on the couch. However, as soon as he closes his eyes to go to sleep, he quickly bounces off the couch desperately to stay awake.

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Hall fears that he will die in his sleep if he dreams. He recounts his recurring nightmare to Dr. Rathman. In the dream, he is stalked by a femme fatale, Maya (Suzanne Lloyd who looks like a Julie Newmar’s catwoman), while at a scary carnival.

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Hall, who has a heart condition, realizes that Maya is trying to kill him after luring him into the fun house for what seems to be a seduction. The next night, Hall tells Dr. Rathman, his dream continues from the point that he left off. On a roller coaster, Maya prods Hall to jump. At this point in his story, the distressed Hall stops recounting his dream to go out for a walk, but is shocked to find out that the receptionist in Dr. Rathman’s office looks like none other than Maya.

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Like seeing ghost, Hall runs back to Dr. Rathman’s office and jumps out of the window!

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*Spoiler alert*

We are back inside Dr. Rathman’s office. Hall is on the couch and appears to be sleeping. A troubled expression is on Dr. Rathman’s face as he calls in his receptionist (who still looks like Maya). Hall is dead, but not from jumping out of the window. The whole conversation he had with Dr. Rathman about his dream was all a dream. Hall died in his sleep as he dreamed of jumping out the doctor’s office window.

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I failed to mention in my previous blog that Time Enough at Last was not written by Rod Serling (although he adapted it into teleplay). It was based on a short story by Lyn Venable and you can read it here on the awesome Project Gutenberg. Like Time Enough at Last, Perchance to Dream was also not written by Rod Serling. It was written as a short story by Charles Beaumont for the October 1958 issue of Playboy.

beaumont

Charles Beaumont wrote a total of 22 episodes for TTZ. A prolific writer, he also wrote numerous short stories and scripts in his short life. Some of the TTZ episodes penned by Beaumont were The Howling Man (read about Beaumont and The Howling Man here), the hauntingly sweet Miniature, everyone’s favorite Number 12 Looks Just Like You, the spooky Living Doll and Long Distance Call, among others. I will go as far as to say that the world without Beaumont could be a world without The Twilight Zone.

Beaumont’s life is worthy of a TTZ episode of its own. Born 1929, Beaumont died in 1967 at the age of 38 of mysterious, undisclosed illness. In his 30s, he would show up to meetings disheveled and forgetful. Some people associated his symptoms to spinal meningitis he suffered when he was young. Others said he suffered from both Alzheimer’s Disease and Pick’s Disease. When he died in his late 30s, it was said that he looked like a 95-year-old man.

His contemporaries included science fiction luminaries – Ray BradburyRichard MathesonGorge Clayton JohnsonWilliam F. NolanHarlan Ellison, and director Roger Corman – who all had something to say about him in this clip, an excerpt from a documentary about his life, Charles Beaumont: Short Life of Twilight Zone’s Magic Man. In the beginning of the clip, you will also see Rod Serling accepting a 1961 Emmy award onstage with a very short speech graciously thanking “three writing gremlins, Charles Beaumont, George Clayton Johnson and Dick Matheson.” Aside from Serling and Matheson, Beaumont would pen the most TTZ stories. I’ll try to dig up more about Beaumont and his other works to share with you during the course of this TTZ blog this year, for now I’ve learned that reliving TTZ is tantamount to an occasional rendevouz with the genius that is Charles Beaumont.

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