018 – The Last Flight

Original air date – 2/5/60

Written by Richard Matheson  |  Directed by William Claxton

Starring Kenneth Haigh, Simon Scott, Alexander Scourby, Robert Warwick

In The Last Flight (watch it here on imdb), British Lieutenant Terry Decker (Kenneth Haigh) gets lost in the cloud while flying his biplane, and after the skies clear lands safely at US Air Force base in France. Two USAF officers, General Harper (Alexander Scourby) and Major Wilson (Simon Scott), take him into custody and question his oddly dated uniform. Decker claims that he is from 1917, but General Harper and Major Wilson explain that his story is impossible because it’s actually 1959. While lost in the cloud, Decker apparently traveled 42 years into the future.

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The interrogation continues, and Decker recounts the moment before landing at the air force base. He was fighting the German planes with his comrade Alexander Mackaye who was shot down. The two men tell Decker that Mackaye is still alive and is actually a war hero that saved thousands of lives during the first war. Coincidentally, Mackaye is also due to for a visit today.

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Decker tells Wilson that he finds it unbelievable that Mackaye is still alive. He confesses that he was in fact a coward because he abandoned Mackaye. But if Mackaye actually survived the dogfight, and is alive today in 1959, then someone must have saved him. But there was no other fighter pilot flying within fifty miles of Mackaye that day, so Decker ponders whether it was in fact he who was the one to save Mackaye. Realizing at that moment that perhaps he could redeem himself from his cowardly retreat and save Mackaye, Decker runs to the tarmac and flies off into the clouds.

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An old man in military dress arrives at the air force base. It’s Mackaye (Robert Warwick). When asked about Decker, Mackaye recounts the day that Decker saved his life. He disappeared in the cloud only to come back down to shoot at the German planes before being shot down by the enemy planes.

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Every few episodes of The Twilight Zone, I’m treated with one having to do with a militaristic plot line. I just need to take a deep breath and admit that it comes with the territory. The 50s – although this is January of 1960 but we all know that it takes a couple of years before a decade finds its essence – is about war, cowboys and the race to to be the first nation on the moon.

You know I’m not a fan of war story if you have been reading this blog from the beginning. So once in every few episodes when I’m treated to a show with a plot line related to war, I just need to take a deep breath and remember  that the memory of World War II and the Korean War was still fresh in American minds when The Twilight Zone first aired in 1959. Rod Serling served in the World War II. It makes sense that war would continue to pop up as a major theme.

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