023 – A World of Difference

Original air date – 3/11/60

Written by Richard Matheson |  Directed by Ted Post

Starring Howard DuffEileen RyanDavid WhiteGail Kobe

In A World of Difference (watch it here on imdb), Arthur Curtis arrives at his office buoyantly looking forward to his upcoming vacation with his wife and daughter.

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Life seems to be treating Curtis well. He is a 36-year-old family man with a house in the suburb. But nothing is as simple as it seems in The Twilight Zone because Curtis will soon find his world turned upside down. As soon as he closes the door to his office behind him, he finds himself an actor on a soundstage…

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Mysteriously, Curtis is transported into this soundstage as Gerry Reagan, an actor. When he tells the film crew that he isn’t who they think he is, they say he has a nervous breakdown. While fleeing the soundstage, he encounters a beautiful woman who whisked him away in her convertible. He quickly learns that the pretty, but cold and bitter, woman is his soon-to-be ex-wife in this alternate universe.

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No matter how glamorous this world seems to be, Curtis wants his “real” life back. But which life is real? He can’t connect his call to the home in the suburb. When he sees his daughter, she doesn’t seem to know him.

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Back at the soundstage, if Curtis didn’t have a nervous breakdown before, he is about to have one now. Slumped back in a chair on the film set, he is transported back to the humble office where his wife has just dropped by for a visit.

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He quickly hugs her and doesn’t want to let her go. With Curtis where he wants to be, we are left to wonder which life is it that’s real and which one is the Twilight Zone.

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To answer our question, we get a glimpse at the screenplay left at the soundstage in the alternate universe. Family man Arthur Curtis is indeed only a character on the pages of actor Gerry Reagan’s script. But whatever is real, does it really matter?

Written by Richard Matheson who also penned And When The Sky Was Opened and The Last Flight, these episodes are all similar in theme – protagonists who seem to have lost a part of their identity and scramble to piece their lives back together, trying to find out where they are from or who they really are.

A side note for this episode is to check out Eileen Ryan who played Gerry Reagan’s cold and opportunistic wife. Ryan later married the actor Leo Penn and gave birth to three sons, Michael, Sean and Chris.

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