Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Twilight Zone - Mr. Denton on Doomsday

Mr Denton on Doomsday is the third episode from season 1 of The Twilight Zone.  Now I'll be honest, I've never been a huge fan of westerns.  I'll watch the occasional John Wayne or Clint Eastwood flick, but as a general rule, they're not my forte.  As such, this is The Midnight Cinephile....not The High Noon Cinephile.  Anyway, I digress, because I do have a soft spot for paranormal western tales.

Ghost towns, phantom gunfighters, cowboys vs's all good.  Heck even time travelers in a DeLorean are okay in my book!   Yeah, that's right, I love Back To The Future Part III!  But this isn't about Marty and Doc, so we'll get back to the TZ episode at hand.

Dan Duryea plays Al Denton, a down and out gunfighter who now spends his time at the saloon drunk.  He is humiliated as he is forced to sing for booze by other gunslingers such as Dan Hotaling (an always welcome appearance by Martin Landau!).  Denton is given a second chance when traveling medicine man named Henry J. Fate (Malcolm Atterbury) steps in.  After accidentally besting Hotaling not once, but twice with a gun he found outside the saloon, Denton decides to clean himself and sober up, gaining a little respect from the denizens of the town in the process.

Pete Grant (Doug McClure), a young gunfighter looking to prove himself against Denton, who is now restored to his former "Fastest Gun In The West" moniker.  We'll just say that Fate works in funny ways.

This episode is another gem, it's got terrific atmosphere and of course anything with Martin Landau in it is good in my book.

Midnight Factoids

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- Originally aired October 16, 1959
- One of the few episodes to feature an eye in heavy mascara.  It is one of only three episodes that can still be seen in syndication with that opening.
-  The original title of this episode was "Death, Destry and Mr. Dingle".  The character of Mr. Dingle became Denton and Dingle was used in a later episode called Mr. Dingle, The Strong.

Phantoms of the Celluloid Crypt

- Dan Duryea was primarily a western player, but he did make an appearance in the 1966 schlocker The Bamboo Saucer.
- Martin Landau appeared in the 1983 creature feature The Being.
- Malcolm Atterbury appeared in I Was a Teenage Werewolf with Micheal Landon in 1957.
- Doug McClure took a guest starring role in the Night of the Scorpion episode of Manimal in 1983.

Stay tuned for more Twilight Zone goodness!

1 comment:

  1. I'm of a similar mindset when it comes to westerns. I like a lot of Clint Eastwood ones (mostly because of Clint himself) and The Magnificent Seven (mainly because of Steve McQueen and Yul Brynner), but in general have never ben able to get into westerns. It seems like the 1950s and 60s were a very busy time for westerns and monster/horror/sci-fi films in the B-movie world. It must have been a great time for kids who were fans of BOTH monsters AND coyboys & indians!
    As far as this episode, I somehow never saw it (or didn't remember) as a kid. I only recently saw it for the first time on the TZ Definitive DVD set. I agree with what you said about paranormal western stories. Even though westerns aren't particularly my cup of tea, I've always loved the TZ episode "The Grave" with Lee Marvin!
    Looking forward to more Twilight Zone stuff!