Lou Bookman is a street vendor; a pitchman, making a living selling what he can from his valise - radios, toys, ties and the like. After a long day, he returns to his shabby apartment to find someone waiting for him, someone he saw near where he had been selling that day. That person turns out to be Mr. Death who is there to tell Lou that his time on Earth has come to an end and that his "departure" will be at midnight. Lou tries to forestall his death by asking for a delay until he's able to make a big sales pitch. It's all a ruse however and Mr. Death shows him that his actions have consequences. As a result, Lou makes the pitch of his life.Written by
Lewis J. Bookman was born in September 1890. See more »
Rod Serling - Narrator:
Lewis J. Bookman, age sixtyish. Occupation: pitchman. Formerly a fixture of the summer, formerly a rather minor component to a hot July. But, throughout his life, a man beloved by the children, and therefore, a most important man. Couldn't happen, you say? Probably not in most places - but it did happen in the Twilight Zone.
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Death comes to claim beloved door-to-door salesman Lew Bookman, who is beloved by the local children, but Bookman convinces Death to allow him to stay alive long enough to make the pitch of a lifetime. When Death suspects that Bookman is simply playing for time, he decides to take a substitute.
"One for the Angels" is Serling's first great Twilight Zone script, anchoring itself in well- defined characters with believable (under the circumstances) emotional stakes. With a different actor in the lead, the Bookman character might seem too good to be true; in Ed Wynn's hands, however, the character's warmth and bond with the children of the neighborhood is genuine, and his charm at putting off Death is equally believable (again, given the circumstances). Equally impressive is Murray Hamilton (an often-underrated character actor) as Death, taking an otherwise metaphysical figure, and imbuing him with genuine stakes (maintaining the balance of the world) while at the same time adding a bit of subdued sympathy for the plight of his mark.
To be sure, this is not a perfect episode, as the "pitch of a lifetime" does leave a little to be desired. Nonetheless, the balance between the Wynn and Hamilton characters makes the story strangely believable on its own terms, and deeply affecting. In other words, the definition of a classic Twilight Zone episode.
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