Horace Ford Saves Two Unrealized Episodes
gobirds2 | New England | 03/12/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"`THE GIFT' and `YOUNG MAN'S FANCY' are two episodes that should have been much better. `THE GIFT' written by Rod Serling and Directed by Allen Parker deals with a man, played by Geoffrey Horne, who may be an extraterrestrial or not who is held up in an isolated Mexican town. Geoffrey Horne does poses strange self-healing powers and resistance to pain, which he demonstrates to a small boy and a village doctor. He befriends the small boy and leaves with him `The Gift.' The best episodes of "The Twilight Zone" either intrigued us and hit us over the head with a shock ending or slowly drew us in to what would be an inevitable conclusion, but one which we and/or the characters would be challenged to learn or realize something about ourselves as human beings. `THE GIFT' falls short of giving us a shock ending and it does not really challenge us to bring away some human experience, at least nothing we have not seen before. I think Geoffrey Horne was supposed to represent some Christ-like figure presenting mankind an incredible gift, but that idea really never comes to fruition. Laurindo Alimeida's acoustic guitar score is very good on its own but I think it actually hinders the story with its neither-here-nor-there quality leaving the viewer uninterested. `THE GIFT' does not seem like a very typical "Twilight Zone" episode. `YOUNG MAN'S FANCY' on the other hand seems very much like your typical "Twilight Zone" episode. Written by Richard Matheson it gives us a story of a man, Alex Nicol, who becomes increasingly obsessed with the mementos of his childhood as he returns and prepares to sell his deceased mother's house with his long-time fiancée, Phyllis Thaxter. Thaxter, representing objective reality, sees Nicol quickly degrade into the throes of "The Twilight Zone" with some unexpected results, which however do not really leave the viewer in that much amazement. With the exception of Thaxter, thanks to her great ability at visual histrionics, character development is sparse. Alex Nicol's character is poorly developed and his motivations seem cardboard and unnatural. `YOUNG MAN'S FANCY' really leaves the viewer unfulfilled. `THE INCREDIBLE WORLD OF HORACE FORD' is another forgotten episode from the 4th Season and it single-handedly saves this DVD. This excellent episode was written by Reginald Rose and directed by Abner Biberman about a toy designer, brilliantly played by Pat Hingle, who constantly daydreams and reminisces about his childhood to uninterested and befuddled fellow employees and family. Pat Hingle is just incredible in this role, as he was 180 degrees cast against type. Hingle captures the essence of Horace Ford, this man-child, in every mannerism and gesture. You feel the frustration of this character like a little child who does not get his way. His dialogue at times becomes fragmented as he goes of on tangents about the good times he had as a kid. At work he is the perfectionist designer of quality toys and he will not compromise those designs to budgetary constraints to the chagrin of his employer. Frustrated, Horace Ford returns to his old neighborhood for solace but is met with surprising results. This episode uses strains of Bernard Herrmann's score from `WALKING DISTANCE' but unlike that episode Horace comes away with a different realization about his youth. Yet, like Martin Sloan, Gig Young's character in `WALKING DISTANCE' Horace comes away with knowledge and a new understanding of his present world which gives him a second chance to deal with the everyday world. `THE INCREDIBLE WORLD OF HORACE FORD' is a great episode."
One winner, and two losers.
Tom Brody | Berkeley, CA | 04/07/2010
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This disc has three stories, THE GIFT (ONE STAR), YOUNG MAN'S FANCY (FIVE STARS), and an hour-long episode, THE INCREDIBLE WORLD OF HORACE FORD (THREE STARS).
YOUNG MAN'S FANCY. This an excellent little story that is cut from the same cloth as WALKING DISTANCE or KICK THE CAN. The theme is nostalgia for one's childhood. WALKING DISTANCE and KICK THE CAN are "feel good" stories. But YOUNG MAN'S FANCY is a "feel bad story." The story features a newly married couple, both apparently in their mid-forties. The man has a lot of water under the bridge. The woman also has a lot of water under the bridge. It is hard to determine who is nuttier, the man or the woman. Both of them get progressively nuttier during the course of the story. YOUNG MAN'S FANCY takes place in the man's childhood home. The man's life, since he was a toddler, was dominated by his mother. The man shows excessive nostalgia for his mother, her music, her clock, her radio, and for his childhood clothing and toys, saved in a wooden chest by the domineering mother. The story has a plot, namely, the issue of selling of the house. As the story progresses, the man becomes less and less willing to sell the house, because the house and his mother mean so much to him. As the story progresses, the new wife becomes more and more upset, because she realizes that she might be forced to live in the dead mother's house, and to be reminded of the domineering mother. The story has a dramatic, surprising ending. But I won't give it away.
The acting in YOUNG MAN'S FANCY is superb. The newly wed wife, played by PHYLLIS THAXTER, has had a distinguished career (see films below). She was married to the president of CBS-TV/MGM. The actor playing newly wed husband (who misses his mother) has performed in about 50 TV show episodes.
Thirty Seconds over Tokyo (1944)
Week-End at the Waldorf (1945)
Tenth Avenue Angel (1946)
Living in a Big Way (1947)
Blood on the Moon (1948)
Act of Violence (1948)
No Man of Her Own (1950)
The Breaking Point (1950)
Jim Thorpe -- All-American (1951)
Fort Worth (1951)
Women's Prison (1955)
INCREDIBLE WORLD OF HORACE FORD is actually a combination of three other Twilight Zone stories. These three other Twilight Zone stories are NEXT STOP WILLOUGHBY, KICK THE CAN, and MISTER BEVIS. Since NEXT STOP WILLOUGHBY, KICK THE CAN, and MISTER BEVIS, are among the very best of all the Twilight Zone episodes, the result of the combination is a fairly decent story. At any rate, INCREDIBLE WORLD OF HORACE FORD is about a plump, middle aged engineer who works in an office designing children's toys. The man has a little problem. Although he is totally devoted to his craft and profession, he is somewhat lacking in "people skills." Mr.Ford has the continual problem of throwing temper tantrums in front of his boss. The boss is very patient and does not react in any coarse or abusive manner. Mr.Ford receives advice from a co-worker, and from his wife, but eventually he destroys his own career by throwing temper tantrums. The issue is that the boss wants him to alter his engineering designs, but Mr.Ford refuses. This part of the story is like MISTER BEVIS (regarding non-conforming employees) and also like, NEXT STOP WILLOUGHBY (regarding temper tantrums in front of the boss). The acting is first-rate, and the character development is excellent.
Another aspect of INCREDIBLE WORLD OF HORACE FORD is Mr.Ford's habit of wandering away from home to go and visit a nearby neighborhood where he spent his childhood. The neighborhood is beautifully set forth, in that we see an accurate depiction of a typical street scene from the 1920s or 1030s. There are push-carts selling hot dogs, and push-carts selling watermelons. What a beautiful and gorgeous set this is, with such excellent acting. At any rate, when Mr.Ford wanders off to his old neighborhood (in the pursuit of escapism) he sees his childhood friends. During Mr.Ford's second evening visit to his old neighborhood, we see that he has become transformed into a ten year old version of Mr.Ford. This part of the story is like NEXT STOP WILLOUGHBY (regarding being transported to an earlier, nostalgic time) and also like KICK THE CAN (regarding being transported to an earlier, nostalgic time of one's childhood). THREE STARS for INCREDIBLE WORLD OF HORACE FORD.
At one hour, the piece is a bit on the long side, and the story just seems to dwindle away at the end. If you have seen MISTER BEVIS, NEXT STOP WILLOUGHBY, and KICK THE CAN, there is little or no reason to watch INCREDIBLE WORLD OF HORACE FORD. Certainly, if you are going to expose your friends to a Twilight Zone episode, I would never choose INCREDIBLE WORLD OF HORACE FORD. Instead, I would choose TO SERVE MAN, THE FEVER, KICK THE CAN, CAVENDER IS COMING, PERSON OR PERSONS UNKNOWN, or MISTER BEVIS.
THE GIFT. This episode takes place in Mexico. It concerns a space alien who brings a gift to humanity. But the Mexican villagers are alarmed, and eventually kill the space alien. The story is a re-telling of the Christ story from the Bible. But Twilight Zone story is not really convincing. The space alien is just an ordinary Caucasian. He doesn't even have a rubber mask. Also, the space alien has the property of showing no pain, when he is being operated upon by the town's physician, for a bullet wound. But what is inconsistent with this, is that at the end of the movie the Mexican villagers kill the space alien. Also, at the beginning of the story, the space alien kills one of the villagers. Hence, the story has too many confusing elements to be an adequate re-telling of the Christ story. In the hand of another scriptwriter, perhaps, THE GIFT would have made a very decent Twilight Zone episode."