A World of His Own
Gregory West – Keenan Wynn
Victoria West – Phyllis Kirk
Mary – Mary LaRoche
Narrator/Himself/Host – Rod Serling
Elephant – Modoc
As Rod is talking we pan from the outside of a house, to the inside and then to a man. Mr. Gregory West. Mr. West is sitting and an attractive young lady is mixing him a drink.
The home of Mr. Gregory West, one of America’s most noted playwrights. The office of Mr. Gregory West. Mr. Gregory West. Shy, quiet and, at the moment, very happy. Mary. Warm, affectionate.
Gregory is watching Mary. she tells him he should be working. He playfully complains that she’s nagging him. She tells him that she’s only thinking of posterity but he wants her to think of him instead. She answers back, “Don’t I always?” and he responds that yes, she does. She takes a drink of the martini and he asks if it’s dry enough. She says “We’ll let the master decide” and hands it to him. He says it’s perfect, like always. She asks him if he’s describing himself. He toasts the glass to her and says, “We’ll let the mistress decide”. They cuddle up on the couch.
Outside the window, however, a very elegant woman watches them in astonishment. I’m guessing “mistress” was a little more literal than I thought.
And the final ingredient, Mrs. Gregory West.
Mrs. Gregory West does not look happy. Can’t say I blame her. While they’re snuggling on the couch, Gregory and Mary hear doors open and close. They look a little surprised. Then a woman’s voice calls, “Gregory?” and Gregory drops his glass. Methinks he didn’t expect the Mrs. home so soon. Mary says, “No, not again.” but Gregory replies that he has no choice. Mary asks him if he’s so afraid. Meanwhile, Mrs. West is knocking and asking if he’s working, in a very sweet voice. Gregory goes to his desk and Mary, obviously upset, stares at the fire.
Mrs. West is still knocking. She says she’ll only be a moment. She just wants to come in and…kiss him. I’m guessing with her knuckles. Or palm, since she looks like a lady. Gregory opens the door with a pair of scissors but he puts them in his pocket. So they’re not for Mrs. West. He opens the door for her and starts to say something along the lines of “I wasn’t expecting you back so soon.”
Mrs. West charges into the room and is surprised to find it empty. Gregory looks a bit smug and he asks her if anything’s wrong. He asks why she’s home so early, didn’t she like the movie? She says no, not much. I know some people enjoy it but I honestly don’t think I’ve ever gone to a movie alone. She tries to be nonchalant as she peeks behind the changing screen (why there’s one in a writing studio I have no idea) and patting the curtains down. Gregory tinkers with his Dictaphone. Heh heh.
She notes that he’s dropped a glass. He agrees but doesn’t move to clean it up. She checks under an end table that I highly doubt would hide a kid, let alone a full-grown woman. Then she starts rapping on the wall a bit, checking for a secret room or something. I’ve always wanted to build one of those and put some really freaky stuff inside to scare the hell out of the next owners. Anyways, Gregory wants to know if she’s looking for something. She says no, she’s just checking for dust and seeing if the walls are ok. Gregory tries to sneakily put away his scissors but she catches him. Why he’s even trying to be sneaky about it is beyond me. They’re just scissors. She flat out asks about a secret door and he asks why on earth would he need a secret door. She peeks around the desk where he’s sitting. She looks pretty cute and funny with how casual she’s trying to look.
He asks again if anything is wrong. She says she might be hallucinating things. She says that she was standing outside of the window a bit ago and he’ll never believe what she saw. Or what she thought she saw. This gets his attention and breaks his smugness a bit. He asks what it was. She says that she thought she saw a woman in his arms. They both have a chuckle at this. She goes on to describe the woman who handed him a drink and canoodled with him on the couch. She was a blond with a frumpy shirt and tacky little peasant skirt. As she’s speaking she takes off her gloves and sits by him on the couch. She says that for a hallucination it had a remarkable amount of detail. Then Mrs. West goes on to say that the funniest thing was that a man of his taste could be attracted to a drab and ugly little creature.
While I kind of agree with her on the clothes there’s no way that woman could be described as drab and ugly so she’s clearly trying to get a rise out of him. Which works. He says that she’s not so drab. A-ha! the Mrs. exclaims. She starts (justifiably) leaning over him with righteous indignation. She says she’s been watching him for some time now. And now she wants to know where she is. He says that he can explain and it’s not what she thinks (it never is, is it?).
He asks if she remembers an early play of his called ‘Fury in the Night’ and a character called Phillip Wainwright. She rolls her eyes and says yes. Then she pops up and asks the woman’s name. When he plays dumb she thwacks him with the end of her stole and insists on the name. Gregory says that her name is Mary. She says what a surprise! How common of a name! Gregory has her sit down to listen to him. He says that while doing that play the characters come so alive, so vivid that they take on minds of their own. The playwright might work out things for them to do but the characters are so alive that they refuse to do it. She tells him, more patiently than I probably would be, what the heck this has to do with Mary. He begs her to bear with him to which she shoots back, “I’ve born with you for years.”
He tells her that the character of Phillip Wainwright was the first character he wrote that behaved that way. She tells him to stop trying to change the subject. He says this is the subject. He tells her that one evening, while working on the play, Phillip Wainwright literally walked through his office door. She scoffs a bit at this but he says she’s got to believe him. He tells her that Phillip Wainwright walked in, sat down and was a real flesh and blood man. Victoria starts to walk toward the phone to call for a psychiatric ambulance. He insists that he has seen his creations, spoken to them. Even shaken their hand. That would be quite handy for a playwright or author. Well, maybe not a horror author. I don’t think I’d want Cthulhu bopping in through my front door or The Dunwich Horror smashing it flat. She says yes, and even made love to them, too. He says yes and she slams the phone down on the fingers that are holding the cradle down. He quickly says no, that she knows how he works. He describes the characters, dialogue and stage ideas. If he describes the character well enough they literally came to life. He says he doesn’t even have to describe characters in his plays anymore. Now he can create any character that he likes. Victoria says that he should be put away and starts to head for the door.
He stops her and says that Victoria saw Mary there, correct? She says yes. He asks where she could have gone. Victoria says that’s what she’s trying to find out. Gregory points out that she could not have gone out of the window, she could not have gone out of the door and there are no secret compartments. He says that what he does is describe Mary into the Dictaphone (snicker) and when he wants her gone (which seems slightly icky) he snips off the piece of tape on which she is described, rolls it into a little ball and throws it into the fire. Now we know why Mary was looking so despondent at the fire earlier. Victoria stares at him for a moment then declares she’s going to have him committed. She goes for the door but he beats her there and grabs the key from the door. She wants to know what exactly he’s doing and he says, very nobly, that he’s trying to save their marriage.
Gregory grabs the Dictaphone and says he can describe any animal or character he wants but he’ll describe Mary as he’s described her so often that she’ll be readily available. “I’ll bet”, chimes in his wife. Then demands the key. While he’s describing Mary and waxing rhapsodic about her his wife snatches the key from his pocket and heads for the door. As Victoria opens the study door Gregory is describing Mary’s actions of coming through the front door. Victoria is startled by hearing the doors open and close exactly as he describes. Although, if he’s trying to convince Victoria that it is ‘magic’ I would think it would be better to have her appear right in the room. Mary comes through the door, pleased at seeing Gregory again. Then she looks at Victoria behind the door and Victoria looks back they both give Gregory a goggle eye look that’s pretty funny. Mary graciously says hello to Mrs. West and the looks they each give Gregory are kind of amusing. Mary looks at him like, “Wtf is going on?” and Victoria seems stunned. Whether from Mary’s visit or from Gregory’s boldness at summoning her there I’m not sure.
Gregory smugly twirls his Dictaphone (snicker, I’m sorry, I can’t help it!) and then plucks the key from Victoria’s hand and asks, “Well?” Mary asks why he’s brought here there, now. She’s still standing in the doorway so he invites her in. So, what? She’a a vampire and a Tulpa? Mary enters and tells Mrs. West that there’s nothing to be afraid of. Victoria isn’t buying it, though. She thinks Gregory is trying to drive her crazy. See? It would have been better for Mary to materialize in front of Victoria. She says he wants to have her committed. He protests that he only did it because she was going to have him committed. She says he wants to have her committed so he can hare their property with this…this…and makes a couple of wild gestures at Mary. Mary asks if this is why he called her there, just to show Victoria? She looks pretty bummed and I don’t blame her. I also feel bad for Victoria. Technically (I suppose) cheating with your imagination isn’t technically cheating but if that ‘fantasy’ is turned into a full-blown woman then there’s some ethical gray areas there that are somewhat uncomfortable. To me at least. Plus, Gregory is so damned smug about it that I kind of hope the Mrs. and the Mistress run off together, leaving Gregory to play with his Dictaphone alone.
Gregory asks Mary to try to understand, after all, Victoria is his wife. She says “Not anymore I’m not!” not after the diabolical plot against her to gaslight her. He asks Victoria that she couldn’t possibly believe that he wants Mary (right in front of Mary, ouch). Victoria says yes and heads for the door. Gregory says here we go again and rushes to lock the door. Although I’m not sure when he got the key back. Victoria took it and opened the door and I don’t recall him getting it back. Must have been Plot Magic. He locks the door and Victoria demands to be let out. Gregory goes to his Dictaphone to snip his tape. Mary says, “Again? Why does he do this to her?” I kind of want to hug her. She looks so sad. I’d hug Victoria also but she seems much more self-confident. Greg just keeps saying, “What else can I do?” and she replies that that’s all he ever says.
Gregory is a bit angry at Victoria for making him summon Mary just to make her leave again. Just to prove that he’s telling the truth. Mary begs Greg to not bring her back again, please. It hurts her every time he makes her leave. Poor Mary. Gregory says, blah blah, Victoria is my wife. Then tosses the Mary tape in the fire, where it It poofs into a shower of sparks. Would celluloid do that? I would think it would just melt.
Mary slowly fades from sight. Right in front of Victoria. Victoria is confounded and keeps asking where Mary went and Gregory just keeps saying “I told you”. Gregory says he ‘uncreated’ Mary. Victoria says “Oh, dear” and rubs her eyes. Gregory comes to her and puts his arms around her and says he will never do it again. The first time he did it he did it because he was lonely. He tells Victoria that she’s flawless, impeccable and he felt inferior. Well, goodness knows you can’t talk about that with your wife! As he’s pouring out his excuses, er, feelings, Victoria sneaks the key from his pocket again. He says he didn’t create Mary to hurt Victoria’s feelings. He just wanted someone he felt more comfortable with. and since all we have seen of Mary is that she serves him drinks, calls him Master, and only wants to be by his side then I guess the only kind of woman he feels comfortable with is one whom isn’t above or an equal to him but adores him.
Victoria gives a very insincere “Awww” as Gregory goes on with his woes. He asks if she understands and she says oh yes, in the tone of someone humouring a lunatic. He says he guesses that it’s his own fault…but trails off when he sees Victoria has moved toward the door. He asks what she’s doing and she responds that she’s going for the nearest lawyer and don’t try to stop her. She’s going to have him put away for the rest of his unnatural life. Shetells him that she’s going to live in perfect harmony in this house, away from him and his Dictaphone. “No, Victoria!” “Yes, Victoria” she replies. I rather like Victoria. She’s witty and (for the time, I’m guessing) quite stylish. I do like Mary also, but she brings out sympathy rather than applause.
She stops outside the door and hears him Dick-tating into his recorder that a large, red-eyed elephant is standing in the hall and will not let her pass. why the red eyes? I think an elephant in the hallway would be startling enough. She yells through the door at Gregory to not be ridiculous. But when she turns around there, indeed, is an elephant in her way. It’s black and white film so I can’t tell if it’s eyes are red or not. Victoria is duly shocked and screams.
She whips back into the study and to give the actress credit, it does not appear to be an integrated scene so I give her props for being that close to an elephant in a closed in area. Gregory looks quite pleased with himself. She calms herself quickly and asks Gregory, politely, if he will please remove the elephant from her hallway? He teasingly asks if she will stay and she nods. You hear one last trumpet that is quickly cut off when Gregory snips the tape and chucks it into the fire. Poor Mumbo. Victoria peeks back out to check to see if the elephant is really gone. She sees nothing but an empty hall. Then, oddly, she calls him stark, staring, raving mad. Um, you just saw an elephant in the hall and he’s the crazy one?
I think part of why Gregory rubs me the wrong way (besides the obvious) is he seems so damn smug about it. He tells her with a very creepy smile that she should not say those kinds of things. Then he asks if she’ll stay. She tells him that she’s leaving and turns to go. He threatens her with the elephant again and she stops and says that she’ll stay…for now. She says, though, that the first chance she gets she’ll see that he gets put away. He throws up his hands and says, “I know, There’s nothing else to do then.” He goes to the bookshelf and moves some fake books to reveal a safe. Which is freaking cool. And I must admit that I’m jealous. I’ve always wanted an honest to goodness library, complete with the cool rolling ladder. His isn’t quite that grand, however. She asks how long that’s been there and he says since they were married.
He takes out an envelope with the name ‘Victoria West’ on the front. She asks him what it means. He opens it and pulls out some tape, hinting that Victoria herself is a creation of his. He wants to know whether he should put it back in the safe or throw it on the fire? Which I think he means in a divorce sense but it sounds rather like a death threat. She, of course, does not believe him. I will say that she seems a little thick-headed by now. Even if she could pass off Mary disappearing as a trick how in the heck does she explain the elephant? He tells her to look at herself. Beautiful and regal and could have any man in the world she wanted. Hasn’t she ever wondered what she’s doing with him? She gives a nod. He tells her that she is everything he used to think he wanted in a wife.
Victoria asks if this is another of his tawdry little tricks. He asks why does she think he was upset that she came back early? It wasn’t because of Mary but because it was the first time Victoria had done so against his will. The very first time. She wants to know if he thinks he’s frightening her. He says no, she’s beyond that, he made her too strong. He says he forgot to add a little human frailty. He says he’ll put the envelope back into the safe. She snatches it from his hand and asks him if he’d like to know what she thinks of his foolishness? Then she flings the envelope into the fire. He freaks out and tries to grab it out. She looks rather pleased with herself. But as she walks away she feels strange and says “Oh, Greg”. She feels so strange and is now asking him if he means to tell her that he was telling her the truth? Um, yeah? The elephant didn’t convince you? Then she disappears.
Gregory mutters to himself that he warned her, he told her, and rushes to the Dictaphone. He starts to recreate Victoria but changes his mind. Then he decides to leave “well enough alone” and begins creating Mary again. Except that now she is Mrs. Mary West. So, how long before you get tired of Mary and create another woman? As he walks around with the Dictaphone I kind of wish he would trip over the cord.
We hope you enjoyed tonight’s romantic story on the Twilight Zone.
At the same time we want you to realize that it was, of course, purely fictional. In real life such nonsense could never…
Gregory clucks his tongue and says “You shouldn’t say that. I mean, you shouldn’t say such things as ‘nonsense’ and ‘ridiculous’.”
As he speaks he pulls an envelope from the safe marked ‘Rod Serling’, pulls some tape from it and tosses it on the fire.
Well, that’s the way it goes…
Gregory sits back on the couch to take his martini glass from the new Mrs. Mary West. I can’t help but wonder if anyone has cleaned up the broken glass yet.
Leaving Mr. Gregory West, still shy, quiet, very happy and, apparently in complete control of the Twilight Zone.
This is a somewhat different Twilight Zone. Very meta for it’s time and Serling actually looks happy and relaxed. I can’t help but think if this was Rod thumbing his nose a bit at the studios since I’m sure they wished they could get rid of him just as easily. It also has a weird vibe to it. Slightly comedic and slightly off-putting. One more thing that makes it stand out. Mostly the hapless people that get caught up in the Twilight Zone have no choice in the matter. They are stuck there until either failure or rescue. Not Gregory, apparently.
So ends Season One of The Twilight Zone. Stay tuned next week for Season Two’s first episode: King Nine Will Not Return
I’m quite excited to be moving on to season two as seasons two, three and four have some of the best episodes ever aired on television.