"A Stop of Willoughby" is the thirtieth episode of the The Twilight Zone.
"This is Gart Williams, age thirty-eight, a man protected by a suit of armor, all held together by one bolt. Just a moment ago, someone removed the bolt, and Mr. Williams' protection fell away from him and left him a naked target. He's been cannonaded this afternoon by all the enemies of his life. His insecurity has shelled him, his sensitivity has straddled him with humiliation, his deep-rooted disquiet about his own worth has zeroed in on him, landed on target, and blown him apart. Mr. Gart Williams, ad agency exec, who, in just a moment, will move into the Twilight Zone - in a desperate search for survival."
Gart Williams is a New York advertising executive who has grown exasperated with his career. His overbearing boss, Oliver Misrell, angered by the loss of a major account, lectures him about this "push-push-push" business. Unable to sleep properly at home, he drifts off for a short nap on the train during his daily commute through the November snow. He wakes to find the train stopped and his car now a 19th century railway car, deserted except for himself. The sun is bright outside, and as he looks out the window, he discovers that the train is in a town called Willoughby, and that it's July 1888. He learns that this is a "peaceful, restful place, where a man can slow down to a walk and live his life full measure." Being jerked back awake into the real world, he asks the conductor if he has ever heard of Willoughby, but the conductor replies, "Not on this run...no Willoughby on the line." That night, he has another argument with his shrewish wife, Jane. Selfish, cold and uncaring, she makes him see that he is only a money machine to her. He tells her about his dream and about Willoughby, only to have her ridicule him as being "born too late," declaring it her "miserable tragic error" to have married a man "whose big dream in life is to be Huckleberry Finn." The next week, Williams again dozes off on the train and returns to Willoughby where everything is the same as before. As he is about to get off the train carrying his briefcase, the train begins to roll, returning him to the present. Williams promises himself to get off at Willoughby next time. Experiencing a breakdown at work, he calls his wife, who abandons him in his time of need. On his way home, once again he falls asleep to find himself in Willoughby. This time, as the conductor warmly beckons him to the door, Williams intentionally leaves his briefcase on the train. Getting off the train, he is greeted by name by various inhabitants who welcome him while he tells them he's glad to be there and plans to stay and join their idyllic life. The swinging pendulum of the station clock fades into the swinging lantern of a train engineer, standing over Williams' body. The modern-day conductor explains that Williams "shouted something about Willoughby", just before jumping off the train, and was killed instantly. Williams' body is loaded into a hearse. The back door of the hearse closes to reveal the name of the funeral home: Willoughby & Son Funeral Home.
"Willoughby? Maybe it's wishful thinking nestled in a hidden part of a man's mind, or maybe it's the last stop in the vast design of things - or perhaps, for a man like Mr. Gart Williams, who climbed on a world that went by too fast, it's a place around the bend where he could jump off. Willoughby? Whatever it is, it comes with sunlight and serenity, and is a part of The Twilight Zone."
Preview for Next Week's Story
"In this library, a certain professor sells things: ointments, seves, powders, sovereign remedies, nectars, concoctions, decoctions and potions all guaranteed. Next week, he'll sell one to a lover boy so that he can slip an affectionate mickey into the champagne of his lady love. It sets up a most bizarre and very unexpected chain of events. On The Twilight Zone next week, "The Chaser"."
Preview for Another CBS Show
"Kimberly-Clark invites you to watch Steve McQueen in Wanted: Dead or Alive, Saturday nights over the most of these same stations!"
This one delves more into the superficiality of people and how sometimes a person wants to get away from it all to a simpler, less materialistic, self-centered time. It also talks about paradise and leaves the viewer wondering if Willoughby was heaven or just his imagination.
Often thought of as one of the finest episodes.
- Rod Serling as Narrator (voice only); uncredited
- James Daly as Gart Williams
- Howard Smith as Misrell
- Patricia Donahue as Janie Williams
- Jason Wingreen as 1960 conductor
- Mavis Neal Palmer as Helen [Credited as Mavis Neal]
- James Maloney as 1888 Conductor
- Billy Booth as Short Boy; uncredited
- Ryan Hayes as Engineer; uncredited
- Butch Hengen as Tall Boy; uncredited
- Max Slaten as Man on Wagon; uncredited
- Rod Serling (executive producer: Cayuga Productions)
- Buck Houghton (producer)
- George T. Clemens (director of photography)
- Joseph Gluck (film editor)
- George W. Davis (art director)
- Merrill Pye (art director)
- F. Keogh Gleason (set decorator; credited: Keogh Gleason)
- Henry Grace (set decorator)
- Ralph W. Nelson (production manager)
- Donald C. Klune (assistant director; credited: Don Klune)
- Franklin Milton (sound; credited: Frank Milton)
- Philip Mitchell (sound)
- Van Allen James (sound effects editor; uncredited)
- Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) (1960) (USA) (TV) (original airing)
- United Productions of America (UPA) (animated title)
- The town square still looks today much as it did over a hundred years ago, right down to the statue honoring local Civil War soldiers.
- This is Rod Serling's favorite season one episode.
- Willoughby, Ohio, has a yearly community event involving trains in honor of "A Stop at Willoughby" known as "Last Stop Willoughby".
- Three of the songs played by the band in Willoughby, "Oh! Susanna", "Camptown Races", and "Beautiful Dreamer," are by Stephen Foster. Another is "Listen to the Mockingbird" by Foster's colleague Septimus Winner.
- The train stations called out by the conductor on the 1960 train are real. At the time of the filming, stations such as "Stamford" and "Westport & Saugatuck" were stations on the New Haven Railroad. They continue to exist as of June 2013 as stations on the Metro North Railroad. However, present day maps, station signs and conductors, do not mention Saugatuck in the station name.