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"Nightmare at 20,000 Feet"
Origin-Gremlin look
Series:The Twilight Zone (Original Series)
Episode:Season 5, Episode 123 (S05E03)
First Aired:October 11, 1963
Teleplay:Richard Matheson
Story:Based on the short story "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" by Richard Matheson
Director:Richard Donner
Music:
Guest Stars:William Shatner (Robert "Bob" Wilson), Christine White (Julia Wilson), Nick Cravat (Gremlin), Edward Kemmer (Flight Engineer), Asa Maynor (Stewardess)
Lead Character:Robert "Bob" Wilson
Previous Episode:Steel
Next Episode:A Kind of a Stopwatch

"Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" is an episode of the The Twilight Zone.

From the CBS Video Library cover:

"Mr. Robert Wilson is a frightened man. He's just been discharged from a sanitarium where he spent six months recovering from a nervous breakdown—a breakdown that occurred during a night flight on a plane very much like the one he has just boarded. Looking out the airplane window, Wilson suddenly sees a bulky, furry creature land on the wing."[1]

(spoken by Robert Wilson): "...Gremlins. Gremlins! I'm not imagining it. He's out there! Don't look, he's not out there now. He jumps away whenever anyone might see him... except me."

Episode Summary

Bob Wilson is a salesman on an airplane for the first time since his nervous breakdown six months ago. Bored, he looks out onto the wing of the plane, and is astonished to see a gremlin on the wing of the plane, tentatively approaching the window from the outside. Wilson closes his window curtain, and soon opens it again. When he reopens his curtain, he is shocked to see the gremlin with its face pressed against the window, staring at him. When he notifies the stewardess, the gremlin vanishes. Wilson looks outside again shortly after, and is horrified when he sees the gremlin is back and is starting to tamper with one of the engines on the wing. Every time someone else looks out the window, the gremlin immediately jumps out of view, so no one believes Wilson's seemingly outrageous claim. Bob realizes his wife is starting to think he needs to go back to the sanitarium. But, also, if nothing is done about the gremlin, it will seriously damage the plane's engine and cause it to crash. Bob steals a sleeping policeman's revolver and opens the window marked, "Auxiliary Exit", and is sucked halfway out the window. This catches the gremlin's attention. The evil creature begins charging at Wilson, but is shot fatally. Once the plane lands, Bob is whisked away in a straitjacket, with a final shot revealing evidence of his claims: the unusual damage to the plane's engine nacelle - yet to be discovered by mechanics.

Closing Narration

"The flight of Mr. Robert Wilson has ended now, a flight not only from point A to point B, but also from the fear of recurring mental breakdown. Mr. Wilson has that fear no longer, though, for the moment, he is, as he said, alone in this assurance. Happily, his conviction will not remain isolated too much longer, for happily, tangible manifestation is very often left as evidence of trespass, even from such an intangible quarter as the Twilight Zone."

Response and Analysis

Often thought of as one of the best episodes. Has been parodied numerous times.

Cast

Production Companies

Distributors

  • Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) (1959) (USA) (TV) (original airing)

Memorable Quotes

Main article: List of memorable quotes from the first series

See Also

Notes and References

Notes

  1. CBS Video Library: Twilight Zone #0310 "Walking Distance/Nightmare at 20,000 Feet/The Midnight Sun/The Purple Testament" ; UPC: 000310060008, EAN: ?, ASIN: ?; Format: NTSC, VHS, Collector's Edition (1987)

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