Night of the Meek
“Night of the Meek” starring Art Carney is Twilight Zone episode 11 of Season 2. It first aired on December 23th, 1960 on the CBS TV network. The incredibly introspective theme of this episode shows all the traits of the classic Rod Serling writing style. It is seasonal favorite for most Twilight Zone fans.
A Little About Rod Serling
Before we explore the episode “Night of the Meek”, we’d like to share some facts about the brilliant writer and creator Rod Serling.
Rod was a huge fan of Pulp Fiction stories and gobbled up any books and articles he could find. At the same time, he was incredibly interested in themes about social issues such as racism, society, war, psychology and government. All of these ideas combined made his writing immensely deep. It’s very hard to find any writers who were as creative in this way.
“Night of the Meek” – 1960
This is Mr. Henry Corwin, normally unemployed, who once a year takes the lead role in the uniquely popular American institution, that of the department-store Santa Claus in a road-company version of ‘The Night Before Christmas’. But in just a moment Mr. Henry Corwin, ersatz Santa Claus, will enter a strange kind of North Pole which is one part the wondrous spirit of Christmas and one part the magic that can only be found in the Twilight Zone
Night of the Meek Intro – Late and Drunk
Our story begins with Mr. Henry Corwin showing up at his seasonal job as a department store Santa. He is over an hour late and obviously intoxicated! When customers complain, Henry is fired by the store manager, Mr. Dundee. He is also ordered to leave the premises immediately. The Night of the Meek will soon begin
Being fired from his Santa job is extremely upsetting to Henry. He is an alcoholic who lives in a rooming house for the poor and his only joy in life is playing Santa once a year. Henry’s only wish for Christmas is that “The meek inherit the earth”
Henry (as Santa) to Little Boy: “What do you want for Christmas, Percival?”
Percival: “A new first name!”
Night of the Meek – The Discovery
After being fired, Henry retreats to a local bar (still dressed as Santa) and gets promptly ejected by the owner.
As he makes his way into the alley, a stray cat knocks over a large burlap sack filled with wrapped presents. Henry scoops up the sack and proceeds to hand out gifts to random people at a local mission. What a joy!
Dundee notices this activity and quickly informs the police. This can’t be right!…Henry MUST have stolen this merchandise from the store! After police apprehend Henry, they search his sack which appears to be filled with only rusted cans. Oh, what magic!
The angry Mr Dundee then confronts Henry and tells him that if he truly is Santa, he should be able to product a vintage bottle of 1903 brandy from his bag (Dundees’ favorite). Henry reaches into his sack and pulls out the very same brandy! A Christmas miracle!
Henry then proceeds to give out gifts until Midnight, when the sack is empty
One of the gift recipients, Burt (who received a glorious smoking jacket and pipe) asks Henry what HE wants for Christmas. Henry tells him that his wish is that he could do this every year!
As Dundee and the police officer who apprehended Henry leave the store, they both look up and see Henry flying up into the sky with an elf and his trusted sleigh and reindeer. They then retreat to Dundees’ house to drink away their disbelief
Night of the Meek – Closing Narration
“A word to the wise to all the children of the twentieth century, whether their concern be pediatrics or geriatrics, whether they crawl on hands and knees and wear diapers or walk with a cane and comb their beards. There’s a wondrous magic to Christmas and there’s a special power reserved for little people. In short, there’s nothing mightier than the meek. And a Merry Christmas to each and all”
Night of the Meek Cast:
- Art Carney – Henry Corwin
- John Fiedler – Mr. Dundee
- Meg Wyllie – Sister Florence
- Robert P. Lieb – Flaherty the cop
- Val Avery – the Bartender
- Kay Cousins Johnson – Irate Mother
- Burt Mustin – the Old Man (Burt)
The Twilight Zone Trivia
- A Twilight Zone movie was produced by John Landis and Steven Speilberg in 1983. The great actor Vic Marrow lost his life after a helicopter blade decapitated him. The film was narrated by Burgess Meredith
- Producers tried to revive the series in 1985 but after 3 seasons, it was canceled. It just wasn’t the golden age of sci-fi TV any more
- In 1993, a made-for-TV movie called Twilight Zone: Rod Serling’s Lost Classics was released. It featured two of Rod Serling’s works. The narrator was the great James Earl Jones, who also hosted the movie
- Mr Serling invited viewers to submit scripts and he receive over 1,500! He read over 500 of them and two were actually used
- Rod Serling wanted voice actor Richard Egan to do the narration but when Egan reported that he was not available, Rod did it himself
- After naming his show, Rod found out that “The Twilight Zone” was a term already used by US Air Force pilots. It means crossing over from a day sky to a night sky above the earth
- Desi Arnaz was technically the first host of The Twilight Zone. It was DesiLu Productions that produced the show. Thank goodness Rod Serling took control and hosted himself
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