Director: Montgomery Pittman
Writer: Charles Beaumont
Cast: Warren Stevens, Richard Devon, Joan Marshall, Ben Wright, Harry Swoger, Ron Hagerthy, Florence Marley, and Joe Mell
Composer: None (Stock Music)
Air Date: 1/19/1962
Production Code: 4824
One evening, hobo Nate Bledsoe (Warren Stevens) discovers a pair of loafers owned by a recently murdered criminal. Upon wearing the shoes, Nate—now possessed by the dead mobster—wastes no time in confronting Bernie Dagget (Richard Devon), the man responsible for killing said mobster.
Applying a clever twist on the premise for Black Friday (1940), “Dead Man’s Shoes” will appeal to fans of the gangster movie genre. This offering does, however, fail to generate an adequate level of tension leading into the climactic showdown.
Despite operating from a fantastic narrative, this season-three installment maintains an air of realism due to the performance of Warren Stevens—known to science fiction enthusiasts for appearing in Forbidden Planet and “By Any Other Name” from Star Trek: The Original Series. Specifically, by abruptly transitioning between the personalities of Nate Bledsoe—a scared and confused homeless man—and a confident, cold-blooded killer known as Dane, the main actor reinforces the concept of two individuals, one living and the other deceased, inhabiting the same body at different times.
(Spoilers beyond this point)
In addition to being anticlimactic, the confrontation in Bernie’s office should be criticized for one important reason: Nate Bledsoe, presumably an innocent character in spite of his minor theft, is ultimately killed for the actions of Dane—a hardened criminal with no conscience. Viewers may therefore take issue with the finale of this episode, which fails to conclude in a just, satisfying manner.
By throwing away his second chance at life in order to settle an old score, the character of Dane serves to warn against consuming oneself with bitter, vengeful desires instead of enjoying the benefits that the world has to offer.
For putting a literal spin on the shoe-on-the-other-foot trope, writer Charles Beaumont deserves praise from fans of The Twilight Zone. Nevertheless, “Dead Man’s Shoes” should be noted for its underwhelming execution.
Overall Quality: 7/10
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