Director: John Brahm
Writer: Rod Serling
Cast: Harry Townes, Phillip Pine, Ross Martin, Don Gordon, Harry Jackson, Bernard Fein, Peter Brocco, Milton Frome, and Beverly Garland
Composer: Jerry Goldsmith
Air Date: 1/1/1960
Production Code: 173-3618
Able to transform his face at will, criminal Arch Hammer (Harry Townes) has all but perfected his con routine. Having aroused the affections of a beautiful woman named Maggie (Beverly Garland), Hammer now feels confident enough to defraud mob boss Penell (Bernard Fein) by impersonating his dead partner. Upon assuming the visage of boxer Andy Marshak (Don Gordon), however, Hammer is forced to confront Mr. Marshak (Peter Brocco), the vengeful father of said boxer.
“The Four of Us Are Dying” leaves a number of questions unanswered; likewise, Rod Serling’s final plot twist lacks the supporting tension to deliver a lasting impact. That being said, this episode operates on a fascinating premise that will no doubt appeal to many fans of The Twilight Zone.
By following an episodic structure, “The Four of Us Are Dying” allows for all of Arch Hammer’s personas to develop as would actual characters. In one especially touching vignette, Maggie is given the chance to set aside her mourning, at least temporarily, upon being “reunited” with her deceased lover Johnny Foster (Ross Martin). Also worth mentioning is the confrontation between Hammer and Mr. Marshak, the latter of whom weaves a sympathetic narrative that will cause sensitive viewers to feel contempt for his good-for-nothing son.
From a logical standpoint, “The Four of Us Are Dying” is hampered by one significant flaw: Hammer appears to possess a remarkable amount of knowledge concerning those he imitates, even though his only confirmed information sources are the tidbits he happens to obtain from random newspaper clippings. To give an example of such, the impersonation of Johnny Foster is evidently realistic enough to convince Maggie despite the fact that Hammer never claims to have known the decedent on a personal level. Hammer later proceeds to rip off a crime boss after assuming the identity of a murdered accomplice; however, this too is problematic given that Hammer’s description of the murder in question seems far too precise to have originated from a second-hand account.
A clever commentary on identity theft, “The Four of Us Are Dying” details the harrowing consequences that can ensue should one choose to commit such a crime for personal gain (of course, this message is delivered through a fantastic set of circumstances befitting The Twilight Zone’s usual subject matter).
Though underwhelming in its final moments, “The Four of Us Are Dying” benefits from many outstanding performances. Exceptionally commendable is Peter Brocco’s portrayal of a distraught father, whose inability to forgive his son results in a tragic (or perhaps not-so-tragic) mishap.
Overall Quality: 7/10
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