Director: Alan Grosland Jr.
Writer: Rod Serling
Cast: James Coburn, John Anderson, Josie Lloyd, John Craven, and John Marley
Composer: None (Stock Music)
Air Date: 11/8/1963
Production Code: 2603
Surviving after a nuclear war, a man named Goldsmith (John Anderson) and a small group of settlers follow the advice of an unseen man in a cave. Incredulous of the old man, Major French (James Coburn) and his fellow soldiers assume command of the settlement—with a harrowing outcome.
A post-apocalyptic parable, “The Old Man in the Cave” challenges the supposed incompatibility of religion with modern science. In addition to its thought-provoking premise, this episode benefits from topnotch acting, riveting drama, and a clever use of sci-fi/horror tropes.
Despite relying on copious exposition, “The Old Man in the Cave” should captivate the viewer with its intense, albeit contrasting, performances from James Coburn and John Anderson (“A Passage for Trumpet,” “The Odyssey of Flight 33,” and “Of Late I Think of Cliffordville”). Specifically, the careful and wise leadership of Anderson’s character results in a vicious conflict with Major French, who, as portrayed by Coburn, embodies the arrogance and mockery of a hardened skeptic—a dramatic depiction of two authority figures, one religious and the other a man of science, fighting for survival through opposite means.
“The Old Man in the Cave” deserves praise for its imaginative twist in the climactic scene. Nevertheless, the ending of this episode is tainted by a preachy, heavy-handed monologue from Anderson’s character, who explains an obvious fact to the audience.
Implying that faith in a higher power can offer practical value to those in need of guidance, “The Old Man in the Cave” indicates that respecting tradition, refraining from degeneracy, and adhering to a strict code of ethics are essential to maintaining society in the long term.
“The Old Man in the Cave” is a haunting episode with a profound cautionary message. Fans of The Twilight Zone may, however, take issue with this offering for its occasional lack of subtlety.
Overall Quality: 9/10
If you enjoyed this post, please enter your email address in the subscription box to stay tuned for more updates.