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Exploring The Twilight Zone #117: The Incredible World of Horace Ford

By  · Published on December 6th, 2011

With the entire original run of The Twilight Zone available to watch instantly, we’re partnering with Twitch Film to cover all of the show’s 156 episodes. Are you brave enough to watch them all with us?

The Twilight Zone (Episode #117): “The Incredible World of Horace Ford” (airdate 4/18/63)

The Plot: Everything was perpetually better decades ago.

The Goods: For a moment, think back on your childhood. The moments that made you who you are and the sheer joy of being new in this world. Reach out your hand, and you can almost feel the glory days. You can almost taste the water from the hose. You can almost tell the warmth of the sun is on your back.

It’s a nice portrait. No matter how fake it is.

Horace Ford (Pat Hingle) sees the same painting, and his life is consumed by it. The toymaker is obsessed with his past, but without a sweet time machine he’s relegated to viewing the world of his youth through red, rosy glasses.

There’s not a lot of meat to this dream-like tale, and it all floats on alright. The real punch is in the message – that the things that have already been seen aren’t as good as you see them now. After desperately clinging to a false reality, Ford winds up magically heading to his childhood where he sees the idyllic playground of yore, and the idyllic bullies that kick his ass (of yore).

It’s an interesting lesson to learn because it affects things by not affecting them. There’s no way to change the past, so viewing it anyway you want can’t harm anyone, but self-delusion (like anything else) has its limits. For Ford, his lies to himself have made his life in the present far worse than it should be. All it takes is a little direct clarity, and he’s fixed.

The correlation is incredibly apt for movie fans. Imagine the movies you hold dear, especially the ones from your youth. Are they really all that wonderful, or did they simply have a strong effect on you at that impressionable age? It’s a fun question, and there are definitely cases where we see our favorite pieces of art through tinted glasses (and not just the 3D kind). All it takes is a little clarity, and a screening in the present of a love of the past.

What do you think?

The Trivia: Wanna talk about seeing the past wrong, while we normally think of time as progressing in what we can show and talk about in our screen art, this episode was a remake of an earlier episode of Westinghouse Studio One back in the chipper, unblemished 1950s. This version altered the ending to make it happier so that the one shown in the 50s was actually a bit darker, and a bit more complex. Tables, turned.

On the Next Episode: Rescue finally comes after decades on a planet with two suns.

Catch-Up: Episodes covered by Twitch / Episodes covered by FSR

We’re running through all 156 of the original Twilight Zone episodes over the next several weeks, and we won’t be doing it alone! Our friends at Twitch will be entering the Zone as well on alternating weeks. So definitely tune in over at Twitch and feel free to also follow along on our Twitter accounts @twitchfilm and @rejectnation.

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Movie stuff at VanityFair, Thrillist, IndieWire, Film School Rejects, and The Broken Projector Podcast@brokenprojector | Writing short stories at Adventitious.