Successful businessman Paul Radin invites three people from his past to join him in the underground bunker he's built under his commercial office building. All three have had major influence on him though not the kind that made him what he is today. His former military commander had him court-martialed; his former teacher ridiculed and humiliated him in class after she caught him cheating; and his church Minister who ruined his reputation after he drove a girl to suicide. All he wants from them is one thing: a brief apology. The impact of what they've done is far greater than it appears. Written by
Mr. Paul Radin, a dealer in fantasy, who sits in the rubble of his own making and imagines that he's the last man on Earth, doomed to a perdition of unutterable loneliness because a practical joke has turned into a nightmare. Mr. Paul Radin, pallbearer at a funeral that he manufactured himself in the Twilight Zone.
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"One More Pallbearer" is strong in concept but weak in execution. The
tale of a petty, childish man who tries to extract revenge on different
people from his past in a sort of grotesque version of "This is Your
Life" is compelling. So is the final twist, which illustrates the
tragedy of long-held grudges and isolation from one's fellow man. The
story even has the ambiguity and complexity which make the best Zones
great: is Paul Radin really a villain for desiring a simple apology?
Are his three guests self-righteous and unfeeling for not giving it?
The problem is the writing. Serling was at his best when he was simple
and whimsical, at his worst when he aspired to be a junior Arthur
Miller and write High Theater. The script for "Pallbearer" is talky,
long-winded and pretentious. Characters don't converse, they speechify.
Trite metaphors are trotted out. On the positive side, the visual
production has the Cold War, early Sixties TZ look we all know and
love, with steel, concrete, elevators, and TV monitors. The actors are
appropriately cast, even though it's difficult to evaluate their
performances given the labored artificiality of the script.
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