Kick the Can is an episode of the television series The Twilight Zone.
Episode number: 86
Production code: 4821
Original air date: February 9, 1962
Writer: George Clayton Johnson
Director: Lamont Johnson
Music: stock (many cues taken from Bernard Herrmann's score to Walking Distance)
Charles Whitley: Ernest Truex
Mr. Cox:John Marley
Ben Conroy:Russell Collins
Charles Whitley, a resident of the Sunnyvale Rest Home, thinks that he has discovered the secret to staying young. He is convinced that if he acts young then he will become young. The game of kick the can transforms him and his friends back into children, except for his best friend, Ben Conroy, who didn't believe.
- Playing Charles Whitley's son is Barry Truex , Ernest Truex's real-life son.
- Shortly after this episode aired, George Clayton Johnson got an idea for an expanded ending to the story. "What will become of these children who have been magically transformed from old to young?" he asked.
- "I propose adding the following scenes:
- At first the playing children run excitedly as they play "Kick the Can." But now it begins to grow late. They are tired. They are hungry. However, there are no beds for them in this town, since they lived here as children many decades ago. One of the children wants to go to the bathroom. The smallest one begins to cry. All the fun is gone.
- There is only one place for them to seek refuge from the cold and the night: the old folks' home. They sneak back inside to sleep. One of them asks fearfully, "Will it be all right, Charles? Are we doing the right thing?"
- "Yes," says Charles, realizing what will happen, "It will be all right."
- They say their prayers: "Now I lay me down to sleep I pray the Lord my soul to keep..."
- As they close their eyes, we see another transformation as the children once again become old people.
- And now Mr. Conroy and Mr. Cox return from looking for the old people to discover them sleeping soundly in their beds. Mr. Conroy, who was convinced that his friends had become children, now reverts to his practical-minded self. With relief they tiptoe away so that the old people can get their well-deserved rest."
A variation of Johnson's new ending was eventually filmed as Steven Spielberg's segment of Twilight Zone: The Movie.
A comment on the nature of old age, stating that it is the consequence of playing it safe and not taking the risks associated with youth. Similar themes are explored in Ninety Years Without Slumbering . Also present is the suggestion that if one doesn't believe in miracles, one is likely to miss out on them, a theme first seen in The Big Tall Wish.
- Zicree, Marc Scott: The Twilight Zone Companion. Sillman-James Press, 1982 (second edition)
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