The Twilight Zone has always been a treasure trove of thought-provoking stories and memorable performances. Although the show featured many well-known, talented actors with great stories, for me, Jack Klugman's episodes, the writing, and his acting have always been among my top favorites of the series. Klugman starred in four Twilight Zone episodes, A Game of Pool, Death Ship, In Praise of Pip, and A Passage for Trumpet.
"Meet Joey Crown, a musician with an odd, intense face, whose life is a quest for impossible things. Like flowers in concrete or like trying to pluck a note of music out of the air and put it under glass to treasure." - Rod Serling
In A Passage for Trumpet, we are introduced to Joey Crown, a down-on-his-luck trumpet player battling depression and alcoholism. At the end of his rope, Joey decides to end his life by stepping in front of a truck. However, instead of meeting his end, he finds himself in a strange world where he appears invisible to everyone, except for a fellow musician who offers him some much-needed assistance.
“Me and the horn, we got a lot of years left." -Joey Crown
"I got some nice music in here. You know yourself when I pick it up, I can make’em cry!" - Joey Crown
“Half of me is this horn. I can’t even talk to people, Baron, cause this horn, that’s half my language.” - Joey Crown
"For old times when you had it, a magic horn. Harry James, and Max Cominsky and Butterfield, a little bit of all of ‘em baby. You traded it for some bad hooch, and you got took. You got the crummy end of the stick." - Baron
"When I'm drunk, boy. I don't see the dirty walls or cracked pipes. I don't know the clock's going, that the hours are going by. 'Cause then I'm Gabriel. Oh, I'm Gabriel with a golden horn. And when I put it to my lips, it comes out jeweled. Comes out a symphony. Comes out the smell of fresh flowers in summer. Comes out beauty ...Beauty. Only when I'm drunk." - Joey Crown
"Joey Crown, musician, with an odd, intense face, who in a moment will try to leave the earth and discover the middle ground, the place we call The Twilight Zone." - Rod Serling
"Take what you get, and you live with it. Sometimes it’s sweet frosting, nice gravy. Sometimes it’s sour, goes down hard, but you live with it, Joey." - Gabriel
From Rod Serling's opening and closing narration to the dialogues delivered by the actors, 'A Passage for Trumpet' feels like a Shakespearean play, with its protagonist, Joey Crown, wrestling with his inner demons, torn between the choices of life and death. And just like a Shakespearean drama, this episode features a captivating supernatural element in the form of an angel.
"I gave it up this morning, but I'm taking her back. The bugle and me till death do us part." - Joey Crown
Alongside Klugman, 'A Passage for Trumpet' stars John Anderson as the angel Gabriel. Many Star Trek fans will remember Anderson as the powerful Douwd, an immortal who took on the human identity of Kevin Uxbridge on Rana IV, in Star Trek: The Next Generation (S3 Ep3 The Survivors).
The episode also stars Frank Wolff (Rawhide), Mary Webster (The Tin Star), and Ned Glass as the pawnshop owner. Many Westside Story fans will best remember Glass as Doc, the owner of the soda shop where Tony worked and the infamous Jets would hang out.
"Joey Crown, who makes music and who discovered something about life, that it can be rich, rewarding, and full of beauty. Just like the music he played. If a person would only pause to look and listen. Joey Crown, who got his clue in the Twilight Zone."
- Rod Serling
A Passage for Trumpet may not be the most well-known episode, but it has remained popular among sci-fi and Rod Serling fans due to its Shakespearean-like theme, captivating supernatural elements, and memorable performances. This episode serves as a testament to the lasting legacy of the TV series, which was directed by Don Medford and written by Rod Serling, who also narrates the show. The episode (Season 1 Episode 32) originally aired on May 20, 1960, and is available on Paramount+.
As always, thanks for reading, and if you're a fan of this episode, comment below and let me know your thoughts.
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