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Twilight Zone: The Fever (1960)

Reviewed by Geno McGahee

“That monster stole my dollar!”—Franklin (Everett Sloane)


Everett Sloane owned this tale. When he is on the screen, he steals it and when he erupts at his wife, it’s hilarious, as he calls her a “shrew” and demands that she leaves his side because she is bad luck. When he gets dragged away from the casino and screams over a dollar, it is fantastic. This tale is great and I can’t see giving it anything other than a perfect rating. 

Everyone knows somebody with a gambling problem. In fact, most of my family has a gambling problem. How many times do you see an elderly man, high on Viagra, screaming “let it ride” while playing Bingo, only to later find out that “let it ride” refers to a totally different sort of game? Rod Serling captured the issue of gambling in an episode called “The Fever,” which is one of my favorite Twilight Zone Episodes ever.

We begin with Franklin (Everett Sloane) and Flora (Vivi Janiss) Gibbs, winners of an all expense paid trip to Las Vegas. The only problem is that Franklin is against gambling, believing it to be a waste and immoral. When his wife places a nickel into the machine, he throws a tantrum and openly comments just how stupid and foolish she is and how all the people that do this sort of thing are morons. She takes the chance and loses.

Franklin on his way back to the hotel room gets stopped by a drunk who puts a dollar coin into his hand and places it into the machine and he reluctantly pulls the lever. He wins, and vows to quit with his winnings a happy man, but the temptation gets the best of him and he returns to the casino, where he gets the fever.

Writing check after check, he clears out his bank account and when he is down to his last dollar, the machine malfunctions and he loses the play, driving him insane. He tips over the slot machine and is dragged away by security. It felt good to see him do it though. Slot machines have gotten the better of me in the past and it was nice to see sweet revenge occur, even if it were merely vicarious. Those @$@#$ing one armed bandits!

My favorite part of this entire tale is when Franklin becomes consumed with the casino and the slot machine begins tormenting him, saying “Franklin” in a creepy, robotic-like voice. “Franklin, Franklin, Franklin, Franklin.” It is very amusing and you wonder why Gibbs is running from it. It is only a slot machine and he knocked it over once. He could do it again…but then again, he was going crazy and wasn’t thinking straight.

Leave Franklin alone you stupid slot machine!

Ringside Report Rating:  10/10

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