Joe Mantell: Jackie "John" Rhoades
William D. Gordon: George
"Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room" is an episode of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone. According to the book The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic by Martin Grams, Serling wrote the teleplay in response to a request from CBS to write scripts utilizing as few actors as possible for budgetary purposes. This episode was produced $5,000 under budget.
An insecure, unsuccessful gangster named Jackie waits in a cheap, dirty hotel room for his boss, George. George orders Jackie to shoot a barkeeper, or else he will kill Jackie on his return. George then leaves, leaving Jackie wrestling with his conscience. Terrified and frustrated, he starts talking to his reflection in the mirror. He puts a cigarette in his lips, but finds no match.
A puff of smoke comes out from the other side of the mirror and he sees a different version of himself in the reflection -- a strong, self-assured, confident Jackie Rhoades. Jackie looks into the mirror and asks, "Are you talking to me? Are you talking to me?" Jackie and his reflection enter a lengthy argument about how badly his life has turned out as a result of him listening to others and never himself. Jackie stubbornly resists the alternate Jackie's request to take over, and tries to flee, but he sees more mirrors in the hallway, the closet and the bathroom, and his reflection continues to argue with him out of each one. Finally, Jackie backs away in terror from the doppelganger he cannot escape, Jackie's double goes closer and closer to the real Jackie and the screen goes black.
George returns, furious that Jackie hasn't done his job. "Whattaya gotta say for yourself, crumb??", he sneers. Jackie turns around, and responds confidently, "I resign! You can have your gun back plus the following." He then beats up and kicks a surprised George out of the room, along with the gun. Ringing the room clerk to check out, he addresses himself as John Rhoades. He then tells the nervous Jackie, now the one in the mirror, that they're going to make something of their life.
The Jackie Rhoades character is the first to deliver the famous lines "You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me?" while facing a mirror. Most people know these lines from the film Taxi Driver but they first appeared in this episode of The Twilight Zone. John "Jackie" Rhodes is ordered by his crime boss to murder for the first time. Jackie confronts his better self in the mirror who begins talking to him. Jackie's response was the famous lines written by Rod Serling.
Jackie: "You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? Oh yeah. Yeah, sure you are. Now me and the mirror we're havin' a talk. I've had it huh?. All my marbles are gone. This is how it happens."
The FOX sitcom Married...With Children paid homage to this story in the season eight episode, "Proud to Be Your Bud?" where Bud Bundy (David Faustino) builds a portal in his basement room and a clone of himself appears, who tells him that he's a loser and fights with him.
- DeVoe, Bill. (2008). Trivia from The Twilight Zone. Albany, GA: Bear Manor Media. ISBN 978-1-59393-136-0
- Grams, Martin. (2008). The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic. Churchville, MD: OTR Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9703310-9-0
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