The Fever (The Twilight Zone)

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Everett Sloane: Franklin Gibbs
Vivi Janiss: Flora Gibbs

"The Fever" is an episode of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone.

Contents

Synopsis

Franklin and his wife Flora go to Las Vegas because she won a slogan contest. He detests gambling, but his wife is excited about their vacation. Franklin is given a coin by a drunk man at the casino, who makes Franklin use it in a slot machine. He wins and tells his wife that they should keep the money and not lose it back like the other people.

As they depart, Franklin believes he hears the slot machine calling his name. He continues to hear this as he tries to sleep. As he imagines his winnings piling up, he decides to try his luck, telling his wife he cannot keep "tainted" money, and that he is going to get rid of it by putting it back in the machine. Later, Flora goes to the casino and finds him playing the machine obsessively. Addicted, Franklin has lost a great deal of their money. When Flora tries to coax him to stop, Franklin declares that he has lost so much, that he has to try to win some of it back. He becomes enraged when she presses for him to leave, declaring that the machine is "inhuman", that it "teases you, sucks you in." Others observe that he has been playing the machine for hours.

Eventually, the slot machine takes his last dollar and breaks down. Franklin begins yelling and attacking the machine to give him back his "last dollar." He is taken out of the casino screaming. Later in bed, Franklin tells Flora that the machine was about to pay off, but deliberately broke down so that it wouldn't have to. He then hears the machine again calling his name. He sees it coming down the hallway to their room, "chasing" him, but Flora cannot see it and believes that he is going crazy. When the machine continues to follow him, repeating his name over and over, "Franklin, Franklin, Franklin!", he backs up towards the window, his hands over his ears, finally crashing through the glass and falling to his death. The police stand over his body, noting that his wife had stated that he had not slept in 24 hours. A casino manager comments that he's "seen a lot of 'em get hooked before, but never like him." The last scene shows Franklin's last dollar rolling up and spinning out flat near his outstretched, dead hand. The camera pans over to the direction where the coin came from and there sits the slot machine "smiling" at him.

Episode notes

In Serling: The Rise and Twilight of Television's Last Angry Man, Gordon F. Sander wrote, "Serling celebrated the signing of his new show, The Twilight Zone by spending a weekend in Las Vegas. While Carol Serling was having good luck nearby, he became enslaved by a merciless one-armed bandit, an incident he would turn into one of his first Twilight Zone episodes.

In future episodes, the slot machine was used in "A Nice Place to Visit" and "The Prime Mover".

This is one of several episodes from Season One with its opening title sequence plastered over with the opening for Season Two. This was done during the Summer of 1961 as to help the season one shows fit in with the new look the show had taken during the following season. This is also one of three Season One episodes with Marius Constant's theme instead of Bernard Hermann's over the closing credits.

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