The Man in the Bottle

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Luther Adler: Arthur Castle
Vivi Janiss: Edna Castle
Joseph Ruskin: Genie
Peter Coe: First German
Lisa Golm: Mrs. Gumley
Albert Szabo: Second German
Olan Soule: IRS agent

"The Man in the Bottle" is an episode of the American television series The Twilight Zone. The 1967 film Bedazzled uses a very similar plot.

Contents

Synopsis

A downtrodden pawnbroker and his wife are offered four wishes by a genie. Distrustful, they use their first wish to repair a broken glass cabinet to prove the genie's power. They then wish for one million dollars, but after they give tens of thousands away to their friends, the tax man comes to claim the rest, which is $942,640, leaving them with $5.

The genie warns them that every wish has consequences, and that they should consider carefully before making a wish. The husband makes his third wish, to be the leader of a modern, powerful country in which he cannot be "voted out of office"—and finds himself as Adolf Hitler in the last days of World War II, hiding in a Berlin bunker and contemplating suicide. He uses the fourth and final wish to wish that "none of this ever happened", canceling the third wish and returning him safely home, discovering the wine bottle the genie emerged from has shattered to pieces.

The couple ends up with nothing to show for the experience, except for a changed perspective on life and the repaired cabinet which, as fate would have it, the pawnbroker accidentally breaks. However, given their just concluded bizarre experience, they accept the accident with good humor.

Serling's closing narration begins after the pawnbroker disposes of the bottle's remains into a trash can outside his shop. Slowly, the genie's smoke "reforms" the bottle into a whole one again—awaiting its next opportunity to grant a new "master" four wishes.

Actors

Luther Adler had previously portrayed Hitler in two 1951 feature films: The Magic Face, a fantasy about a European impersonator who somehow manages to murder "der Fuehrer", and then assumes his identity, and The Desert Fox, a drama about Erwin Rommel.

Plot origin

The short story The Bottle Imp (1891) by Robert Louis Stevenson also features a container with supernatural power to grant the wishes of its human possessors. Both narratives indicate that this is a dangerous power to enjoy.

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