A group of reporters are hanging out a bar swapping stories, as opposed to now when they would be at a swanky cocktail party hosted by the people they are supposed to be covering, drinking mineral water and nibbling at a low-carb amuse bouche.
Local bum Johnny enters the bar and hits Halloran up for a drink. Mr. H tells the bartender to “give him the good stuff.” The bartender reaches under the bar where he just happens to have a shot already poured. Johnny just about pukes when it turns out to be furniture polish. Mr. H. gets a good laugh out of this, and Johnny tells him, “You didn’t have to do that!” Unless Halloran psychically made the bartender pour the shot and place it under the bar waiting for this gag, I don’t really see how Halloran is at fault. But he’s still an asshole for laughing.
Another newsie rushes in and gives Halloran the last edition hot off the press. It says the world will end at 11:45 after a collision with Mars. Johnny rushes out of the bar thinking he must do something special with the three remaining hours of his life. Of course, the gang gets a huge laugh out of the prank they just pulled. Maybe I misunderestimated Halloran; he is Schofieldian-level planner.
I think they use the same science adviser as The Twilight Zone. OK, maybe it is possible that Mars has been broken out of its orbit and will collide with Earth. But is it likely we would have only 3 hours notice? Meh, I can always overlook problems like that in old sci-fi, but anything in color better not pull that crap.
To make the most of his last 3 hours on earth, Johnny flees the bar and goes to a liquor store — this is a guy with a limited world-view. He begs the clerk for some free hooch since “it can’t make no difference now.” The clerk understandably thinks he’s nuts. When his back is turned, Johnny grabs a couple jugs of Cognac (because the good stuff is always sold in 3000 ml bottles) and bolts out the door.
Chugging it in the park, he eludes the police. He trips over the dogs being walked by an elderly woman. She takes him back to her place to clean his jacket, and makes him some tea. She is also a lonely person, and Johnny is first man in 15 years she’s had in the house. She understandably gets a little spooked when he says they will be together at her house until the world ends. She screams for help and a neighbor arrives to throw Johnny out.
Wandering the streets, he encounters 3 young street urchins. He asks the kids what they most want, and breaks into a sporting goods store to fulfill their dreams. They go crazy shooting hoops, riding bikes and, inexplicably, fishing in the store. One of them wants a gun, so Johnny helpfully gets a pistol and loads it for the tike. A cop comes in and Johnny shoots him when he tries to stop the fun. The kids bolt.
Johnny stops by a newsstand and is baffled that the newspapers contain headlines such as Naughton Accepts Nomination, Boxing Commission Charges Bribe, Crooner Jailed for Assault. Johnny realizes he has been punked when the New York Times does not have the headline:
EARTH TO BE DESTROYED
WOMEN AND MINORITIES HARDEST HIT
OK, that’s an oldie; but a greatie.
Johnny returns the bar, still packing the heat he took from the store. It just so happens he arrives at the bar, where the gang is playing cards, exactly at the supposed impact time of 11:45 PM. Then, it truly is worlds in collision.
- At what point did the pronunciation go from saddist to saydist? I recall Rod Serling using saddist on TZ also.
- One of the kids was a 14 year-old Harry Shearer (Spinal Tap, The Simpsons).
- AHP Deathwatch: At least two of the kids are still alive, including Harry Shearer.
- Story by Frederic Brown, who wrote the classic Arena on which the Gorn episode of Star Trek was extremely loosely based.
- IMDb’s trivia on director Jus Addiss says he was the “life partner” of Hayden Rorke (Dr. Bellows on I Dream of Jeannie). I did not know that.