August Kolodney (Mickey Rooney) is shoveling it back as the only customer in an Italian restaurant. He’s the kind of guy who snaps his fingers at the waiter. Later, he verbally snaps at the waiter, sensing that the waiter has set him up for a hit.
Sure enough, two of the worst hit-men in the world come storming through the doors. Rooney takes one in the shoulder, but manages to get away out the front door as the goons do not chase him.
He goes to see his moll, the appropriately named Molly Mitchell. She had declined Augie’s invitation that night, assuring he would be alone at the restaurant. He tells her to beat it, and throws her out of the house he puts her up in.
The mob doctor is able to stitch him up, but tells him he was lucky the bullet that wasn’t an inch to the left or right. He also proscribes that Augie retire to help his blood pressure, “stop drinking like a fish and eating like a hippo.” Augie does want out. His big plan is to “someday get a razor and they’ll need a bucket brigade to clean up the mess.” C’mon, it’s Mickey Rooney, 5 or 6 Solo Cups will do. The doctor gives him an address of Dr. Glendon who can keep him alive, but at a steep price.
Rooney arrives at one of Night Gallery’s frequently used sets, and meets Dr. Glendon. Rooney lets him know he doesn’t like the doctor’s rules, not being able to tell anyone he was coming here, and having to come alone. He calls Augie a racketeer just to be clear. He promises Augie a long comfortable life, “free of fear, devoid of worry, absolutely without fear or tension of any kind.” All he has to do is give Glendon everything he owns.
Rooney protests that he is just a lowly hood, but Glendon knows better and tells him that he is the best in his field. He reads off a list of the times that Rooney has almost been hit. Rooney says he doesn’t “want to hear a list of how many times I’ve been fingered” for which I can’t blame him. Once a year at my annual check-up is plenty for me.
Glendon drugs his wine and promises to give him the fountain youth. He leads Augie down a short hall and shows his collection. First is Anastasia, missing daughter of Czar Nicholas (71). She is behind bars but seems content in a living room setting doing needlepoint. In the next cell is Judge Crater (83), Beside him is Adolph Hitler (83), paging restlessly around his office setting. And Amelia Airhart (75) who seems to be charting a route at her desk. None of the group acknowledges Rooney or their captor. It is also interesting how young, or at least plausibly alive, these historic figures were at the time.
So what’s the point? At first I assumed the orange hallway of cells was going to represent Hell, and Glendon the Devil — I’m a sucker for a good Devil or purgatory story. But Hitler seems to be the only resident that would belong there.
Frankly, I’m not much of a Mickey Rooney fan and he seems terrible here. That and the ambiguity of the captivity make this a fairly dull outing. OK, it isn’t Hell. But why aren’t any of the prisoners acknowledging them? Why do most seem content? Is Airhart really thinking she is going to take another flight? Do they remain drugged forever? Only Crater and Hitler seem perturbed at their captivity.
- Twilight Zone Legacy: Mickey Rooney had a good, if talky, role in The Last Night of a Jockey. David Fresco had a slightly lesser role as “Man” in The Gift.
- Roald Amundson is also a captive. At 100, he would have been the oldest. It still amazes me that Hitler could have easily been alive when this aired.