Neo-Nazi Peter Vollmer (Dennis Hopper) is ranting on a street corner about the usual suspects — the Palestinian, the black man, the yellow man. He later refers to them as Izzy, Rastus and Pancho, so I guess Mexicans are yellow in his world. Palestinian doesn’t really seem to fit, but maybe you couldn’t single out Jews on TV in 1963, even to make a point about bigotry.
The neighborhood is not particularly receptive to his rant, one man pelting him with a tomato. A fight breaks out and a citizen who does not agree to disagree belts him. The citizen might be a fan of diversity, but his grasp of the 1st amendment is a little shaky. The police show up to save their ass, and suddenly the neo-Nazis aren’t too worried about being hassled by the man anymore.
Vollmer slinks back to the apartment of his friend, an old man named Ernst. Naturally, this being a Serling script, Ernst spent 9 years in Dachau. He says he was put there by men like Vollmer which begs the question of why they are friends, and why Ernst is letting him crash there like it’s Herr-bnb.
That night, Vollmer awakens on the couch and looks out the window. He sees a man down on the street in the shadows. He goes down to meet the man whose face miraculous remains shadowed. He gives Vollmer some much-needed tips on public speaking.
The titular “He” in the street does help. Whereas Vollmer had been a bumbling speaker, worse than Al Sharpton without a teleprompter (although, to be fair, not as bad as Al Sharpton with a teleprompter), he now is speaking in a hall. His words flow and he exhibits a new confidence in his fiery tirade against minorities. His mysterious benefactor even picks up the tab for the hall.
At the man’s request, Vollmer has his lackeys kill off one of their own boys, making him a martyr. This goes over well with some in the community, and attendance at his next speech increases. At the rally, his friend Ernst goes on stage and denounces him. Later that night, the man emerges from the shadows to reveal himself as Adolf Hitler.
Hitler commands Vollmer to kill Ernst and gives him a pistol. Ernst will not give him the satisfaction of cowering and begging. So Vollmer kills him. Sadly, Serling isn’t through typing yet and gives Ernst another page of dialogue.
The police go to arrest Vollmer for murder. He runs and they kill him.
It’s a fine line between been ham-handed and making a good point. Maybe it isn’t even a line, there can be some overlap. There are valid points here, and Dennis Hopper is good as the Nazi. Making the holocaust survivor and the neo-Nazi be friends just seemed too convenient. The Hitler reveal didn’t really work, though. It is clear from the start who this character is going to be. To the script’s credit, that is somewhat recognized as the reveal is not done as a final twist, but earlier in the episode.
Overall, another enjoyable outing for the much maligned 4th Season I give it 2 Reichs.
- This hit close to home as my grandfather died in a concentration camp — he fell out of a guard tower. It’s an oldie but just about perfect.
- According to Serling’s interminable closing monologue, Hitler is like Spock — he’s not really dead as long as we remember him.
- Director Stuart Rosenberg went on to direct Cool Hand Luke, The Amityville Horror, Brubaker and The Pope of Greenwich Village.