Twilight Zone S4 – I Dream of Genie (03/21/63)

tzdreamofgenie01A couple of antique store hustlers spot George Hanley at the door immediately after mentioning an “unsuspecting sucker.”  They manage to high-pressure the rube Hanley into buying a brass lamp for $20 which is worth millions if properly used.

Of course Hanley, like every other character in a story like this, does not use the lamp to its fullest potential.  He plans to give the lamp to Ann, a floozy in his office, for her birthday.

Oxymoronic alpha-bookkeeper Roger beats Hanley to the punch by giving Ann his present first.  It is an entirely inappropriate gift of lingerie which one of the beta-bookkeepers suggests she try on in the office.  This being the 60’s, it is all in good fun and not the basis for a lawsuit.  Ann rewards Roger with a big ol’ kiss on the lips.  Hanley is embarrassed at his gift, so takes it home.

tzdreamofgenie03He is greeted at home by his motley (or muttley) dog Attila.  He opens up the brass lamp he bought for Ann. As he begins rubbing it white stuff suddenly shoots out of the tip causing a Genie to appear.  This is a different kind of Genie.  He is wearing contemporary clothing (although, that of a contemporary used car salesman) except for the velveteen Tinkerbell shoes.  Also, sadly, he is not a hot blonde.  The Genie also reduced the number of wishes from three to one as the 3-hour Twilight Zone has mercifully not been suggested yet.

The Genie offers Hanley his wish, but warns him against wishing for love, riches or a 10-inch pianist.  He advises Hanley to sleep on it and let him know his decision the next day.

Hanley considers being the first man on the moon, a scientist, a general, or . . . what if Ann was a movie actress [1] and they were married!  He fantasizes about them being America’s sweethearts.  Unfortunately, Ann is so busy with her career, that she has put off their honeymoon for 6 months.  I think we are supposed to believe this includes any sort of romance beyond a kiss on the forehead.  Strangely, in this scenario, Attila has become a frou-frou little poodle.

tzdreamofgenie04Hanley sits at a piano and mopes. He spots a girl hiding beneath the piano who claims she is too young too drink.  “In the years, I am a child.  But I think I am mature.” This potentially interesting — and felonious — interlude is cut short when the girl discovers that Hanley is not a producer, just a stage-husband.  Hanley discovers Ann is having an affair with her leading man Unable to get the girl even in a fantasy, he is yanked back to reality.

Further ignoring the Genie, his next fantasy is to be a rich bastard.  I don’t know what kind of dog Attila has morphed into in this scenario, but the son-of-a-bitch is about 5 feet tall on his hind legs.  He slips a newspaper urchin $100 for a paper and later donates $1.2 Million to a college.  He is criticized by the ingrate college president for being ostentatious in his generosity.  He finds having money is no fun once he can easily buy everything he wants.  This insane fantasy also crumbles before the urchin has a chance to berate him for his $99.95 tip.[2]

He snaps back to reality to find that Roger has gotten a promotion that Hanley had hoped for.  He decides that maybe power is what would really make him happy.  He imagines himself as the president, being feted with a ticker-tape parade.  This time Attila is a Scottish Terrier which seems a little un-American.  Hanley gets to make all sorts of humanitarian gestures — meeting with scouts, giving electricity to the masses, pardoning a young soldier from the firing squad.  It’s all fun and games until the earth is attacked by aliens and Hanley is faced with the destruction of humanity.

Back in reality, Hanley finally comes to a decision about what to wish for. We next see the brass lamp being retrieved from the garbage by a hobo-American.  When he rubs it, out comes the Genie formally known as George Hanley.  He has not only increased the Genie unemployment figures by one, he has diluted the wish-value by going back to three, and has embraced the Genie stereotype by dressing like Sinbad and wearing a turban.

The estimable Twilight Zone Companion takes a rare misstep on this episode.  It suggests the episode is a failure partly because the Genie had already warned George that his dreams of riches and love would end badly.  I think that is predicted, or at least 100% anticipated, every time we see a tale such as this, from The Monkey’s Paw to No Time Like the Past.  Knowing things will end badly is not a weakness.  Exhibit A:

Taylor:  A planet where apes evolved from men?  There’s got to be an answer.

Dr. Zaius:  Don’t look for it, Taylor.  You might not like what you find.

Then, POW, the best ending in movie history . . . you know, if it had not been spoiled a thousand times before anyone ever sees the movie as a kid by pop culture, The Simpsons, or the bloody movie poster and DVD case.

tzdreamofgenie14Post-Post:

  • [1] Ouch, kind of a shot at mere TV actress Patricia Berry portraying Ann.
  • [2] The real horror is that Hanley was in a 90% tax bracket at the time.
  • I enjoyed the way people from Hanley’s life portray different characters in his various fantasies.
  • Writer John Furia has 2 movie credits.  Oddly, both are stories about nuns — Change of Habit and The Singing Nun.
  • One month later, Howard Morris would make his first appearance as Ernest T. Bass.

One thought on “Twilight Zone S4 – I Dream of Genie (03/21/63)

  1. Howard Morris as Ernest T. Bass is a scream. My wife doesn’t find him funny, for some strange reason. I love both the mountain wedding episode and the back to school episode. Morris was great on Alfred Hitchcock Presents as well.

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