The Twilight Zone – Complete Series Review – Season 1 Episode 13 – The Four of Us Are Dying

Serling starts this off by telling us that the protagonist Arch Hammer (I kid you not) is a small time con-man, crumb and all around nogoodnik.  He also has the ability to look like someone else.  If he can look at a photo or remember a face, he can change his appearance to resemble that face.  He uses this ability to scam people.

In the story he takes pictures and descriptions from the obituaries to impersonate the dead.  First, he shows up at the nightclub where a young singer is mourning for her dead boyfriend.  When Arch impersonates him, he tells her that he was mistaken for the dead man and convinces the girl to run away with him to Chicago.  She’s so elated to find him still alive that she kisses him and agrees.  Next, he goes to the home of a gangster posing as one of his mobsters that was murdered during a job.  He shakes down the mob boss and runs off with a load of cash with two mobsters in hot pursuit.  Cornered by them in a dead-end alley he quickly sees a photo of a boxer on a poster and changes his face to avoid the mobsters.  But on emerging from the alley he meets a newspaper seller who turns out to be the father of the boxer.  It seems the boxer was an awful man and the father hates him viscerally.  Arch knocks the old man down and returns to his apartment and his own face.  A police detective shows up at his door and tells him he has to go to headquarters for questioning.  Leaving in the revolving doors of the apartment building he escapes the detective for a second and when he catches up to Arch, he has assumed the face of the boxer.  Walking away free and clear he runs into the boxer’s father and despite his hurried attempt to change his face again the father shoots him down.  While he’s dying on the pavement Arch Hammer’s face changes briefly through all four of the faces he used in the episode.

Let’s give some credit for the plot idea.  A human chameleon has been done a lot but it was probably pretty exciting in 1959.  The three vignettes he involved himself in were pretty simplistic and not highly novel but the acting was mostly okay.  But the payoff was the boxer’s father who wanted revenge.  That actor wasn’t very good or convincing.  It seemed very flat to me and didn’t provide the emotional energy needed to justify the execution of an adult child by a parent.  I didn’t buy it.  I’ll give this a C.