An alcoholic trumpet player named Joey Crown is trying to get a friendly club owner to hire him as a musician. But Joey has a very bad reputation as an unreliable drunk. The man gives Joey some money but turns him down. Joey is at the end of his rope and decides to sell his trumpet to the local pawn shop. The shop owner gives him eight bucks but immediately puts it in the window for twenty-five. Even more depressed now he goes out and spends the money on booze. Staggering down the street he sees a speeding truck heading toward him and jumps in front of it.
In the next scene it’s twilight and Joey finds himself on the ground but apparently unharmed. He is amazed and slightly elated. He goes up to a few of the people walking on the street but no one seems to be able to hear or see him. And he discovers that he has no reflection in a mirror. After talking to himself for a while he wanders off in a puzzled mood. While walking down an alley he hears someone playing a very skilled trumpet solo. He finds a man in formal attire sitting on a fire escape playing. Joey compliments the man’s playing. The man thanks him and asks if Joey would like to try the trumpet. Joey thanks him and takes the horn and plays it well. The man compliments him and speaks knowingly about various aspects of Joey’s life. Joey asks him how he can see him but nobody else can. Joey thinks that both of them are dead and the living can’t see them as ghosts. The man says that actually he himself is not dead, the others are dead and Joey is actually in a limbo state between life and death following his accident. The man says that Joey has the choice to live or die and he reminds Joey that he has a pretty wonderful gift of being able to bring emotion to others and joy to himself. He points out the good things in life that maybe Joey has forgotten about.
As the man walks away Joey asks him his name and he says, “Gabe, as in Gabriel.”
In the next scene Joey is on the sidewalk and a crowd is forming around him. He is dazed from the impact with the truck but he hasn’t been seriously injured. The truck driver is worried about police or insurance repercussions from the accident so he puts some cash in Joey’s hand and asks him to forget about the accident. Joey walks away and sees the pawn shop. He uses the money from the truck driver to buy back his trumpet.
That night Joey is on the roof of his apartment building happily playing the trumpet to himself when a young woman strikes up a conversation about how much she likes his playing. She says she’s new to the City and wishes she had someone to show her around. Joey offers to show here around Manhattan and you can tell that his life is turning around in every way.
Jack Klugman is Joey Crown. Klugman was in at least three Twilight Zone episodes and I actually had forgotten about this one altogether. This is the best of the three. It’s a very sentimental and almost hackneyed. But for me it strikes the right balance. God doesn’t come down out of the sky and blind Joey with the light of heaven. He sends an angel in the shape of a fellow musician to play a sweet trumpet song and talk man to man with him. Of course the Angel Gabriel is usually portrayed as blowing a blast on the trump of doom at the end of the world but a horn player takes his gigs where he finds them. I’m feeling sentimental. It’s an A.