Booth Templeton is an old Broadway actor whose twenty something second wife is cheating on him. He is about to start on a new play and he is thinking back to his youth when life was more appealing. When he arrives at the theater the play’s producer, Sid Sperry informs him that he’s fired the director and installed in his place young firebrand Arthur Willis in his place. When Willis sees Templeton arriving late for rehearsal Willis hectors him about the importance of being on time for the first day of rehearsal. When he repeatedly asks Templeton whether he is ready to step up to the challenge, Templeton runs for the back stage exit onto the street.
But when Templeton walks out of the alley, he sees a theater sign that says it’s 1927 (thirty-three years earlier than the present time for him). When he meets up with an old theater employee from that era, he’s told that his wife Laura (his first wife who died years earlier) is waiting for him in a speak-easy around the corner.
Arriving at the club he’s shown in and sees Laura with his dear but departed friend Barney Flueger sitting at a table eating dinner and enjoying the music. Templeton tries to tell Laura and Barney how shocked and happy he is to see them after all these years but they’re not interested in his amazement and just want to enjoy themselves eating, drinking and dancing. When he tries to make Laura understand how important it is for him to spend some time alone with her, she just shrugs him off and continues to eat her steak and fan herself with some papers. Templeton grabs the paper from her and puts them in his coat pocket and then begs her to listen to him. She escapes to the dance floor and starts doing the Charleston. When Templeton grabs her and tries to stop her, she slaps him in the face and tells him to go back where he came from.
Templeton rushes out of the speak easy and as he leaves the room; the music stops and all the people fall silent and look sad and the scene fades to black.
Templeton runs out onto the street and heads back into the theater. When he gets inside it’s 1960 again. He is shocked by the change and wonders if he imagined the whole thing. But he reaches into his coat pocket and finds the papers he took from Laura. When he reads it, he realizes it is a script that has the words that Laura and Barney were speaking to him. Now he realizes that they did all this to force him to stop his nostalgic sadness and reconnect with his present life.
Now Sperry and Willis who have been waiting for him start complaining about his flight from the theater. Willis asks Templeton if he is in the play or out. Composing himself he replies that he is in but then tells Willis that he prefers to be called Mr. Templeton. Then he tells Sperry that he doesn’t allow non-cast members to attend rehearsals. When Sperry objects, Willis, who now sees Templeton as an assertive authority figure, tells Sperry that Templeton is right and he should leave. Now Templeton has re-entered his life and is enjoying it again.
This is a pretty standard Twilight Zone and the ending is a little pat but I actually kind of liked it. It’s probably the upbeat ending that makes it more palatable for me. I’ll say B.