The Twilight Zone – Complete Series Review – Season 2 Episode 10 – A Most Unusual Camera

This one falls under the broad category of fantasy and combines aspects of a fable about karma with what can go wrong when you can see the future.

Chester and Paula Diedrich are crooks.  The night before they robbed an antique shop and Paula reads a newspaper article about the crime describing the stolen merchandise in terms that Chester sees as the real crime.  He complains that all the rare items listed are actually nothing but worthless junk and he’ll be lucky to get five dollars for the whole lot.  This includes a strange old camera with an inscription in a foreign language on the front that he found in the shop.  Just for laughs he gets Paula to pose near the window for a picture.  A few seconds later a developed picture pops out of the camera.  But when he looks at the picture Paula is wearing a mink coat.  This all very confusing until a few minutes later while opening a box that they stole from the shop they find a mink coat just like the one in the picture.

Later on, they take a picture of the apartment door and the picture shows Paula’s brother Woodward opening the door.  But since Woodward is in jail, they feel the camera must be malfunctioning.  A few minutes later Woodward walks in.  He has broken out of jail and wants to stay with them.  Now Chester figures out that the camera takes pictures that show things that are about to happen.

With this in mind and noticing that Woodward is watching a horse race on tv, Chester decides to use the camera to bet on horse races.  He’ll take pictures of the race track results board before the race and the winners will show up on the picture.  It works like a charm and they make a ton of money.  They go back to the apartment to celebrate and spend their profits on expensive toys like convertible cars.

While the waiter Pierre is cleaning up the dishes, he notices the camera and asks what the camera’s inscription means.  It says, “Only ten pictures to an owner.”  Counting up the pictures they’ve taken the crooks realize they only have two pictures left.  While fighting over the camera another picture gets taken.  It shows Paula in a pose suggesting something horrible is happening in front of her.  Chester says it must be someone doing something bad to her husband, him.  He assumes it must be Woodward and immediately produces a knife and attacks Woodward.  While struggling for the knife they both fall out the apartment window to their deaths.

Although at first distraught, Paula comforts herself at the prospect of all their money being hers.  She smiles and takes the last picture out the window where Chester and Woodward are lying dead.  She begins gathering it up when Pierre returns and informs her, he is taking all her money because he knows she is wanted and won’t be able to call the police.  Just then the camera delivers the last picture and Pierre informs her that there are more than two bodies out the window.  Paula runs over to see, trips on a cord and goes out the window to her death.  Pierre looks at the picture and sees four bodies and somehow falls out the window too.

This is a pretty dopey plot.  But it’s done with considerable humor and a modicum of acting ability on all parts.  Fred Clark who plays Chester is a pretty familiar character actor of the time and acquits himself admirably.  Crime doesn’t pay?  Sure, why not.  B.

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War Pig
War Pig
3 years ago

Clark plays a ruthless banker or executive to a “t”. This is sort of like Heinlein’s “Life Line”.

War Pig
War Pig
3 years ago

This is true. I often wonder where we’ll get another Jack Elam, Robert Loffia, Lee J Cobb, Clint Walker, Morgan Woodward, Hugh O’Brian, George Kennedy or James Whitmore. On the ladies’ side, Linda Hunt, Khandi Alexander (what a babe!), Jamie Lee Curtis, Sigourney Weaver, Kathy Bates, etc. There doesn’t seem to be much room in Hollywood these days for good character actors. For one thing, there aren’t as many long-running shows on TV for character actors to guest star. Nothing like Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Medical Center. MASH, Twilight Zone. Especially shows which have pretty much a different cast for each episode… Read more »