The Twilight Zone – Complete Series Review – Season 4 Episode 9 – Printer’s Devil

Douglas Winter is the owner of a small-town newspaper called the Courier.  A larger newspaper called the Gazette is using its financial muscle to squeeze the Courier out of business.  It’s able to buy up all the advertising and even hire away the courier’s Linotype operator.  Winter is at his wit’s end and out of money to pay the bills.  His girlfriend and co-worker Jackie Benson tells him not to lose faith but he’s given up and in fact heads over to a bridge to jump over the side and end it all.  But while he’s there he meets a Mr. Smith who convinces Winter to join him at the local bar for a drink.  While there he discusses Winter’s troubles at the courier.  Smith informs him that he’d like to bankroll him and also help out as both the Linotype operator and a reporter.  Having nothing to lose Winter agrees.  When they arrive at the courier Smith impresses both Douglas and Jackie with his skill with the Linotype.  He also informs them that he has an amazing nose for news and will be able to scoop the reporters at the gazette without any difficulty.  And in fact, this proves to be the case.  His first scoop is a bank robbery story which he Linotypes apparently as it is occurring.  From there he makes scoop after scoop and before you know it the Courier is the leading newspaper and the Gazette is hurting for business.


The owner of the Gazette offers to buy the Courier, but winter turns him down.  The next scoop is that a fire has burned down the Gazette and out them out of business.  Now that things are going well Winter wants to hire back his old Linotype operator, but Smith informs him that he’s modified the machine and only he now can handle it correctly.  Also, Smith tells Winter that he wants to bring the courier to a higher level of success but in order to do it he needs Winer to sign a business agreement that among other things promises to assign his immortal soul over to smith when he dies.  Winter recoils at the suggestion but after Smith mocks him for believing in such supernatural claptrap Winter agrees and signs the paper.


After this Smith shows his true colors and makes sexual advances on Jackie.  She slaps his face and Smith tells her she’ll be sorry.  Now Smith admits to Winter that he is indeed the devil and anything he writes on the Linotype automatically comes true and he has written that Jackie will be in a car crash and if Winter does not commit suicide then Smith will see to it that she dies.  Smith tells Jackie that he is leaving town and asks her for a lift to the train station and while they are driving the accident happens.  But in the meantime, Winter writes a story on the Linotype stating that the agreement between Winter and smith was nullified and that Jackie would be fine, and Smith would disappear.  So, everybody lives happily ever afterward, and winter has the Linotype disposed of and settles down to running a normal newspaper again.


Burgess Meredith is Mr. Smith, and this is basically a tour de force by him.  It’s of course a ridiculous story but Meredith invests it with his particular brand of acting zeal so that it keeps your interest and renders it very enjoyable.  But whenever he’s not on the screen the story seems kind of flat.  For Burgess’s work I’ll give this a B+.


After you’ve read enough sexbot articles on Drudge maybe switch to something interesting

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Greg Tyson
Greg Tyson
2 years ago

As much as you hate the episodes about toys and mannequins that’s how much I hate the eps about genies and The Devil (though I make an exception for “Nick of Time” and, to a lesser degree, “The Howling Man”); it’s material you can find in a thousand other anthology shows. You’re absolutely right the whole story feels hoary and that what saves it is the always-amazing Meredith. Also, it’s fun and creative how Old Scratch gets his mark to sell his soul — one of the few moments in the script that felt fresh. And, finally, that intro, like… Read more »

Ed Brault
Ed Brault
2 years ago

Loved the way Burgess holds that twisted cheroot as he operates the Linotype. That defines the character of Mr. Smith!