A Nieuport biplane emerges from a cloud and lands on a modern American Air Force base in France. The biplane looks pitifully fragile next to the modern aircraft. Major Wilson orders the pilot from the plane and takes him to see Maj. Gen. Harper. The pilot is a British man who identifies himself as Lt. William Terrance Decker and seems genuinely confused when the American officers interrogate him as to why he is wearing a World War I uniform and flew his plane into military air space. Decker thought he was landing on an Royal Flying Corps base in France, which the Americans knew was an early precursor to their own base.
Wilson asks him today’s date, and when Decker tells him March 5, 1917, Wilson informs him that it’s March 5, 1959. Realizing the officers aren’t joking, Decker states that he had become lost in a cloud in which he could no longer hear his plane engine, while flying patrol with his comrade, Captain Mackaye, and once he emerged from the mysterious cloud, he found this base.
General Harper becomes more suspicious as to Decker’s intentions. Mackaye---now Air Vice Marshal Mackaye, a great British military hero in World War II---was coming to the base that day, and surely Decker’s unauthorized appearance was no coincidence. Decker protests that he did not know that, and furthermore, before he became lost in the cloud, Mackaye was under attack from seven German planes. Thus Mackay couldn’t be coming to the base that day, for he had died in 1917.
Harper orders that Decker be taken into custody until Mackaye arrives, at which point they can get to the bottom of Decker’s story. Major Wilson feels that Decker seems sincere, though his supposed time travel makes no sense, so he and Decker talk. How did Mackaye survive that hopeless fight in 1917? Why is Decker so distressed and ashamed when he learns of Mackaye’s heroism? And why is so reluctant to see him? Would Mackaye even show up at the base that day, given Decker’s certainty that he had been killed forty-two years before?
Matheson’s script is a wonderful exploration of facing one’s fears, dealing with regret, and the seizing of second chances. At the end, the time travel theme is well done, fitting seamlessly into the story. The Twilight Zone's unsettling karma provides us yet another set of life lessons.
|Alexander Scourby and Kenneth Haigh|
These Bible recordings later became available on cassettes and then CDs, and when I checked ebay I saw several sets available, both new sets and vintage LPs. Looking around online at some articles, I learned Scourby’s recordings were sold by a variety of companies before court cases finally straightened out copyright issues.
I listened to some of Scourby’s Bible recordings on YouTube and they are, indeed, wonderful to listen to! Although I hate to have a 62-CD set of anything around the house (I’ve downsized my CD collection considerably), I think I’ll listen to more of them on YouTube. (Plus, his readings are available at a phone app!) How would Scourby and his rich voice tackle some of the Torah law codes or the 1 Chronicles genealogies or the depressing prophetic oracles of doom?
But I’ve also a nostalgic motivation, because I still have my first KJV Bible, which I’ve written about here, and I’ve warm memories of some of my parents spoken-word records in the 1960s----not this Scourby set, but others. Our little turntable seemed to go so slowly at 16 rpm, compared to the high speed of our already-antique 78s. Nostalgia is perhaps not the best motivation for loving the Bible’s text, but memory certainly is---memory of blessings past, memory of previous instruction (cf. 2 Tim. 1:5), aspects of earlier faith with which one can connect now---and memory was a motivating factor when I felt led to deepen my faith and discipleship during my college years.
Here is Scourby, reading the Letter to the Hebrews: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQB1UZWsxEY