Today is my 40th birthday (but we'll get to that in the next post). Exactly 10 years to the day BEFORE I was born, tonight's episode aired for the first time. Richard Conte and John Larch star, along with the beautiful Suzanne Lloyd as Maya the Cat Girl (meeee-ow). The combination of Robert Florey's direction and George C. Clemens' cinematography, filled with odd angles and shadows, is marvelous. Nathan Van Cleave (who would score a total of 11 episodes) contributes his first Twilight Zone score here, and he hits the ground running: augmenting the studio orchestra with the theramin, he creates music that is eerie, dizzying, and terrifying.
Perhaps the single most notable aspect of "Perchance to Dream" is the fact that Rod Serling DIDN'T write it. Credit goes to Charles Beaumont, who adapted his own short story. Beaumont would go on to write many memorable Twilight Zones before being gradually consumed by Alzheimer's Disease (or Pick's Disease; accounts differ). He died in 1967 at the age of 38.
"Perchance to Dream" is not only one of my 40 favorite episodes of all time (see the list here), it's the first so far to crack my top 10. Needless to say, the opportunity to celebrate its 50th birthday on my 40th birthday is a rare gift indeed.