Fifty Christmases ago, the twelfth Twilight Zone episode premiered. It isn't a holiday-themed episode per say, but it does feature an old man who gives out gifts to strangers. Hmmm....
Ernest Truex stars as Pedott, a curious little peddler who has the uncanny ability to give people exactly what they need when they need it, be it a pair of scissors, a bus ticket, or a leaking fountain pen. Steve Cochran co-stars as Fred Renard, a no-account thug who tries to monopolize the old man's gift for his own questionable purposes. It's safe to say that Mr. Renard will be getting a dose of comeuppance for Christmas, expediently delivered... from The Twilight Zone.
Rod Serling adapted the teleplay from a story by Lewis Padgett and, like the earlier "And When the Sky Was Opened" (which was adapted from a Richard Matheson story), the script differs radically from the story. Interestingly, the short story was previously adapted for television (and much more faithfully so) on Tales of Tomorrow in 1952 (this episode can be viewed here), which featured Edgar Stehli (who would later appear in TZ's "Long Live Walter Jameson," which we'll get to in a few months) in the role of the prescient old man, here called Peter Talley (as in the seminal short story).
Alvin Ganzer directs. Nathan Van Cleave provides the music (it should be noted, on this joyous of holidays, that Mr. Van Cleave orchestrated the score for the Bing Crosby-Danny Kaye film White Christmas, which is required viewing in my house every year).
Merry Christmas to my faithful readers... all four of you. And speaking of four.... well, we'll get to that next week.