The Twilight Zone Inspiration: The Masks

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The Masks was the 145th episode of The Twilight Zone and the only one directed by a female director, the iconic Ida Lupino. Lupino not only directed an episode but also starred in one called The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine (1959). That makes Lupino the only person to star in one episode and director another.

The Masks tells the story of a wealthy, dying man during Mardi Gras who welcomes his estranged relatives into his home only to coerce them into wearing hideous masks. He tells them to wear these masks until midnight if not they will not receive one penny from his fortune after his passing. The matriarch, Jason (Robert Keith),  also wears his which is a skull mask representing death.

Little do these scheming relatives know that the masks themselves reflect who they truly are on the inside. When the bells ring after midnight they are all relieved  that can finally take the masks off. While they had them on they ironically found them to unbearable to look at. What happens to them afterwards can only be attested to the stuff of magic or karma even. 

I'm sure you might have heard of the saying, "It is what is in the inside that counts." When everyone takes off their masks they finally see who they really are on the outside. This episode reminds us that the beauty goes beyond the physical and that our individual personalities are what make us fully who we are. I remember learning this exact lesson in college when I met someone who was super cute on the outside but the more I got to know them the uglier they became to me. Their personality was vapid, narcissistic, rude, and down right unpleasant. They same can be said with someone I didn't think was super cute but their personality was so kind, funny, bright, and warm that it made them look cuter than I originally assumed they were. It was a powerful lesson for me to learn at nineteen.

Similar to the episode Eye of the Beholder, this episode reminds us of where true beauty comes from. It comes from inside of us and when we allow the best of ourselves to shine it makes our physical selves look even more beautiful. When we are jealous, greedy, and vain, it takes away the beauty that we could have had and instead makes us look just down right ugly. 

Rod Serling says it best when he ends this iconic episode by saying, "Mardi Gras incident, the dramatis personae being four people who came to celebrate and in a sense let themselves go. This they did with a vengeance. They now wear the faces of all that was inside them—and they'll wear them for the rest of their lives, said lives now to be spent in the shadow. Tonight's tale of men, the macabre and masks, on the Twilight Zone.

By the way, did you know the actor who played the matriarch Jason, Robert Keith was the father of actor Brian Keith. This was also Robert Keith's last role before his passing on December 22, 1966 at the age of 76.

A Vintage Nerd, Vintage Blogger, Vintage Blog, The Twilight Zone, The Twilight Zone The Masks, Rod Serling, Sixties TV Shows, Retro Scifi, The Masks, Rod Serling TV, Scifi TV Shows, Twilight Zone Inspiration





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