Follow TV Tropes


Recap / The Twilight Zone S 2 E 46 A Most Unusual Camera

Go To
Ten to an owner...

Rod Serling: "A hotel suite that, in this instance, serves as a den of crime, the aftermath of a rather minor event to be noted on a police blotter, an insurance claim, perhaps a three-inch box on page twelve of the evening paper. Small addenda to be added to the list of the loot: a camera, a most unimposing addition to the flotsam and jetsam that it came with, hardly worth mentioning really, because cameras are cameras, some expensive, some purchasable at five-and-dime stores. But this camera, this one's unusual because in just a moment we'll watch it inject itself into the destinies of three people. It happens to be a fact that the pictures that it takes can only be developed in the Twilight Zone."

Air date: December 16, 1960

Chester Diedrich and his wife Paula, two dimwitted, low-time thieves rob an antique store. Their stolen loot is seemingly worthless, until they discover that they have plundered a camera that has the magical ability to take pictures of the future. Paula's brother Woodward breaks out of prison and decides to hang out with them. Chester devises a get-rich quick scheme by using the camera's power to bet on horse races, but the trios' good fortune seldom lasts.

The episode was the inspiration for the Goosebumps book, Say Cheese and Die.


Some Most Unusual Tropes:

  • Blackmail: After Chester and Woodward fall out of the hotel window to their doom, the waiter returns, and learns that the characters are wanted by the law. Assuming that Paula was the cause of their fall, he takes advantage of the opportunity to blackmail Paula on two fronts. Either she gives him their money, or he'll turn her in to the police. Paula has no choice but to give in to his demands.
  • Bottle Episode: Except for the scene at the racetrack, this episode takes place entirely in the Diedrichs' hotel suite.
  • The Ditz: Paula is not very bright, but her brother Woodward is not very bright either, perhaps more dangerously so.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Woodward points out Chester's Ignored Epiphany.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Played with; Paula screams when her husband and brother topple out the window and initially sobs that she has nothing left with them gone, but accidentally putting her hands on the money, which now belongs completely to her, clears up her grief quite quickly.
  • Advertisement:
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!:
    Waiter: "Yes, there are more than two bodies down there. Just as the picture"
  • Failed a Spot Check: Somehow, the waiter notices that there are "more than two" bodies on the ground in Paula's last photo, but not that there are exactly four. Maybe the camera can alter its photos, or perhaps he was just bluffing and intended on shoving her out as well.
  • Greed: A central theme demonstrated by all of the characters, including the just as sneaky and conniving hotel waiter.
  • Ignored Epiphany: Once there's no longer any doubt that the camera can predict the future, Chester initially thinks they should use it for the benefit of humanity. Granted, there's some egotism there (talking about how it'd be a gift from him and his wife note ), but he seems quite genuine in wanting to help medical science and that his family should rise above their longstanding criminal ways. Then he sees a horse race on TV and the greed takes over.
  • Karmic Twist Ending/Kill 'Em All: When Paula plummets out the window, the waiter, certain that he's in the clear, looks at the final picture...
    Waiter: "Yes, there are more than two bodies down there. Just as the picture"
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The three crooks (and the just as crooked waiter) get their comeuppance for their own greed, as the camera predicts their own deaths.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: Chester considers using the camera to help humanity, referring to it as a gift from himself and his wife. When Woodward reminds him he's also there, Chester derisively says, "Yeah, and you, too."
  • No Honor Among Thieves: When they learn the camera is beginning to run out of pictures, Chester, Paula, and Woodward battle over who gets to spend the last two and how they should be spent. When a picture gets accidentally snapped that shows Paula screaming, Chester and Woodward believe it's because the other wants to kill him and wind up falling to their deaths in the struggle.
  • Scream Discretion Shot: How the waiter dies isn't shown; the shot zeroes in on the camera while he screams.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Paula runs to the window to see what's going on after the waiter reports the photo shows more than two bodies, which allows her to trip and fall out the window.
  • Spooky Photographs: This most unusual camera can take pictures of future events.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Woodward is extremely slow on the draw. Chester says they'll take a picture of the winning board before the race; Paula figures out what he means pretty quickly, but Chester has to go on at length to explain it to Woodward for him to understand it. It's amazing Woodward was able to break out of prison in the first place.
  • Villain Protagonist: Chester and his two cronies, his wife Paula and her brother Woodward. Chester and Paula are two small-time thieves and Woodward is a former burglar turned escaped convict.
  • Wham Line: A waiter in the hotel room tells the three characters that the camera can only take ten pictures for the person who owns it by reading the French inscription written on it: Dix à la propriétaire, meaning ten to an owner.

Rod Serling: "Object known as a camera, vintage uncertain, origin unknown. But for the greedy, the avaricious, the fleet of foot, who can run a four-minute mile so long as they're chasing a fast buck, it makes believe that it's an ally, but it isn't at all. It's a beckoning come-on for a quick walk around the block in the Twilight Zone."

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: