Saturday, 9 January 2016

A chilling final exam awaits Vincent Price in the Night Gallery's Class of '99

Originally screened on NBC in the US on 22 September 1971, Class of ’99 was the third episode in the second season of Rod Serling’s Night Gallery. It was directed by Jeannot Szwarc (Jaws 2, Supergirl), whose still working on TV shows as diverse as Supernatural, Castle and Scandal.

Set in a university classroom in a futuristic 1999, it follows an oral final exam given by a professor (Vincent Price) who pits his students against each other over a range of subjects, including the sciences and behaviour. But to what end?

Written by Rod Serling, this cerebral and politically-charged, sci-fi tale benefits hugely from Price’s icy performance as the professor who, it turns out, is a cyborg programmed to maintain mankind’s legacy for racial, religious and social intolerance. Given the state of the world today, it's remains a chilling comment on how academia and other institutions can be used as a breeding ground for racial, class, and religious prejudice.

According to the review of this episode on the brilliant Rod Serling’s Night Gallery site, Price was as charming as his character was forbidding. ‘He was very accessible,’ recalls Frank Hotchkiss, who played Clinton. ‘He was quite the opposite of what I expected, and I was thrilled to have the chance to meet him. He opened that show beautifully with that minute monologue, which sets the whole thing in his inimitable fashion.’

The Class of 99 is available in the 10-disc Complete Collection DVD box-set  from Fabulous Films in the UK from 11 January 2016.

Written by Rod Serling 
Directed by Jeannot Szwarc 
Music: John Lewis 
Director of Photography: Lionel Lindon 

The Professor: Vincent Price 
Johnson: Brandon de Wilde 
Elkins: Randolph Mantooth 
Clinton: Frank Hotchkiss 
Barnes: Hilly Hicks 
Miss Fields: Suzanne Cohane 
Miss Peterson: Barbara Shannon 
Bruce: Richard Doyle 
Templeton: Hunter von Leer 
McWhirter: John Davey 
Miss Wheeton: Lenore Kasdorf 
Professor’s Assistant: John Rayner

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