Today, May 26, This Day in Twilight Zone History and The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia celebrate the 1961 premiere of "Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?"
The Twilight Zone was often at its best when it assembled a group of average people and threw them a huge curve. The curve in this case is a suspected alien visitor that may have infiltrated a group of bus passengers stranded in a rural highway diner. Having tracked a possible UFO crash, two stalwart state troopers (John Archer, Morgan Jones) have nine suspects, including the cook (Barney Phillips), a businessman (John Hoyt), an older married couple (Bill Erwin, Gertrude Flynn), a hottie (Jean Willes), a nutcase (Jack Elam), and others.
In network television parlance, this was a "bottle show," and director Montgomery Pittman makes the most of the claustrophobic situation. John Hoyt did irritable better than most character actors in Hollywood, and he's in fine form here. I always remember him as the mad doll designer in director Bert I. Gordon's Attack of the Puppet People. Legendary western actor Jack Elam seems to be having a ball playing the goofy Avery, curvaceous Jean Willes is well cast, and TZ veteran Barney Phillips plays the cook with all burners working.
So let's hoist a diner phosphate to these seated suspects, one of whom will eventually be revealed as the pesky Martian, who long before the Men in Black went on 24/7 duty discreetly snuck into a corner booth in The Twilight Zone.