Original Story by Charles Beaumont
Teleplay by Lynn Barker
Directed by Peter Medak
Original Airdate - November 22, 1985
Helen Mirren - Betty Duncan
Jeffrey Tambor - Stephen Montgomery
Theresa Saldana - Inez
Robert Pastorelli - Robert Pastorelli
Sasha Von Scherler - Eileen
Hardy Rawls - Hyatt
Tyra Ferrell - Maid
Julie Dolan - Girl
Leslie Bega - Girl
Nan Visitor - Lori
Lance Nichols - Cabbie
Pia Cronning Susan Montgomery



A plain, timid woman, working at a thrift store, finds a pair of expensive high heel shoes in a box of items that had just come in. When she slips them on, she takes on an entirely different personality. Her entire demeanor changes and she leaves the store and hails a cab.

She arrives at a palacial home, where she barges in and takes charge. She seems to be intimately familiar with the house and the maid, and the dog runs up to her as if it knows her. The maid demands that she leave, but after talking with the woman she is amazed to discover that the woman thinks she is Susan, the deceased wife of the home's owner. She knows everything about the maid's life, and walks upstairs to take a bath. While running the bath, the woman takes off the shoes. She is immediately herself again, and confused about where she is. The maid marches in and says she's calling the police, and the woman puts the shoes on again, frightened, so that she can leave.

With the shoes on, she is again the deceased wife, and "Susan" tells the maid that she's back. She calls her husband at work, telling him things only his wife would know.  The husband rushes home and finds a woman dressed in his late wife's clothes, with her personality but looking nothing like her. He tells her to leave, and they argue. She says that she didn't accidentally fall over the balcony, but that he pushed her and she was going to get her revenge. The man looks scared now. He leaves the room, and she goes for the gun she knows he hides. She chases him out of the house with the gun and threatens to kill him. The shoes hurt her feet, so she takes them off to massage them, and her own personality is back. Frightened at what is happening to her, she throws the shoes and the gun onto a garbage can, and leaves.

The man goes home, where his maid tells him that she's quitting. She won't work for a murderer. Outside, a young black woman picks up the shoes from the garbage can and puts them on. The spirit of Susan is back again, and she picks up the gun and saunters into the house with a knowing smile on her face. We hear a single gunshot come from inside the house.



Based on the original Twilight Zone's "Dead Man's Shoes," written by Charles Beaumont, this updated version is well done and inventive.  The teleplay was written by Lynn Barker, who also wrote the "Little Boy Lost" script that should never have been produced.  Here, though, she does a credible job by changing the protagonist from a man to a woman.  By doing that, she has opened up the story to take a completely different twist.  Everything came together in this episode and it's one of the best of the series.

Casting Helen Mirren in the role was a stroke of genius because she was one of the best actresses working then and now.  She is completely credible as a frumpy type, working at a local thrift store and being hit on by the lowlifes who frequent such places.  Seeing Robert Pastoreilli as the lowlife hitting her is amusing in itself; he looks very like a dime store Elvis. It's tough to make Mirren look mousy, but by subtly changing her body langauge she gave the impression of timidity and low self-esteem.  Using that same ability, Mirren becomes electric when she takes on the "Susan" persona.  She radiates self-confidence, and her walk is the stride of a beautiful woman with a purpose, completely different than the shuffling rythym she had as the thrift store worker. 

Her performance is more than matched by Jeffrey Tambor as the conniving husband.  He doesn't have much screen time, but what he does have he uses marvelously.  During their phone conversation, the camera is  set on a static shot of both of them.  For Mirren, it's just her expressive lips we see (Mirren has astonishing facial muscle control…she can express myriad emotions with just her nose and lips in this scene), as she tells her husband what he did, and for Tambor, we see his full face.  In his eyes we read an evil that is belied by his impassive face.  He has limpid brown eyes, but they show the depravity of his personality, and the emptiness of his soul.  These are two talented actors at the height of their powers, and the telephone conversation is magnificently staged. 

Therese Saldana is effective as the maid, rather too imperious with her employer than she should be, in the early scenes, though it could be she suspected him of murder all along and it influenced her actions.  I loved her performance in "I Wanna Hold You Hand," where she seemed much more vivacious.  But, that was made before 1980, when she was attacked by a crazy fan who stabbed her several times; she was rescued by a water deliveryman who was driving by and saw the attack.  She recovered from that and went back to acting, but in this teleplay she's a bit too restrained.