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Is it a Cooper story?
Is a Richard Matheson story based on a Cooper story?

Comments on Is it a Cooper story?

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Posted Mar 31, 2008 - 5:43 PM:

I've been doing some research recently that involved Rod Serling, The Twilight Zone, and Richard Matheson. In a letter that Serling wrote to Matheson defending the many accusations he received in the late fifties, early sixties accusing him of plagerism of stories by writers such as Matheson, Bradbury, Beaumont and George Clayton Johnson, he writes this:

"In the case of Dick Matheson, his script FLIGHT [actually The Last Flight] was down-the-line almost a twin to a radio show by Willis Cooper on the old "Quiet, Please" many, many years ago." [Letter to Charles Beaumont by Rod Serling]

Now, I know Quiet, Please pretty well, but I cannot see where Matheson's script was based upon a Cooper story (at least on Quiet, Please). If you are not familiar with the Matheson script, here is a brief summary from Wikipedia:

"A British World War I fighter pilot (Decker) lands his Nieuport biplane on a 1959 American airbase after flying through a strange cloud. He is immediately taken into custody and questioned. After some prodding, he recounts how he was on patrol with his friend Alexander Mackaye, who was set upon by seven German aircraft. Instead of staying to help, Decker fled into the clouds, leaving him to die. He learns that Mackaye survived and went on to become a great hero in World War II, saving many lives in the Blitz. In fact, Air Vice-Marshal Mackaye is on his way to inspect the base.

Decker can't see how Mackaye could have survived the dogfight, until one of his interrogators suggests he got help. Since there were no other friendly fighters in the sector, Decker figures that it had to have been him who saved Mackaye, so he escapes to his plane and flies back through the cloud. Later, when Mackaye arrives, he is stunned when he is shown Decker's identification card. He reveals Decker did in fact save his life—at the cost of his own."

I haven't begun looking over Lights Out yet, though the story is not really of the kind of genre that LO evoked. I am pretty sure that Serling, who was very defensive at that time, might have been recalling incorrectly from his childhood thinking it was a Cooper story.

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Posted Mar 31, 2008 - 8:03 PM:

Serling's probably thinking of "One for the Book" which features a time traveling air force pilot from 1957 landing at an army air base in 1937 and carrying a tell-tale identification card.
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Posted Apr 01, 2008 - 3:46 AM:

Yeah, Ironically, after I posted that, I went deeper and re-listened to "One for the Books." I'm sure that is indeed the story to which Serling referred. I think it was both Matheson and Serling's memory acting a bit faulty when Serling described it as a twin story.

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