The Twilight Zone (1959–1964)
16 user 1 critic

Showdown with Rance McGrew 

The star of a Western TV series suddenly finds himself transported back in time to the real Wild West, and face-to-face with the real Jesse James.


Christian Nyby


Rod Serling, Frederick Louis Fox (based on an idea by) (as Frederic L. Fox) | 2 more credits »




Episode complete credited cast:
Larry Blyden ... Rance McGrew
Arch Johnson ... Jesse James
Robert Cornthwaite ... Director
Robert Stevenson ... TV Bartender (as Robert J. Stevenson)
Bill McLean ... Prop Man (as William McLean)
Troy Melton ... Cowboy #1
Jay Overholts Jay Overholts ... Cowboy #2
Hal K. Dawson Hal K. Dawson ... Old Man
Bob Kline Bob Kline ... TV Jesse James (as Robert Kline)
James Turley James Turley ... Rance's Double (as Jim Turley)


Rance McGrew is the star of a weekly TV western where he plays the town Marshal. He is, to say the least, difficult to deal with. He is frequently late on the set, arrives unprepared and often requests script changes just as they are about to shoot a scene. To top it off, he's quite inept at handling his gun which he inadvertently tosses into the saloon mirror on more than one occasion. He's given a dose of reality however when he inexplicably finds himself back in time, coming face to face with the real Jesse James. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

2 February 1962 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


This episode reunites director Christian Nyby and actor Robert Cornthwaite, who previously worked together on The Thing from Another World (1951). In this episode, Cornthwaite plays a nervous and frustrated director who has to deal with a vain, bumbling cowboy actor. On the DVD commentary, Cornthwaite states that Nyby told him to play the director character as a funny version of Nyby himself. Cornthwaite praised Nyby's sense of humor. See more »


At different times while they are filming Rance's various takes in the saloon, his Ford T-Bird with the longhorns is clearly visible out in the street. See more »


Jesse James: [Mocking Rance McGrew] Just like I figured. This guy couldn't outdraw a crayon.
See more »


Referenced in Everybody Wants Some!! (2016) See more »

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User Reviews

The Funniest TZ I have ever seen
6 August 2009 | by Dr.BrentSee all my reviews

TZ was never known for its comedy which makes this episode stand out. A lot of the gags are played a little too broadly but are still fun. My favorite is the Marshall's repeated calls for "Stuntman!". Another good aspect of this episode is the high quality actors playing the director, the AD, the lead, and Jesse James. They all seem to be enjoying the ride, maybe a little too much, as the acting is a little more hammy than needed at times. It has the requisite twist ending but even it is played for laughs. So many TZ episodes seem stretched too far beyond the twist just fill the time. This episode is slightly too long but the comedic acting keeps your interest. Highly recommended.

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