WRITERS ON SCREEN: Stephen King’s THE LANGOLIERS — The Writer as Unassuming Hero, Pt1

I’m sorry. I write about these things but I haven’t participated in them, until now.– Bob Jenkins in “The Langoliers” (mini-series).

Four Past Midnight is the second collection of novella length stories by Stephen King. It was published in 1990 and, contains the novella The Langoliers, which five years later became a four hour ABC-TV mini-series that aired as two episodes of two hours each on May 14 and May 15. Four Past Midnight has been described as “horror with supernatural elements” and The Langoliers mini-series lives up to that description, although Bronson Pinchot

as Craig T4PastMidnightoomey is way scarier than anything in the mini-series including The Langoliers.

Stephen King writes about writers a lot: The Shining, Misery, Bag of Bones, Secret Window, Secret Garden, all of which have been adapted to the screen, but by far, The Langoliers is my favorite because the writer is not a victim, or a crazy, or an obsessive. The writer is the hero. How often does that happen?

What’s even better is Dean Stockwell, who portrays Bob Jenkins, the writer in The Langoliers. Stockwell starred as The Boy with the Green Hair when he was twelve years old and under contract at MGM, but is probably better known as Admiral Al Calavicci from the hit TV series Quantum Leap or the seriously psycho Ben in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet.

Child actor Dean Stockwell in Gentleman’s Agreement (1947)

In The Langoliers mini-series, as Bob Jenkins, he looks anything but heroic. He’s short, kind of disheveled without any fashion sense, and yet…

Ten people on American Pride’s Flight 29 from Los Angeles to Boston wake up to find themselves all that remain of the passengers, flight attendants and flight crew. Among the ten are an off-duty airline pilot, Cpt. Brian Engle (David Morse), and a James Bond type from MI6 also with a license to kill, Nick Hopewell (Mark Lindsay Chapman).

While the Captain and Nick sort out things in the cock-pit, writer Bob calms the civilians and tries to get their thinking organized, but psycho-in-a-suit Craig Toomey, all sweaty, twitchy, and wrong will not be calmed nor organized. Eventually, the MI6 guy puts him in a nose lock, which chills Toomey out considerably, while serving to bond the others in solidarity against a common enemy: the monstrously annoying and perniciously demanding airline passenger. “There’s one on every flight,” to quote a line from the mini-series

Cast of The Langoliers (1990)

As Dinah Bellman (Kate Maberly) the little twelve year-old blind girl continues her freak-out because her Aunt, with whom she was travelling, has disappeared, the repressed school-teacher, Laurel Stevenson (Patricia Wettig) goes into nurture mode; Don Gaffney (Frankie Faison) the aircraft tool and die worker who was on his way to see his first grandchild, keeps Toomey in check; teenage rehab runaway, Bethany Simms (Kimber Riddle) tries desperately to hold her shit together, while the young violinist Albert Kaussner (Christopher Collet) attempts to console her. In the midst of all this, businessman Rudy Warwick (Baxter Harris) bumbles about looking for food after sleeping through most of the initial horror. The writer, Bob Jenkins is the only one to ask the $64,000 question: “Where did everybody go, and why didn’t we go with them?”

Dean Stockwell



One Comment

  1. Mharlyn says:

    Reblogged this on WORDSMITH IN THE FILM POOL and commented:

    It’s been awhile. I’m posting Pt.2. Thought you might need a catch-up.


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