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The Twilight Zone:
Nightmare at 20,000 Feet
William Shatner, Chris White, Ed Kemmer ...more
Cited by many aficionados as the all-time best Twilight Zone episode, "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" benefits immeasurably from a bravura performance by star William Shatner. While travelling through rough weather on a passenger plane, former mental patient Bob Wilson (Shatner) peers out of his window -- and sees a hideous gremlin balanced on the plane's wing. Doubting his own sanity, Bob tries to convince himself that he is merely hallucinating. . .and then the gremlin begins to tear the wing apart. Adapted by Richard Matheson from his own short story, "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" was originally telecast October 11, 1963. ..
The best segment of the film centers on John Lithgow as a deliriously overexcited airline passenger, whose very active fear of flying is embodied in the gremlin he (and only he) sees on the plane's wing, wreaking havoc with the film's engine
Word History: Elves, goblins, and trolls seem to be timeless creations of the distant past, but gremlins were born in the 20th century. In fact, gremlin is first recorded only in the 1920s, as a Royal Air Force term for a low-ranking officer or enlisted man saddled with oppressive assignments. Said to have been invented by members of the Royal Naval Air Service in World War I, gremlin is used in works written in the 1940s for "an imaginary gnomelike creature who causes difficulties in aircraft." The word seems likely to have been influenced by goblin, but accounts of its origin are various and none are certain. One source calls in Fremlin beer bottles to explain the word; another, the Irish Gaelic word gruaimín, "ill-humored little fellow." Whatever the word's origin, it is certain that gremlins have taken on a life of their own.