Monday, January 17, 2011

Spotlight on James Goldstone

by David J. Schow

James Goldstone in his home office (photo by DJS)
Frequently, interviewing Outer Limits principals in one-shot-for-all-time mode quickly morphed from a nervous chore to an unexpected pleasure.  Case in point:  James Goldstone, who only did two Outer Limits episodes (“The Sixth Finger” and the only two-parter, “The Inheritors”), but was perfectly suited to the emergent identity and thrust of the series.  Like David McCallum, Jim’s memory of making “Sixth Finger” was specific and damned-near encyclopedic, a recurrent boon among subjects who recalled their episodes with no small measure of affection and pride.  This occurred more often than this poor interviewer deserved, and confirmed that I was, in fact, onto something special.  I wish I had been able to nail the Stefano-regime scripts that Goldstone told me he had turned down (see book excerpt).  Our planned one-hour talk quickly passed sundown (I ran out of tape!), and Jim even loaned me his actual shooting scripts for both of his shows — nearly every obverse page (the backsides of the script pages) literally covered wall-to-wall with Jim’s sketches for blocking and camera movement.

Sample Goldstone script page from the final chamber scene—note Goldstone's reference to "Cathy breaks trance."

(Another benefit was that nearly everybody I interviewed gave me a copy of the script—Ellis St. Joseph, Goldstone, and then Stefano—so I was able to track the changes and rewrites very minutely.)

It was Jim who performed an emergency save on Star Trek, when that show’s pilot tanked with NBC.  Result:  “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” a show in every way evocative of an Outer Limits in color, and one of the very few watchable Star Treks, suggesting a grandeur that series would have done well to embrace more.

I remember that as we overlapped onto dinnertime in the Goldstone household, Jim invited me to stay and eat.  I didn’t want to impose and felt I’d already absorbed too much of his time.  I wish I’d stayed for dinner, and more of the kind of intelligent, incisive and articulate conversation one enjoys all too rarely, especially these days.

Jim died too soon, at age 68 in 1999.  His papers are archived in the Dartmouth College Library.

Mike Parks' "The Sixth Toe" super-deform resin kit, alongside a vintage Daystar business card, for scale.


  1. Nice stuff, David. (Never saw this "Sixth Toe" grotesque before!) It's gratifying---in a selfish way, I suppose---to hear that so many of the cast and crew vindicate our ongoing appreciation with their own fond memories.

    I'd forgotten that Goldstone was responsible for "Where No Man Has Gone Before" (another Sally Kellerman sighting!). I agree completely that it's an atypical ST, with a brand of unfolding super-intellectual menace not unlike Gwyllm in "The Sixth Finger" (if a little more arrogant). Always a clearly superior ST entry.

    Goldstone sounds like as nice a person as he was a gifted director.

  2. Great stuff; now I will proceed to sit and stare for at least 20 minutes at Goldstone's diagram and notes (how is it that I seem to spend FAR more time every day on this blog than I intend to?)

    Thanks for posting, Dave.


  3. Wonderful memories of an obviously incredibly gifted and genuine Hollywood talent. He did three great hours of OL, that's for sure.

    What an unforgettable opportunity you had to talk with him, and it also must have been so enjoyable for him to talk with such an enthusiastic and knowledgeable chronicler.

    Yes, you definitely should have stayed for dinner...

  4. Those notes are fascinating to study, and demonstrate what a thoughtful, serious filmmaker Gladstone was.

    I'm hoping there isn't a quiz on Friday.

  5. I love the work he did on TOL and ST's pilot.

    Does anyone know if Goldstone was interviewed in any of the genre magazines? I'm think along the lines of 'Starlog', 'Cinefantastique', 'FilmFax', ect, ect.

  6. Thanks for the visit, David. So true about "Where No Man Has Gone Before".


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