"The Prime Mover" is the 21st episode of the second season of The Twilight Zone, and was first broadcast in March of 1961. It starred Dane Clark and Buddy Ebsen as cafe workers Ace Larsen and Jimbo Cobb, and Christine White as Ace's girlfriend Kitty. Buddy Ebsen had been an actor for two decades, and this episode came out the same year that he appeared in Breakfast at Tiffany's and the year before he got his role in The Beverly Hillbillies.
Ace and Jimbo work together (and possibly own) a small cafe in Nevada, along with Ace's girlfriend Kitty. Ace wants to marry Kitty, but his compulsive gambling and the poor business at the cafe have not allowed him to save up money to marry her. When a car crashes outside, Jimbo saves it through telekinesis, a power he has been concealing for years. Ace quickly decides to use Jimbo's telekinetic powers to win at gambling. Although this succeeds at first, it alienates Kitty and looks headed for disaster when he invites a high-powered gangster up to his room for a private game of craps.
The last time we saw someone use supernatural powers to gamble, it didn't turn out well, and I was expecting a similar outcome to this episode. Much of the appeal of the episode for me came from the tension between wanting to see the smug, greedy and crass Larsen get his comeuppance, and suspense about just how violent it would be.
There are two interesting cast notes: first, while watching the episode, I caught echoes of Of Mice and Men, with the pairing of a smart man and a slower man (although Ebsen's character is just unsophisticated, not actually unintelligent). Twenty years before this episode was made, Dane Clark portrayed George in the Broadway version of Of Mice and Men. Secondly, it was quite fortunate that the producers managed to cast Buddy Ebsen in this episode, since there is probably no one else in Hollywood history who was better suited for playing the character of the friendly, naive man. It might be that his appearance in this episode helped inspire Ebsen's role the next year as Jed Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies.