Twilight Zone – An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

★★★★★ Feburary 28, 1964 Season 5 Episode 22

If you want to see where we are…HERE is a list of the episodes.

This one is a totally different animal in the Twilight Zone catalog. It was not written or adapted for the show. The producer William Froug had seen An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, a French film that had won first prize for short subjects at the 1962 Cannes Film Festival. Based on the story by Ambrose Bierce, it told the story of a condemned Confederate spy who, during the instant that he’s falling before the rope breaks his neck, imagines an involved and successful escape.

The Twilight Zone was running over budget for the year so they paid 10,000 dollars for a one year viewing and it balanced their budget. The film was shortened by several minutes and an introduction by Serling was added and voilà… it was a Twilight Zone.

The first time I watched this, I didn’t like it as much because I wasn’t expecting it. Now when watching it I realize what a brilliant short film it is. It was almost entirely silent…there were maybe a half-dozen lines in film. It fits the Twilight Zone on one hand…but on another it works independently of it because it was made that way.

A good watch and I reccomend it. It has a little different look and feel but it fits.

I found a discrepancy on who saw the film at a film festival. Rod Serling or the producer William Froug. I’ve read conflicting info at different places. I stated above William Froug because of Marc Scott Zicree’s book on the Twilight Zone. Below this you will see IMDB Trivia saying Mr. Serling…Until confirmed otherwise I will stick to the book. Who knows? Maybe they went together.


IMDB Trivia: Rod Serling was getting ready to take his end-of-season break, with all but one of the shows for the fifth season already filmed or in production, when he decided to leave early and go to a French film festival. There he saw Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (1961) and immediately hunted down the producers with an offer to buy it for a one-time showing for American TV. Serling reportedly picked it up for $10,000 and flew straight back to Los Angeles, filming a new intro the moment he got to the studio and plugging the show into that same week’s time slot. Not only did Serling get what was considered a classic, he also saved nearly $100,000 in production costs and brought the season’s worth of shows in on budget. This prompted ABC-TV to offer to pick up The Twilight Zone (1959) for another season. Serling said no to the deal when his discussions over the content of the new season made it appear he would be “going to the graveyard” for each show, doing Gothic horror shows. (ABC did want that, and eventually would pick up Dark Shadows: The Vampire Curse (1966), which fit the bill, in daytime.) ironically, Serling would return to television in 1970 for three seasons of Night Gallery (1970) on NBC, consisting of the exact format that ABC had asked for.

The 1962 French version of Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (1961) won the Academy Award for Best Short Subject.

The French title of this film -“La riviere du hibou” – translates into English as “The River of the Owl.”

This show was written by Ambrose Bierce Robert Enrico

Rod Serling’s Opening Narration: 

Tonight a presentation so special and unique that, for the first time in the five years we’ve been presenting The Twilight Zone, we’re offering a film shot in France by others. Winner of the Cannes Film Festival of 1962, as well as other international awards, here is a haunting study of the incredible, from the past master of the incredible, Ambrose Bierce. Here is the French production of ‘An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.


A Southern planter is about to be hanged for sabotage during the Civil War; when he is dropped off the bridge the rope breaks and he flees for his safety amid bullets and shots from a cannon. In this wonderful adaptation of Ambrose Bierce’s short story, the depths of a condemned man’s mind are probed. What does go through one’s mind moments before death?

Rod Serling’s Closing Narration:

An occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge – in two forms, as it was dreamed, and as it was lived and died. This is the stuff of fantasy, the thread of imagination… the ingredients of the Twilight Zone.


Rod Serling … Narrator (voice) (uncredited)
Roger Jacquet … Peyton Farquhar
Anne Cornaly … Mrs. Farquhar
Anker Larsen … Union Officer
Stéphane Fey … Union Officer
Jean-François Zeller … Union Sergeant
Pierre Danny … Union Soldier
Louis Adelin … Union Soldier



Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

26 thoughts on “Twilight Zone – An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”

  1. what an interesting concept – buying a ready-made movie . If it fits the show, why not ? Serling was probably relieved not to have to come up with a new script that week!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved this episode also. Thank you for including all of the background info on it. I really was no expecting that end! As far as using a French-made Academy Award winning film for an episode, why reinvent the wheel? It fits flawlessly into the spirit of Twilight Zone. Max…. have you ever considered covering The Night Gallery the way you have done with this? I would love to revisit those one episode at a time. I know it would be a lot, but maybe only do one a week?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Only 44 episodes…that helps! There were some short segments added to each episode. That wouldn’t be too bad. They had like 1a 1b 1c….and that counted as a nightly episode….anyway it would be doable.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah, yes…the Ambrose Bierce episode. Bierce had a sharp, biting wit and was very sarcastic. I’ve enjoyed his Devil’s Dictionary. What a smart ass.

    I remember watching Night Gallery with my dad. It was right up there with Circle of Fear/Ghost Story. Good stuff. It’s a shame that Night Gallery doesn’t make the rounds like TZ.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Do you want them? It is very inconsistent but fun to watch. The pilot was by far the best but there were some creepy episodes


      1. Sure! They would be a nice re-visit. That reminds me…I need to get my TZ magazines to you. I may have asked you this, before but, would you be interested in my uncut sheet of Bionic Woman? It would look really good in your 70s room…just sayin’…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well yes I would but I would gladly pay for them…you know that…but hey…sure I would love them lol…..that question is quite stupid for me…that’s like asking me if I would want to live longer.


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