★★★★★ 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 BierceRobert 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