Night Gallery: Season 1, Episode 0

Night Gallery (8 Nov. 1969)

TV Episode  -   -  Drama | Fantasy | Horror
7.2
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In the pilot of the television series _"Night Gallery" (1970)_, Rod Serling introduces three separate paintings, each with its own story of uncanny vengeance against evil to tell. The first... See full summary »

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Title: Night Gallery (08 Nov 1969)

Night Gallery (08 Nov 1969) on IMDb 7.2/10

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
...
Miss Claudia Menlo
...
Osmund Portifoy
...
SS-Gruppenführer Helmut Arndt / Josef Strobe
...
Jeremy Evans
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Dr. Frank Heatherton
...
Sidney Resnick
...
William Hendricks
...
Bleum
...
Gretchen
Barry Atwater ...
Carson
...
1st Agent
Tom Basham ...
Gibbons
Byron Morrow ...
George J. Packer
Garry Goodrow ...
Louis
...
1st Nurse
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Storyline

In the pilot of the television series _"Night Gallery" (1970)_, Rod Serling introduces three separate paintings, each with its own story of uncanny vengeance against evil to tell. The first, "The Cemetery", involves a black sheep nephew (Roddy McDowall) who murders his rich uncle to inherit his fortune - both much to the detriment of the uncle's butler (Ossie Davis) - only to find that vengeance extends beyond the grave. In the second story, "Eyes", a rich, heartless woman (Joan Crawford) who has been blind from birth blackmails an aspiring surgeon and a man who desperately needs money to give her a pair of eyes which will allow her to see for the first time - even though for only half a day's time - only to have the plan backfire on her in ways she never imagined. In the third story, "The Escape Route", a Nazi war criminal (Richard Kiley) is hiding from the authorities in South America, where he is confronted with his past demons and a curious Holocaust survivor (Sam Jaffe) and finds... Written by Curly Q. Link

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Unrated | See all certifications »

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8 November 1969 (USA)  »

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4:3
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Trivia

The "Eyes" segment was Steven Spielberg's professional debut as a director. This was quite an auspicious beginning, considering that he was to direct screen legend Joan Crawford, winner of an Academy Award who had been acting in films since 1925. See more »

Goofs

In the opening segment, the proximity and arrangement of the trees and headstones of the family graveyard varies wildly between shots and points of view; particularly the direction in which the prominent "Hendricks" monument faces and where the small tree outside the window is. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Rate It X (1986) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Exhibiting unwholesome behavior...
5 January 2005 | by (St. Louis, Missouri) – See all my reviews

This remarkable trio of spooky stories served as a pilot to the not-quite-so remarkable TV series of the same name, though now it is just as likely remembered as the point where two screen legends passed at opposite trajectories of their careers. Steven Spielberg's first professional directing job was segment two of this anthology, which also proved to be one of Joan Crawford's last acting efforts, certainly her last worth noting.

Conceived by another legend, the brilliant Rod Serling, the concept of the film and subsequent series was meant to be a variation on his classic "Twilight Zone" series, varying tales of supernatural horror, each tied to a grotesque painting and each introduced by Serling, acting as the gallery's curator. It was an excellent start, though the resulting series proved to be a pale imitation of "The Twilight Zone," a peculiar hodgepodge of styles and concepts, some classics and some just plain silly.

The TV movie itself stands alone, though the trio of tales unfold in descending order. The first and best is "The Cemetery," a variation on the classic ghost story. In this southern Gothic creeper, Roddy McDowall murders his wealthy uncle, but finds that enjoying his newfound inheritance is a bit difficult since a painting on the wall seems to suggest that Uncle is buried, but not dead. The story is slight, even silly, but boy, oh boy, does Roddy know how to chew the scenery. I can think of no other actor who so obviously loved to act more than McDowall and here he plays evil to the hilt. Roddy was undoubtedly one of the most intrinsically likable stars there ever was, so much so that he could play the most despicably evil characters and still make the character a delight. "The Cemetery" is nicely written by Serling and tightly directed by Boris Segal, but it is Roddy's one-man show.

But if Roddy McDowall could make loathsome characters inexplicably likable, than Joan Crawford had the knack for negating any trace of sympathy that her characters might possess. In Spielberg's "Eyes," Joan plays a ruthless millionairess who happens to be blind, but has the chance to briefly see again by buying the eyes of a living person who is in desperate need of money. It is a nice performance; hard and demanding, Crawford never asks for pity, but nevertheless earns it with the story's nifty twist ending. More a clever idea than a solid story, the tale is not particularly suspenseful; bit it does displays a cool sense of cynical irony. And never is it apparent that it is Spielberg's first crack at professional film-making, so sure is his use of the camera and setting of mood.

The third tale of the trilogy, "Escape Route," is probably the most like the classic "Twilight Zone," dark and brooding; yet least successful as a thriller. Richard Kiley is a war criminal who thinks he can escape his past by literally throwing himself into art. Rod Serling has other ideas. As the trilogy's closing act, I guess it was suppose to be the one with the most impact, the one to show off Serling's penchant for moralizing. It doesn't quite come off. I think part of the problem is that Kiley, a good actor, lacks a powerful screen presence. The best episodes of "Night Gallery," and for that matter "The Twilight Zone," featured actors with strong personalities who were not only talented, but adept at pushing their performances to the edge, flirting with going over the top, just as McDowall and Crawford do. Any short form fiction, be it on the page or on the screen, needs that heightened sense of drama, that admission that reality has been left behind.

Though it had some strong episodes at first, the "Night Gallery" TV series fell out of Serling's control and eventually became sort of a ghost story version of "Love, American Style," a crude mix of cheap jokes and heavy-handed suspense. It's a pity that it didn't stay true to this pilot; it could have been another "Twilight Zone."


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