Night Gallery (1969–1973)
7.6/10
1,538
39 user 11 critic

Pilot 

A seemingly haunted painting drives a greedy man insane. A rich blind woman gets a new pair of eyes that allow her to see for only one brief ironic moment. An idyllic painting gives a Nazi war criminal in hiding some fleeting comfort.

Writer:

Rod Serling
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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Joan Crawford ... Miss Claudia Menlo (segment "Eyes")
Ossie Davis ... Osmund Portifoy (segment "The Cemetery")
Richard Kiley ... SS-Gruppenführer Helmut Arndt / Josef Strobe (segment "Escape Route")
Roddy McDowall ... Jeremy Evans (segment "The Cemetery")
Barry Sullivan ... Dr. Frank Heatherton (segment "Eyes")
Tom Bosley ... Sidney Resnick (segment "Eyes")
George Macready ... William Hendricks (segment "The Cemetery")
Sam Jaffe ... Bleum (segment "Escape Route")
Norma Crane ... Gretchen (segment "Escape Route")
Barry Atwater ... Carson (segment "The Cemetery")
George Murdock ... 1st Agent (segment "Escape Route")
Tom Basham Tom Basham ... Gibbons (segment "The Cemetery")
Byron Morrow ... George J. Packer (segment "Eyes")
Garry Goodrow Garry Goodrow ... Louis (segment "Eyes")
Shannon Farnon ... 1st Nurse (segment "Eyes")
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Storyline

In the pilot of the television series Night Gallery (1969), 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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Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Rod Serling's introduction for the pilot episode is different to that of the regular television series. Each canvas is covered with a sheet and there are no other paintings on display. See more »

Goofs

At the beginning of the Joan Crawford segment, we're told that Miss Menlo lives on Fifth Avenue. But the opening shot is on Park Avenue, not Fifth. See more »

Quotes

SS-Gruppenführer Helmut Arndt: Please! If there is a god, let him show himself now! Get me into the picture! I must get into the picture! Please, please! God, Christ, anyone! Get me into the picture! I must get into the picture!
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Connections

Referenced in The Making of '1941' (1996) See more »

Soundtracks

Deutschlandlied
Music by Joseph Haydn
Lyrics by August Heinrich Hoffman von Fallersleben
Performed by Richard Kiley
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User Reviews

 
Exhibiting unwholesome behavior...
5 January 2005 | by majikstlSee 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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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

8 November 1969 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Night Gallery See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Television See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

4:3
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