"The Twilight Zone" The Grave (TV Episode 1961) Poster

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"We all know the dead can't really harm nobody"--right?
mlraymond3 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
A brilliantly written and acted episode, with many familiar faces turning in some unusual performances. The mere idea of seeing Lee Marvin acting scared is fascinating enough to justify watching it.

There's a convincing, primitive feeling to the little shack where the men are gathered to drink and play cards a few nights after Pinto Sykes' burial. Odd touches such as the bartender wearing a derby, unusual names like Mr. Mothershed, and a tough gunslinger being referred to as "Connie" without a hint of humor, make this episode stand out. It has a strange atmosphere not like any other western I've ever seen. The pervasive sound of the wind, the nervousness of all present, so that they jump whenever the door bangs open suddenly, the repetitive guitar chords strummed by the talkative Johnny Rob, the sly way that Mothershed seems to exonerate Connie of not doing his job, while pointing it out at the same time, the clever dialogue that makes these characters sound oddly believable. There is much here to savor and enjoy.

When Connie makes his trip alone to the graveyard, notice the tension in his face as he sees the figure approaching over the hill, and the spooky little laugh that Pinto's sister gives when she leaves him. The way his hand pauses before opening the gate, the sweat on his face when he crouches for a moment. The way he looks at his six shooter, as if remembering Mothershed's mocking remark, " We all know you can draw your gun real fast, Connie, we seen it. But out in that graveyard, that gun ain't gonna be worth a copper cent." Perhaps one key line sums up the appeal to viewers of this unsettling story. When Connie angrily demands to know why everyone thinks he's afraid to go visit Pinto's grave, Mothershed responds quietly, " Because we'd be afraid." When Lee Marvin steps uncertainly into that lonely, isolated graveyard, we go with him.
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"The Grave" is haunting ghost story with a twist
chuck-reilly8 August 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Prolific television director and writer Montgomery Pittman is the main force behind this Twilight Zone story set in the old west. Pinto Sykes, a notorious and feared gunfighter, is killed by a hail of bullets fired by the citizens of a small western town. One of the men who had hunted him relentlessly, Connie Miller (a mean-looking Lee Marvin), arrives too late to see his long-time adversary fall. Pinto is already buried in the local cemetery on a wind-swept barren hilltop. But there is a strange challenge awaiting Miller. Three of the town's citizens who keep their company together in the town's only saloon dare Miller to visit the grave in the middle of the night. The three men (Lee Van Cleef, Strother Martin and James Best) are convinced that Pinto's ghost haunts the area and that he can still reach out and kill his enemies if they're within striking distance. Already suspicious of Miller's belated entrance to the scene, the men are willing to bet a considerable amount of money that Miller is too frightened and cowardly to visit Pinto's grave-site. At first, Miller scoffs at the idea and feels insulted by the wager, but after some badgering and an exchange of harsh words, he decides to take them up on the bet. The wager is simple enough; to prove beyond a doubt that he has visited the grave, Miller must plunge a knife into the ground where Pinto's body is buried. If the knife is still there in the morning, the money is his. Sounds like easy money...except for the fact that the graveyard is in the Twilight Zone.

"The Grave" is one of the more atmospheric Twilight Zone stories and its high-quality can be attributed to the fine performances of the cast, especially Lee Marvin and Strother Martin. Elen Willard also makes an appearance as Pinto's rather psychic sister and she adds another touch of eeriness to the proceedings. At the end of this tale, the howling wind blows through Pinto Sykes' desolate grave-site, leaving viewers with a sudden chill and maybe a nightmare or two. And Connie Miller's knife?
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The wind does change?
Spikeopath23 February 2014
Written and directed by Montgomery Pittman and starring Lee Marvin, Strother Martin, James Best, Lee Van Cleef, Stafford Rep and Ellen Willard.

The best of the Western themed Twilight Zone episodes finds Conny Miller (Marvin) returning to his local town after famed outlaw Pinto Sykes (Richard Geary) has been shot and killed by the townsfolk. Conny had been hired to track Pinto and kill him himself, but surprisingly he never got close to him, something Pinto took great delight in letting folk know that Conny was afraid of him and purposely kept his distance. A deathbed vow from Pinto is relayed to Conny, resulting in a challenge for him to go up to Pinto's grave at midnight and stick a dagger in the earth…

A ghostly Zone episode that begins in a blaze of gunfire frenzy but the settles into a moody slow build before revealing its wonderfully ambiguous finale. The cast list is a Western fan's dream, the crisp photography by George T. Clemens accentuates the feeling that there might be supernatural forces at work, and Pittman's unhurried direction proves to be a masterstroke. 9/10
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'he'll reach up and grab ya!'
darrenpearce11131 December 2013
Far more of a western-ghost story than the usual style of TZ which tended to be ordinary people caught up in a sudden, weird turn of events. Pinto, a western bad guy is shot dead when the townsmen surround him and they fire eight bullets. So who shot him? No one wants to claim to have killed him, as their fear of Pinto transcends the rational. They only know that the hired bounty hunter Conny Miller (Lee Marvin) was not there to do it.

An intriguing ghost story, written and directed by Montgomery Pittman. Slowly but effectively building as Lee Marvin puts in a good performance as a tough guy who tries to shake off the implied suggestion of cowardice. The barfly townsmen tentatively dare Marvin's gunfighter towards visiting Pinto's grave late at night. Something they're afraid of themselves, especially as they don't know who's bullet killed him. One of them says that he reckons the dead Pinto knows now!

The supporting cast is impressive, Lee Van Cleef ('The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly'), James Best ('The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank',also series three), and Strother Martin (of numerous westerns).

Not an episode with a message, but one to be enjoyed late at night... unless...well...'unless maybe you ain't brave enough ?'.
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All Star Cast* On This Twilight Zone episode
rentatrip112 September 2012
Here we have , Lee Marvin, William Challee, Strother Martin , Lee Van Cleef, James Best & Stafford Repp...this may be one of the most illustrious of Hollywood's elite ever assembled on any of the Twilight Zone original TV episodes. William Challee always did have a dead on perfect Walter Houston, his imitation as seen in the first 7 minutes of this episode as a mirror image of old Walter (think Treasure of Sierra Madre & John Houston's Father) has to be what originally caught my eye as I have until now never seen this one. Marvin is, as always the somber and heavy protagonist as the over compensating mercenary / Bounty Hunter, even if his character seems to be the "good guy". This one is a very intense, well directed 30 minute "Western" with that "Serling Twist". It is now my favorite, without question TZ. Mark it down as one of the top ten all time Classic Twilight Zone's.
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Western Ghost Story
AaronCapenBanner28 October 2014
Lee Marvin plays lawman Conny Miller, who has spent four months tracking down a wanted man, only to find that he was gunned down and killed by local townsmen. Frustrated at his failure, the locals(played by Strother Martin & James Best) offer him a bet that he isn't brave enough to visit the outlaw's grave that night, since he supposedly issued a curse on Miller. The outlaw's sister also defies and mocks Miller, who takes the bet and will plant his knife on the grave to prove he was there, but his mission ends most unexpectedly... Spooky ghost story set in the old west is well cast, written and directed, creating a most effective spectral nocturnal atmosphere.
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The Grave
Scarecrow-881 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
It's a major surprise to see such a rich cast of male actors who could make a theatrical western hum with excitement, featured together in a spooky Twilight Zone episode of twenty or so minutes. It features none other than Lee Marvin as a cranky and aggressive gunfighter paid by a frightened town to track a known and feared criminal to kill him. After a long period of time, Marvin's tracker, Conny Miller was not able to accomplish what he was paid to do(..with most, if not all, of the quiet little town believing Conny was afraid of the killer, Pinto Sykes)so the citizens surrounded Pinto in the street, gunning him down in the process. Entering town after Sykes had been buried(..perhaps a sign in itself that he was chicken of the quick-drawing gunfighter), Conny is looked upon by those still awake in the saloon, "blabbermouth" Johnny Rob(Jamed Best;Dukes of Hazzard), trembling Mothershed(Strother Martin)and "businessman" Steinhart(Lee Van Cleef), with quiet resentment, informing their tracker that Pinto was in fact dead, wagering him that he hasn't the guts to visit the murdered criminal's grave at Midnight. Angered at such a suggestion, Conny takes them up on it, although no matter how tough and rugged his appearance is externally, it's visible that he can not hide the fear lurking within. Bravely, Conny makes it to the grave by way of a path, notices Pinto's kooky(..and drunk)sister Ione(Elen Willard)after just visiting her brother, and decides to confront the demons which haunt him. All he has to do is plunge the bartender's knife into Pinto's grave, but will it be that simple?

First, the town is rendered quite eerie thanks to the way the wind sounds and blows the coats of the characters. The town itself looks quite different during Pinto's death at the hands of the tired citizens in the shootout and once Conny arrives. I think the scene in the saloon is about as good as you can make it if attempting to show men deftly afraid of a man's grave. One can sense that Pinto Sykes struck terror in this town and that his grip was firmly held for a long time no matter where he was at any present time. Marvin, Lee Van Cleef, James Best and Strother Martin all in the same scene together is enough to send a western fan into a frenzy, and for just a twenty five minute episode of Twilight Zone, it's quite a thrill. I like how Best and Martin are presented so cowardly and stricken with fear over Pinto Sykes and how Marvin pretty much causes them a bit of nervousness as well. What I particularly like is how, though, they ever so delicately question Conny's manhood, and almost place Pinto Sykes on a pedestal. Sykes' powerful hold over this town is etched so evidently on even Conny, even though he tries to hide under this menacing veneer, pushing weakling farm-boy Johnny Rob around when he attempts to challenge him on the dare to visit the grave. The graveyard itself is so threatening and creepy, the way dead trees surround tombstones and how the hill is so choppy, dark, and imposing. Still, without that wind, the show wouldn't have been as effective. The wind even plays a major part in Conny's fate, describing what seems obvious, explained by Steinhart(..who reasons a situation realistically, although he himself probably first felt that Pinto's ghost played a hand in it)and what is far more probable and chilling thanks to Ione who uses his own theory against him.
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The origin of this story
nutaitisf16 October 2007
The original story was entitled "The Path Through the Cemetery" written by Leonard Q. Ross. It has been adapted by many authors into various genres. The concept of the obsession factor in the TZ episode may come into play a bit, but I doubt that it was inspired at all by Moby Dick. The original story is set in Russia and involves some soldiers who pick on a local, shy, young man and mock him by calling him "Ivan the Terrible." They issue the challenge to walk through the cemetery and give him a sword to plunge into the ground at the center. There is no character like the character of Pinto. Ivan is simply a person afraid of his own shadow. However, the central theme is the same but the story ends with his death, not with anyone commenting upon the possibility of a supernatural occurrence.
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Did they film this when Liberty Valance was shot
MarvinSeibert4 July 2017
Just an observation that they must have filmed this during the making of "The Man who Shot Liberty Valance" since Lee Marvin and Lee Van Cleet and Strother Martin who were part of Liberty's gang were in this episode. James Best was another excellent addition to this episode all that was missing was those darn Duke Boys!
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A Winner
telegonus1 July 2017
A tall tale all the way, The Grave is one of the best of the Twilight Zones, and surely the best of the western ones. The story revolves around the return of local bounty man Lee Marvin shortly after a group of townsman had taken turns trying to and eventually succeeding at gunning down a notorious desperado.

Aside from the awkward ending,--and I wonder how it could have been otherwise--the build-up is superb, as Marvin's character agrees on a bet to stick a knife into the desperado's grave to prove that he isn't a coward, hence the title. Three men in a bar had been suggesting that he was afraid of the dead man, in life and, perhaps even now, in death.

The tone of this episode is like a cross between Noir and horror. It doesn't particularly feel like a Twilight Zone, which works in its favor, as the story draws the viewer in and even amuses him a little with some barroom banter without any overt suggestion of the supernatural. That comes later.
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Cast Compensates for the Sloppy Ending
dougdoepke19 December 2016
Too bad the ending is such a garbled stretch since the rest of the entry has suspense, atmosphere, and a great cast. So will gunman Conny (unusual name for tough guy) go up to the night grave of his recently killed enemy Pinto. The guys in the bar don't think he's got the nerve, so a bet is made. But will he since spooky rumors surround the dead man.

The bar guys should have noted that Conny is played by Lee Marvin, of all people, and as everyone knows he ain't scared of nobody. In fact, the cast's a fine rogues gallery of colorful types—Strother Martin, Lee Van Cleef, James Best, and of course Marvin. So despite all the talk, the first half is still entertaining. But stealing the entry in my little book is an unknown Elen Willard as the eerie Ione. Without an inch of make-up, her dark good looks and sinister smile are like nothing I've seen. To me, she is truly unsettling. Too bad her career was so short. Also, the graveyard of the second half is obviously a studio set, but is really well-done adding a lot of needed atmosphere.

All in all, the entry remains a rewarding half-hour, even if the "wind-direction" ending is in dire need of a re-write.
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Excellent acting
kurt b11 September 2011
This is a Halloween season favorite of mine. In fact, I'm watching the DVD right now. What makes this episode exceptional, even for a TZ is the acting. The best work happens in the tavern as Lee Marvin, James Best, and Angel Eyes (Lee Van Cleef) have a friendly little chat about a man named Pinto Sykes. Best's performance as the village idiot is incredible, and in fact, he and Marvin have an excellent chemistry as they go back and forth. Lee Van Cleef plays a good guy, but given his physical characteristics, he's imposing as always. The special effects are limited, but when it comes to Fall, the wind blowing on a cemetery or heard from inside an old western tavern creates a perfect ambiance.
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"Keep the bottle on the bar Ira, I won't be long".
classicsoncall15 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Wow, what a great lineup for Twilight Zone fans, especially if you're into Westerns. Lee Marvin, Lee Van Cleef, Strother Martin and James Best all in a single episode! I'm betting there's a theatrical Western out there that all of these actors might have appeared in together, but IMDb's revamped search feature has made finding it impossible; I just can't figure it out.

For a quick twenty five minute story, this episode of TZ did a better job than most at developing the characters so that we have a pretty good idea what they're all about. Conny Miller (Marvin) is painted as the reluctant gunslinger by the citizens who hired him to take out bad man Pinto Sykes (love that name!). Johnny Rob (Best) is a whimpering guitarist, Steinhart (Van Cleef) an opportunistic businessman. And Mothershed! - what kind of name is that? One that could only be portrayed by Strother Martin I suppose. But of all the neat touches thrown in by Serling and Montgomery Pittman, I think the best was the inclusion of crazy sister Ione (Elen Willard). Man, was she spooky! Just the idea of running into her in a cemetery at midnight is enough to give you the willies.

The one thing I would have done differently is allow the viewer to figure things out at the finale instead of that long winded exposition by Steinhart. I think we get the idea - Conny Miller died of fright, and positioned strategically, it would have been more satisfying to leave it to the imagination. Maybe muss up the dirt around the grave to leave a question mark. Then have crazy Ione laugh hysterically at the idea that Pinto's hand came out of the ground. Yeah, good old crazy Ione, that would have made the story.
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A Classic Ghost Story
Hitchcoc24 November 2008
Whenever I see a Lee Marvin Western, I think of Kid Schilline in Cat Ballou. Here he plays a guy who has been collecting a paycheck for supposedly chasing a gunslinger. Because of his ineffectiveness, the townspeople take matters into their own hands and just shoot the guy down. Marvin shows up after the fact and is challenged by a wimpy, guitar playing kid. He is then peer pressured into going to the grave of the dead guy because the man had made charges of cowardice against him. Thrown into the mix is an Ophelia-like sister of the dead man who also taunts Marvin. The story is resolved in the cemetery. It's an atmospheric tale, done pretty well, but covering no new ground.
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Under the Wide and Starry Sky.
Robert J. Maxwell25 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers
First of all, what a cast, eh? Not just Lee Marvin with his pendulous lower lip, but Strother Martin, James Best, and Lee Van Cleef in strong supporting roles. And good performances from all. Alas, Ellen Willard as the miscreants sister can't act, but Marvin makes up for it. On the screen and off. He showed up so drunk one day that he backed his horse into some items on the set before falling off. Next day he apologized and all went well.

Second, I've finally figured out what makes Rod Serling's appearances so mysterious and magnetic. He has a compelling baritone voice, but when he speaks to the camera his upper lips doesn't move, just his lower lip. This is made even more noticeable by his pronounced nasolingual folds.

Marvin Connie Miller who has been tracking gunslinger Pinto Sykes for a long time. He arrives in town just after eight of the residents have shot Pinto to death and buried him in Boot Hill. "Right next to his Maw, just like he wanted, only twenty feet away cause she was such a right woman she wouldn't have it no closer." Did Marvin deliberately avoid meeting up with Old Pinto? Was he afraid? Is he STILL afraid. It's a windy night and several bar patrons bet him that he won't go up to Pinto's grave alone and leave a knife stuck into the freshly dug earth. "Now why would I be afraid of a dead man?", asks Marvin. "Because WE would be!", replies Strother Martin. (There are a couple of such clever exchanges.) Marvin manages the feat but pays a price in which the supernatural may or may not have had a hand.

The story adheres to all the old cowboy conventions of being fast on the draw and so forth but the performances compensate for it. Marvin wears the kind of army field cap he wore in "The Professionals" a few years later. And, in fact, three of the principles -- Marvin, Martin, and Van Cleef were just finished working together on John Ford's "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance." Pretty good for what it is.
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Measuring a man's mettle, Twilight Zone Western style
Woodyanders27 March 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Bounty hunter Conny Miller (the always excellent Lee Marvin) rides into a dusty small Old West town right after the townspeople take it upon themselves to gun town the bad man who Miller's been tracking for the last four months. The townspeople question Miller's bravery and bet him twenty dollars to visit the grave of the recently slain man.

Writer/director Montgomery Pittman ably crafts a subtle, yet spooky atmosphere, offers a vivid evocation of the desolate hamlet and the colorful assortment of folks who live in it, and concludes this tale on a pleasing eerie note. The ace acting by the top-rate cast rates as a significant asset: James Best as button-pushing blowhard Johnny Rob, Strother Martin as the antsy Mothershed, Ellen Willard as the melancholy Ione Sykes, Lee Van Cleef as slick gambler Steinhart, and Stafford Rep as amiable bartender Ira Broadly. A fine show.
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For those who have also seen Cat Ballou.....
tommymax5 April 2015
I just watched this episode on MeTV and although I'd seen it before not all that long ago (certainly not way back in '61 tho' I may have also seen it back then as well) it never before struck me that Lee Marvin is wearing what most likely is the same hat he wore as Tim Strawn in Cat Ballou.

I've submitted that little factoid to both this episode's trivia page and the Cat Ballou trivia page and although I certainly can't swear that it's the same hat since that would have to come from Lee Marvin himself or a close family member, it's either the same hat or an identical one.

Knowing Lee Marvin as the kind of guy that I suspect he was, I'd bet he saved that very distinctive hat from this episode and used it as part of Tim Strawn's attire. Indeed, I wouldn't be surprised if he came up with the metal nose thing as well.

He was a great actor and a joy to watch in any role he played. Here, as Conny Miller, he could very well have been just honing his future part as Tim Strawn.

Wouldn't surprise me at all if it were true. I think he was that kind of actor and that kind of guy.

I note one other reviewer here referenced Cat Ballou but apparently didn't notice the hat! If he did, he didn't mention it.

Not to wander too far off topic, but if you feel as I do, be sure to catch him in Gorky Park, if you haven't already.

Also BTW, I enjoyed seeing Lee Van Cleef in this episode as I also grew up in the Somerville, NJ area and still live in what used to be part of Somerville but is now part of Bridgewater (Township). Not that it matters; I'm just sayin'....
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Moby Dick???--What Nonsense!!!!
engprof1 January 2007
To relate this episode of "The Twilight Zone" to Melville's classic tale of obsession and compulsion is absurd! Stop making so much of Pittman's story. It is neither than good nor as complex. Melville's characters are far more developed, the story line far more complicated, the narrator (Ishmael) more subtle, and Ahab much larger than life, than any of the characters in "The Grave." While it is nice to catch real references in television fiction to great literature, "The Twilight Zone" is rarely the place to get it. Not that Serling and other writers in the series were not fine writers--of course they were. But borrowing from Melville??? Making the Pequod a "prarie schooner"? Get real!
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Watching and waiting
vkorchnoifan25 February 2017
Watching this excellent original story of the old west gave me a thought about death. All of those actors are now dead, yet their performances in this short film brings them back alive in my mind. I watch this TZ back when I was 14 years old. Now I am 70 I watched it again. When its my turn I hope to God that I will be in my late 80s. I wonder if I'll meet these guys in the next life. I'll be waiting.
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