The Twilight Zone (1959–1964)
19 user 5 critic

The Purple Testament 

A U.S. army lieutenant serving in the Philippines during WWII develops a harrowing ability to see in the faces of the men of his platoon, who will be the next ones to die.


Richard L. Bare


Rod Serling




Episode complete credited cast:
Rod Serling ... Narrator (voice)
Dick York ... Capt. Phil Riker
William Reynolds ... Lt. Fitzgerald
William Phipps ... Sergeant
Barney Phillips ... Capt. E.L. Gunther
S. John Launer ... Lieutenant Colonel
Michael Vandever ... Smitty
Paul Mazursky ... Orderly
Marc Cavell ... Freeman
Warren Oates ... Jeep Driver
Ron Masak ... Harmonica Man


In the Philippines in 1945, army Lt. Fitzgerald has developed the disturbing ability to look into his men's faces and know who will be killed in the next battle. He says it's like a light is shined on their face. His superior, Capt. Phil Riker, consults the medical officer but he finds nothing conclusive. Fitzgerald passes out when visiting one of his wounded men in the hospital after he sees the light on his face. When he sees the light on Riker's face, he begs him not to go out. After they return from the operation, he sees that there will be one other casualty that day. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis








Release Date:

12 February 1960 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Purple Testament See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The title is taken from "Richard II", Act III, Scene III: "He is come to open the purple testament of bleeding war." However, Rod Serling incorrectly claims in his narration that the line comes from "Richard III". See more »


Captain Riker and Lieutenant Fitzgerald are wearing their insignia. Officers serving on the Pacific Front made a point not to wear this because it identified them as high priority targets for Japanese snipers. See more »


Capt. Phil Riker: [after Fitzgerald saw a light on Smitty's face and dies minutes later] Fitz?
Lt. Fitzgerald: I was up seeing Smitty.
Capt. Phil Riker: Yeah, I know. I read his tag. Doc said he's gonna be OK.
Lt. Fitzgerald: No, he isn't. I took a look on his face. I took a look at his face and I knew. And a minute later, he's gone.
Capt. Phil Riker: Same thing?
Lt. Fitzgerald: Same thing. The look... funny light or whatever it is. And I knew, Phil. I knew.
Capt. Phil Riker: Fitz, I can't explain this, but...
Lt. Fitzgerald: I don't want you to explain it. How can you explain it? I mean, how can anybody explain it. I just want ...
See more »


Referenced in The Twilight Zone: Into the Light (2003) See more »


(aka Going Home) (uncredited)
from Symphony No. 9 in E Minor 'From the New World', Op. 95
Music by Antonín Dvorák
Arranged by Lucien Moraweck
Played by the 'Harmonica Man' when Captain Riker puts some photos and his wedding ring on the table,
and again at the end
See more »

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User Reviews

War is hell… especially in The Twilight Zone.
23 June 2016 | by BA_HarrisonSee all my reviews

Lt. Fitzgerald (William Reynolds), stationed in the Philippines during World War II, develops the ability to identify the men in his company who will be next to die, an eerie supernatural glow lighting up the faces of imminent goners.

The best Twilight Zone episodes are the ones that are either so clever that the twist is impossible to guess, or so engrossing that already knowing or accurately predicting the ending doesn't spoil matters. To be honest, The Purple Testament is neither of these—I figured out what the twist was well before it arrived, and the plot wasn't gripping enough to prevent this detracting from my overall enjoyment. That said, this episode is far from the worst the show has to offer, benefiting from strong performances, a palpable atmosphere of dread (no doubt helped by Serling's own experiences during the war), and a suitably sober ending, Lt. Fitzgerald realising that there is nothing he can do but accept his fate.

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