Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!
Today, February 14th, This Day in Twilight Zone History and The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia celebrate the 1963 premiere of a really twisted love story: Earl Hamner Jr.'s "Jess-Belle."
Anne Francis – so good in "The After Hours" as blonde Marsha White - returns in a black wig as fetching Jess-Belle Stone, a backwoods girl who loves handsome Billy Ben Turner (James Best). Unfortunately, Billy has found new fire with gorgeous Ellwyn Glover (Laura Devon) and Jess-Belle is left in the dust... until she seeks out the fiery community witch Granny Hart (a truly wonderful Jeanette Nolan), who puts a spell on Billy. However, if you make a pact with the dark side, you have to pay, and Jess-Belle's debt soon comes calling.
Once again, here is a Season Four one-hour episode that delivers. Hamner knows backwoods dialogue and country mannerisms to a T, and his expertise makes this a very memorable hour in the Zone. Anne Francis once again brings her A-game, and she receives terrific support from Best, Devon, and particularly Nolan.
In The Twilight Zone, pacts with supernatural beings – whether they're devils, witches, or what not – seldom go well, proving that there really are no shortcuts in life.
So let's raise a glass of moonshine to the legacy of Jess-Belle, one fine lady who paid the posted price in The Twilight Zone.
A couple of announcements: I will be in Boston this weekend, attending the Boston Science Fiction Film Festival on Friday night, and BosKone 55 on Saturday and Sunday, signing books. And on Saturday, February 24 at 3PM, I will be signing at legendary Larry Edmunds Movie Book Shop on Hollywood Blvd. in Los Angeles. See you there!