Today, February 28th, This Day in Twilight Zone History and The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia celebrate the 1964 premiere of a very unique TZ episode, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge."
For the only time in the five-year history of the show, the producers decided to acquire a complete film from an outside source – in this case an Academy Award-winning short film written and directed by Robert Enrico, based on a short story by Ambrose Bierce. In this wonderfully produced French production of a Civil War story, Roger Jacquet stars as Confederate sympathizer Peyton Farquhar, who's about to be hanged by Union troops. The rope breaks and Peyton plunges into a river, racing downstream as rifle fire tries to take him down. He's determined to return home to his wife (Anne Cornaly).
Robert Enrico, working in a kind of Terrence Malick-style of war and nature (think The Thin Red Line), marvelously captures the atmosphere of the story while maintaining the tension of a desperate man seeking his freedom. It was truly a perfect addition to the show's fifth and final season.
Enrico (1931-2001) went on to direct multiple features in his native France; actor Roger Jacquet turns 90 next month. Serling's Cayuga Productions paid $20,000 to air the film.
So let's hoist a glass of champagne to this acquired gem that nicely filled out the jewel box we call The Twilight Zone.