Blog Archives

Serling’s Re-Zoning Efforts: “Still Valley”

I’ve run into some surprises in my series of “Re-Zoning” posts, which compare the scripts Rod Serling adapted for The Twilight Zone from other writer’s stories to the original works themselves. But I wasn’t ready for what I found when I read “The Valley Was Still” by Manly Wade Wellman.

Serling’s version, given the more concise title “Still Valley”, came early in Season 3. It also aired only seven weeks after another Civil War-themed episode, “The Passersby”. And in Season 2, let’s not forget, “Back There” covered the Lincoln assassination. Why Serling’s sudden interest, fans sometimes ask, in the so-called War Between the States? Because the country was in the midst of observing its centennial then.

Besides, the conflict, which pitted brother against brother, provided a perfect backdrop to some of Serling’s most common themes: How do we fight for something, and why? How far are you willing to go to achieve victory?

Anyone who’s watched “Still Valley” knows by the end how far Joseph Paradine, an advance scout for the Confederate army, is willing to go. He wants to win, but not at any cost. (And if you haven’t watched this one, you may want to fix that before rejoining us. Spoilers ahead, naturally.)

Fans usually recall this episode as one of TZ’s famous “statue” episodes — ones that featured numerous cast members standing perfectly still, as if they were statues. We see this: Read the rest of this entry

Night Gallery’s “The Devil is Not Mocked”

Where would the horror genre be without vampires and werewolves? And where would World War II stories be without Nazis? They’re staples of many chilling accounts.

Ah, but what if you could combine them all in one story? It wouldn’t have to be anything too ambitious or sprawling. One tight little tale might do the trick.

Perhaps that thought is what prompted American writer Manly Wade Wellman (1903-1986) to pen a story called “The Devil is Not Mocked”. Night Gallery fans will likely recognize the name, as it was adapted during the second season into one of the show’s more memorable short segments.

(If you don’t want the story spoiled, maybe bookmark this page before checking it out on NBC.com or on DVD? I’ll be here when you come back.)

Wellman opens with a Nazi commander, General von Grunn (played by Helmut Dantine), being driven along a road in the Balkan countryside, en route to a castle that he’s been told is the headquarters of a secret resistance movement. (I love some of the cars they had in the late 1930s/early 1940s. The godforsaken Nazis did NOT deserve such fine automobiles.) He and his troops plan to take over the castle and convince the inhabitants that their rebellion is futile.

The television version begins with a different scene entirely. Gallery scribe Gene Kearney starts with a man (played by Francis Lederer) talking to his grandson. He tells the boy he’s going to relate what he did during the great world war: “For while many are the terrible charges made against our ancestors, let no man deny our patriotism.” The scene shifts, and we’re with von Grunn, moving along the road. Read the rest of this entry