The Twilight Zone – Complete Series Review – Season 3 Episode 11 – Still Valley

I guess this would be called historical fantasy.

Sergeant Joseph Paradine is a confederate scout near the front in the Civil War, probably in and around northern Maryland.  While investigating troop movements he discovers that a whole column of Union soldiers is frozen in place on the main street of a small town.  The men are frozen in mid stride and some are even frozen in the act of drinking from a canteen or lifting a heavy weight.  They are as still as statues and nothing happening around them wakes them from this state.

While trying to figure what was going on, Paradine hears a noise coming from a house on the street and discovers a crazy old man named Teague who claims he is responsible for the frozen Yankee soldiers.  Asked how he did it he informs Paradine that he is the seventh son of the seventh son of a seventh son.  His family has been full of warlocks for generations and he has a book of spells that can freeze the whole Union Army.  When asked why he doesn’t he tells Paradine that he is about to die.  So, he tells the sergeant to take the book and do it for him.  But before he dies, he explicitly tells Paradine that when he casts the spells, he is invoking the Devil.

Back at the camp of Paradine’s outfit he returns and tells the tale of what he saw and what can be accomplished with the power of the book.  His commanding officer thinks Paradine is suffering from delusions.  But a company returns from an area where Paradine has tested the power of the book and attests that a frozen column of Yankee soldiers is indeed right over the ridge from their camp for all to see.

Now the soldiers are beginning to become excited by the prospect of snatching a Confederate victory out of the jaws of defeat.  But as Paradine starts to read the spell he realizes that it explicitly renounces God.  Now, even though his CO is urging him to read the spell, Paradine explains that if he reads the spell then instead of Damn Yankees it will be the Confederacy that will be damned.  His comrades beg him to remember that if he doesn’t do it the Confederacy is dead.  Paradine replies that if the Confederacy must die then at least it will be buried in hallowed ground.  And saying this he throws the book into the camp fire.  In the epilogue, Serling says that the troop headed north the next day and ended up in a town called Gettysburg.  The tone at the end is a little too solemn and righteous for a fantasy but it seemed well meaning.

Gary Merrill played Paradine and did an admirable job.  Teague was played by an actor named Vaughn Taylor that I am unfamiliar with but he was very amusingly over the top.

This is a minor tale but it gets the job done.  Tastes will vary on this one but I’ll stake it to a solid B.