The Twilight Zone – Complete Series Review – Season 4 Episode 7 – Jess-Belle

Back in the Blue Ridge Mountains Billy Ben Turner (played by James Best) is in love with Ellwyn Glover.  At a town dance he proposes to her and she accepts.  But Billy Ben’s old girlfriend Jess-Belle Stone (played by Anne Francis) is desperate to win back Billy Ben.  She goes to the local witch Granny Hart and begs her for a love potion but Jess-Belle has no money.  Being desperate she agrees to give Granny Hart whatever else she wants.  Granny Hart gives her a potion to drink and after a painful transition Jess-Belle is told that Billy Ben will never look at another woman as long as Jess-Belle is alive.

Jess-Belle goes to a dance and Billy Ben is immediately hypnotized and leaves the dance with Jess-Belle.  Ellwyn is devastated but she warns Jess-Belle that witchcraft always ends badly.  And so, it does for Jess-Belle she discovers that she has herself has become a witch.  She has lost her soul and now every night she turns into a leopard.  Knowing that the townspeople have gathered to hunt the big cat that night, Jess-Belle begs her mother to lock her in her room and not let her out.  But the leopard escapes the house and goes after Ellwyn in the family barn.  Luckily, the hunters show up to save Ellwyn and they shoot down the witch cat and it disappears in a puff of smoke.  But Billy Ben who was one of the hunters finds his engagement ring that he had given to Jess-Belle on the ground where the leopard had been.

Released from Jess-Belle’s influence Billy Ben returns to Ellwyn and they are eventually married.  But Jess-Belle’s mother warns him that her daughter’s spirit still haunts the area and that she will try to revenge herself on Billy Ben and Ellwyn.  Billy Ben goes to Granny Hart and finds out that to kill a witch he must use her clothes to make an image of her and then stab it through the heart with a silver pin.

When he gets home Ellwyn’s body has been possessed by Jess-Belle’s spirit and she is threatening to take him away.  But he is able to use one of her dresses and a silver pin to attack her.  The dress suddenly contains Jess-Belle and she dies and evaporates.  Now Ellwyn and Billy Ben are happily together and looking up in the night sky they see a shooting star and Ellwyn claims that the star means that a witch has died.

A hillbilly witch story, yeehah!  James Best and Anne Francis are a lot of fun as the protagonists.  It’s not exactly Shakespeare but it is very entertaining.  I’ll say B+

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Greg Tyson
Greg Tyson
3 years ago

Not a fan of this one. Doesn’t feel like a Twilight Zone episode. Which might have been the point … though I think it strays too far from TZ’s winning formula to work. Anne Francis is my fav part. She looks amazing and is a solid actress to boot. But, I much, much preferred her in that proto-Lynch, Kafkaesque season one episode you loathed (and I adore with all my heart) “The After Hours.”