Owl Creek Bridge
aka, THE SPY. 1929
Director: Charles Vidor

Director: Robert Enrico

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

The Bridge (1929) was retitled The Spy upon re-release in 1931. It is based on the classic short story "Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" by Ambrose Bierce. It's the first film by the Hungarian-born director who went on to direct such Hollywood classics as Gilda (1946) & A Farwell to Arms (1956).

A Confederate spy (Nicholas Bela) is to be hung until dead. As there is no time to build a gallows he's hung from a bridge. But the rope breaks & he plunges into the water, evading bullets from above.

Naturalistic acting heightens the impact of the event, & the subject is perfect for a silent movie, requiring no dialogue.

Amazed to be alive, the spy picks wildflowers & makes his way happily in the direction of home eager to see his wife (Marbeth Wright) & their child.

But suddenly an unreasoning dread grips him & he runs, runs, runs across the countryside, tripping, falling, running anew, a vision of his wife & child drawing him on, until the vision nears, & his head jerks back as he drops & hangs from the bridge.

Owl Creek Bridge The best adaptation of this tremendous story is the famously mispelled Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge (La Riviere du hibou, 1962), an Oscar Award & Cannes Festival Grand Prix winning half-hour film.

With brilliant cinematography the tale unfolds without dialogue so that it doesn't matter that it's a foreign film; it's truly universal.

Peyton Farquhar (Roger Jacquet) again falls from the rope to the river & makes his escape. He struggles across the countryside to find his way back to his wife (Anne Cornaly), having her almost within his grasp before his head snaps back.

It is best to see the uninterupted full version of this little film, but it also works in the version Rod Serling shortened a bit to make room for ads & his introduction for his television series.

When Robert Enrico made this film he certainly didn't have American television in mind, but Rod instantly recognized a kindred spirit. As the film was void of dialogue, he found it easily adaptable to his format, & the rights cost less than filming an original episode.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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