The Twilight Zone

Season 1 Episode 19

The Purple Testament

Aired Unknown Feb 12, 1960 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
138 votes

By Users

Episode Summary


Lt. Fitzgerald has found his own special wartime hell. Looking into the faces of his men prior to battle, he has the disquieting ability to see who is about to die.

Who was the Episode MVP ?

  • not quite

    This theme could be adopted to almost any war episode. Rod Serling served in the Phillippines and had nightmares about it. Too bad instead of telling as it was they had to drop to fictional foresight theme
  • worse than death

    This episode demonstrates graphically that there are indeed worse things than death. Imagine having to go through a battle campaign with a "gift" such as that of the main character here; at some point it would have to seem a relief to see your face light up in the mirror as well. The moment where the guy says "War stinks" (as he's going through the dead man's mementos) in one of my favorites from the series. Also a host of familiar faces in this one: Dick York (his 2nd TZ), Barney Phillips, Paul Mazursky and even Warren Oates in a cool cameo toward the end.moreless
  • I Have Been Watching Twilight Zone since I can Remember..It's Great, The awesome actors/actresses were always a slight surprise, never knew who would star in the next episode...

    The PurPle Testament Is One Of My Alltime Favorites!!!It's A Purfect Specimen Of What The Twilight ZOne Is; A Secret Wish, Your worst nightmare, Everything you crave, All You'll Never Have..

    This Has Been The Most Constant As Far as entertainment, No Matter What My Mood The Twilight Zone Cures My Cravings.. You Never Know Who The Star OR Co-Star May Be..And No Matter How Many Times I've Seen each Episode They Are Just As Excellent.. I especially Liked This One (The Purple Testament) Because Of the War Theme..And The Fact That William Reynolds Was The Star..I Have Seen Alot Of Handsome Men From That decade But He Is JUst Too Beautiful!!!!moreless
  • Ominous premonitions of doom and disaster are commonplace on the battlefront but some are afflicted with the ability to see the mark of impending death on their fellow soldiers.

    A soldier sees a glow around various comrades and each one he sees in this light get killed in battle shortly thereafter. Visions and premonitions are nothing strange to Rod Serling and certainly this episode is both well written and well acted. I will admit that this episode has a very sincere tone and is difficult for me to watch - it is absolutely chilling. There are clairvoyants and mediums who claim foresight but those who truly possess the gift/curse of seeing the future are very conflicted and cautious about their vision. This is a brilliantly conceived situation and Dick York plays the concerned soldier very well. It is amazing to see a comedic talent like York, who bumbled his way through “Bewitched” as Darren, give such an insightful performance. This is an excellent episode whose plausibility is part of what makes it so hard-hitting. Many years later “Mash” had an episode with a soldier whi realizes that noone can see him and eventually realizes that he has been killed - a slightly different take on the same theme.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (4)

    • (Opening Narration)
      Narrator: Infantry platoon, U.S. Army, Phillipine Islands, 1945. These are the faces of the young men who fight. As if some omniscient painter had mixed a tube of oils that were at one time earth brown, dust gray, blood red, beard black, and fear--yellow white--and these men were the models. For this is the province of combat and these are the faces of war.

    • Riker: Fitz, I can't explain this, but...
      Fitzgerald: I don't want you to explain it. How can you explain it? I mean, how can anyone explain it. I just want you to believe it, Captain, that's all I want from you. I want you to believe it.

    • Gunther: Well, that's odd, don't you think?
      Fitzgerald: Odd? That's not odd, Captain. Odd is when you go 30 days on the line and you don't use a man. That's odd. Odd is when you walk 25 miles, you don't get a blister, now you're talking odd! This isn't odd, Captain, this is nightmare. This is a lousy dogface line officer who can see death in people's faces.

    • (Closing Narration)
      Narrator: From William Shakespeare, Richard the Third, a small excerpt. The line reads, "He has come to open the purple testament of bleeding war." And for Lieutenant William Fitzgerald, A Company, First Platoon, the testament is closed. Lieutenant Fitzgerald has found the Twilight Zone.

  • NOTES (3)

    • The house in which Fitzgerald confronts Gunther and Riker is a redress of the set used in "The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine."

    • This episode was removed from the schedule the night it was to air because director Bare and actor Reynolds were the victims of a disabled plane that crashed in the Caribbean. Both men were injured but were able to swim to safety. Reynolds has commented that it was classy of Buck Houghton to reschedule the episode and not take advantage of the publicity or subject their families to additional heartache. During their swim, they apparently discussed the planned airing of the episode that night to which Bare is reported to have asked Reynolds not to look at him.

    • Dean Stockwell was originally slated to play the part of Lt. Fitzgerald but was forced to drop out due to a conflicting schedule. Stockwell later went on to play a soldier in the later episode "A Quality of Mercy."


    • The title is taken from Shakespeare's "Richard II" The complete line reads: "He is come to open the purple testament of bleeding war".