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Bierce on Screen

DRAMATIST n. One who adapts plays from the French

Movie Adaptations / TV Adaptations / Bierce As Character

Movie Adaptations

  • Ambrose Bierce: Civil War Stories, by Don Maxwell (Allumination FilmWorks), color short, 2006
  • An Arrest, by Philip A. Borland (Athens Entertainment), color short, 1997
  • The Boarded Window, by Alan W. Beattie, color short, 1973
  • The Boarded Window, by Alan W. Beattie (International Instructional Television Cooperative), color short, 1978
  • The Coup de Grace, by Ban Films, color short, 1978
  • In The Midst of Life (Au coeur de la vie), by Roberto Enrico, b&w feature, 1963 [Includes film adaptations of "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," "Chickamauga," and "The Mockingbird"]
  • The Little Story, A Negligible Story, by Paul Grimault, b&w short, 1967
  • Man and Snake, by Jocelyn Films, color short, 1972
  • Man and Snake, by Jocelyn Films (Pyramid Films London), color short, 1975
  • The Monk and the Hangman's Daughter (O Monge e a Filha do Carrasco), by Walter Lima Jr., color feature, 1995
  • An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge (The Spy), by Charles Vidor, b&w silent short, 1928, (Buy it)
  • An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge (La Riviere du hibou), by Robert Enrico, b&w short, 1962 [Part of In The Midst of Life, 1963] 
  • An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge, by Susan Odom and Brian James Egen (Owl Creek Productions), color short, 2001
  • One of the Missing, by Tony Scott, color short, 1971
  • One of the Missing, by University of Southern California, b&w short, 1978
  • One of the Missing, by J.D. Feigelson, color short, 1979
  • Parker Adderson, Philosopher, by Arthur Barron (Perspective Films), color short, 1974
  • The Return, by Jocelyn Films, color short, 1976
  • The Story of a Conscience, by Don Maxwell, color short, 2004

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Television Adaptations

  • The next to last episode of CBS' long-running drama series Danger, entitled "Nightmare" (Episode 5.27, Original Airdate: May 3, 1955), was based on a Bierce story. Information on the exact story is unavailable at this time.
  • An adaption of An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge was featured in an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents (Episode 166, Original Airdate: Dec. 20, 1959). The series is available for sale through MCA home video.
  • Robert Enrico's critically acclaimed, 1962 b&w short film adaption of An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge was modified for television and shown as an episode of the original Twilight Zone (Episode 142, Original Airdate: February 28, 1964). The episode is available for sale on CBS Video's Treasures of the Twilight Zone and Columbia House's The Twilight Zone, Vol. 32. It has been excluded from certain distribution deals, so if your local channel runs the program, this episode may not be included.
  • The Showtime cable channel did a series called Nightmare Classics in 1989. An episode called The Panther was based on the Bierce story, "The Eyes of the Panther."
  • The Showtime cable channel again revisted Bierce in their Masters of Horror series in 2006. The episode The Damned Thing was based on the Bierce story of the same name.

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Bierce As Character

  • Ambrose Bierce was the title character of Old Gringo (Columbia Pictures Corp./Fonda Films, color feature, 1989), based on the 1985 novel by Carlos Fuentes of the same name. (See Bierce Bibliography.) The movie deals with the largely speculative period after Bierce crossed the border to Mexico during the revolution. An embittered old man (Bierce, played by Gregory Peck) is traveling around with a group of Villista guerrilla fighters, led by General Tomas Arroyo (Jimmy Smits). The "Old Gringo," suffering from a terminal illness, constantly baits Arroyo and wanders into battles in an attempt to be killed. The requisite love interest is an American missionary worker, Harriet Winslow (Jane Fonda), who discovers Bierce's true identity after being captured by the revolutionaries. The movie was critically panned and garnered weak box office receipts, but Peck's portrayal of Bierce shone above the rest of the movie. The only awards the film received was a Razzie nomination for Fonda as Worst Actress.
  • Ambrose Bierce is the unlikely lead character in the straight-to-video prequel to From Dusk Till Dawn, a 1995 mobster/vampire film. In the original film, a pair of criminal brothers on their way to a rendesvue at a Mexican truckstop kidnap a missionary family to elude police. The truck stop turns out to be a front for an ancient temple full of vampires. Released on Halloween 1999, From Dusk Till Dawn: The Hangman's Daughter (Dimension Films/A Band Apart, Los Hooligans, color feature, 1999) is set in Mexico in 1913. A group of missionaries, bandits, Mexican revolutionaries, and Ambrose Bierce (Michael Parks, who played the Texas Ranger in the first film) end up at the temple that becomes the truck stop in the first film. In the original ending, Bierce ended up as vampire, endlessly walking the Earth after seeking a quick death. The final print ending has Bierce surviving the encounter, wandering off into the Mexican coutryside. If nothing else, it surely gives one of the most creative twists on the Bierce disappearance.
  • Ambrose Bierce was one of the characters in a Mexican film, Ah! Silenciosa by Marcos Cline-Marquez (Suspend Disbelief Productions, 1999). The film is a brief magical-realism piece about a wealthy Mexican woman opposed to Villa's revolution who tries to save Bierce from execution.
  • Ambrose Bierce is featured in a framing piece to three of his stories in Ambrose Bierce: Civil War Stories by Don Maxwell (Allumination FilmWorks, 2006). As Bierce meets with Gertrude Atherton and William Randolph Hearst about his Collected Works, he tells three of the short stories collected in it.

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