In the two-hour pilot film for the subsequent TV "occult" anthology, series creator Rod Serling hosts three macabre short stories, introducing each with a framed portrait in a nocturnal art gallery. The first story stars Roddy MacDowall as a covetous nephew who murders his uncle, suffering the consequence of being possessed by a family painting. The second story stars Joan Crawford as a blind, thoroughly despicable millionairess who purchases the eyes of down-and-out Tom Bosley in order to enjoy 12 precious hours of sight. The final tale involves a Nazi war criminal (Richard Kiley), who attempts to evade his pursuers by escaping into a painting in a museum. The middle sequence is by far the best, directed with youthful bravado by 21-year-old Steven Spielberg. An uneven package, Night Gallery was nonetheless infinitely superior to the series that followed, which suffered from too much network and studio interference and not enough Rod Serling. The Night Gallery pilot was first telecast November 8, 1969; the series ran from 1970 through 1973.
by Hal Erickson synopsis