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In 1972, Russell Kirk’s short story “Sorworth Place” was used as a basis of an episode of Night Gallery, a series that ran on NBC Television from 1970 to 1973. Writer Rod Serling, who had created the famed series, The Twilight Zone, introduced each episode of Night Gallery and wrote some of the show’s scripts.

The production values of “The Ghost of Sorworth Place” are terrible (though Sorworth Place is set in the wilds of Scotland, you can see a California freeway in the background of an early shot), and the names are not quite right. The characters are also a little too bizarre (but not in the right way–mostly due to mediocre acting).

Still, through Serling’s interpretation, important elements of Russell Kirk remain in this presentation. You need to advance roughly twenty-one minutes into the show to get to the Kirk story. The first story is pretty creepy as well, but it has nothing to do with Dr. Kirk. Enjoy.

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4 replies to this post
  1. Thank you, Brad, I had no idea this was online. If I recall correctly, Dr Kirk said that he was in Baltimore delivering a talk and had returned to his hotel when his literary agent (Kirby Macauley, who kept himself poor by specialising in ghost stories until his only other client took off, Stephen King) rang to say – or had rung Annette in Mecosta to say – that he'd sold the rights to televise 'Sorworth Place' to Rod Serling. Dr Kirk said they later found out that Serling had already shot the episode and had only discovered before going on air that, as Dr Kirk muttered darkly, "this Russell Kirk fellow – who he had supposed had been dead for decades or more – was in fact still alive!" He chuckled merrily, having been assumed by Hollywierd secretaries to have died off with M. R. James, Algernon Blackwood and other Edwardian greats. Had the agent known this, he could have extracted a much larger fee from Serling's producers, but such things happen.

  2. Great Kirk story, Steve. We are reading the ghost stories now. Helen and my girls have always had an even greater appreciation for them than I, if that's possible. I remember the first time he told one to part of our family–Amy was the only daughter with us–and how frightening he could make his voice, and what goblins he could summon in a dark room. Amy was about 12 or 13, and trembling with righteous fear!

  3. Thanks for this video link. I thought they did a pretty good job with the story for 1970s American television until they changed the ending, which was disappointing and odd, (but typical of scary TV shows and films for that decade); you also realize at that point that the female lead is quite different in character from the text (she does, in fact, have a diabolic imagination on the TV program, but a moral one in Kirk's story), which greatly changed the tenor of Kirk's brilliant tale. Still, it's interesting to see what they did with it. Thanks again.

  4. I’ve heard it said that Rod Serling actually hated writing for Night Gallery as he preferred science fiction(Twilight Zone), so I’m curious as to why he created Night Gallery? Was it supposed to go in the direction of sci fi but the network executives wouldn’t hear of it and forced horror down his throat?

    I used to watch Night Gallery at a different time in my life but eventually came to despise all things horror(as it nothing but a promotion of satanism and fear and conflicts greatly with my spiritual beliefs).

    Twilight Zone was absolutely the better of the two shows. I’m also curious to know if Rod Serling actually refused to write for the third season of Night Gallery before he mysteriously had a series of heart attacks and succumbed to a heart attack in the middle of heart surgery. Did he believe in Unitarian Universalism(which is pagan in its roots and practice) or was he merely partaking in this falsely religious mockery to appease his wife’s parents as it has been said?

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