"Paths of twisted glory. A World War 1 general devises a plan to prove his soldier son is not a coward."
-- DVD description for the episode
The year is 1918. During World War I, somewhere in France, it's the 49th day of continuous battle on the front lines. Lieutenant Martin Kalthrob doesn't want to be in the army anymore and asks his father, General Kalthrob, for a discharge. His father refuses but says he will transfer him to the rear if he leads a patrol to the German lines and fix the broken communication line. When he proves himself to be a coward, his father orders a court martial with penalty of death by firing squad.
It's the year 1918 in World War 1, and all was a living nightmare. Grenades fell from the sky, guns were shooting and there were casualties everywhere. Sergeant Ripper was looking for Lt. Kalthrob, as he keeps asking everyone in the field where he is, but most of the men were dead. As Ripper finds the Lt., Kalthrob orders a retreat. Ripper questions his orders as they were told by General Kalthrob (Lt. Kalthrob's father) to fight the enemy, but the Lt. says otherwise and orders Ripper to launch the retreat flair. The flair was fired and everyone retreats. Ripper reports to the General giving the report of the retreat, which angers the General, especially since Ripper said his son (Lt. Kalthrob) ordered the retreat. When the General orders a platoon the repair a fallen phone line and to have the Lt. be in charge, Captain Milligan and Sergeant Ripper argue of the matter for the fact the Ripper claimed the Lt. to be "Yellow". Lt. Kalthrob is called in by his father the General to be assigned to fixing the line, only to argue about how he doesn't want to be in the army in the first place. The general feels insulted if his men thinks his son is afraid, so the General makes a deal with the Lt. In return for fixing the line, he will be transferred out.
That night, the Lt. lead the platoon to the location of the fallen line. Before Ripper lead the men to the line, he gave the Lt. a whistle to plow if he spotted any enemies. As Ripper lead the men to the line, the Lt. spotted the enemy and did nothing for he is frozen with fear. The enemies fired, destroying the platoon and flying Ripper to the Lt. Ripper angrily asks the Lt. "Why didn't you blow the whistle?!" The Lt. ran back to the base in fear, but lies to the General that he saw the enemy and practically killed some of them. The fatally wounded Sergeant Ripper barges into the base calling the Lt. yellow and a coward saying that the Lt. gave away his own men before dying. The Lt. called Ripper a liar for it is his word against his. But things turn for the worst when the general asks for the Lt.'s gun. The Lt. claims that his revolver was the weapon he used to kill off some of the enemies, and yet the bullets that are in his gun have never been fired, so the General had his own son (The Lt.) arrested for abandonment of his platoon, showing fear in the face of danger, and treason for leaving his own men to die. The next day, in court, the Lt. was found guilty of his crimes and sentenced to death by firing squad at dawn, and the Lt.'s laces were taken away so there wouldn't be suicide.
While awaiting his execution the Lt. is visited by his father who informs him that he will not be executed. The General is in charge of loading the rifles for the firing squad and custom dictates that a single blank bullet is used to allow for the firing squad soldiers to doubt whether their gun fires a fatal bullet. The General offers to fill every rifle with a blank so that his son may fake his death and escape when the army retreats. The General only asks that he face the firing squad with courage - if so he will receive a pack full of supplies and forged documents allowing him to leave Europe and the army. Father and son agree and reconcile. The next morning the Lt is resolved and calm. While setting up for the firing squad, the Lt spots the pack in a ravine and is confident his father has followed through with the plan. He addresses the assembled men and apologizes for his behavior. As the fire squad readies to fire, the General expresses a moment of doubt and remorse. The Lt realizes that his father has not kept his word and is immediately struck by live rounds from the firing squad. As the Lt lays dying, the General and Captain observe his last breaths. The captain compliments the Lt's behavior to the General stating "He died like a man". The General is satisfied that his deception worked and his men will not believe that his son is "yellow".
Opening Segment EditThe Cryptkeeper's crypt was a replica of a WWI battlefield. The Cryptkeeper is practicing his shooting with a musket while introducing the story of a man who doesn't want to be in the army anymore.
"Firing squad! Present arms! Hello creeps. I was just about to fire off tonight's deadtime story. It's about a young soldier who doesn't want to be in the army anymore. I can't imagine why not! I mean war's a great opportunity destroyer. Now, where was I? Oh yes! Ready! Maim! And here's my favorite part. Fire! I call tonight's tale "Yellow."
Closing Segment Edit"I guess Martin finally learned his lesson. No guts, no gory! Well, gut to go kiddies. It's time for my shots. Fire!"
[Crypt Keeper pulls switch to fire guns at himself] "Yes, yes, oh yes. Boy I get a bang out of that."
- If you pay attention during the first scene, you will see the same stunt used two times, just from different angles. A soldier steps on a "land mine" and is shot into the air, spinning, and landing face down in a puddle.
- Eric Douglas (Lt. Martin Kalthrob) was the real life son of Kirk Douglas (General Kalthrob).
- The longest episode of "Tales from the Crypt", with twice the running time of any other episode of the show.
- Originally Steven Spielberg was going to direct this episode.
- This episode pays tribute to Stanley Kubrick's Paths of Glory, with identical themes explored in this episode.