The sanitarium is a place everyone has left because it’s haunted. You knock at the door, it only opens when you leave. You live there, answer a knock at the door to see yourself leaving. Half of this is dream, half reality.
The Gallicism is preserved intact from Maurois by Serling, the real estate agent is Mr. Peugeot, there is a slight strangeness in the dialogue attendant upon this, along with the casting (Joanna Pettet, Paul Richards, Steve Franken as the doctor), the slightly uncanny cinematography and the extensive use of slow-motion in the dream sequences.
It makes for a rugged evocation of something like Plath’s “a country far away as health.”
The Dark Boy
He fell off a ladder in the one-room schoolhouse of long ago, and has the scar on his brow to prove it. The new schoolteacher has him in her class, though he’s not on the roster. He peers through the window at night, while she’s grading papers.
In fact, the little mite is dead, a ghost. His father fears to send another boy to school, but bows to the law, reluctantly. “And I don’t want him on any ladders!”
She and the farmer strike up a romance. A little kindliness toward the boy, she counsels. All three meet in the schoolhouse at night, the boy is invited to follow them home. He does, trailing behind, but when the two reach his porch the boy is nowhere to be seen. His father makes the whippoorwill call he taught the boy, and hears it in answer. The two-year-old grave is seen with its simple cross.
Astin has two great effects, the sea of desks in the schoolhouse seen from the back of the room on the left, and sparkling light on water in the foreground as adults and boy walk across the screen in the background, separated by an interval.