It’s the pictures that got small! – “Good Evening” Leading Ladies of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour Part 1

This is Part 1 in a series. See also Part 2 and Part 3.

The CMBA Presents the 2023 Spring Blogathon: Big Stars on the Small Screen — In Support of National Classic Movie Day


1955 Headliner Alfred Hitchcock film director © Copyright CBS Broadcasting Inc.
All Rights Reserved Credit: CBS Photo Archive

“This is the way of television… Half-hour shows were becoming one-hour shows, so it was decided that ours was to become a one-hour show. I don’t recall whose idea it was. I cannot say I know how the arrangements were made. In television the problem is to maintain a standard (especially after seven years). We were always pretty offbeat, but people get used to us being offbeat.” —Alfred Hitchcock (as quoted in “The Alfred Hitchcock Presents Companion,” 2001)

“TV has done more for old movie stars than plastic surgery,” -Popular TV critic for the LA Mirror Hal Humphrey wrote his articles based on network and press agent publicity, defended television’s stars in comparison to films during the time in the period when big screen actors were transitioning to television.

The Anne Sothern Show began in 1958.

Citing the examples of Joan Blondell, Ann Sothern, and Joan Crawford, Hal Humphrey claimed that these actresses were not “has-beens.” It might be more apt to describe them as mistakes made by the movie industry and rectified by television.”

During the 1950s after decades of escaping the world and its worries within the vastness of the darkened movie theater, television delivered the actors we imagined vividly on the big screen and altered the illusion by fitting them inside a little box in our homes.

Television of the 1950s brought the big screen stars into the inner sanctum of our living rooms.
The emergence of television in the 1950s and 60s transformed the entertainment industry, leading many iconic Hollywood actresses to transition from film to TV.

In the 1950s, the transition from film to television was still a relatively new concept, and many Hollywood actresses were hesitant to make the switch.

“The dominant tendency in star studies has been to denigrate the stature of television stardom, to argue that television does not actually produce stars of the complexity, depth, and cultural value that film does, largely because of the medium’s lesser cultural status and its essential familiarity and intimacy…

Television studies scholar Susan Murray rightly comments suspiciously on these theories:

“. . . it would appear as though, while the cinema’s star system was delineated by a complicated aesthetic, industrial and economic history, the television star is simply a fall from grace.”

Therefore, it would seem essential for television to boost the images of such marginal stars by drawing on authenticity as a value superior to the artificiality of constructed glamour and by underscoring television’s ability to rediscover or uncover the genuine talents of the film world’s castoffs and supporting players.”

While some actors perceived TV work as an abdication of their star power, others recognized it as an avenue to sustain their careers and connect with a fresh audience.

Early television frequently recruited performers from various entertainment media, enlisting film actors, radio personalities, and Broadway/stage performers to provide programming talent for the burgeoning medium. Radio had previously offered such a space for Hollywood stars to supplement their film work, but television increasingly took over this role. (Becker)

Until the mid-1950s, studios purposefully kept their stars away from television. However, this claim overlooks the significant number of actors who were no longer bound by contracts with major studios due to the upheaval in the industry.

As a result, these actors were able to seek employment wherever opportunities arose. With labor changes in Hollywood and a decline in overall film production, television became an attractive and viable option for Hollywood actors who were out of work. Studios relented provided the stars received the opportunity to plug the studio and its recent releases. Variety also cited the decision to allow the 1953 Academy Awards to be aired on NBC as a sign of the film industry’s acceptance of television’s credibility.

Television desperately trying to establish itself big Hollywood name became an incredibly exploitable asset as famous actors discovered a new outlet that eagerly sought their skills and their drawing power Hollywood actors played a crucial role in contributing the nuance of prestige to their anthology shows and dramatic teleplays.

Early television strategically leveraged the fame of numerous Hollywood film actors to generate publicity for specific shows, attracting viewers and driving the sales of television sets. Simultaneously, television presented a convenient new job market, offering a fresh lease on life for supporting actors and former stars who needed to revitalize their careers, maintain their popularity, and make money from the emerging medium of television.

Several iconic actresses from classic Hollywood successfully made the swift transition including Joan Crawford, Loretta Young, Bette Davis, and Barbara Stanwyck, all made the leap to television during this period. One of the most notable actresses was Lucille Ball, who starred in the popular sitcom I Love Lucy from 1951 to 1957. Television actually made Lucille Ball a household name.

There were obstacles these actresses encountered, such as adapting to the demands of the smaller screen and managing the more accelerated production schedules of TV shows.

Their performances retained every ounce of their impact, if not enhanced, as they continued to evoke profound emotions and captivate us with the same level of skill, quality, and substance

In fact, given the advent of dramatic teleplays featuring exciting directors and writers who either adapted classic stories, challenging content, or groundbreaking camerawork much of the performances were enhanced by the live format.

The assumption that only displaced film stars would agree to appear on television is challenged by a diverse array of stars who wound up making a foray into that medium. So what precipitated the union between Hollywood movie stars and television programming during the first commercial decade of TV? And how did television showcase the abundance of screen royalty that ran the gamut of beloved character actors to the reigning stars on the big screen? They were able to transfigure stardom and draw audiences with the same desire to see their iconic stars continue to shine but on a more intimate level.

Joan Crawford and The Pepsi-Cola Playhouse on ABC from 1953-1955.

“It is commonly assumed that only dethroned film stars would ever consent to appear on television, but the wide range of stars listed above certainly complicates this hypothesis and raises myriad questions. What industrial circumstances made possible this substantial marriage between Hollywood film talent and television programming in TV’s first commercial decade, and how did early television present this plethora of film talent, from the character actor to the reigning star? What can we learn about concepts of stardom by closely analyzing the activities of film stars at the discrete historical moment when television began as a mass medium, borrowing programming formats, corporate methods, and talent from radio and theater, while simultaneously trying to forge a unique institutional and cultural identity?…

…despite an avowed stigma attached to film stars appearing on television, a significant number did appear on the infant medium… and television’s presentations of these stars, along with the public discourse that surrounded them, helped to expose and even alter the parameters of the filmic star system as it was developed to that point, an aspect which audiences surely perceived.” – Christine Becker: Televising Film Stardom in the 1950s

Alfred Hitchcock’s anthology television series, which aired from 1955 to 1965, was a popular show that featured a variety of Hollywood actresses in its episodes.

These actresses had already made a name for themselves in classic Hollywood films but found a new audience and showcase their talents. Anthology series typically featured a new story and cast of characters in each episode, allowing actresses to take on a variety of roles.
One of the more regular actresses to appear in Alfred Hitchcock Presents was Barbara Bel Geddes, who starred in the episode “Lamb to the Slaughter” in 1958. Barbara Bel Geddes’ performance in “Lamb to the Slaughter” episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents has also received acclaim, with critics noting her ability to shift between a sweet and innocent demeanor to a more understated sinister one as her character’s composed homicidal streak are revealed.

Bel Geddes previously starred in films such as “I Remember Mama” and “Vertigo,” and her appearance in Alfred Hitchcock Presents helped cement her status as a talented actress with a range of skills.
Another actress who appeared in the series was Vera Miles, who starred in the iconic episode “The Perfect Crime” in 1957 and Alfred Hitchcock Presents the very first episode, Revenge. And the episode that I will cover here Don’t Look Behind You. and in Part 4 of my series, Death Scene co-starring John Carradine.

Teresa Wright appeared in perhaps 2 of the most enthralling episodes one darkly disturbing and one darkly humorous. And Mildred Dunnock appeared in 3 episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and 1 episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. Jeannette Nolan is in 5 of the series and Jessica Tandy appeared in 3. That’s a lot of star power in a small box.

Miles had previously worked with Hitchcock in the film “The Wrong Man,” and her appearance in Alfred Hitchcock Presents helped establish her as a talented actress who could hold her own in a variety of roles.

In addition to Bel Geddes and Miles, several other classic Hollywood actresses appeared in the series, including Joan Fontaine, Teresa Wright, Lillian Gish, Mary Astor (who also appeared in the Boris Karloff Anthology series Thriller) Gladys Cooper, Anne Sothern, Gloria Swanson, Anne Baxter, and Bette Davis, just to name a few.

Bette Davis in Out There-Darkness for Alfred Hitchcock Presents S4E16 1959.

Gloria Swanson in Behind the Locked Door S2E22 1964.

Lillian Gish in The Alfred Hitchcock Hour episode Body in the Barn S2E32 1964.

These actresses brought their star power and talent to the Hitchcock series and helped to establish it as one of the most popular anthology shows of the era. When Hollywood wasn’t giving them the scripts and not renewing their contracts, they found a chance to continue showcasing their versatility and kept themselves a continuing familiar face with their fans new and old alike.

The success of Alfred Hitchcock Presents helped pave the way for more classic Hollywood actresses to make the transition to television in the 1950s and 1960s. It also helped to establish television as a legitimate platform for entertainment and helped to blur the lines between film and television.

Other actresses who appeared in anthology series in the 1950s include Barbara Stanwyck in “The Barbara Stanwyck Show,” Bette Davis in “The Bette Davis Show,” and Joan Crawford in “The Pepsi-Cola Playhouse.”

These shows allowed actresses to showcase their versatility and reach audiences on a regular basis, helping to solidify their status as Hollywood legends and both critics and fans have praised these actresses’ abilities to transition from film to television

Acting in front of the camera wasn’t the only transition powerful Hollywood actresses made, Ida Lupino – pioneering actress, director, and producer, known for her trailblazing work in the male-dominated Hollywood industry of the 1940s and 1950s stepped into the episode of The Twilight Zone with its scathing mediation on the Hollywood system that chewed up actresses and spits them out as they aged out of their perceivably viable roles. In The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine starring Lupino – the opening narration goes as follows:

The Twilight Zone S1E4 1959 Ida Lupino The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine.

“Picture of a woman looking at a picture. Movie great of another time, a once-brilliant star in a firmament no longer a part of the sky, eclipsed by the movement of earth and time. Barbara Jean Trenton, whose world is a projection room, whose dreams are made out of celluloid. Barbara Jean Trenton, struck down by hit-and-run years and lying on the unhappy pavement, trying desperately to get the license number of fleeting fame.”

Lupino plays aging film star Barbara Jean Trenton a recluse who lived in her private screening room reliving her old movie roles from the 1930s over and over. When she is offered a part in a new movie playing the mother, insulted by the callous film mogul who tells her she’s living in the past, all the while Martin Balsam tells her she’s wishing for things that are dead… Barbara vanishes into a movie reel with her old co-stars descends the stairs and blows Balsam a kiss goodbye throwing down a scarf toward the camera and vanishes.

Not just on screen but behind the scenes Lupino who worked avidly with the camera directed several of the Hitchcock episodes. Another influential woman in the technical side of Hollywood, Joan Harrison made the transition from film to television. She came on board to produce the show and create the legacy that both series became in American Television.

“Seeing a murder on television… can help work off one’s antagonisms. And if you haven’t any antagonisms, the commercials will give you some.”

“T.V. has brought murder back into the home where it belongs.”

“It seems to me that television is exactly like a gun. Your enjoyment of it is determined by which end of it you’re on.”

“Blondes make the best victims. They’re like virgin snow that shows up the bloody footprints.”

“A glimpse into the world proves that horror is nothing other than reality.”

What is drama but life with the dull bits cut out.

“I’m sure anyone who likes a good crime, provided it is not the victim.”

Suspense is when the spectator knows more than the characters in the movie.”

“Always make the audience suffer as much as possible.”

“I can’t read fiction without visualizing every scene. The result is it becomes a series of pictures rather than a book.”

“I’m a writer and, therefore, automatically a suspicious character.”

“Dialogue should simply be a sound among other sounds, just something that comes out of the mouths of people whose eyes tell the story in visual terms.”

“You think she’s pretty, you ought to see my slingshot!”

Promotional portrait of British-born American film and television director Alfred Hitchcock (1899 – 1980) as he sits on a stool inside an open steamer trunk, next to an unidentified woman in a top hat, short, satin outfit, and fishnet stockings, for his anthology program ‘The Alfred Hitchcock Hour,’ August 10, 1962. (Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)

“… I never said all actors are cattle; what I said was all actors should be treated like cattle.” – Hitchcock according to designer Edith Head who dressed Grace Kelly, Doris Day, and Ingrid Bergman in Hitchcock’s movies. The two reportedly clashed heavily over wardrobe ensembles.

— Alfred Hitchcock

“No one is writing good suspense stories these days… I don’t know what has happened to the great story tellers — people like Kipling and Stevenson. We have to take stories and shape them to our needs. Meanwhile, we must go on. We can’t wait for the great ones to show up. I must take the scripts as they land on my desk. I’m responsible for sixteen programs, and I have only seven properties on hand. [Lloyd and Harrison produced all but four episodes from the first season] I’ve managed to get several fine stories, I believe. One is a gambling tale, A Piece of the Action, starring Gig Young and Martha Hyer. It has bitter irony in it. Another is The Final Yow, in which Carol Lynley plays a nun involved in a search for a stolen statue. It has a delicious twist.” —Norman Lloyd (The Newark Evening News, August 26, 1962)

Here are a few quotes from classic actresses who starred in The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and Alfred Hitchcock Presents:

Joan Fontaine & Gary Merrill in The Alfred Hitchcock Hour episode The Paragon S1E20 1963.

Fontaine and Hitchcock on the set of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.

  1. “Working with Alfred Hitchcock was a great honor and an unforgettable experience. He was a master of suspense and a true genius of filmmaking.” – Vera Miles
  2. “Appearing in Alfred Hitchcock Presents was a unique challenge as an actress, as each episode was its own story and character. But it was also a great opportunity to showcase my range as an actress.” – Barbara Bel Geddes
  3. Alfred Hitchcock had a way of bringing out the best in his actors and actresses. He knew how to create tension and drama on screen, and he trusted his performers to deliver their best work.” – Joan Fontaine
  4. Alfred Hitchcock Presents was an exciting and innovative show, and I was thrilled to be a part of it. It allowed me to work with some of the best actors and directors in the business.” – Anne Baxter

Vera Miles and Hitchcock on the set of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.

Hitchcock made the shift from a half-hour show to an hour format without much issue. “When we had a half-hour show, we could do short stories…{…} Now, in an hour, we have to go to novels.” His staff read through thousands of crime novels to find the right script. Yet frequently it became necessary to utilize a short story and expand it, in order to fill out the hour.

In the opening set of each episode, the fabulist Hitchcock is given props against an empty stage. At times he himself becomes the prop or main focal point where he imparts either sage elucidation, comical warning, or sardonic advice. A witty prelude to the evening’s tale or just a frivolous bit of shenanigans to put one in the mood for the evening’s program. As he drolly introduces the night’s story, his monologues were conceived of by James B Allardice.

Jessica Tandy in Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode The Glass Eye s3e1 1959.

THE ALFRED HITCHCOCK HOUR — “The Trap” Episode 18 — Aired 02/22/1965 — Pictured: (l-r) Anne Francis as Peg Beale, Donnelly Rhodes as John Cochran (Photo by NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour Triumph Episode 9 Aired 12/14/1964 Pictured: Ed Begley as Brother Thomas Fitzgibbons, Jeanette Nolan as Mary Fitzgibbons (Photo by NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Patricia Collinge in The Alfred Hitchcock Hour episode The Ordeal of Mrs. Snow -S2E25 1964

Repeat Performances:

*Jessica Tandy 3 episodes Alfred Hitchcock Presents The Glass Eye and not included Toby S2e6 and The Canary Sedan S3e37.

*Patricia Collinge 4 episodes Alfred Hitchcock Presents –The Cheney Vase, The Rose Garden, Across the Threshold, and The Landlady–  The Alfred Hitchcock Hour – 2 episodes Bonfire – and not included The Ordeal of Mrs. Snow April 17, 1964.

*Anne Francis 2 episodes Alfred Hitchcock Presents Hooked and not Included Keep Me Company and The Trap S7e5 Feb 22, 1965, aired Nov.7, 1961.

*Mildred Dunnock 3 episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents – None Are So Blind, Heart of Gold and not inlcuded The West Warlock Time Capsule S2e35 and 1 episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour – Beyond the Sea of Death.

*Vera Miles 1 episode of Alfred Hithcock PresentsRevenge and 1 episode of  The Alfred Hitchcock HourDeath Scene.

*Margaret Leighton 1 episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents Tea Time and 1 episode of  The Alfred Hitchcock Hour Where the Woodbine Twineth.

*Barbara Bel Geddes – 4 episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents – Lamb to the Slaughter, The Morning of the Bride and not included The Foghorn s3e24, and Sybilla S6e10 aired Dec. 6, 1960.

*Gena Rowlands – 1 episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents – The Doubtful Doctor and 3 episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock HourRide the Nightmare, The Lonely Hours, and Murder Case.

*Doris lloyd 5 epsiodes of Alfred Hitchcock PresentsThe Impromptu Murder, and not included Dip in the Pool, Safety for the Witness, The Shartz-Metterklume Method and The Silk Petticoat. And 4 episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour – One of the Family, Thou Still Unravished Bride and not included The Dark Pool s1e29, and Isabel s2e31.

*Gia Scala – 2 episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents -Deathmate and not included Mother, May I Go Out and Swim? s5e26 and 1 episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour not included The Sign of Satan s2e27

*Jeannette Nolan –4 episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents – The Right Kind of House, The Morning After, and not included The Young One s3e9 and Coming Home s6e35. 1 episode of The Alfred Hitchcock HourTriumph.

*Teresa Wright – 2 episodes of  The Alfred Hitchcock Hour – Three Wives Too Many and Lonely Place.

Mildred Dunnock in The Alfred Hitchcock Hour – Beyond the Sea of Death -S2E14 1964.

Teresa Wright and Bruce Dern in Lonely Place The Alfred Hitchcock Hour S3E6 1964

Married American actors Gena Rowlands and John Cassavetes (1929 – 1989) in an episode of the television anthology series ‘The Alfred Hitchcock Hour’ entitled ‘Murder Case,’ January 24, 1964. The episode, directed by John Brahm, was originally broadcast on March 6, 1964. (Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)

Alfred Hitchcock Presents renamed The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (between 1962-1965), is a classic American television anthology series hosted by preeminent filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock, the show was also an Alfred Hitchcock Production produced by Joan Harrison and Norman Lloyd, airing on CBS and NBC between 1955 and 1965. The series premiered on CBS in October 1955 and went through several changes during its long run. It switched over to NBC for the 1960-61 season. It then returned to CBS with its hour-long format from 1962-1963. Getting whiplash it turned back to NBC once again to finish out its final season.

“One must remember that in the early half-hour days, we were getting the cream of the crop… Some of the best stories of their type in English literature, such as The Glass Eye. In the latter days of the hour show, however, we occasionally had to develop stories from scratch, and the results didn’t always measure up. The half-hour show, which ran twenty-two and a fraction minutes, was sometimes a delight in its brevity and its point, but that doesn’t mean it was a better format.” —Norman Lloyd (as quoted in “The Alfred Hitchcock Presents Companion,” 2001)

Both series have become seminal works in television history, known for their unique blend of suspense, mystery, and dark humor. The show often revolved around murder plots, mind games, gaslighting, and visceral intrigue, featuring psychological dramas, suspenseful thrillers, and crime-oriented stories often framed through a noir lens and written by celebrated authors featuring a far-reaching cast of Hollywood stars and electrifying performances by beloved character actors.

Both series’ earned a fistful of Emmy, Look Magazine, Golden Globe, and Television Champion awards for the best anthology and/or mystery program during their decade-long run.

Known for its suspenseful and thrilling stories that often revolve around murder, mystery, and psychological intrigue that often framed crime-oriented stories through a noir lens.

”I much preferred writing for the half-hour show… There was always the possibility of doing what I call ‘gems.’ The half-hours were compact and full of sharp point-breaking, bringing the audience in at the middle and then hitting them with the climax. Very clean. This got a little difficult to achieve in the hour shows, which were more like features except that they weren’t, not really. They were actually more like extended half-hours. More was told about the same thing. I think the show suffered because of it, and I think the Hitchcock people felt so, too.” —writer Henry Slesar (as quoted in “The Alfred Hitchcock Presents Companion,” 2001)

Initially, a variety of the stories adapted for the show appeared to be written with the implication that ‘crime does pay if you’re clever and lucky enough to get away with it – clincher. But this did not sit right with the network censors, not to mention Hitchcock’s regular derogatory indictment of their commercials which put him at odds with the sponsors. So… by the postscript he would update us on the fate of the villains, evildoers, and culprits to assure us that there was a moral code that existed on the show, and ultimately these malefactors paid a price for their immorality.

In other stories, not all the players were inherently malicious, wicked, twisted, greedy, or conniving. Innocent bystanders and some protagonists were set down in a story that challenged them to come out on the other end of their unnerving or sinister circumstances, and ultimately either found redemption or were delivered from their ordeal. Instead of fate’s unwavering day of retribution, anyone who deserved a break got one, and the sympathetic characters found a silver lining to their storm cloud. Many of the show’s stories, revealed their humanity

The episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents cover a wide range of genres, including crime- drama, mystery, suspense, psychological thriller, and the occasional horror story. Many of the episodes are adaptations of short stories and novels by famous authors, such as Roald Dahl, Ray Bradbury, and Cornell Woolrich, among other notable novelists and screenwriters.

One of the trademarks of the series is its surprising turnaround of events and twist endings, which are often unique, cleverly crafted, and carefully calculated plots that keep viewers on the edge of their seats. The show’s stories often explore the darker aspects of human nature, delving into the psychology of the characters and their motivations. Themes of guilt, paranoia, revenge, and moral ambiguity are often explored, creating a thought-provoking viewing experience, framed with masterful understatement all wrapped up with Hitch’s deliciously droll commentaries, dramatic musical flourishes, and palpable fade-outs.

“Alfred Hitchcock Presents” has been highly acclaimed for its innovative storytelling, compelling performances, and Hitchcock’s masterful direction.

Hitchcock’s strictly British sense of humor, the deliciously wicked tone of the series, and his attitude toward directing television had carried over from his big-screen work in a similar vein for small-screen audiences.

At first, Hitchcock was hesitant about the idea of appearing on TV as his primary interest rested with film. Hitchcock biographer John Russell Taylor wrote the revelation Alfred Hitchcock Presents could work came from MCA’s Lew Wasserman who had been Hitchcock’s former agent and friend. In 1955, Wasserman was putting his mind to potential programming during the early days of television. “We ought to put Hitch on air.” The idea of putting the master of suspense hosting a weekly show had a great deal of good sense.”

Hitchcock had signed a contract with Richard Decker allowing his name to be the image of a monthly magazine Decker published featuring short stories with a mystery theme written by established or up-and-coming authors. In return for allowing his name to be used Decker hired Hitch’s daughter Patricia as assistant editor. The publication would be called Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine.

In the mid-fifties, very few of Hollywood’s major studios were actively involved in producing series for television. In 1959 MCA under President Lew Wasserman’s leadership added Universal Pictures to its growing list of subsidiaries, and MCA/Revue was changed to Universal Television which then released Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

According to biographer John Russell Taylor, Hitchcock was not pretentious about his success in the motion picture business, however, the iconic director was aware that not many filmmakers who had maintained visibility on his level were actively working in that industry’s medium. While other directors wouldn’t want to be associated with television, Hitchcock had faith in his friend Lew Wasserman and agreed to delve into the world of the small screen, and the series was born.

Alfred Hitchcock named the new telefilm company Shamley Productions after the summer home he and Alma owned in a small village in Shamley Green south of London.

*For most in Hollywood, tv was considered a spurious and unauthentic medium, a commercial junkyard suitable only for unknowns and has-beens.”(from John McCarty and Brian Kelleher from Alfred Hitchcock Presents – An Illustrated Guide to The Ten-Year Television Career of the Master of Suspense)

Wasserman viewed the show and Hitchcock’s hosting of it as a logical, intuitive outgrowth of the very successful Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. In fact, many of the series’ episodes were adapted from stories that first appeared in the magazine.

And Hitchcock’s attitude toward directing television was that it was a bit of jolly devilry and fooling about from directing feature-length films, as it was far less a painstaking endeavor.

Though Hitchcock still brought his methodical work ethic to the table-

“He took enormous pride in doing these things very fast on a tight TV schedule without going a moment over. I remember when he did Lamb to the Slaughter” and he finished on the nose at six o clock quitting time, he turned around and said “there’s your picture” Then he looked at everybody as if to say, “So don’t comet o me with any ideas that you need an extra hour or two for something else. “It was all in fun, but the message was clear: all of you had better be able to finish at six too.” – Norman Lloyd

Vera Miles in the premier episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents ‘Revenge’ S1E1 in 1955.

After its debut on October 2 1955 with the first episode “Revenge” directed by Hitchcock himself, each week gained devoted viewers who were thrilled with the show’s sense of the macabre.

Hitchock’s well-known public persona while considered the archetype of genius over collaboration, boldly moved into the realm of television and was part of a team that created an anthology series with a team of extraordinary writers & directors who were perceptive, literate, and witty.

Hitchcock directed only 18 episodes during its run including Revenge with Vera Miles, Breakdown with Joseph Cotten, The Case of Mr. Pelham, and Back for Christmas starring Isobel Elsom and Hitchcock regular, English gentleman John Williams. The series was an instant hit and ran for five seasons on CBS, and three on NBC. It won three Emmy Awards and was nominated for 11 more. The series is considered a classic of American television and has been praised for its suspenseful stories, Hitchcock’s iconic introductions, and its illustrious and stellar cast, to say nothing of the outstanding resource of imaginative writers like – Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury, Roald Dahl, Garson Kanin, John Cheever, Henry Slesar, Ellery Queen, Charles Beaumont, H.G. Wells, Rebecca West, Barré Lyndon, Morton S. Fine, Evan Hunter, Margaret Manners, Robert C. Dennis, Francis M. Cockrell and Columbo’s Richard Levinson and William Link.

Above are two images of Jessica Tandy and Tom Conway in The Glass Eye S3E1 1957.

Robert Stevens who directed 145 episodes of a similar theme show Suspense which ran between 1949-1954 directed over thirty episodes in Hitchcock’s series more than any other director overall, including some of the most memorable like the chilling installment – The Glass Eye starring Jessica Tandy which is a ghoulish adaptation of the classic theme of the ventriloquist who is bedeviled by his dummy. This installment of the show’s second season earned Stevens an Emmy as best director of a half-hour show. He was the only director ever to win an award for Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

In 1959 Stevens took time to direct the pilot for Rod Sterling’s Twilight Zone with Earl Holliman in Where is Everybody. He did another of the show’s most memorable episodes, Walking Distance.

They helped establish Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour as one of the great classics of American television – distinctive for their sardonic prologues with Hitchcock as the master of ceremonies conducting the series of sketches, and macabre tableaus that invited you into the evening’s story. Hitchcock intoning impish incentives by writer Jimmy Allardice. The show offered a collection of Mephistophlean teleplays, infused with suspenseful, often darkly humorous masquerades.

The series also features a collection of impressive directors: Ida Lupino, Paul Henreid, Herschel Daugherty, John Brahm, Arthur Hiller, Alan Crosland Jr., Leo Penn, Joseph Pevney, Robert Stevenson, Stuart Rosenberg, Bernard Girard, Robert Florey, John Newland, Don Medford, Francis Cockrell, Boris Sagal, Alf Kjellin and George Stevens Jr.

Hitchcock, Joan Harrison, and actor/producer/director Norman Lloyd preferred stories about unextraordinary people, their lives outwardly not illicit or taboo however they become involved in dubious, unlucky, or dangerous situations like murder, blackmail, or misguided schemes that descend into a darkly ironic conclusion.

Norman Lloyd, whose speech and singularity carved out a niche as typically British and thoroughly sardonically impish appeared in several of Hitchcock’s films, most notably Saboteur 1942 as the menacing Frank Fry who meets a spectacular cinematic end.

Norman Lloyd in Alfred Hitchcock’s Saboteur 1942.

“Around 1955 they got Hitchcock to say he’d do television which was a big thing. And in ’57 the order for the half hour show was amplified, with a new series called Suspicion. I think Suspicion had many shows. Hour shows. And MCA took ten of them. New York took ten and so forth. And with the ten he was adding on they used to do 39 half hour shows a series. It was his producer Joan Harrison, is how I really learned how to be a producer. Divine. She was beautiful, exquisitely dressed, in perfect taste for the set. She was divine. She was a writer for him, and she was now his producer. And they needed someone else to come in an help her because of the quantity of the work not for the half hours, but now the hour. So she and Hitch decided, they wanted me to do it. Cause I also knew Joan very well. And so they presented my name… however… And this was told to me by Alan Miller who headed television at MCA, he came back, Alan Miller from the network and says ‘there seems to be a problem about Lloyd’ and Hitch said, ‘I want him!’ that was the end of the blacklist!” -Norman Lloyd

The television series also consisted of several episodes that featured both Hitchcock and Lloyd’s daughters Patricia and Josie.

The show is characterized by its Aesopean host- “Televisions jovial undertaker” (McCarty and Kelleher)… offering his solemn ‘Good Night.’

Alfred Hitchcock’s cheeky little teasers featured its iconic musical initiation with Gounod’s “Funeral March of a Marionette” as Hitch’s silhouetted kisser merged with the quirky little line drawing which was led into one of Allardice’s offbeat fun size segues.

Hitchcock emerges mischievously at the beginning and end of each episode, delivering satirical introductions and conclusions, with his signature tongue-in-cheek reaction to that evening’s stories. His dry and sardonic presence effectively compliments the show’s featured parable and displaces any tension from the seriousness of the episode with Hitch’s comic relief.

The show was ravenous for stories trying to compete with its rivals The Twilight Zone and Boris Karloff’s Thriller. The insistence on only published stories.

One of Hitchcock’s primary producers was a British-American film producer, screenwriter, and casting director, Joan Harrison. She met Hitchcock in 1935 after answering his ad in a London newspaper for a secretary. She may have begun her career as a secretary to Alfred Hitchcock in 1939. Harrison gained momentum, forging ahead with her career, and by 1940 she was Hitchcock’s associate producer.

But it was her ultra-motivated astuteness and keen administrative proficiency that helped advance herself until in 1939 she became his closest collaborator co-writing several screenplays for Jamaica Inn, Rebecca 1940, Foreign Correspondent Suspicion 1941, and Saboteur. Additionally working with Hitchcock on several films, including Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Rope 1948 and Strangers on a Train (1951).

In 1942 she pursued her own career as an independent producer, a position not held by many women, then. Much of her films fall under the influence of a mystery bent, with one of her finest films being They Won’t Believe Me 1947 a psychological film noir directed by Irving Pichel and starring Robert Young, Susan Hayward, and Jane Greer.

Joan Harrison produced one of the most underrated film noirs Phantom Lady 1944, directed by Robert Siodmak, based on a novel by Cornell Woolwich author of Rear Window, and scripted by Bernard C. Schoenfeld, who would both later write many of the show’s episodes. Another highly effective and sorely underrated noir Harrison directed is Ride the Pink Horse 1947.

The Very Thought of You: Andrea King in 4 Fabulous Unsung Film Noir Gems!

In 1944, she left Hitchcock’s production company to start her own, producing several films, including The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946), and The Locket (1946). 

One of the aspects of both the half-hour and full-hour series’ magic was the brilliant cast, borrowing from some of television’s outstanding dramatic character actors of that period, but notably, the stars who made the transition from the big screen to television’s more intimate venue.

Working with Hitchcock on The Trouble with Harry clearly foreshadowed the direction Hitch’s show was going to take. In 1955 Joan Harrison rejoined him as an associate producer both knowledgeable about mystery and suspense literature – she became actively involved in the story selections.

In 1955, Harrison not only produced the show but she served as the casting director for Alfred Hitchcock Presents for its entire run from 1955 to 1965.

She helped cast some of the show’s most famous episodes, including Back For Christmas, Lamb to the Slaughter, and “Hitch Hike”

Isobel Elsom and John Williams in Alfred Hitchcock Presents – Back for Christmas s1e23 1956.

Alfred Hitchcock Presents Hitch Hike S5E21 1960 starring Suzanne Pleshette, John McIntire, and Robert Morse.

Joan Harrison lends the show its engaging charm which credits Harrison’s keen eye for selecting the best possible actors to fit the archetypal characters for the compelling ironic murder mysteries, nail-biters, and crime-driven stories.

Harrison who progressed from secretary to screenwriter to independent producer signed onto the show where she was fully able to materialize her vision of some of the most suspenseful dramatizations. She retired from the film industry in 1965.

Norman Lloyd started producing and directing a limited number of episodes each season. At this same time, Gordon Hessler was elevated to associate producer.

Gordon Hessler who had a tv background that included a period where he was enlisted as a story editor, director, and production associate also joined the show as a producer. Once Harrison started to phase out her involvement on the show and move back to England with her husband British mystery writer Eric Ambler,  she passed it on to Lloyd while he continued to assist as associate producer.

“At the end of this time, there was a rearrangement at Shamley and I was made a producer equally with Joan Harrison. It was also around this time that the show went to an hour. We both produced alternately. Then, for the final two years, I was made the show’s executive producer alone.”

Eventually, he moved on to directing horror features- The Oblong Box 1969, Scream and Scream Again 1970, Cry of the Banshee 1970, Murders in the Rue Morgue 1971, and The Golden Voyage of Sinbad 1974.

The series often used writer Robert Bloch who began working on the show in 1959 in the middle of its ten-year run. The writer hadn’t met with Hitchcock while filming the adaptation of his novel Psycho 1960. Two of Bloch’s published stories had been bought for the series and adapted by others before his arrival in Hollywood later that year.

He began adapting his own published stories and his work was dramatized for the series. He was heavily involved in the show and mutually committed to writing screenplays and contributing to Boris Karloff’s similar anthology series Thriller both programs produced at Universal Studios.

Boris Karloff’s anthology tv series: It’s a THRILLER!

“Shortly after I began my own work as a novice television writer for a little-esteemed syndication series, I was summoned to Hitchcock’s Shamley Production office and offered an assignment to do a script based on Frank Mace’s story ‘The Cuckoo Clock.’– Robert Bloch

“Give them pleasure. The same pleasure they have when they wake up from a nightmare.” – Alfred Hitchcock


Alfred Hitchcock Hour – 1962-65


*A PIECE OF THE ACTION s1e1 aired Sep 2, 1962 – MARTHA HYER

Martha Hyer in The Carpetbaggers 1964.

The alluring Martha Hyer who plays the classy, strong-minded Alice – was an alumnus of Northwestern University with among classmates, Patricia Neal and Cloris Leachman. She had a career that spanned 1946-1974 including Sabrina 1954, 2 obscure noirs –Down Three Dark Streets 1954, Cry Vengeance 1954, Houseboat 1958, Some Came Running 1958, Desire in the Dust 1960, The Carpetbaggers 1964 and The Sons of Katie Elder 1965. Once retired from acting she wrote the screenplay for the John Wayne western Rooster Cogburn 1975. Her other appearance in The Alfred Hitchcock Hour series was the episode Crimson Witness. Hyer wasn’t a stranger to film noir or offbeat horror/sci films – in Nigel Kneale and H.G. Wells’ First Men in the Moon 1964. Or the obscure and disturbing Pyro… The Thing without a Face 1964, Picture Mommy Dead 1966, The Night of the Grizzly 1966, and House of 1,000 Dolls 1967 starring Vincent Price. She made her foray into television in the mid-1950s but continued to work in feature films and b movies.

“When you live with fame as a day-to-day reality, the allure of privacy and anonymity is as strong as the desire for fame for those who never had it.”


Duke (Gig Young)- Hiya duchess.
Alice (Hyer)-I asked you not to call me that.
Duke – Every Duke needs one.
Alice- I haven’t noticed.
(He reaches out to stroke her shoulder)
Alice Don’t, the Marsden charm doesn’t work anymore
Duke – Ah you’ve been reading those ridiculous newspaper rumors about us getting a divorce.
Alice- I‘m perfectly serious Duke.
Duke – Perfect yes – serious no.
(He jumps in the pool when she won’t talk to him)

Alice Duke… you clown- you know you can’t swim!
Duke –I know but you wouldn’t listen. I had to gamble that you wouldn’t let me drown because that’s what I would do without you. Alice Oh Duke, how long?
Duke– How long what?
that I have to wait for you to keep your promise and quit.
Duke – you knew what I was when you married me.
Alice Sure, I was still a starry-eyed debutant You were exciting – but I can’t live alone – I’m afraid.
Duke – Afraid of what?
Alice How easy it gets to mix too many martini’s when you don’t come home. Of other lonely women who know a place, a quiet out of the way bar where a lot of nice men stop for a drink. Don’t make me jump into a pool I can’t swim in.

Alice (Martha Hyer) is a strong and self-possessed woman married to John ‘Duke’ Marsden (Gig Young who appeared in the Twilight Zone episode, “Walking Distance, and won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in They Shoot Horses, Don’t They (1969). a poor kid who had a shoeshine box when he was ten and is now a successful investment counselor who is living a double life as a professional gambler. He’s on the verge of losing Alice who has become a poker widow because he’s a fluent card player submerged in the underworld of shady, often violent characters who do not like to lose

The show opens with Duke and several players in the middle of a heated high-stakes poker game with tough guy Ed Krutcher (Gene Evans) who catches Allie Saxon (Raymond Bailey) dealing from the bottom of the deck. Duke is driven home by his chauffeur, Danny (Nick Dennis who plays the cheerful Greek attendant Nick Kanavaris on Ben Casey)

Duke is a good-natured guy who arrives at his office in the morning as his loyal secretary (Dee J. Thompson as Duke’s secretary Kelly, mostly roles on TV, appeared in six episodes of the Hitchcock show, including The Test.) warns him that the gossip rags have planted a story that Alice is “headed for Reno” to get a quickie divorce. Sometimes Duke is missing in action, unshaven, and lost in a game for days at a time.

He generously sends a telegram and a $10,000 gift to his young brother Chuck (Robert Redford) congratulating him on graduating from law school.

But when Duke gets home, Alice gives him an ultimatum, stop playing poker or she’s leaving him for good.

He playfully asks Alice for forgiveness, trying to win her over, while she’s out by the pool.
He is a good-natured hustler, who jumps into the pool though he can’t swim, just to show her that he’s serious and promises that he’s going to quit playing poker and take her away to Hawaii for their fifth wedding anniversary.

Chuck (Robert Redford) shows up in town after a profitable gambling streak in Florida now looking for a high-stakes game there. Fishing for a lead he tries to pump the bartender at a local bar telling him he’s got “a bundle” to play with. He doesn’t realize that Duke’s chauffeur Danny overhears him.

Duke learns that Allie Saxon’s been found shot to death and he tells Krutcher that he is getting out of the game but will give him a chance to win back his unpaid $30,000 debt in one last shot.

His brother Chuck surprises him and Alice and announces that he has fallen in love with a high-society girl but he’s dissatisfied with being a worthless law clerk. Danny tells Duke what he heard at the bar.

When Duke finds out, he’s determined to teach Chuck a lesson, so he won’t wind up as their father broke ‘but he knew how to live’, and their mother, Duke’s just like her ‘a worrier’ downhearted because of his gambling.

Chuck admits to Duke that he used the loan money to finance his gambling streak in Florida where he whipped it into $50,000.

Duke urges him to ‘quit while he’s ahead’ and not follow in their father’s footsteps, but Chuck is furious and storms out. Then he swears to Alice that he’ll be back in time on Friday to go with her to Hawaii.

Duke secretly sets up a high-stakes game for Chuck with his former gambling associate Ed Krutcher (Gene Evans) and his bunch of dangerous heavies in order to scare him off his taste for the game.

He calls Krutcher and offers up Chuck, certain that his brother will learn the hard way when he is cleaned out by a more skilled gambler. Chuck agrees to get in on Krutcher’s game but has no idea that Duke is behind the setup or is actually a card shark himself.

And Krutcher thinks it’s going to be easy to scalp this fresh newcomer, but Duke’s plan backfires when Chuck starts taking him for a ride.

Krutcher calls Duke late that night to fill him in on the fact that Chuck is on a winning streak. Duke rushes over to the game, and Chuck finds out Duke is behind the setup and Krutcher finds out that Chuck is his brother. The game goes on for hours.

Alice loses hope when she has no idea where Duke is and Chuck begins to sweat when he sees that he’s about to lose everything.

Duke steps in and eventually beats Krutcher’s full house with four of a kind. He swiftly wipes the floor with his younger brother who is out of the game, and the arrogant Chuck leaves humiliated.

But Krutcher and the other players soon figure out that Duke may have pulled a fast one in order to work over his brother and teach him a lesson. Krutcher and his thugs realize that Duke might have been swindling them all along, though he denies that he’s ever had to cheat at poker.

Duke throws the money back at Krutcher and tells him to keep it. And heads out for home to be with Alice.

He is determined to make it home in time to make the flight to Hawaii, Alice has lost faith in him because he once again left her for another of his long day’s journey into gambling.

When he stumbles in she tells him that it’s ‘too late’ and that she’s leaving him.

“I’m sorry baby it couldn’t be helped.”

We’re always sorry. You know I think that’s the thing I’m most tired of. A world full of sorry people.”

But Duke tells her that he made it home in time and Alice is shocked to find him collapsing into her arms, he’s has been fatally shot by Krutcher.

“You’ll be alright darling I know you will.” “You wanna bet? I’ll lay you ten to one.”

Then he dies in her arms.

A Piece of the Action was directed by Bernard Girard who worked mostly in television. He directed 12 episodes of the Hitchcock series

The story adapted for The Hitchcock Hour was written by Alfred Hayes and is a decent retelling of the 1930 film Street of Chance 1930 directed by John Cromwell and starring William Powell. The teleplay drew its inspiration from real-life gangster Arnold Rothstein, a notorious gambler, bootlegger, and head of a large criminal organization in Manhattan in the 1920s.

It is brought up to date in 1962 and trades on the seedy Depression-era streets of New York to the slick and Sunkist world of California. In contrast to the gritty streets of urban life, the story is contrasted by the lush sunlit affluence of Duke Marsden’s lifestyle.

Alfred Hayes was a prolific writer, having authored novels and screenplays from 1946 to 1976, and creating TV scripts from 1961 to 1981. He was responsible for writing seven teleplays for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. He was also notable for having written the screenplays for two Fritz Lang film noirs- Clash by Night (1952) and Human Desire (1954). A Piece of the Action was the first of the hour-long series that premiered on CBS on Thursday, September 20, 1962.

Gig Young, after struggling with alcoholism for many years, was found dead in 1978, having murdered his fifth wife, he then committed suicide.

Gene Evans as the dangerous Ed Krutcher, played similar roles in his career that spanned 1947 to 1989. He was also in the Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode The Kerry Blue.

Robert Redford, In his early years on television, appeared in another Alfred Hitchcock Hour’s season one episode A Tangled Web, and in an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Right Kind of Medicine. And with Gladys Cooper in season 3 of The Twilight Zone Nothing in the Dark, where he appears as the angel of death.

*DON’T LOOK BEHIND YOU: s1e2- Vera Miles- aired Sep. 27, 1962

Vera Miles and Henry Fonda in The Wrong Man 1957.

Vera Miles was referred to as “An unaffected, icy mid-period “Hitchcock blonde.”

in 1948, she was cast in small roles in Hollywood films and television series. She soon attained fame when the ‘spirited’ actress drew the attention of masterful directors Alfred Hitchcock and John Ford, who cast her in his western The Searchers in 1956. Hitchcock placed her under contract and referred to her as his “new Grace Kelly”. She co-starred with Henry Fonda in his thriller The Wrong Man 1956. She was originally cast as Judy Barton in Vertigo 1958, but she dropped out of the picture because she was pregnant. But Hitchcock cast her once again, this time in a supportive role in his horror masterpiece Psycho 1960 as Marion Crane’s sister Lila who comes looking for her and finds the demented Norman Bates instead. Miles began her foray into television in the mid-1950s in Science Fiction Theater, The Ford Television Theater, The 20th Century Fox Hour, Lux Video Theatre, Playhouse 90, Studio One, and Climax! She starred in various popular television series, The Twilight Zone 1959 and The Outer Limits 1963. Miled appeared in the very first episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents- Revenge in 1955.

Although Vera Miles is a well-known Hollywood star, she has contributed a lot to the horror genre. She played Marion Crane’s sister Lila in Psycho 1960. She appeared in the television sci-fi/horror/fantasy series The Outer Limits episode ‘The Form of Things Unknown’ in 1964 starring alongside Barbara Rush. And the British television series with a horror/suspense twist, Journey to the Unknown 1968 episode ‘Matakitas is Coming’, where she is locked in a library, the prey of an ancient serial killer who sacrifices brides to satan.

Vera Miles is known for The Wrong Man 1956, Autumn Leaves 1956, The Searchers 1956, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance 1962

Her other mystery/horror credits include –The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms 1953 and 4 episodes of Climax! 1957, in the Twilight Zone: as the bedeviled Millicent Barnes in Mirror Image and several made-for-TV movies- A Howling in the Woods 1971, Columbo: Lovely but Lethal 1973 murderess Viveca Scott, The Strange and Deadly Occurrence 1974 made for tv movie, and reprised her role as Lila Crane in Psycho II (1983) and in the horror film The Initiation in 1984.

BRIDES OF HORROR – Scream Queens of the 1960s! 🎃 Part 3


Harold (Jeffrey Hunter) – “Take an intelligent man who’s even slightly off balance say he’s dissatisfied he’s building up grudges. Suppose he’s been reading about these multiple killers.”

Daphne (Miles) – “You’re pretty read up on murder yourself.”

Harold –“Or he may be a specialized kind of madman who is only occasionally seized by these compulsions – he could be someone in the University atmosphere. He could easily be one of us.”

Dr. MacFarlane (Abraham Sofar) – “It’s a psychological distortion of something normal- something that’s already there. Waiting in all of us.”

Harold told the police –“I said it had to be a particular kind of man in a particular state of mind and they might need the help of a psychologist in running him down. Anyway, I told them I’d doing anything I could to help.”

Daphne – “Oh don’t get mixed up with this Harold.”

Harold “Darling you know how interested I am in these things. These strange twists of the mind. That’s why I went into psychology in the first place. It’s a wonderful opportunity to test out some theories I’ve had on abnormal behavior. The only problem is I’m gonna have to work alone because the police don’t go along with me.”

Daphne – “I think you should stay out of it.”

Harold – “Daphne you want this man caught don’t you You know I can’t forget that it might have been you he was following.”

Daphne – “Why would he try to get me?”

Harold – “I don’t know. But I’m gonna make sure that he never does.”


Daphne –“Well you’re always creeping up behind me?” (she says to Dick Sargent who plays Dave.)

Dave- That was a terrible thing last night. If I walked home that way I might have caught him.”

Daphne –“I thought you rode home with Paul.”

Dave –“No I stayed talking with Mrs. MacFarlane. Then I walked home the long way around.”

Daphne –“Alone? At that time of night? Now why should he walk when he could ride?”

Dave -“Do you want me to tell you? Well remember how you felt listening to Edwin at the piano, that’s how I felt after you had gone. I just wanted to walk and think about you.”

Daphne laughs –“You pay the most curious compliments – first you ask Dr. McFarlane to invite you to dinner and then you tell me I’m too beautiful to be married and now the moonlight.”


Edwin (Kjellin) about his piano playing, “Do I make them sound sad?”

Daphne –“Yes, there is a sort of sorrow in them.”

Edwin –“Not in them. It’s in me. Music always gives away one’s feelings, especially in loneliness. That’s the universal human predicament isn’t it Loneliness.”

Daphne –“I think in very talented people like yourself – that it helps to create.”


Harold – “I want this fella caught before he makes you scream like that.”

Daphne –“He isn’t after me.” (she shouts)

Harold – “I know this man’s secret mind I’ve studied these people know how they think.”

Daphne –“It’s frightening sometimes how you know people.”

Harold –“He watches you. To him, you’re like a living jewel. You’re perfection, you’re irreplaceable. And to destroy you would be a triumph. Now he followed you but he didn’t get you. The other woman was just a substitute. He didn’t succeed with her either so he’s going to come back to his first choice. We can catch through you and only through you. I want you to be a decoy. I want you to walk through the woods again unarmed.”

Daphne -“No!”

Harold – “I’ll be there. But I’ll be out of sight I’ll have a gun.”

Daphne –“Well how do you know you can catch him even with a gun? Use a police decoy. They have people who do that sort of thing.”

Harold -“But it’s you he wants don’t you understand it’s not gonna be any more of a risk than you’re running right now every day every minute. “

Daphne – “To walk through those woods again I don’t know how you could ask me to do such a thing.”

Harold – “Daphne besides protecting you we may save the lives of others. Now how would you feel if some morning you woke up and there was another girl who had been strangled and sliced when we could have stopped it? This has to be done at once darling While this periodic excitement is still with him.”

Daphne -“Nobody would ever believe that I’d go through those woods again. Not now.”

Harold – “Yes he will because that’s what he wants to believe And he’ll wait until you do He’ll never stop watching you I know this kind of mind.”

Daphne –“I can’t Harold don’t ask me again. I can’t.”


Edwin –“Did I frighten you?”
Daphne –“Only a little.”
Edwin –“That’s good, It seems like I frightened you quite badly the other evening.”
Daphne –“The other evening?”
Edwin –“On your way to dinner at the McFarlands You began running.”
Daphne –“Why did you follow me then?”
Edwin – “It’s a habit of mine. There was nothing to be afraid of. Not then. I only wanted you to know that you were not alone. You certainly must feel that you’re not alone now.”(He continues to creep behind her sweating as she grows more uncomfortable…He is twisting a rope behind his back wearing black leather gloves
Edwin –“This will be different. I’m glad you like my music. That’s not all there is you know. I saved the best… (He starts to strangle her from behind, but she gets away and runs screaming…
He shouts at her, “YOU MUSN’T GO NOW!


Harold- “Tell me that time with that girl in the wood when Daphne and I interrupted you that was all for nothing wasn’t it? We came too soon. And you began it wrong. You forgot to take the life without the ceremonial. So the compulsion stayed with you. Then you had to try again with Daphne. Well, I must be going now, Edwin. I’ll come and see you again.”

Edwin – ”I know you will I’m looking forward to it.”


Dave- “Harold waiting? I’m beginning to wonder if all his talk about you being in danger isn’t his imagination.”

Daphne –“ He was right about Edwin.”

Dave –“He was wasn’t he? You know a man like Edwin never really realizes he’s committing an abominable crime. He’s merely yielding to an urge. Such men worship dark and nameless gods. They act out the fantasies that obsess their unbalanced minds.”

Daphne – “You really can’t blame someone like Edwin.”

Dave –“That doesn’t make them any less dangerous.”

Daphne –“That’s exactly why Harold is so absorbed in this.”

Dave – “Yes deeply It absorbs him when he should be absorbed with you.”

Daphne –“Harold has been working night and day trying to prevent anything else from happening To me or to anyone else.”

Dave – “Daphne I’m gonna say this. I think there’s a lot of pretense about you and Harold. There always has been hasn’t there? You’re not really in love. That’s what I mean by pretense Harold may be in love with you in his way but you’re not.”

Daphne – “How dare you say such a thing to me.”

Dave –“You’re ducking away from the truth.”

Daphne –“I’m very fond of Harold. I think I may owe him my life. He certainly deserves my loyalty.”

Dave- “That’s a poor substitute for love.”

Daphne –“Are you jealous of Harold?”

Dave – “No, but he is of me.


Harold – “I’ll always remember you as you are this moment darling… smiling at me across a glass of wine. He raises a glass of wine. You came from Dave to me. I like that because I have something to tell you.”

Daphne – “About Dave?”

Harold – “No, I know how you feel about him I”m not blind you know.”

Daphne – “Hah, Harold if you’re jealous of Dave I can assure you it’s quite without reason.”

Harold – “Without reason you said. Without reason. No that isn’t what I wanted to talk to you about. There’s something else. And this is the perfect place to do it.”

Daphne – “You said you’d made up your mind about something.”

Harold – “Yes my darling I have and we won’t be interrupted here. Now I don’t want you to be frightened by what I have to say and run away as you did with Edwin.”

Daphne – “But he intended to… (She pauses – it hits her…. She looks up at his crazed expression. Her calm smile turns to a darker awareness.)

Harold – “Edwin killed those women in hatred and revenge. But I’ve decided tonight to make you completely my own for love. In the full aesthetic moment of final sacrifice. (He pulls out Edwin’s ceremonial knife from his desk drawer)…
Pain is only a secret name for pleasure my darling. He keeps his voice at a crazed monotone rapturous whisper.
… And there can be no true sacrifice No complete feeling of love unless the victim dies.”

Daphne still looks stunned, disbelieving what is happening – she beings to flee, trying to get away from him.
Harold whispers to her ”You’re mine, Daphne. No one else’s Just mine.”

Dave -“He really caught this contagion this spirit of killing from Edwin.
The strange and ancient illusion that by blood sacrifice you could reach a more intense communion. Jealousy has unbalanced his mind. But you’re safe now.”


Vera Miles plays the genteel and sharply independent Daphne who’s part of the psychology department, engaged to psychology professor Harold (Jeffrey Hunter).

Vera Miles is always possessed of a smart and inquisitive sensuality. In this episode, she radiates that same sensibility as an academic whose role is more reactive to the wide-eyed Hunter’s off-the-rails manic fervor, though she doesn’t shy away from the idea of hunting a serial killer for devilishly handsome Hunter absorbed by abnormal psychopathy.

Terror and dread take hold of a small college campus when several female students are brutally attacked, victims of ritualistic murder while walking through the woods. The police are baffled by the case, and certain members of the faculty are suspected, despite the police having no clues. Among the odd characters are the somber and brooding music professor Edwin Volck (Alf Kjellin) who plays piano with Plutonian detachment.

Edwin is obviously mesmerized and moved by Daphne’s grace. She becomes the object of his affection and possibly his murderous eye.

Another faculty member who falls under suspicion is the odd chemistry professor who seems a bit too loutish for such a savage crime.

The psychology professor Harold played in an agitated frenzy by Jeffrey Hunter is manic and obsessive about the killer’s psyche. Harold is convinced the psychopath is a deranged sadist.

Vera Miles always exudes a cool refrain and seems to feel affection for Harold, not passion. Dick Sargent as Dave is in love with Miles, standing watch over her like a noble sentry.

Harold persuades Daphne to act as bait to lure the killer out of hiding. hoping to seduce the fiend to show himself thus catching him in mid-attack, and the plan delivers.

The killer turns out to be Edwin, who is apprehended and sent to the psych ward.

Though Edwin is in the psyche ward, Harold is still fixated on the murders and is convinced that his bloodlust will be contagious stirring up other psychopaths on campus to commit copycat murders.

His fiancee Daphne discovers to her horror that he has been actually forming a theory about his own inner struggle when he takes out a ceremonial knife and attempts to sacrifice her in the name of eternal love. But Dave (Dick Sargent) who has been watching on the sidelines Harold’s peculiar behavior comes to her rescue and delivers her from the insane Harold who winds up in the same psyche ward as Edwin, who is not surprised to see him at all.

Hunter’s portrayal of a madman is a bit of an exaggerated vision of a sweating boogeyman with soft-spoken murderous serenades to Daphne, the object of his love he seeks to kill in order to bring them the closest together.

Jerry Goldsmith’s sweeping strings, a twisted little mephistophelian waltz that swirls around Hunter’s descent into madness underscores the climax.

Daphne in shock flees to get away from him and Dave subdues Harold.

Edwin stands behind the barred door, muttering – “Harold is here. I knew he would be.”

Don’t Look Behind You was first broadcast on September 27, 1962, directed by John Brahm who directed superior suspense pictures –The Undying Monsters 1942, The Lodger 1944, Guest in the House 1944, Hangover Square 1945, and The Locket 1946 including the film noir’s of 1947- The Brasher Roubloon and Singapore starring Ava Gardner, and The Mad Magician with Vincent Price in 1954. He moved into television in the 1950s with episodes for Screen Directors Playhouse, Playhouse 90, Studio 57, Suspicion, Lux Playhouse, General Electric Theater, M Squad, and 87th Precinct, eventually directing 12 episodes of The Twilight Zone and 12 superior episodes of Boris Karloff’s Thriller, including The Cheaters and The Remarkable Mrs. Hawk.

Don’t Look Behind You was written by Barré Lyndon. It was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Program – Drama. The episode co-stars Abraham Sofaer, Madge Kennedy, and Ralph Roberts.

*CAPTIVE AUDIENCE: – s1e5 aired Oct 18, 1962 -Angie Dickinson

American film and TV actress Angie Dickinson. (Photo by Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

Actress Angie Dickinson proved to American television audiences in the 1970s that she was more than a searingly hot sex symbol paving the way for strong-willed savvy women on the small screen when she stepped into the iconic role of Sergeant Pepper Anderson, an officer of the Los Angeles Police Department, in Police Woman that ran from 1974 to 1979. Winning a Golden Globe for her work, including several Emmy Award nominations, It was a series that showcased Dickinson’s unvarying sex appeal and brains.

“She eschewed the sex kitten image of contemporaries such as Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield, favoring roles that meshed well with her one-of-the-guys real-life persona. She even disallowed the studio to lighten her naturally dark hair beyond a honey blonde shade.” From PBS article Pioneers of Television

“It was simple … I loved being a heroine. And I loved that she was allowed to be sexy and still a hero,” says Dickinson of her character, Pepper Anderson. – Angie Dickinson

Angie Dickinson born Angeline Brown, acted in film and television, with over 151 credits to her strong current of arresting allure that started in 1954 until she retired in 2009.

She grew up in North Dakota and after studying the craft for a few years, Dickinson won several guest star appearances on NBC’s “The Colgate Comedy Hour,” where she met Frank Sinatra. The two became lifelong friends, and Dickinson would play Sinatra’s wife in the stylish heist flick Ocean’s Eleven. Though she was well immersed in television programs of the 1950s, it was her film career that took off, appearing in several small westerns, in 1958 appearing in the taut film noir Cry Terror! with Captive Audience co-star James Mason. Angie Dickinson was featured in Howard Hawks’s Rio Bravo (1959).

Then in 1961, she was cast as the lead in Gordon Douglas’ The Sins of Rachel Cade and next in 1964 revised Ava Gardner’s femme fatale Shiela Farr in Don Siegel’s remake of The Killers, then appeared in Cast a Giant Shadow 1966, and once again with Lee Marvin in Point Blank 1967. I must not forget to mention her sensual performance as Kate Miller the ill-fated heroine who gets murdered in the shower in Brian DePalma’s psychosexual nod to Hitchcock – Dressed to Kill 1980.

Captive Audience is one of two Alfred Hitchcock Hours in which she appeared besides The Alfred Hitchcock Hour episode – Thanatos Palace Hotel directed by Laslo Benedek.

As Janet West, she is superb as an icy femme fatale, a smooth-talking conniving temptress.


Janet – “Why were you looking at me at the casino?”

Barrow (James Mason) –“Was I?”

Janet –“You thought I didn’t notice.”

Barrow –“Maybe I was admiring your dress.”

Janet –“Ivar bought it for me. Dear Ivar. You know there’s one part of the Bible I know by heart. I saw unto the sun that the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong but time and chance happen to them all. Means you can be as clever as you like but you gotta have luck. You’ve gotta work for it and grab it when it comes. I was very poor when I was young Very poor.(She pauses then tilts her head and looks at him) You know you’re a very interesting man.”

Inside the offices of publishing company Medallion Press, publisher Victor Hartman listens to a reel-to-reel tape relating a story being narrated by mystery writer Warren Barrow. Victor has been publishing Barrow’s mystery novels for three years. James Mason stars as the pseudonymous mystery novelist Warren Barrow, who has sent his publisher a series of tape recordings outlining what appears to be either a painstaking bit-by-bit plot of his latest murder yarn or the more nefarious particulars of a murder he is actually planning to commit.

Ed Nelson, a writer named Tom Keller arrives, has been called in by Hartman, to listen to the tapes. Barrow has been treating his publisher Victor Hartman like a father confessor.

Hartman tells Keller -“If what he says is true. He’s going to kill someone.”

Barrow refers to Victor as a “‘captive audience'” and admits that Warren Barrow is not his real name. He toys with Victor telling him that he may never know if the story he is telling is true or not. “an actual dictated fantasy of mine or a real murder.”

A recent widower Barrow recounts how he recently renewed a friendship with an attractive girl named Janet West (Angie) who had been recently married to an older weak man whom he blames for his wife’s death. He had kept her out so late, that he got jealous and in a rage drove the car into a crash. Years later he sees Angie again they take up an affair.

Barrow begins to walk his listeners back in time through flashbacks.

The mysterious Barrow had just married a woman named Helen, and while on honeymoon in the south of France, they meet a couple named Ivar and Janet West.

After dinner, Barrow and Janet go to a casino to gamble while Ivar and Helen have way too many drinks club hopping, and dancing. To illustrate how little Janet cares about taking risks or squandering her husband’s money, she quickly throws it all away on one reckless bet. Barrow parks the car and while he finds Janet intoxicatingly beautiful he doesn’t give in to temptation.

But when he returns to his hotel room, and Helen is not there, he becomes inflamed with jealousy insisting that they leave. Still furious, Barrows drives way too fast, in during a moment’s reconciliation kiss, they have a head-on collision and Helen is killed.

Back in the publisher’s office, Victor and Tom listen to the tape as Barrow explains that he woke up in a hospital after the wreck but has refused to have brain surgery to relieve the pressure in his head caused by the accident.

You could say that it was the traumatic brain injury that might be causing his erratic behavior yet before the car accident Barrow exhibited signs of irrational violent tendencies.

It was after the loss of his wife, that he started a new life as a writer of mystery novels taking on a pseudonym.

At a Beat Generation club, he meets Janet again. They talk. She tells him she’s still married to Ivar. “He’s still unbearable but the pay is good.” She follows him back to his house where the two begin an affair. Not long after she starts complaining about Ivar, she toys around with Barrow about how he would kill him in one of his mystery novels.

Barrow plays along until it becomes clear to him that his creative musings are actually Janet’s homicidal desires and soon she works on his guilt over Helen’s death and the part Ivar played in his wife’s tragic death and the two plan Ivar’s murder for real, Barrow blinded by love for the conniving Janet.

“Darling, suppose you were writing a novel about us. And suppose you were looking for the perfect way to get rid of… well… let’s say Ivar.”

Back in Victor’s office, he and Tom discuss what they’ve been listening to and Tom believes that the car accident has caused him to become mentally unbalanced. That is why Victor asked Tom to listen to the tapes because he is a writer of psychological thrillers. Just then, a third tape arrives by messenger.

Barrow continues to narrate. Janet leaves his home and tries to establish an alibi, and when Ivar shows up and confronts Barrow about the affair, Barrows pulls a gun and tries to shoot him, but the safety catch jams and he cuts his hand. Ivar lets Barrow know that he is not Janet’s first lover and he winds up getting cold feet and sends Ivar away.

When he returns from a drive he finds two detectives waiting for him to question him about an anonymous phone call about a gunshot someone heard coming from the house. When Barrow learns that the caller was a woman, he realizes that Janet has set him up to have the police arrest him at the scene of the crime, finding Ivar’s dead body in Barrow’s house shot to death with his gun.

Back at Victor’s office, he and Tom hear Barrow say on the tape that he is going to kill Janet, and Tom wants to try and track her down and warn her, and when Barrow arrives at the office, he nervously insists that the story is a work of fiction.

Barrow insists on picking up his tapes –“I hope I didn’t confuse you by using my real name is just a device I use to make the thing more realistic.”

But Tom notices the cut on Barrow’s finger from the safety catch and he makes a mistake and refers to Janet by her maiden name Waverley.

When Barrow leaves the office, Victor tracks down Janet’s phone number but there is no answer so he heads out to her house while Victor takes the tapes to the police. But it is too late, Janet finds Barrow waiting for her when she gets home.

“Aren’t you even interested in what happened to Ivar? I should think you’d want to know.”

Tom rushes in and finds Janet shot dead. Barrow has now lost touch with reality. Tom tries to flatter him about his work, while he carefully takes the gun out of his hand. And in the final scene, Barrow is sitting in the police station, finishing his narration into a tape recorder, repeating ‘’That’s always the problem, finding the right ending,'” he says three times.


William Link and Richard Levinson creators of Columbo adapted two of their own short stories during the final season of Alfred Hitchcock Presents

“Captive Audience” was the fifth hour-long episode to air, on October 18, 1962, the adaptation was inspired by the British writer John Bingham’s novel called Murder off the Record published in 1957 in the U.S. with its original U.K. title, Marion. Bingham wrote the screenplay for the British horror thriller Fragment of Fear 1970. Levinson and Link found it challenging to adapt Bingham’s story working around the first-person narrative and the flashbacks, fitting them into a one-hour format.

The pair devise a new framing device keeping certain incidents in the novel the same, yet making certain changes to key characters. The show opens with a master shot of the Golden Gate Bridge, changing the setting from London to San Francisco.

Busy character actor Ed Nelson worked in both film and television from 1952 to 2003 appearing in several episodes of Boris Karloff’s Thriller – The Cheaters and A Good Imagination.

Ed Nelson plays Tom Keller and has almost 200 credits in his career. He started out as a stuntman in various Roger Corman films in the late 1950s and is also known for his role playing Dr. Michael Rossi in 514 episodes of televisions Peyton Place which ran from 1964-1969. Nelson appeared in a slew of popular television shows and made-for-TV movies, b horror, action, western and crime movies, and appeared on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour twice and The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, and Night Gallery.

This is your EverLovin’ Joey sayin’ I hope you’re a captive audience – I’ll see you at Part 2!

Featuring -Final Vow with Carol Lynley, Ride the Nightmare with Gena Rowlands, Hangover with Jayne Mansfield, Bonfire with Patricia Collinge and Dina Merrill, The Tender Poisoner with Jan Sterling, and What Really Happened with Ruth Roman and Anne Francis!


13 thoughts on “It’s the pictures that got small! – “Good Evening” Leading Ladies of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour Part 1

  1. Loving your epic series, Joey! I’ve been watching a lot of Alfred Hitchcock Presents since I discovered that they were available on Peacock, but I haven’t gotten to the Alfred Hitchcock Hour, with the the exception of one or two. I had no idea how many stars were on them — I’m looking forward to checking these out, especially the ones with Angie Dickinson and Vera Miles. Thank you for participating in the blogathon — I look forward to reading Parts 2 and 3!

    — Karen

  2. Thank you! It really was such a pleasure diving into such fantastic performances, and well-written stories. I used to binge the show and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Some of the best performances are Teresa Wright’s Three Wives Too Many and Margaret Leighton in the haunting Where the Woodbine Twineth. That episode has stayed with me for years. Enjoy! Great blogathon, it was so much fun to join in….!

  3. That was epic! Television is so very different now, but how thrilling it was that the great Hitchcock lent his great name and prestige to this show and a big thank-you to all of the big screen stars who took part in it. If television was good enough for Hitchcock, it was good enough for them.

  4. WOW!!!

    You always break the mold, much like many of the stars you spotlight. I can’t catch my breath and cannot wait to dive into the other parts of this historical account. The star power leaves me breathless, but the one episode that made me salivate is the one where Ida Lupino plays the old-time actress. That one sounds amazing.


    1. Hey there Aurora! thank you for saying that. I really do try to have my own Last Drive In style. And it’s incredibly rewarding to delve into these marvelous women’s work, not only getting to know them better, but to see outstanding performances that are off the beaten path. they may have forayed into the small screen but there’s nothing small about their performances or their inimitable flair… Cheers, Joey

Leave a Reply