It’s the pictures that got small! – “Good Evening” Leading Ladies of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour Part 2

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


*FINAL VOW: s1e5 aired Oct 25, 1962- Carol Lynley and Isobel Elsom

Carol Lynley Bio:

Carol was born Carol Anne Jones on Feb. 13, 1942, in New York City. Lynley worked as a model and in television from her teen years and performed on numerous early live dramatic television shows. After appearing in the 1958 Broadway play, she delivered a moving performance in the controversial screen version of Blue Denim in 1959, co-starring cutie Brandon De Wilde. She was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer! She then co-starred with Clifton Webb and Jane Wyman in Holiday For Lovers (1959).

Afterward, she appeared in a variety of popular films, Return to Peyton Place (1961), and Under the Yum Yum Tree (1963) with Jack Lemmon. Carol Lynley appeared in the Otto Preminger film The Cardinal (1963). She was also in The Stripper (1963), and Shock Treatment 1964 where she plays a very disturbed young girl with hyper-sexual tendencies. In the same year, she played Maggie Williams in The Pleasure Seekers. Lynley also took the role of Jean Harlow in the biopic Harlow (1965).

Bunny Lake is Missing (1965) & Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964): Otto Preminger/Bryan Forbes -‘A Conspiracy of Madness’: Part 1

Her performance as Ann Lake is superb playing a mother who claims her little girl has vanished after dropping her off at her school in Otto Preminger’s Bunny Lake is Missing (1965). She also appeared in the very dark and twisted The Shuttered Room (1965) co-starring Gig Young. The film is based on a story by horror writer August Derleth. In the same year, she played Maggie Williams in The Pleasure Seekers. Lynley also took the role of Jean Harlow in the biopic Harlow (1965).

Lynley appeared in Once You Kiss a Stranger… (1969) and In the pilot episode that launched the iconic television series “The Night Stalker” (1972), the cult chiller directed by John Llewellyn Moxey, Lynely plays the character of Gail Foster, who was portrayed as the girlfriend of Darren McGavin’s journalist of the bizarre and the occult. As the stalwart reporter investigating the uncanny and supernatural, Carl Kolchak, often puts Gail through the wringer. This groundbreaking classic television series developed by Dan Curtis went on to inspire popular shows like “The X Files”.

Carol Lynley appeared in various television shows, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, It Takes a Thief, Night Gallery, The Invaders, Kojak, The Man from U.N.C.L.E, Journey to the Unknown, The Sixth Sense, The Magician, The Evil Touch, Quincy M.E. and Police Woman.

There’s got to be a morning after… Goodbye Carol Lynley Sept. 3, 2019


As Mrs. Eynsford- Hill in My Fair Lady 1964.

British actress Isobel Elsom embodied the epitome of pretentious, grande dame vanity in her acting roles, fashioning her persona as the elegant society woman and piqued upper-class sophisticates in both comedies and drama, with character names like Charlotte Chattle, Genevieve Clivieden-Banks, Auntie Loo-Loo, and Mrs. Eynsford- Hill in My Fair Lady 1964. Elsom was also well-disposed to playing head nuns.

She began her prolific career on stage making her debut in the chorus of a London production of “The Quaker Girl” in 1911 and her Broadway debut in “The Ghost Train” in 1926, and went on to appear in supporting roles in both silent and talking pictures in England and Hollywood that spanned over 50 years. She maintained her leading status with early British talkies in films such as The Other Woman in 1931, Stranglehold in 1931, The Crooked Lady in 1932, The Thirteenth Candle in 1933, and The Primrose Path in 1934.

Elsom moved on to the New York stage in such plays as The Mulberry Bush (1927), People Don’t Do Such Things (1927), The Silver Box (1928), The Behavior of Mrs. Crane (1928) and The Outsider (1928).

Having settled in America in the 1930s, she established herself as a great character actress with one of her most notable Broadway roles, that of retired actress Leonora Fiske for whom Flora Robson kept house in Ladies in Retirement. Miss Elsom also appeared in Charles Vidor’s film adaptation of the play in 1941 starring Ida Lupino as Ellen Creed, the one Creed sister who is not veritably insane like sisters Elsa Lanchester and Edith Barrett.

Ladies in Retirement (1941) Though this be madness

Throughout her career, Miss Elsom appeared in numerous Hollywood films, including the supernatural drama Between Two Worlds 1944 with John Garfield, Paul Henreid, and Sydney Greenstreet, Edmund Goulding’s Of Human Bondage 1946 starring Eleanor Parker and The Two Mrs. Carrolls 1947 starring Humphrey Bogart.

The Two Mrs. Carrolls (1947) The ‘Angel of Death’ and a nice glass of warm milk!

Isobel Elsom would swing between doing film and acting on the Broadway stage for the following two decades in productions of Hand in Glove (1944), The Innocents (1950), Romeo and Juliet as Lady Capulet) (1951), The Climate in Eden (1952), The Burning Glass (1954), and The First Gentleman (1957).

Image from the Chaplin Archives, Monsieur Verdoux 1947.

Elsom commanded the screen as the intended victim Marie Grosnay in the offbeat black comedy Monsieur Verdoux 1947 with Charlie Chaplin, Love From a Stranger 1947, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir 1947, in The Paradine Case in 1947, playing the Governess in The Secret Garden 1949, as Mother Superior in The Miracle 1959 starring Kim Stanley, and Love Is a Many Splendored Thing with William Holden and Jennifer Jones.

She made her foray into television in the early 1950s in such shows as The Chevrolet Tele-Theatre, Kraft Theatre, Armstrong Circle Theatre, Suspense, Climax!, Studio 57, Playhouse 90, and in 8 episodes of Robert Montgomery Presents. She was not only cast as Reverend Mother in Final Vow for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour she plays Sister Marie Theresa in season 1 episode The Dark Pool. And she plays John William’s shrewish wife in Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Back for Christmas.


Sister Pamela-“Sorry Sister Jem, I have only myself to blame.”

Sister Jem-“You’re not thinking of… what we spoke of the other day?”

Sister Pamela-“I haven’t been thinking of anything Sister. I’ve tried not to think.”

Sister Jem-“Have you prayed?”

Sister Pamela-“Sister… I’ve prayed for humility and obedience. But there was no answer in my heart Sister Jem… only silence! If I truly belonged here wouldn’t I know wouldn’t I feel it inside?

Sister Jem- “You must give yourself time child. These things can’t be hurried.”


Sister Pamela (Lynley) –“I wish to leave the order reverend mother.”

Reverend Mother (Isobel Elsom) – “You can’t know what you’re saying.”

Sister Pamela –“I know Reverend Mother.”

Reverend Mother –“But you’re not a child sister Pamela. You mustn’t respond to trouble like a child.”

Sister Pamela –“I’ve thought about it reverend mother, I’ve thought and I’ve prayed.”

Reverend Mother –“When a child is naughty it wants to run away from home- but your home is with God. You cannot run away from him.”

Sister Pamela –“I’m not running away from God. I wish to leave the order, Reverend Mother. I’m not suited I’ve known it for some time. Mr. Downey was right about me.”

Reverend Mother –“Why should anything that Mr. Downey says effect you?”

Sister Pamela –“Because he knew the truth. Some people retreat to God, not advance toward him and that’s what I’ve done. I’ve hidden myself away from the world for what I know to be selfish reasons.”

Reverend Mother –“But is that so bad sister?”

Sister Pamela –“I haven’t been honest not with myself, not with you, and not with God.”

Cinematographer John L. Russell’s camerawork – sets up the solitary landscape of Final Vow.

On the eve of her taking her final vows, Sister Pamela suffers a crisis of confidence and faith feeling like she is merely hiding from the outside world. And soon finds herself in the deep end as she tumbles unwisely into the sleazy circle of violent thugs who stole it.

Doe-eyed and guileless Lynley puts forth the purity of a young novitiate who has lived an insulated life now, in search of answers is suddenly confronted with evil resembling a violent low-life, thereby from the safekeeping of the convent, Pamela begins her harrowing descent into Hell.

While gentle and wide-eyed in manner, Lynley still conveys a miraculous balance of fortitude and grace when holding her own in a hostile environment. An unravished bride of Christ, Sister Pamela learns along her journey outside the sanctuary beyond the walls of the convent, how this story warns of how men treat women.

During her lunch break at work, Jimmy (Gulagher) grabs her wrists looking for a wedding ring, insulting her by mocking her prudish ways, and finally manhandling her suggestively at the party. He also knocks his girlfriend Bess around. And worst and most dangerous of all, he assaults and threatens to kill her at the pawnshop, even after he realizes that she’s a nun.


The episode opens with a solemn meal at a convent, as Sister Pamela drops a pitcher of milk that smashes on the floor and unsettles everyone at the table, especially Pamela who is a coiled spring. Like the fragmented glass pitcher, Pamela’s innocence is yet to be shattered when she enters the outside world.

Sister Gem (Charity Grace) –“Oh Sister, not tears again, you’ve cried a whole river these past weeks.” Pamela- Sister Gem, I only have myself to blame.”

Note: The wonderful Charity Grace was a very busy character actress on television. You might recognize her as one of the Morrison sisters on The Andy Griffith Show episode Alcohol and Old Lace where she and her sister run a secret moonshine still operation. It’s one of the most hilarious episodes of the series, especially getting to watch Barney Fife muster such zeal in busting up the still with his axe ‘Pow, pow, pow!’

The older Sister Jem consoles Sister Pamela through her doubts and The Reverend Mother Isobel Elsom believes that Sister Pamela Wiley’s crisis will disappear in time.

At the request of the Reverend Mother, Sister Pamela is sent to see Sister Lydia in the infirmary, who tells her that she too, once had the same uncertainty as a young novice.

Sister Lydia tasks Sister Pamela with a very special mission to meet the once young hooligan now a reformed gangster, William Michael Downey (R.G. Armstrong) from the early days of parochial school – the failed protégé of the Abbess sister Lydia. Sister Lydia never stopped writing to him for over thirty years. She asks Pamela to go in her place in order to “I want you to see what faith and prayer will do.”

Downey has invited Sister Lydia to his mansion after thirty years of silence to give her a very special statue of St Francis to the convent. It’s a gesture of thanks and a very sacred piece of art.

Sister Jem accompanies Sister Pamela by train to Downey’s opulent penthouse that commands a spectacular view of the city.

“I suppose you think her prayers have helped me.” “Yes, I do.”Have all your prayers been successful too?”

She admires his art collection. Downey makes a joke, “Funny isn’t it, an old heathen like me.”

While the old gal Sister Jem is out like a light on the balcony in an almost fairytale-like slumber. Lyn Murray’s music underscores Gem’s sleep momentarily with an almost childlike lullaby hinting that her drowse is otherworldly. Sister Pamela and Downey begin a heated dialogue about faith and prayer. And though he wears a classy suit, it cannot disguise his coarse, boorish, and unpolished nature. She rebukes him – “Prayers aren’t business deals.” Still, his words strike at the heart of Sister Pamela’s conflict that she has been living in isolation at the convent in order to hide from the world. Downey is like the serpent’s temptation of Eve, who sows the seed of doubt in Pamela that the convent is not a place of ceremony and service for her but a convenient refuge from life.

Downey enlightens Sister Pamela about the history of the St. Francis statue which is five centuries old, which lived at the Medici Palace and was created by the Italian Renaissance artist Donatello. He hands over the statue of St. Francis to Sister Pamela so that she can take give it to his benefactress Sister Lydia. “I hope this’ll make it up to her.”

Now at the train station, a young man emerges out of the hum of the crowd and offers to help the sisters with their suitcases, one which holds the irreplaceable icon. He quickly vanishes. The sisters go to the police and Pamela notices petty crook Jimmy Bresson in the lineup, who runs a slick little scheme lifting luggage from unsuspecting travelers.

But Jimmy has an alibi for his whereabouts claiming he was with his girlfriend at the time of the theft. Pamela takes note of his job and his girlfriend’s address and will later track him down at the Gramercy Appliance Co.

Sister Pamela returns to the convent and confesses to Reverend Mother that the theft of the statue is a sign that she cannot be trusted and that it is time to leave the order and stop hiding from the world for selfish reasons. The statue was valuable because-“It was a reward for a lifetime of work.”

The Reverend Mother tells her to take hold of herself but that she’ll have a place there if she should return.

Determined to recover the priceless statue, the guilt-ridden Pamela leaves the convent. She applies for a job at the Gramercy Appliance Co as a typist where she can follow Jimmy who works in the shipping department, and moves into a modest apartment. Then she injects herself into the small group of friends in order to get closer to Jimmy Bresson.

Jimmy -“Princess you’re a nice kid, you gotta relax, you gotta have fun, you gotta have some games, and I know the rules, I’m just the guy to show ya.”

As Pamela eats her lunch by herself on the loading dock, Jimmy begins to make the moves on her and invites her to a party, which she agrees to. But Jimmy’s girlfriend Bess (Carmen Phillips) gets jealous when he pays too much attention to the lovely Pamela, when he tries to persuade her to come with him, she decides to stay with Bess.

While inside the apartment Bess leaves the room for a moment and Pamela soon finds a pawn ticket from Wormer Pawn Ship. Bess tells Pamela that Jimmy does his business out of the shop.

Under the guise of looking for religious statues, Wormer shows her the stolen statue of St. Francis and asks $20 for it, but calls Jimmy to come because he becomes suspicious of Pamela.

Jimmy shows up and finally recognizes her from the train station, realizing that she’s a nun.

After roughing her up he and Wormer conspire to do away with her. Though Wormer is superstitious and tells Jimmy that it is “bad luck–robbing a nun.” Before they kill Pamela Jimmy shoves her into the back room and tells Wormer to call Mike the Broker to appraise the value of the statue.

Unbeknownst to them, Mike turns out to be Downey who signals to Pamela to keep quiet. He tells Jimmy and Wormer that the religious relic is a piece of junk. Downey clarifies to the bumbling pair of thugs that what has no material value can be priceless to the religious who consider the objects to be blessed and convinces them to let Pamela go. Downey gives her the statue and tells her to go and throws Wormer the $20.

Escaping her ordeal, she hurries out into the bright light of day breaking free of the darkness. Out into the open streets holding onto the small treasure with her life when Downey pulls up and drives her back to the convent. He expresses regret for the things he said to her and sees that she is not hiding from the world at all. “Sister I said some rough things to you that day you came to see me. I just wanted you to know I was wrong. You’re not hiding from anything.”

As he leaves she journeys back inside the convent with her quest in hand, her questions answered, and faith in herself restored.


* Final Vow was directed by Norman Lloyd and written by Henry Slesar and was first broadcast on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour on CBS on Thursday, October 25, 1962.
* Lyn Murray’s evocative arrangement is heard frequently throughout the series. Including Hitchcock’s feature-length crime thriller, To Catch a Thief (1955), he scored 35 episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour including The Paragon and What Really Happened.

The Film Score Freak recognizes Lyn Murray composer of the heart obscurely

*RIDE THE NIGHTMARE s1e11- Gena Rowlands aired Nov. 29, 1962


The alchemy of Gena Rowland’s acting style is how she integrates her craft with an indescribable beauty and presence that is reminiscent of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

Before the emotionally distilled and complex actress emerged as an icon, Gena Rowlands set out with her husband John Cassavetes to create a new naturalistic landscape of independent American movies in the 1970s, that inspired generations of filmmakers. She began showing the attractive pull of her strength in dramatic teleplays for early television programming.

Shows like Robert Montgomery Presents, Ponds Theater Armstrong Circle Theatre Studio One The United States Steel Hour Goodyear Playhouse General Electric Theater, and of course Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. She had a regular stint on the television police procedural series, 87th Precinct playing cop Robert Lansing’s deaf wife. In 1975 she starred alongside Peter Falk (One of Cassavete’s inner sanctum of actors along with Ben Gazzara) in Columbo’s season 4 episode Playback.

In feature films, she was cast as Jerry Bondi in Lonely Are the Brave in 1962, in Cassavetes’ A Child is Waiting in 1963, and in Gordon Douglas’ Tony Rome 1967 starring friend Frank Sinatra and Richard Conte.

Working since the mid-1950s Rowlands began to give shades of the forceful performances to come in the three episodes of Hitchcock’s series, in particular, The Lonely Hours playing off veteran stage actress Nancy Kelly.

Gena Rowlands was nominated for two Academy Awards for her performances in director/actor husband John Cassavetes’ films. In 1974 for A Woman Under the Influence and in 1980 for her gutsy portrait of one tough broad in Gloria 1980.

She was also nominated for eight Golden Globes having won two, and eight Emmys winning three. On November 14th, Gena Rowlands was finally given an Honorary Oscar at the Governors Awards ceremony.

“With her bold bone structure and the curtain of her wheat=gold Jackie O coif, Gena Rowlands is the classic Hollywood icon that got away…. Had she been born into the Studio ear of the 1930s or 1940s, one suspects that she would have sured up a career running across the grand roles, from the tough boots molls through to the stoic others and peppery femme fatales. She has the angular hardness which typifies the best of them in that period- one can imagine her, as easily as Crawford, Davis, Stanwyck or Bacall.”

“I’d never seen anyone that beautiful with a certain gravitas. It was particularly unique in that time, when many women were trying to be girlish, affecting a superficial, ‘I’m a pretty girl’ attitude. It seemed to be the best way to succeed, but Gena did none of that. There was a directness—not that she wasn’t fun and didn’t smolder—but it came from a place that was both genuine and deep.” – Mia Farrow

Director Sidney Lumet in an interview with critic James Grissom, said: “The highest compliment I can pay to her—to anyone—is that the talent frightens me, making me aware of the lack of it in so many and the power that accrues to those who have it and use it well. And the talent educates and illuminates. She is admirable, which can be said of only a few of us.”

In Faces 1968, nominated for 3 Oscars, Rowlands plays prostitute Jeannie with director Cassavetes with something like steel and fearlessness behind her eyes asserting a challenge to try and reach her after being crushed by men. Rowland manifests a performance ‘aching with wordless solitude’ (Ebert)

In the visual poem about loneliness and the feeling of isolation, Minnie & Moskowitz 1971 stars Rowland as the edgy blonde Minnie who perceptively flickers with co-star Seymour Cassel and displays her captivating sensuality under Cyclopean sunglasses.

Rowlands garnered her first Oscar nomination for her unforgettable performance as Mabel Longhetti in A Woman Under the Influence 1974 co-starring Peter Falk who is in the grips of Mabel’s mental illness.

“It left me exhausted and depressed-feeling. Some of the time, when you’re walking out there where the air is thin, you just hope you can walk back again.” -Gena Rowlands

As Myrtle Gordon, Rowlands gives another masterful performance in Cassavetes’ Opening Night portraying a successful stage actress rehearsing a production of The Second Woman in New Haven, whose life is turned upside down after she witnesses a 17-year-old fan’s death outside the theater. She captures the restless energy that imbues the behind-the-scenes world of the theater and the ‘dreary perspective of Myrtle’s uninspiring production she stars in.’ (Chris Wiegand- The Guardian).

“All while descending into a prolonged crack-up involving binge drinking, consultations with mediums, and a repeat hallucination of a young girl… Early on, when Myrtle is first confronted with the hallucination/girl, there’s a closeup of Rowlands’ face that is an example of her unique genius. Even very talented actors feel the need to show an audience “what a moment is about.” Not Rowlands. In that closeup, Myrtle stares at the girl, wondering if she has finally lost her mind, and then she puts an almost welcoming expression on her face, before mouthing the word, “Hello!” It’s hair-raising.” Ebert)

Nipping at booze, Myrtle trips between reality on and off stage, drenched in an alcoholic delirium – “Rowlands’ drunkenness in “Opening Night” is in the pantheon of Great Drunks onscreen.” (Roger Ebert).

Myrtle drifts in and out of character conjuring visions of two women who do not exist. Virginia the role for which she is wary of, struggles to portray an older woman for the first time, a character who is aesthetically defined by her age. And embracing the phantom of Nancy, the young girl who died, whose youthful receptiveness is what she seeks to direct, all within an oppressive environment driven by the men she works with, director (Ben Gazzara) and ex-lover co-star (Cassavetes).

How can you bring a character alive if you don’t believe in them – Myrtle asks playwright Sarah Goode played by Joan Blondell. Myrtle needs to reclaim her identity on stage and for herself.

Gena Rowland in Gordon Douglas’ Tony Rome 1967.

In Gloria 1980 directed by John Cassavetes, Rowlands gets to play the hard-edged gun moll she would have perfected in the best film noirs of the 1940s. Gloria Swenson becomes the reluctant guardian of a little boy whose family is murdered by the mob. The two go on the run in the gritty streets of New York City in possession of a book that the mob wants. Rowland is never fake while she roars and swears at the thugs chasing her on the subway, moving like the wind down the sidewalks of New York in her silk suits, handling her gun like an uncompromising pro.

Source Andrew Key
Source Chris Wiegand The Guardian
Source: Roger Ebert


Ride the Nightmare is a noirish crime drama with low-lighting, William Marguiles frames Rowlands as if she’s outside looking in on a nightmare.

Helen – ”I’ve been awake all night I’ve been trying to visualize going on… to what?… I can’t Chris. All the meaning seems to have gone out of it… It’s not the same She shakes her head faintly puffing on a cigarette. It’s just not the same”

Chris -“We’re the same people Helen.”

Helen -“Are we? I don’t even know who I am. Am I Helen Martin, Am I Helen Philips Or am I married at all? I just don’t know anything, Chris. Least of all the man I’ve been married to for seven years.”

Christopher Martin (Hugh O’Brian) is a successful businessman who has just moved to a new town with his wife Helen (Gena Rowlands). However, their new life is shattered when 3 of Christopher’s old acquaintances, Adam (John Anderson) Steve, and Fred (Jay Lanin), escape from prison. They come looking for Chris after he runs out, leaving them to take the rap for a holdup. They’re dangerous and determined to get revenge.

”What’d he say?” “He said he was coming here and that he was going to kill me.”

He’s been afraid to tell his wife Helen about his past, fearing she would leave him, he realizes that the moment of truth is at hand.

It starts out with the Martins receiving threatening phone calls until Chris and Helen frantically begin to lock all the doors and windows. Someone is outside watching them.

Chris begins to panic, yelling at Helen to shut off all the lights “Do like I tell you!” The quiet house turns into a threateningly dark space.

All the time, Helen switches into survival mode, confused but unrattled when a stranger with a gun breaks into the house and confronts Chris accusing him of being someone else she doesn’t know.

After a scuffle in the dark, the gunman reveals that he found ‘Philips’ O’Brian’s real name.

Helen “You’re making a mistake. Can’t you see he’s not the man your after. Our name is Martin.”

Fred – “Martin hah, Philips is the name I know him by. You thought you could change your name and we wouldn’t find ya That’s right baby… we. For a while there I thought you did get away. Then I saw that picture of ya in that magazine. You know a picture of you in that bowling thing when you won the state championship. And I said to myself – there’s a picture of my old friend Chrissy boy. And I just got to stop in and say hello.”

Helen –“You’d better get out of here, my husband has called the police.”

Fred- “No you didn’t do that did ya? No, you wouldn’t do that would you Chrissy boy? Cause if you called the police they’d send you to jail and you don’t want to go to jail do you Chrissy boy?”

Helen Martin “You did call them (the police) didn’t you Chris?”

Fred “You mean you didn’t tell her Chris, ah that wasn’t nice. You should have told her about your wicked past.”

Chris- “Shut up! Don’t move.”

Fred “Yeah that’s right lady, I’m gonna kill him just like I said I would.”

The two men struggle in the kitchen. She picks up a knife and is about to come and help Chris fight off Fred, but he shoots and kills him. The life she knew changed in one crazy moment and all she thought she knew was gone. She wanders for a moment in the dark room.

the ice in the tray the dead body in the kitchen…

Though it’s late in the evening, Olan Soulé, Martin’s drunk neighbor comes over and pushes himself on them, making a nuisance out of himself in order to borrow ice cubes. He almost wanders into the kitchen where Fred lies dead. They manage to get him out of the house. The second time there is an annoyance thrown in as beveling distractions thrown in their way as an obstacle is while at the bank trying to get the money for ransom, one of their neighbors hounds him for the canopy dish Helen had borrowed. The intrusion of the neighbors acts as a narrative mechanism to frustrate all of us.

Chris relates the story to Helen: He didn’t tell her because she was so young when they got married after 7 years he figured he might not have to

He was young, 19 years old working for a bank, picking up deposits from all the big stores in the area. He didn’t get along with his father, so he started hanging around some of the local bars. That’s where he met Fred. He looks toward the kitchen. Later on, he met Steve and Adam the other two who escaped prison.

They planned a robbery, stealing the deposits from a jewelry store. Chris was a lookout and he was supposed to warn them, but the old security guard triggered the alarm, and he ran when he heard the police. The three armed men killed the old man.

Chris – “I drove away til the car ran out of gas came to LA changed his name Met her and that was it.”

Helen –“Chris if you think you can put him someplace where they won’t find him Then do it. Do it!”

They drive to Topanga Canyon, where Chris buries Cliff’s body by the side of the road.

When the other two thugs show up John Anderson as Adam and Richard Shannon as Steve, they make Chris go to the bank to get them money in exchange for Helen who they’ve kidnapped and are holding in a shack.

Since Helen is being held hostage at the shack, Chris must drive there alone. After he shoots Steve, Chris and Helen run off into the brush together as Adam chases them deeper into the canyon.

When the couple are cornered Chris sets fire to some brush, Adam becomes trapped by the blaze engulfed in flames, and Chris and Helen climb to safety as fire trucks and police pass them on the road.


Ride the Nightmare was directed by Bernard Gerard, and it aired on CBS on November 29, 1962.

Richard Matheson was hired to adapt a teleplay from his story for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, though he found it challenging to condense it to a one-hour television slot. Ride the Nightmare, a paperback original released by Ballantine in 1959, was adapted from Matheson’s short story “Now Die In It.” The story had been previously published in the debut issue of Mystery Tales in December 1958.

Matheson has written some of the most compelling mystery/science fiction & fantasy stories and screenplays – in 1957 with The Incredible Shrinking Man, based on his own novel, The Last Man on Earth 1964 starring Vincent Price and The Omega Man 1971 are both based on his novel I Am Legend.

In 1959, he expanded his repertoire to include teleplays, and throughout the subsequent decades, he accumulated numerous credits, including writing for The Twilight Zone and receiving an Edgar Award for his teleplay The Night Stalker (1972). As his career progressed, he garnered increasing recognition and was honored with numerous accolades, including the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement, and induction into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.

Omnipresent character actor Olan Soulé who plays the drunken neighbor looking for ice cubes was on the Hitchcock show eight times and is best known for his voice acting, which began in the 1930s on the radio and lasted through the 1980s. In particular for his work as the voice of Batman in several cartoon series. He can be remembered as the prissy Mr. Masters who directs the choral and cringes at Barney Fife’s tone-deaf caterwauling in The Andy Griffith Show’s The Song Festers and Barney and the Chorus.

John Anderson’s extensive credits on TV and in the movies span from 1950 until his death, having appeared in Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) as well as in three episodes of his TV series.

*HANGOVER-s1e12 aired Dec 6, 1962- Jayne Mansfield

Jayne Mansfield Bio

Jayne Mansfield was an American movie, stage, and television actress, and nightclub singer who was one of the leading sex symbols of the 1950s & 60s considered to be the poor man’s Marilyn Monroe. Her first big break on stage was ‘Will success spoil Rock Hunter?’Later. A voluptuous pixie who was compartmentalized as a blonde bombshell but she had more than just pizzazz and could pull off a dramatic role. Just watch her performance as Gladden in The Burglar 1957.

Although Marilyn Monroe was a prominent sex symbol of her era, she was not the only one. During the 1950s and early 1960s, Jayne Mansfield emerged as a significant sex symbol in Hollywood and was deemed by some as the “working man’s Monroe”, being 20th Century Fox’s response to Marilyn. Mansfield is widely regarded as one of Hollywood’s original blonde bombshells, and even though many may not have seen her movies, she remains a highly recognizable actress from the celebrity culture of the 1950s. Mansfield was labeled “working man’s Monroe.”

W. Kellman, the producer of the obscure film noir The Burglar 1957 starring Dan Duryea, was the first to offer her a dramatic role. Her portrayal of Gladden proved that Mansfield was capable of a full range of acting beyond the bombshell image.

In an attempt to shed her “blonde bombshell” persona and establish herself as a serious actress, she showcased her acting skills in the film “The Wayward Bus.” After the success of “The Girl Can’t Help It,” 20th Century Fox paid a staggering $100,000 to buy out her contract with Broadway and began to promote her. Her first leading role on television was in “The Bachelor.” “Kiss Them for Me” marked her final starring role in a mainstream Hollywood studio film, and she subsequently returned to European films with her performance in “The George Raft Story.” Although her film “Promises! Promises!” faced censorship in Cleveland due to its explicit content, it still achieved great success in other areas, earning her a spot on the Top 10 list of box-office attractions for the year 1963.

31 Flavors of Noir on the Fringe to Lure you in! Part 3


Coquettish Jayne Mansfield sits with her short ice blonde hair, a glimmer in her bright eyes, white teeth, and pouty vulnerable bright look, sits in her silk bathrobe on the floor smoking a cigarette and reading the newspaper.

Purvis “You’re not Sandy.
Marion “Well I should hope not. I’m Marion”
Purvis “Where’d you come from?” Randall panics an unshaven mess in his bathrobe.
Marion “A nice present huh? Sandy didn’t bring me. You did. You want me to fix you some eggs, honey?”
Purvis “You better get out of here fast before my wife finds you Or has she already?”
Marion “Your old lady… why worry. You weren’t worried last night.”

The night before:

Marion “Len, I’ll take care of the drunk.”
Purvis sloppy, falling over drunk, making a scene in the bar- “I’ll buy all finks drinks!”
Marion “Hi honey. I hear you wanna drink. I’ll get you one by the bottle.”
Purvis “Lady you must have pull around this joint.”
Marion “It’s just my good looks.”
Purvis “Where we going?
Marion “Let’s sit down we have to be careful about the drinks. It’s dark in here
Just be careful- I’ll take care of you.”(she leads him to a booth)
Purvis “Now you sound like Sandra.”
Marion “Well, I sound like no one except myself” – she slinks inside the booth “What’s your name honey?”
Purvis “Had…”
Marion “Had!?… (she laughs) That’s a real mad name. What is it, had one had two had…”
Purvis “That’s enough!”
Marion “I didn’t mean to make you sore honey. You haven’t even told me that you like me yet.”
Purvis “Haven’t I? It’s my error. My oversight. My loss. I think you’re lovely. You’re gorgeous. You’re adorable. You’re desirable. You’re the eternal woman. You’re all women rolled up into one. Yet I don’t even know your name.”
Marion “Marion.”
Purvis “Oh that’s a beautiful name, Marion shades of Maid Marion herself.”


In Hangover which was first broadcast on December 6, 1962, directed by Bernard Girard and teleplay by Lou Rambeau, Tony Randall gives a tour de force as a cringy drunk Hadley Purvis, an alcoholic advertising executive whose wife Sandra (Dody Heath) says she will leave him if he takes another drink. Unfortunately, he drinks himself into a stupor and wakes up with no memory of the previous day.

Purvis is on his downward spiral to self-destruction however by drinking himself into oblivion, sabotaging his career at the firm, then waking up with no memory of what he’s done, such as losing his job for showing up at an important ad campaign and client presentation. He doesn’t even remember buying his wife a scarf to prove to her that he hadn’t been at a bar drinking.

Purvis wakes up to bombshell Mansfield sitting on the flooring sipping coffee in a silk robe, bright-eyed and dewy from the night before, but he can’t remember how she got there.

As he tries desperately to piece together the events of the previous night, shown in flashback he begins to realize that he may have done something terrible. He finds a woman’s scarf in his apartment, and he has a vague memory of arguing with her. He also has a black eye, and he is bleeding from a cut on his head. Hadley’s search for the truth leads him down a dark and dangerous path, as he begins to realize that he may not be able to escape his past. Or what he might have done in his drunken fugue.

At the conclusion he finds his wife’s body in the closet strangled with the scarf he bought her tied around her neck. Mansfield is almost his next victim when he tries to throw her out and nearly chokes her to death.

He finds Sandra hanging in the closet strangled with the scarf he bought her

*BONFIRE -s1e13- Dina Merrill & Patricia Collinge -aired Dec.13,1962


Merrill was born in New York City the only child of Post Cereals heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post but then enrolled at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. She studied acting at HB Studio under Uta Hagen.

in 1959, she was proclaimed “Hollywood’s new Grace Kelly”

Dina Merrill in The Young Savages 1961.

Merrill’s film credits included Desk Set 1957, and Operation Petticoat 1959 with Cary Grant who had been married to Merrill’s cousin, the Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton. She also appeared in The Sundowners 1960, Butterfield l8 1960 starring Mildred Dunnock as Taylor’s uptight mother, and The Young Savages 1961. She also appeared in made-for-TV movies, such as Seven in Darkness 1969, and The Lonely Profession that same year

Merrill appeared in numerous television series in the 1960s, such as playing the villain Calamity Jan in two 1968 episodes of Batman with then-husband Cliff Robertson. She also made guest appearances on The Bold Ones, Mission: Impossible, The Love Boat, Quincy M.E., and Murder She Wrote.

Patricia Collinge Bio:

Joseph Cotten embracing Teresa Wright as Patricia Collinge watches in a scene from the film ‘Shadow Of A Doubt’, 1943. (Photo by Universal/Getty Images)

Patricia Collinge, is an endearingly beautiful woman, with winsome, kind eyes that glimmer when she speaks. Through her broad sweet-tempered smile, emerges her voice, with a quality that strikes me as distinct, giving the impression of spaces between her words… with her authentically regal and splendid kindness. You will recognize her most often playing sympathetic widows, whimsical mothers, aunts, or vulnerable older women. Collinge was primarily a celebrated stage actress from 1908-1952.

Collinge originated the role of Birdie Hubbard in Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes on Broadway in 1939, probably her most notable performance as well as her film debut is that of the forlorn and fragile, beguiling and heartbreaking interpretation of Aunt Birdie Hubbard in the screen version of Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes 1941, which was a recreation of her role in the original Broadway production in 1939, which she co-starred with Tallulah Bankhead.

Patricia Collinge as Aunt Birdie with Teresa Wright in The Little Foxes 1941

While Bankhead was considered to reprise her role as Regina Giddens in the film adaptation, Bette Davis was cast instead. Collinge’s psychologically tortured, neglected, and alcoholic Aunt Birdie is perhaps the most startling performance of the picture.

Collinge’s touching performance won her an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress, and in my opinion, should have delivered her the honor. She lost to Mary Astor for The Big Lie.

Another memorable role is Collinge’s Emmie Newton in Alfred Hitchcock’s psychological thriller, Shadow of a Doubt 1943 where she plays Teresa Wright’s humble, proud, and chatty housewife who dotes over her baby brother Charlie, The Merry Widow Killer. Collinge also rewrote the scene with Macdonald Carey confessing his love for her in the garage. The cast was reportedly dissatisfied with the dialogue and she was asked to rewrite the script, which pleased Hitchcock.

Collinge is also uncredited for writing some of the other dialogue for Shadow of a Doubt, and having been one of several writers on Hitchcock’s Lifeboat 1944 in which she did not appear as an actress.

She appeared briefly as Sister William in The Nun’s Story 1959, Collinge also gave dramatic performances in such television series The Web 1953 “Midnight Guest” Celanese Theatre 1952 “Mornings at Seven”, Goodyear Playhouse “The Rumor” 1953, Omnibus “Lord Byron’s Love Letter”, and Studio Ones “Crime at Blossom’s”, The River Garden” and “The Hero”. She also appeared in Armstrong Circle Theater 1955-56 and East Side/West Side 1963 “Creeps Live Here”, and United Steel Hour 1962 “Scene of the Crime”

What A Character Blogathon 2021: Actresses of a Certain Character: Mildred Dunnock & Patricia Collinge


Laura- “Would you mind opening a window, this house smells of…”

Robbie breaks in “Death!”

Laura-“No, the past, which is even worse!”

Robbie-“Sure the whole world is filled with problems Miss Naomi. We’ve all got to puzzle over what we’re supposed to think. None of us. There’s nobody that’s gotta puzzle over what we’re supposed to do!”

Naomi-“Oh that’s so clear to me Robbie, you know what to do and you do it… I feel so free! No more aches and pains.”

Robbie – “Well that’s the way you’re supposed to feel. That’s the way I want everybody to feel, I want the whole world to feel just free and light-hearted. Just kind of moves easy. Of course, I’m not so sure about you, I think you’re feeling good because you been belting that wine bottle on the side while I haven’t been looking. Have you? Just a little too much of the grape.”

Naomi –“Mercy no! I’m waiting.”

Robbie -“Waiting for me are ya. You got the patience of an angel. And I’ll tell ya You look like one too, sit-in’ there with all those candle’s around ya.”

Naomi (pointing at him) – “Well now what about the juice of the grape. Wine’s got your tongue, Robbie. Wine’s got your tongue.”

Robbie –“No no no, I just got an eye for a pretty girl and I always have.”


Naomi- “Oh but I am grateful” (she tears up)

Robbie – “Ok we’re gonna have a new rule around here. From now on, we gonna cry when we peel onions, and we’re gonna laugh when we drink wine.”


The first 10 minutes of Bonfire are exquisitely brutal. There is a vicious streak that runs through the plot line. To dance an old woman into a heart attack then deny her pills whilst you sip wine. And to dump Dina Merrill’s body inside a trunk and toss it into a burning pit like trash, as he calls it. It’s malefic.

Robert Evans (Peter Falk) is a revivalist preacher who on weekdays drives a cab, having come up from the Pennsylvania coal mines, He now preaches every night in a huge revivalist tent but his dream is to build his own tabernacle. Robbie is charming and attentive, however, Robert has a dark secret. He is a con man who is only interested in Naomi’s money.

He woos a rich lonely woman named Naomi Freshwater. Robbie romances Naomi, in an effort to win her confidence so that he will inherit the large house, but he can’t wait for his stroke of luck. He seduces her with wine, making her overexert herself by dancing and spinning her around so fast that she has a heart attack.

Innocent of Robbie’s deception, Naomi swoons while Robbie wines and dines her. She tells him that he deserves her house because of all his kindness and regular coming to see her. As she lies dying on the sofa, Falk shot with high-contrast lighting illuminates his malevolence. While she helplessly begs for her heart pills, he watches first as she reaches out clutching her heart, then he stands over her holding the pills and allowing her to suffer. When Naomi suddenly realizes that he plans to let her die, in a moment that causes jitters she cries out, “‘Oh, Robbie! no.”

Robbie is a cold monster.

Naomi’s niece Laura arrives in the town where she grew up. Robbie picks up Laura Freshwater (Dina Merrill) from the train station and offers her a cab, borrowing another cabbie’s car, and takes her to the home of her recently-deceased aunt.

On the way, she sees the Gospel Mission tent. “I don’t remember a Gospel Mission here? “well it’s here now.” “You mean people are more religious than they used to be?”More anxious ma’ am, they’re more anxious.”

When they get to the house, Robbie reveals that he already knows who she is and the kind of friendship he and her aunt shared. That Naomi left the house to him in her will, they were ‘kind of close’ and she ‘toiled right there beside me’ at his Gospel Mission.

Robbie tells Laura: ‘I was with your Aunt Naomi when she passed away.’ Making himself out to be sympathetic and decent but the veneer of his kindness crackles a bit under his self-righteousness as he adds ‘She meant for me to have this house for the Mission. It didn’t work out that way but it was in her heart. She promised it to me.’ Diabolically obscuring the truth he tells her, ’The last word she said was my name.”

Laura needs someone to help her clean out the house in order to get it ready for its sale, and Robbie maneuvers himself to take over the job. “You need a man. I looked around and all I could find was me.”

During the following days, Robbie and Laura burn a collection of junk from the house in a huge bonfire out back.
We see a hint of the hidden danger in Robbie’s psyche when he discovers the garden shed has carelessly been left unlocked by the gardener’s son.

An oddly uncomfortable yet cozy relationship develops between the carefree divorcee and the intense Robbie who proclaims his past sins were wiped clean and he became a believer while he was trapped when the mine collapsed.

Laura digs a little into Robbie’s life and begins to show off the flowing tongue he use to serenade Naomi with.

He tells her, “Ma’am, my wife has passed away, and my home is wherever my heart leads me, and my heart takes me where there’s work to be done.” When He figures on digging the fire pit ‘That’s deep enough to burn Sodom and Gomorrah”, he is framed by photographer Margulies in a rectangular hole that warns of a grave.

Robbie narrates the riveting story, as he recollects life in the Pennsylvania mining town and the cave-in that gave rise to his faithful epiphany. Laura visits the Gospel Mission to watch the charismatic Robbie preach.

Later, Laura discovers her mementos inside the old truck stored in the attic. Robbie becomes chillingly intimate with her grabbing her waist and urging her to try on a gold shoe as his hand wanders on her calf. He presumes that she should abandon her life of rambling and that what she needs is to settle down with the right man.

Robbie asks her, “Do you believe in anything?” She answers, “Well, independence mostly.”

But the blithe and sophisticated Laura is too carefree to take Robbie seriously. He leaves her when he hears the mission bell ring out.

“What was your wife like Robbie?” “Well, she was kinda big, kinda stubborn. She just didn’t believe in me.”

After Robbie catches Laura modeling one of her old dresses from the trunk, in front of a mirror, they are seen drinking champagne while Laura sits on the same sofa Aunt Naomi breathed her last breath. Laura wants to hear about his wife he tells her by ”the hand of providence–she wanted me to get back in the mine.” His wife fell to her death.

A specter of the scene with Aunt Naomi, Robert reenacts the same kind of scenario he prepared for the old woman by creating a romantic ambiance embellished with candlelight, the same music, and wine. They indulge in a dance, and Robbie outlines a life together in the house with children, and a woman whose “cheeks are bright with happiness because she’d fed and clothed… she’s got no need to go wandering off to see half the world because she’s got her home right here. Right in this house.” “Another vision Robert?” “Yes maybe. But not from mortal danger from being down in the mines. But from having my hopes up high.”  He tells her he’ll make a good husband.  But she swore she’d never marry again. “Burn it burn it. Out there in that fire pit.” “I don’t have your faith in a new life Robert.” But I told you once, I got the faith.”

Though she rejects his dream of their future, the two embrace as the scene fades to black.

The following day Robbie shows up with flowers eager to see Laura again. But something has changed in her mood, and she disarms his kiss. Unsentimental, she tells him she is leaving, but he becomes defiant, believing in the enchantment of the night before and the implication that they would now be together. Once again, it exposes the illusion that he’ll ever take over the house. He argues – “What about the house… she promised it to me.” she promised to stay with him and suddenly it becomes a reality that Laura is an intruder who stands in the way of his plans. The darkness in him rises up, and below the frame, we understand that he is choking her to death. “We’re gonna ask for guidance. Now pray Laura, pray”, he chokes the words out of his mouth.

Margulies’ camerawork focuses for a second time, a high contrast, dark filtered aureole around his face and eyes, only lighting the menace in his eyes. His evil is the light that encircles his head like a dark halo.

The episode turns purely terrifying, as Robbie is squeezing the life out of Laura, he flashes back to his past life and relives the moment he killed his wife.

Suggested that Robbie has put Laura’s lifeless body in the heavy trunk, he drags it across the attic and struggles to maneuver it down the narrow stairs as the gardener and his son arrive to take care of the grounds.

Reminiscent of Hitchcockian irony, touch-and-go, subtle black humor, and nail-biting suspense, the gardener’s son played by Paul von Schreiber rings the doorbell while Robbie, now in the foyer stands alongside Laura’s makeshift coffin.

The young man asks him for the key to the toolshed, earlier Robbie had lashed out at him for leaving it unlocked. He asks the kid for help moving the trunk and has no idea of what’s inside. “A lot of trash. The house is full of trash.”

Robbie dumps the trunk like garbage into the fire pit and watches as the bonfire begins to overtake it. When the night sets in, he keeps vigil over the secret engulfed in the flames. In a conjuration of hellfire, Laura goes up in smoke.

He is summoned by the mission bells, his congregation awaits this evening’s preaching. They join in “Shall We Gather By the River” as a heavy shower washes over the high energy of his sermon. The heavens have opened up and the deluge begins to restrain the fire in the pit, white smoke rising out of it but not before it has burned a considerable hole in the side of the trunk, a hole that tells about the contents inside.

The police pull up outside the tent, the gardener’s son, still anxiously awaiting Robbie’s fury, “Do you have to tell him I left the shed door open. Well, you see it always makes him mad.” He’ll know what he found in the shed after he left the door open a second time. As the police move in Robbie evangelizes “I’m gonna talk to you tonight about adversity, misfortune, and fate. Adversity. Now you take the rain. To some, it’s a blessing. We’ve all been blessed by the rain. (The police sirens sing through the torrent) But it’s when things go wrong, that’s when a man is tested. I seen a couple a things in my life I wish I hadn’t. I’ve been down deep in the mines. And I seen me a vision there. I seen my wife made obstinate by the devil. Yes, I have. To the point where I had to set her straight with these two hands. But I’ll tell you this, whenever you make a promise you gotta keep it.“


The episode was first broadcast on December 13, 1962, and was directed by Joseph Pevney (The Strange Door 1951, Female on the Beach 1955 with Joan Crawford, and Man of a Thousand Faces 1957) an actor who started out as an actor in vaudeville in the 1920s and had a short career in film actor from 1946 to 1950, he turned to directing and was prolific in television in the 1960s and 1970s. Pevney included 14 episodes of Star Trek and five episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.

This is the second teleplay written by Alfred Hayes to air on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. Alfred Hayes and William D. Gordon wrote the script which is based on “The Wheelbarrow,” a short story by V.S. Pritchett that was published in the July 16, 1960 issue of The New Yorker. The significance of the wheelbarrow has been removed from Haye’s script.

Actor/ writer William D. Gordon wrote for radio in the 1930s. He worked as a writer and story editor for television from the late 1950s through the mid-1980s. He wrote two episodes of Thriller including the teleplay for the show’s superior episodes – The Premature Burial and The Storm starring Nancy Kelly and six episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, and five episodes of The Fugitive.

Pritchett has been called “the finest English short-story writer of the 20th century” by the Royal Society of Literature. Only two films and two television shows were adapted from his stories – Bonfire is one of them.

*The Tender Poisoner-s1e14 aired Dec 20, 1962 – Jan Sterling

Jan Sterling Bio:

Jan Sterling was a talented and captivating American film, television, and stage actress known for her svelte figure and captivating presence, pouty lips, and wide eyes she certainly had an enchanting presence on the big screen.

She worked with the legendary Ruth Gordon in her first play, “Over 21”, and received critical acclaim for her performance as Billie Dawn in the Chicago company of “Born Yesterday”. In 1948,

Jan Sterling made her film debut earning critical acclaim for her supporting role opposite Oscar-winning Jane Wyman in Johnny Belinda 1948, showcasing her talent in the emotional role.

Kirk Douglas and Jan Sterling in Billy Wilder’s Ace in the Hole 1951.

Jan Sterling found her niche playing bad girl roles, portraying a range of ‘cheap floozies’, bad girls, and ‘hard-bitten dames’ in films such as “Caged”, “Ace in the Hole”, and “Female on the Beach”. She also made a more sympathetic impression in films like “Sky Full of Moon” and “The High and the Mighty”, earning an Oscar nomination and receiving a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in The High and the Mighty.

However, it was her portrayal of tough, seductive women in films like Caged (1950) where she plays the lovable kite hanger Smoochie, and Ace in the Hole (1951), and Female on the Beach (1955) that truly established her as a Hollywood star.

Jan Sterling in Women’s Prison 1955.

Born in Manhattan in 1921, Sterling pursued a career in acting and enrolled in Fay Compton’s dramatic school in London. After returning to NYC, Sterling quickly found success on Broadway, where she excelled for 11 years.

In the 1950s Jan Sterling found parts in dramatic teleplays for The Ford Television Theatre, Playhouse 90, Climax!, Suspicion, Kraft Theatre, Alcoa Theater, and series in the 1960s like Naked City, Kraft Mystery Theater, Breaking Point, The Dick Powell Theatre, Burke’s Law, Run for Your Life, Mannix and The Name of the Game.

The pixie-like blonde also made several appearances in film noirs Union Station and Mystery Street in 1950, Flesh and Fury 1952, and The Human Jungle in 1954 and of course, she really transcended the art of callousness as the unscrupulous Lorraine Minosa in Billy Wilder’s scathing indictment of the press with Ace in the Hole. She gave another standout performance in director Mark Robson’s The Harder They Fall 1956 alongside Humphrey Bogart and Rod Steiger, and in Arnold Laven’s Slaughter on 10th Avenue with Dan Duryea.

31 Flavors of Noir on the Fringe to Lure you in! Part 3

Aside from her television appearances and supporting roles in feature films, she also had parts in cult/exploitation films like Women’s Prison 1955, and High School Confidential 1957.

Sterling was married and divorced from actor John Merivale in the 1940s before marrying film star Paul Douglas in 1950 and worked together occasionally with Douglas reprising his role in Born Yesterday opposite Sterling’s Billie Dawn. However, Sterling’s career slowed down after Douglas’ Sudden Death in 1959.
Sterling refocused her attentions once again on stage and TV work, occasionally appearing in films like the tense thriller The Incident (1967) starring Martin Sheen and an ensemble of notable character actors.

She also became involved in humanitarian causes and moved back to London in the late 1960s, where she entered into a long-term relationship with actor Sam Wanamaker. Retired from acting for nearly two decades, Sterling made a wonderful appearance at the Cinecon Film Festival in 2001 at the age of 80 and sadly passed away at the age of 83 in 2004.

“I adored Hollywood because I’d always wanted to be a movie star. Maybe in some funny Freudian way, it was my way of getting more attention than my baby sister, who was pretty with curly hair. We all have drives we don’t completely understand.”

Known on stage as “Jane Adriance” until the 1940s. Her stage name was suggested by (Ruth Gordon), whose first suggestion was “Amethyst Adriance” because “you should name yourself after a gem.” Instead, Sterling chose to drop Adriance and shorten her first name to “Jan”; her character’s name in the play in which she was appearing.


Beatrice Bartel (Sterling) “Did you hear what John was telling me?
Barty “No what was John telling you?”
Beatrice “Nothing much just about one of those divorce cases he was handling. Very nasty.”
Barty “Doesn’t have to be nasty does it.”
Beatrice “Sometimes it’s better for people to separate. Keeps them from doing worse things.”
Barty “How do you mean?”
Beatrice “Sometimes people get desperate.”
Barty “If it gets to that point it’s better that they part.”
Beatrice “You may be right.”
Barty “I don’t think you understand what I mean.” (With murder on his mind)
Beatrice “Yes I do darling- and you may be right.”

She flashes a canny smile. It’s a sarcastic smile that conveys she’s not vapid, in the way Barty thinks she is.

Peter Harding (Howard Duff) is a corporate executive who is friends with Philip Bartel (Dan Dailey) called Barty, whose stagnant career and lifeless marriage have made him a miserable man. When Harding takes an interest in Barty’s mistress Lorna (Bettye Ackerman), he conspires to steal her away, first arranging for Barty to be sent away on a business trip to San Francisco for an influential training course, leaving Harding behind to woo Lorna and plant the seed that Barty’s wife Beatrice has a heart condition that could prove fatal if Barty should end their marriage to be with her. Harding catches Beatrice having an affair with John. He tells them whatever they do on their own time is their business.

Beatrice “Now let’s get this straight right from the start. This isn’t just a flirtation or after-hours as you put it. We’re in love.” Harding, “I see. Divorce?” John pipes in, “Well if that’s the way it’s got to be then yes.” But Beatrice tells him “I don’t know. You know Barty longer than we have. What do you think?” He gives them a song about Barty not having too many of the good things in life. That is except for Beatrice. He’s purposefully trying to keep their marriage together so he can be with Lorna. He tells them that his marriage is the one thread that he hangs onto. “If you divorce Barty, it’ll be the end of him,” Beatrice said she knew it all along. But John says just because he ruins everything he turns his hand to, doesn’t mean she should have to be tied to him for the rest of her life.

Cinematographer William Marguiles frames Dan Dailey as a giant head on the left-hand side of the screen while Jan Sterling seems to be the machination coming out of his brain.

While Barty’s out of the picture, Harding moves in and convinces Lorna to end things with him. He even hints that Lorna has not been the first affair and that Lorna has a bad heart. and

Meanwhile, Barty has gone to the chemists to purchase a poison he saw Harding use as photography chemicals in his darkroom. He replaces some of Beatrice’s stomach powders that she routinely uses before going to bed.

When Lorna breaks up with him, he rushes home to stop Beatrice from drinking the poison but is injured in a car crash. The police show up in time and save her, testing the glass with poison they guard Barty’s room while he recovers He has confessed to trying to kill her. Harding comes to visit him, he asks him to get the poison so he can commit suicide. When he learns that it was Harding who ruined his chances and that he’s going away with Lorna, he sets him up for attempted murder, holding up the glass of poison and telling the cop guarding him that Harding has tried to poison him.


The teleplay was written by Lukas Heller who wrote for director Robert Aldrich Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte 1964 the second installment of Aldrich’s series that set off the fuse for Hag Cinema. Heller also wrote The Dirty Dozen 1967 for Aldrich.

The Tender Poisoner was directed by Leonard H. Horn who worked in television from 1961-1975, directing 3 episodes of The Outer Limits, including one of the series’ most compelling installments The Man Who Was Never Born starring Shirley Knight and Martin Landau. He also directed 2 odd feature films The Magic Garden of Stanley Sweetheart 1970 and Corky in 1972 starring Robert Blake and Charlotte Rampling.

*WHAT REALLY HAPPENED -s1e16 aired Jan 11, 1963- Ruth Roman, Anne Francis, and Gladys Cooper


American actress of stage, screen, and television Ruth Roman managed to crank up her sexy allure, a blend of vamp and down-to-earthiness and became a star in Hollywood in the late 1940s. Roman is an actress who possesses an authentic, rugged & earthy sensuality that was always a bit edgier than the average leading lady.

She started out modeling for the covers of pulp fiction True Detective Magazine and by the 1950s she had already appeared in major motion pictures, with an earthy sensuality and a sexy voice like whisky neat, she fits fluidly into the role of a noir beauty with a seductive edge.

She was the daughter of immigrants from Lithuania. Her father, Anthony Roman, a carnival barker, died when she was a child, forcing her mother to work as a waitress, cleaning woman, and laundress. Ms. Roman was proud of her family’s endurance. ”For a while,” she once told a reporter, ”we were moving regularly once a month because we couldn’t pay our rent.”

Dropping out of high school during her second year, Ms. Roman pursued her dream of becoming an actress. She worked as a movie usher during the day and acted with the semi-professional New England Repertory Company in Boston at night. With only $200 to her name, she ventured to Hollywood and settled in a boarding house with other aspiring actresses, dubbing their residence the “House of the Seven Garbos.”

Following her stage roles on the east coast, Roman moved to Hollywood to pursue a film career. Upon her arrival in Hollywood in 1945, there were many actresses vying for roles as cheesecake queens. However, Ms. Roman’s distinctive allure, a combination of her organic fiery aesthetic and her shapely, dark-haired charisma, set her apart from the rest. In a 1951 profile of her by Collier’s magazine, it was noted that her career had first been established on a “pervasive air of wholesomeness”, an essence that would diverge over time.

She initially landed uncredited bit parts but eventually secured leading roles in films such as the western Harmony Trail (1944) and the serial film Jungle Queen (1945), where she played the title character, marking her first credited film performance.

Belle Starr’s Daughter (1948) marked Roman’s first lead role on the big screen, and she gained recognition for her performance in The Window (1949), earning a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actress. After signing a contract with Warner Bros. in the early 1950s, Following her breakthrough performance opposite Kirk Douglas in Stanley Kramer’s “Champion,” which was a 1949 adaptation of a Ring Lardner short story about a maniacal prizefighter, Roman was given starring roles in nine films in under two years by Warner Brothers.

“When she auditioned for a part in ”Champion,” she thought she would be right for the role of the fighter’s gold-digging floozy and accordingly wore a tight-fitting black dress and heavy makeup when she swivel-hipped into Stanley Kramer’s office. But somehow the wholesomeness showed through. ”Actually, I thought of you for the other girl,” said Mr. Kramer, then serving as the film’s producer.- from The New York Times article

Marilyn Maxwell would wind up getting the role of the floozy and Roman would be cast as Kirk Douglas’ tried and true wife in Champion 1949. It had been that same wholesome quality that landed Ruth Roman her first bit part in ’Stage Door Canteen in 1942.

Ruth Roman and Kirk Douglas in Champion 1949.

In 1951 Roman was cast as Anne Morton, Farley Granger’s steadfast girlfriend in Hitchcock’s psychological-thriller masterpiece Strangers on a Train.

Steve Cochran and Ruth Roman in Tomorrow is Another Day 1951.

Ruth Roman forged a place for herself in film noir, co-starring with Bette Davis in Beyond the Forest in 1949, and the obscure noir gem, The Window released that same year. Roman brought a gutsy nerve to her performances in Three Secrets 1950, and paired with Steve Cochran in Tomorrow is Another Day 1951 the heat could peel the wallpaper right off the walls. Roman wasn’t a stranger to film noir, cast in Lightning Strikes Twice 1951, Down Three Dark Streets 1954, and 5 Steps to Danger 1957 with yet another chance to show off noir chemistry with sexy co-star Sterling Hayden.

The Dark Drawer: Four Obscurely Fabulous Film Noir Fare…

Prior to her exploration into grittier noir, she starred as Ann Mortan in Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train 1951.

Roman can swing a phrase and hit you over the head with it. Always unpretentious, she’s a naturalistic actor as “Cay’ says in Tomorrow is Another Day directed by Felix Feist she’s playing hard-hearted taxi dancer Cathy ‘Cay’ Higgins.

“Quick on the trigger, aren’t you?” Bill [ Cochran-angrily] “What do you mean by that?” Cay {smiling] “Simmer down, you’ll live longer.”

Directed by Felix Feist Tomorrow is Another Day feature below:

31 Flavors of Noir on the Fringe to Lure you in! Part 2

Following her departure from Warner Bros., Roman continued to act in films and television series, with guest roles and productions abroad in England, Italy, and Spain. She survived the 1956 sinking of the SS Andrea Doria and later won the Sarah Siddons Award for her work in Two for the Seesaw (1959). Roman’s extensive television credits earned her a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was receiving 500 letters a week from fans all over the world.

Ruth Roman had a whirlwind career, appearing going from working with Bette Davis in Beyond the Forest to co-starring with Lana Turner in Alexander Singer’s Love Has Many Faces 1965.

Quote of the Day! Love Has Many Faces (1965)

Ruth Roman was all over television starting in the 1950s through the 1980s- The Naked City’s ‘The Human Trap’ Climax!, Dr. Kildare, The Outer Limits episode Moonstone, The Defenders, Route 66, Burke’s Law, The 11th Hour, Breaking Point, The Name of the Game, I Spy, Marcus Welby M.D, Mannix, Ironside, Gunsmoke, The Sixth Sense, Mod Squad, Night Gallery spinoff The Sixth Sense with Gary Collins episode Once Upon a Chilling in 1972, Kung Fu, and later in Fantasy Island, Knots Landing, and Murder, She Wrote.
She also found her way into an obscure cult exploitation film Look in Any Window 1961,

A trailer a day keeps the Boogeyman away! Look In Any Window (1961)

Film Noir ♥ Transgressions Into the Cultural Cinematic Gutter: From Shadowland to Psychotronic Playground

She gave a campy, over-the-top performance as the twisted Mrs. Wadsworth in director Ted Post’s The Baby 1973.

“The Baby” follows social worker Ann Gentry, played by Anjanette Comer, who becomes increasingly obsessed with the welfare of a strange family she is assigned to. The Wadsworths consist of three grown siblings, Marianna Hill, Suzanne Zenor, and their brother ‘Baby’. The sisters along with Roman, dote on the grown man who they treat as a baby, complete with a crib, diapers, and baby bottles. As Ann tries to intervene in the family’s bizarre dynamic, she finds herself drawn into a terrifying world of psychological horror and violence. Ruth Roman is terrifying as Mrs. Wadsworth, the domineering matriarch of the family, seems to relish in the twisted family dynamic. The film received mixed reviews upon its release but has since gained a cult following for its unsettling and provocative themes.

Saturday Nite Sublime: The Baby (1973)

Roman appeared with Edward G. Robinson in a made-for-TV movie – The Old Man Who Cried Wolf 1970 and played the psychiatrist in the TV movie Go Ask Alice in 1973.

Horror films in the 1970s seemed to embrace Ruth Roman and she was cast by Curtis Harrington In his psycho-sexual horror thriller The Killing Kind which starred another ballsy actress, Ann Sothern. Roman also starred in 1974’s A Knife for the Ladies, plus with the trend going nature – gone- haywire, she appeared in the schlocky Sci-fiction film Day of the Animals 1977.

Either in roles where she was wholesome, a floozy, or a femme fatale, or having joined the league of Hollywood starlets who performed the monstrous feminine, Roman is an actress who emerged as an authentic actress and will be remembered as just a bit headier than other leading ladies in Hollywood.


Deborah Kerr and Gladys Cooper in Separate Tables 1958.

“Retire? Whatever for?… Who cares how old I am? Who cares how long it was since I first played Peter Pan?’” (Gladys Cooper, as quoted in The New York Times)

“Miss Cooper’s cool, aristocratic beauty and lovely voice stayed with her throughout her life, and to millions, her porcelain features became the standard beside which British womanhood was judged” – New York Times obit.

Though she began as a vision of an angel she would later materialize in our collective minds as one of her notable roles – cruel, unflinching, and unsympathetic matriarchs in both Now, Voyager 1942 as Charlotte Vale’s (Bette Davis) mother and as Sibyl’s (Deborah Kerr) mother Mrs. Railton-Bell in Separate Tables 1958, both characters “are grasping and haughty and dismissive of all other points of view”Gladys Cooper plays women who dominate their daughters, preventing them from maturing into adult women. In both films, her characters keep their daughters bound to them, not out of love, but out of a fear of loneliness.” (Kerry Fristoe)

Cooper with her regal way of bearing oneself is masterful at summoning an emotional manipulation that betrays frailty in her manner of speech, severe expressions, and choice of words, anyone would sink into themselves in her tyrannical presence.

Bette Davis who worked with Cooper in the 1940s said of the great actress that she had been “all the rage” as a young girl in London. Gladys Cooper started out as a delicate beauty, a fashionable trailblazer.

She was so striking that she was used as a photographic model beginning at six years old.

In her early life, she wanted to become an actress and started on that road in 1905 after being discovered by Seymour Hicks to tour with his company in “Bluebell in Fairyland”. In 1906, she made her debut on the London stage in “The Belle of Mayfair.” The following year, she left the legitimate stage to join the Gaiety Girls chorus in Frank Curzon’s popular entertainments at The Gaiety theater.

In 1911, she commenced work on a production of Oscar Wilde’s comedy “The Importance of Being Ernest” and soon landed other roles.

Cooper’s fame as an actress led to her being featured as a symbol of feminine beauty in various roles, including Juliet and many others. As the craze for postcards featuring photographs of actors swept through Britain between the 1890s and 1914, Cooper’s popularity skyrocketed and she became a sort of pin-up girl for British soldiers during World War I. Gladys Cooper began a career in the early British silent film industry starting in 1913. joined Frank Curzon to co-manage the Playhouse Theatre, continuing to work on the stage and in film in the early 1920s.

Around this period, she experienced significant achievements as a stage actress. In 1919, she starred in W. Somerset Maugham’s “Home and Beauty” in London, and in 1922, she attained great success with her performance in Arthur Wing Pinero’s “The Second Mrs. Tanqueray”. She also debuted the role of Leslie Crosbie a role that Bette Davis would immortalize in the 1940 film based on Maugham’s story – “The Letter” in 1927.

In 1934, Cooper ventured into her first sound film in the UK and later brought it to Broadway as “The Shining Hour”. It was well received and she went on to star in various plays until 1938, including “Macbeth”. During this period, her talent caught the attention of Hollywood scouts, leading her to embark on a career in American films that spanned over three decades. Her first American film was Alfred Hitchcock’s debut Hollywood picture adapted to the screen from Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca 1940. Cooper was cast as Laurence Olivier’s genial sister Beatrice Lacy. She was extremely prolific in 1940s Hollywood appearing in films like Kitty Foyle 1940, and That Hamilton Woman 1941.

Gladys Cooper, Ginger Rogers, and Dennis Morgan in Kitty Foyle 1940.

It was her performance as Mrs. Henry Vale in Irving Rapper’s Now, Voyager that stands out as her unforgettable face of austerity. Cooper, as the unforgiving matriarch of the venerable Vale family brings to pass her neurotic daughter Charlotte’s nervous breakdown. Charlotte (Bette Davis) is demoralized and crushed of spirit from years of mental torture by a mother who enslaved her daughter by way of ferocious influence and persecution. Cooper was nothing short of monstrous. For her performance as the domineering and repressive mother, she received a well-deserved Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

The Iron Maiden, matriarch – Now, Voyager 1942.

In The Song of Bernadette 1943, she gave a stirring portrayal of Sister Marie Therese Vauzous, a scolding and unsympathetic old woman, cruel and harsh and an intensely envious authoritarian figure at the convent who punishes Bernadette for never having suffered in her life, the only way to attain God’s grace.

She played the refined Alice Duchess de Brancourt in Mrs. Parkington with Greer Garson. What followed was Green Dolphin Street 1947, The Bishop’s Wife 1947, and The Secret Garden 1949 with Hitchcock actress Isobel Elsom, who played Mme. Dupuis in Madame Bovary 1949. She began her foray into television in American television perfectly suited for dramatic teleplays – she appeared in an episode of The Alcoa Hour 1956 then she was cast in Alfred Hitchcock Presents The End of Indian Summer in 1957 where she plays a delightful black widow Marguerite Gillespie. She followed up with Suspicion, Matinee Theatre, and Playhouse 90.

In the 1950s and 60s, Cooper appeared in several films and became a familiar face on American television, appearing in teleplays, and a variety of prime-time episodic shows, Ben Casey.

Robert Redford and Gladys Cooper in The Twilight Zone’s Nothing in the Dark 1962.

Gladys Cooper in Night Call 1964 for The Twilight Zone.

and popular sci-fi series such as 3 particularly moody episodes of The Twilight Zone- Nothing in the Dark co-starring Robert Redford as Death, Passage on the Lady Anne and Elva Keane tormented by a disembodied voice on the Telephone in the Jacques Tourneur directed episodes – Night Call, one of my favorite of the Series. She also appeared in The Outer Limits episode The Borderland 1963. The other The Alfred Hitchcock Hour Cooper appeared in was Season 3 Consider Her Ways 1964, about a dystopian society.

She debuted as Mrs. St. Maugham in Enid Bagnold’s “The Chalk Garden” in London in 1955 and brought it to Broadway in October of that year, where it ran until March 1956. In 1963 she played Mrs. Karoudjian in The List of Adrian Messenger and her last major film role was in My Fair Lady (1964), playing Henry Higgins’ mother, and the portrait of a fine lady over Higgins’ fireplace in the film was actually a painting of Cooper from 1922. Cooper also authored an autobiography in 1931 and two biographies in 1953 and 1979. In 1967, she was honored as a Dame Commander of the Order of British Empire (DBE) for her significant contributions to the field of acting. Gladys Cooper passed away in 1971.


“Most young blondes in those days [the 1950s] were not taken too seriously. I had wanted to work on a project [directing] all my own from beginning to end for many years. I had managers who said, “Look, you’re an actress. You’re not supposed to do that other business”. And now I look at all the women today who are doing it, and no one’s batting an eyelash.”- Ann Francis

Anne Francis was a winsome American actress and natural beauty who began acting at a young age, modeling at 6 years old, and quickly made a name for herself in Hollywood with her beauty, glowing charm, and innate talent, perfected with her trademark dreamy eyes that are the visible light of the bluest sky, her titillating beauty mark on the right side of her mouth, and her intelligent tone.

Francis was widely regarded as one of the most talented actresses of her time. She went on to star in a number of successful films throughout her career.

Early on, she found herself involved with radio soap work and television in New York, and by age 11, she was making her stage debut on Broadway in 1941 playing Gertrude Lawrence as a little girl in the hit show – Lady in the Dark. At this time she was attending New York’s Professional Children’s School. Anne Francis is an alumna of the AADA (American Academy of Dramatic Arts), Class of 1950.
During the years following World War II, MGM signed the promising actress with flashing blue eyes and lovely blonde hair. Although Anne appeared in a few minor roles, they didn’t amount to much. Disappointed with the superficial treatment she received in Hollywood, the determined actress returned to New York. There, she made a favorable impression in television dramas during the “Golden Age” and secretly performed in summer stock productions, including My Sister Eileen.

In 1946, when Anne Francis was 16, she went to Hollywood and was signed by MGM. She made her film debut in 1947 with the drama This Time for Keeps. At MGM she was essentially window dressing in several of their feature films with their influential stars – in 1948 she had a bit more of a substantial role in Rouben Mamoulian’s Summer Holiday with Mickey Rooney, Vincent Minnelli’s, and appeared in The Pirate starring Judy Garland and in 1948 you can only catch sight of her as a girl in the art gallery in William Dieterle’s romantic fantasy Portrait of Jennie starring Joseph Cotten, Jennifer Jones, and Ethel Barrymore. Despite being polished by the studio, she didn’t achieve much success.

In 1950, MGM loaned Francis out to United Artists to make So Young So Bad, Edgar Ulmar’s trashy low-budget B exploitation film, where she plays the provocative and troubled young teenage prostitute Loretta Wilson who has a baby and is sent to a girl’s reform school. It stars Paul Henreid as a psychiatrist. He and the nurse take action to remove the abusive leaders of a girls’ reform school and help the troubled young women find a better life.

Anne Francis and MGM bid goodbye to each other, released from her contract with MGM. Francis’s performance caught the attention of Darryl F. Zanuck, who signed her to a contract with 20th Century Fox for three years.

She also started to appear in early television shows in 1949 on an episode of Suspense, Believe it Or Not, and in 1950 in the series – Lights Out and 6 episodes of Kraft Theatre in 1951. One of her memorable performances was as Jean London in Robert Siodmak’s obscure gem The Whistle at Eaton Falls in 1951.

She was then cast in two comedies with the splendidly acerbic Clifton Webb. Elopement 1951 and she was also cast as an ingenue starring in Jean Negulesco’s 1952 action adventure film Lydia Baily and in a supportive role as Carol Sayre in Dreamboat 1952 which starred Ginger Rogers and actor Jeffrey Hunter whom she would join again in future films.

The popularity of the films began to put her on the map though she strived to break free of being typecast as a minor actor. She would be cast in Raoul Walsh’s The Lion is in the Streets in 1953 starring James Cagney.
She continued to appear in dramatic television teleplays for Ford Theatre and Lux Video Theatre.

Anne Francis and Robert Taylor in Rogue Cop 1954.

MGM then offered Francis a role as a femme fatale in the 1954 gritty film noir Rogue Cop. Francis asked for a contract, and ultimately, she got what she wanted and appeared in the film as the fifth-billed actor, following Robert Taylor, Janet Leigh, George Raft, and Steve Forrest. The film was highly rated at the box office. Then she got the second female lead in the romantic comedy Susan Slept Here 1954, starring Dick Powell and Debbie Reynolds

After returning to MGM, Francis found starring roles in several major feature films including playing Liz Wirth in Bad Day at Black Rock 1955, Battle Cry 1955, and The Blackboard Jungle 1955. She really had her breakout performance in the volatile drama tackling juvenile delinquency in Blackboard Jungle 1955 playing Glenn Ford’s terrorized pregnant wife Anne.

Glenn Ford and Anne Francis in a scene from the film ‘Blackboard Jungle’, 1955. (Photo by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images)

In 1956, she starred in what is perhaps her most recognizable role, as Altaira Morbius, the daughter of scientist Dr. Morbius, in the science fiction cult classic Forbidden Planet. The film has a faithful following and is widely regarded as one of the best adaptations of Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

Fred M. Wilcox’s science fiction/fantasy pageant – Forbidden Planet 1958 was a landmark sci-fi spectacle portraying the nubile space nymph – Altaira Morbius. A film that brought her international attention. Forbidden Planet was nominated for an Oscar In 1956.

The posters for the movie promoted the nubile Francis clad in her fashionable mini trying to escape the clutches of metalic-manhandler, presenting a very inaccurate relationship with Robbie the Robot.

Helen Rose designed Anne Francis’s stylish gowns and modern-fashioned minis. Francis’ fashions were also used in Queen of Outer Space. William Tuttle is credited for makeup. When the censors got a look at her clothes before filming began, they deemed them too risqué and a whole new wardrobe was designed for the actress. It was her first of several films with Walter Pidgeon and she was fond of costar Leslie Nielsen. After her splash with Forbidden Planet even with all the hullabaloo, it became Francis’ most legendary role.

🚀 Keep Watching the Skies! Science Fiction Cinema of the 1950s: The Year is 1956 — Part Two

She made three more movies for MGM then ended her contract with the studio for the second time

Then came the B airline disaster movie –The Crowded Sky 1960 playing a stewardess, and Girls of the Night 1960 director Joseph Cates starred. Anne Francis plays Bobbie a sensitive, lonely call girl who is exploited by her madame, played by Kay Medford. Francis gave a powerful performance, but unfortunately, the film went largely unnoticed. Anne Francis turned down the lead role in the film soaper Claudelle Inglish 1961, with Diane McBain filling that role though the movie bombed at the box office.

Despite co-starring with some of Hollywood’s most desirable leading men, including Paul Newman and Glenn Ford, Anne Francis’s roles highlighted her glamour over the strength of her acting. That’s when her primary focus on television took off in shows like Studio One, Climax, Rawhide, and The Untouchables. In Alcoa Premier and In The New Breed 1961 episode she gave an intense performance as Phyllis Eberhardt who is assaulted by the psychotic Robert Redford in Lady Killer.

Next would put her iconic face back on the map with one of the most recognized episodes of The Twilight Zone – In The After House she plays Masha White the mannequin unaware of who she really is – “Climb off it, Marsha.” She also starred as witch Jess-Belle Stone in the series episode – Jess-Belle 1963.

She found success and a non-formal groove in several television series. She received critical acclaim for her performances in Route 66 and The Fugitive. She would also appear in television series – Climax!, Rawhide, Studio One, and The Untouchables. The United States Steel Hour, and a particularly powerful performance as a spoiled movie star in the 1961 episode A Million Dollar Property of Dr. Kildare.

During the time of Bondmania, In 1965, Francis stepped into another cultural icon, like Altaira that would stay with her, it was the role of the self-sufficient detective in Aaron Spelling’s short-lived cult series Honey West 1965.

Stemming from a guest appearance on Aaron Spelling’s ABC detective series starring Gene Barry’s – Burke’s Law the episode Who Killed the Jackpot?, featured Francis as detective Honey West, who engages in a battle of the wits with Barry over cracking the case of a dead wealthy banker, it sparked the spin-off pilot episode. Reaction to the episode was strong from ABC, and Spelling was given the go-ahead for a full 30-episode order of Honey West for the Fall 1965 season.

Anne Francis’ exciting new character and Francis’ real persona broke ground as the outré chic Honey West making Francis a genuine pop icon, and the first proto-feminist television series featuring a comic-book style
deliciously glamorous female private eye who not only runs her own agency but can go head to head in hand to hand combat with any antagonist she comes up against. Showing off her skill in judo and karate, her mastery of weapons, proficiency in high techno devices, inventive, and a damn cool ocelot named Bruce, made her a private eye and formidable adversary in high demand.

Hunky John Ericson as partner Sam Bolt would often find himself grappling with Honey’s impulsiveness and lagging behind Honey’s fast and sleek white convertible AC Cobra, in his Ford Econoline van that was made to look like a TV service vehicle belonging to “H.W. Bolt & Co.” This However, this seemingly innocent van was actually packed with intricate electronic eavesdropping gadgets.

Anne Francis showcased her strong female-centered/driven character which earned her a Golden Globe award for Best TV Star – Female in 1966. And, she actually took karate lessons while starring in the TV series.

“A lot of people speak to me about Honey West 1965. The character made young women think there was more they could reach for. It encouraged a lot of people.”

Based on a series of pulpy thrillers by authors Skip and Gloria Fickling (pen name: G. G. Fickling), Executive producer Aaron Spelling was inspired by Honor Blackman’s character Cathy Gale on another stylish crime series, The Avengers. When Diana Rigg took over as Emma Peel she became another slick, splendid, and savvy heroine of pop culture in the 1960s who could wield a gun, with her skin-tight leather outfit and high kicks, and a deadly serious, though darkly funny talent for catching criminals.

Honey West only lasted one season with 30 episodes. Reportedly when ABC decided to import the British series from 1966-67 after Rigg came into the picture, though the Honey West’s ratings were strong, the network didn’t want competing shows with two trendsetting independent leading lady investigators. After Four Star Productions, bought the U.S. rights to the British The Avengers, because of the perceived similarity in the female leads, Honey West was canceled.

Anne Francis’ portrayal earned her a Golden Globe Award and an Emmy Award nomination. And her character in “Honey West” combined sex appeal with judo throws, karate chops, and modish fashions, showcasing her diverse talents.

Then she was cast in 2 episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents as Julia Reddy and Nyla Foster in Hooked & Season 5 of Keep Me Company.

She starred in an episode of the series that featured intense stories of psychological turmoil – in 1963 The Eleventh Hour, Francis appeared in season 1 episode Hang By One Hand. She had roles on Kraft Suspense Theatre 1963, Death Valley Days, and Ben Casey, and she played the murderous Gervaise Ravel in two episodes of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

And that brings us to Hitchcock in 1963 … The Alfred Hitchcock Hour in 3 episodes What Really Happened, Blood Bargain which I’m covering here, and The Trap.

Francis later replaced actress Joan Hackett on the action/sci-fi thriller The Satan Bug 1965 directed by John Sturges. She appeared in The Invaders 1967-68 and both Mission: Impossible and The Name of the Game in 1969.

Anne Francis was cast originally in a supportive role as Barbara Streisand’s sexy showgirl friend – Georgia James in Funny Girl 1968 her part was greatly reduced to a cameo appearance.

She was overjoyed to land what she thought would be 3 prominent scenes in the film, including a drunken scene, a performance as a Ziegfeld Girl, and a singing part in “Sadie, Sadie”. Despite her excitement, she later discovered that her scenes had been either completely removed or drastically hacked down by the movie’s release.

Francis was in More Dead than Alive 1969, a modern western, and in THE LOVE GOD 1969 with the inimitable Don Knotts and a co-star with comedian Jerry Lewis in Hook, Line, and Sinker 1969. None of these gratuitous roles in all three films did much to showcase Francis’ talent or boost her career

in the 1960s she was back on the big screen in the sci-fi thriller directed by John Sturges – THE SATAN BUG and was superb as the slick and scheming Lorrie Benson in Brainstorm 1965, a psychological thriller directed by William Conrad (Cannon). Brainstorm is a little-known thriller starring Jeffrey Hunter who saves Francis from committing suicide by parking her car on the train tracks. She convinces him that her husband Dana Andrews is abusive and after the two fall in love, they concoct a plan to murder him. Hunter figures out a way to beat the wrap by faking insanity.

From The Vault: Brainstorm (1965)

It was the 70s and Walter Grauman’s TV movie came along The Forgotten Man 1971 with Dennis Weaver and Lois Nettleton, Francis appeared in the 1972 TV movie Haunts of the Very Rich. She was featured in 2 episodes of Columbo’s A Stitch in Time with Leonard Nimoy which is one of the best episodes of the series and Short Fuse with Roddy McDowall. She appeared on Cannon, Banacek, The F.B.I.,

She guest-starred in a 1973 episode of Barnaby Jones’s Murder in the Doll’s House. In 1974, Francis appeared as Ida, the madame of a cathouse in the series Kung Fu episode Night of the Owls, Day of the Doves, and in 1976 she appeared as Lola Flynn in an episode Beauty on Parade for the series Wonder Woman.

Anne Francis appeared in the TV movie Cry Panic 1974, then Ironside, both, SWAT, Petrocelli, Police Woman, Hawaii Five-O, Charlie’s Angels, Quincy M.E., Dallas, Fantasy Island, and The Love Boat.

In the 1980s for fans of The Golden Girls like me, she guest starred as Dorothy Zbornak’s old school rival Trudy. the Nineties revival of Burke’s Law (reprising her role as Honey West),

Anne Francis continued to act throughout the 1970s, 1980 all the way to her last television appearance on television’s Without A Trace in 2004 when she retired from acting.

She appeared in four films that have been selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant: Bad Day at Black Rock 1956, Blackboard Jungle 1955, Forbidden Planet 1956, and Funny Girl 1968.

Throughout her career, Anne Francis was recognized for her acting prowess and vivacious beauty, admired by so many fans who were attracted to her grace that sparkled and her slick poise both on and off-screen. She passed away on January 2, 2011, at the age of 80. On February 8, 1960, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1611 Vine Street in Hollywood, California.

Aside from being a fine actress, cultural icon, and humanitarian contributed her time to charity work. She got her pilot’s license and became involved with the International New Thought Alliance, a metaphysical religious organization pursuing enlightenment. She is notable for forming her own production company in 1968 writing and directing her own short subject documentary, Gemini Rising about the rodeo, Francis was a huge fan. In 1970, she adopted a 7 month of baby girl, being one of the first unmarried women to do so.

In 1982 she published her autobiography, Voices from Home, subtitled An Inner Journey.  She referred to it as a spiritual exposé. It shows how she was far more interested in spiritual enlightenment than in the superficiality of show business.

Dialogue for –


Mrs Raydon (Gladys Cooper) ” I think he’s dead you’ve always wanted this to happen. You’ve done this to him. You’ve killed him!”

At the trial for Eve…

Tim O’Connor as prosecutor Halstead “Was the relationship with your daughter-in-law a good one?”
Mrs. Raydon “We understood each other.”
Halstead “Would you describe your son’s marriage as happy.”
Mrs. Raydon “I would not.”
Halstead “Was there friction between them?”
Mrs. Raydon “Howard did his best to hide it from me but I knew the truth.”
Halstead “What truth.’’
Mrs. Raydon “That she married him for his money.’’
Halstead “And what makes you say that?’’
Mrs. Raydon “She was wild and extravagant with my son’s income.’She spent over $20,000 a year on clothes alone.’’
Halstead ‘’Did he object to her spending so much?’’
Mrs. Raydon “Not at first. He was too infatuated She took advantage of Howard, I tried to make him see the truth but he wouldn’t listen. A man has to learn those things for himself. ‘’
Halstead ‘’Would you say he finally did learn the truth about his wife?’’
Mrs. Raydon ‘’Not all of it. He never knew the worst… That she was a filthy little…

she is interrupted before she can call her a whore


Adelaide ‘Addie’ Strain – “My dearest Eve, it’s not enough to say I’m sorry not when I’ve made you suffer so much I really thought it would be alright. I kept hoping and praying all through the trial, a thousand times I wanted to stand up and shout for them to stop. To tell them the truth, that I killed Howard. I did it for all of us. Please, believe me, I just wanted us to be happy you and me and Gilly. To be together always. I thought they would blame Howard’s death on his illness. And then they arrested you and I knew that I hadn’t solved anything. I’d only made things worse. You’ve always been so kind to me. I know you’ll be kind now and forgive me for what I’ve done. Take care of your boy Eve. He needs you so much.”

Addy – “I shouldn’t have listened to Eve. I should have told them about Gilly.
I never thought they’d find out. All these years no one ever guessed – You don’t believe me, Jack. She was trying to make a home for Gilly. She always intended telling Howard but he proved so impossible.’’

Jack “I don’t blame her Addy I just feel so helpless.’’

Anne Francis:

Anne Francis on trial, explains why she got the money from her old friend Jack Wentworth (Stephen Dunne). That it wasn’t an affair she needed to pay the bills that Howard and his horrible mother insisted she pay for with her own money.

Eve was calm, strong, and sincere on the witness stand, “That was how I got the check I wasn’t proud of myself for it but I had nothing to be ashamed of either.”

Halstead “Mrs. Raydon was there anything illicit in your relationship with Jack Wentworth ?’’Eve “No, nothing.’’ Halstead ‘’Did you love your husband.’’ Eve “Yes.’’Halstead ‘’Were you unfaithful to him in any way ?’’ Eve “No never.” Halstead “Mrs. Raydon, isn’t it a fact that you brought your husband a glass of warm milk every evening ?’’ Eve “Yes I did.’’ Halstead “Did you put poison in that glass of milk the night he died?’’ Eve “No I didn’t.’’ Halstead “Are you sure?’’ Eve “I swear I didn’t.”

The poison used is found in the pet liniment the vet recommended for her dog.

Eve “I can’t imagine what happened to it. I didn’t I had no reason to kill Howard.’’

The prosecution lands a bombshell she was a widow at seventeen, left with a baby she didn’t want so he supposes. Eve “I did want him But I couldn’t take care of him I had to find work I didn’t know what to do.’’ Halstead “Yes it was hard wasn’t it all that responsibility on someone young and all alone you need help so you turned to the best friend you had You let Adelaide Strain look after your child and you went off to work as a fashion model.’’ Eve “I was only studying to be a model I wasn’t trained I was making hardly any money at all The hours were long and Addy offered to take care of Gilly for me.’’ Halstead “And when you started seeing Howard Raydon you never told him about the baby.” Eve “I couldn’t I just couldn’t.’’ Halstead “Of course you couldn’t it would have spoiled everything wouldn’t it.’’ Eve “I meant to tell him someday.’’ Halstead “But you never did. You were afraid he wouldn’t marry you if he knew about the child especially a child of Gary Mitchell’s a man he despised. So you let Adelaide Strain raise the boy as her own until you could bring them both into your home.” Eve “I wanted my baby with me.’’ Halstead “But Howard thought the boy was Adelaide Strains didn’t he? and he told Mrs. Strain he didn’t want her to work for you anymore Isn’t that what happened? Didn’t he fire her?’’ Eve “Yes.’’ Halstead “And if Adelaide Strain was forced to go. Your son would have gone too.’’ Eve “Yes.’’ Halstead “And that’s why you had to kill your husband wasn’t it, that’s the real reason.”

Eve “I didn’t kill him”


Ruth Roman as Addie is haunted and deeply protective of her circle of three. Lyn Murray’s evocative, heartwrenching score is one of the characters in the teleplay, carefully weaving the moments together with such beauty, using his woodwinds, the clarinet, and sympathetic strings to testify to Addie and Eve’s anguish.

In What Really Happened, Ann Francis plays Eve Raydon a woman accused of poisoning her husband Howard (Gene Lyons) with K-9 liniment placed in his glass of hot milk. She stands trial for her wealthy abusive husband’s murder. Her vindictive mother-in-law Mrs. Raydon (Gladys Cooper) would like nothing more than to see her daughter-in-law go to the gas chamber convinced that she did it. And we don’t care that he’s dead, because Howard was a hostile and thoroughly unsympathetic character. Ruth Roman portrays the haunted Addie Strain who is deeply protective of her circle of three.

Afraid that the three of them would never be a family again after the disagreeable Howard orders her and her boy Gilly to leave his house for good. She believes she’ll never see Eve again.

There is a strong undercurrent of lesbian affection at least on the side of Addy, in much the way it was in Lillian Hellman’s The Children’s Hour. It’s very subtle and quite heart-wrenching… Outstanding performances by the entire cast, in particular by Ruth Roman.

The initial scenes take place in the Raydon house, where Howard trips over a toy that young Gilly has left on the floor in his study. He has been told before never to play in that room. When Gilly accidentally breaks an expensive clock, Raydon becomes irate and fires Addie, who winds up pouring dog liniment from Eve’s poodle into his warm milk.

Unaware of what Addie has done, Eve then takes the milk up the stairs to bring to her husband; the journey up the stairs with the poisoned glass of milk on the tray is an homage to the infamous scene in HItchcock’s Suspicion 1941 when Cary Grant climbs the stairs with the glass of milk to Joan Fontaine.

Howard drinks the milk and later that night in agonizing pain, collapses and dies as his mother materializes like a baleful crone and accuses Eve of murdering her son.

The show transitions into a courtroom drama, reminiscent of Slesar’s previous teleplay for I Saw the Whole Thing. Though partly told in flashback, much of the episode is dedicated to the trial.

Tim O’Connor plays the resolute prosecutor who first puts Mrs. Raydon on the stand to build strong testimony against Eve. She relates two key events that point to a motive. She had walked in on Eve and Jack Wentworth (Steve Dunne) sitting on the couch sharing an intimate moment, with Eve shamelessly nuzzling up to him provocatively in front of her.

The other incident is when Howard and Mrs. Raydon confronts Eve about her disregard for her reckless spending and the creditors that are breathing down his neck for unpaid bills. In both flashbacks, Mrs. Raydon paints Eve as promiscuous and indifferent.

Now it is Eve’s turn to take the stand and give her side of the story. She paints a completely flipped scenario, one with her being a victim of a vicious mother and son who have created an environment of rigidity, fear, and dominion with Mrs. Raydon as a cruel matriarch who pulls Howard’s puppet strings and who loathes Howard’s pretty young wife, believing her to be a hussy and a gold digger.

In Eve’s version, she is submissive and amiable about paying for her extravagant purchases, not having realized that she was spending that much, she is willing to take her own money from her first husband’s policy to pay the bills.

The scene on the couch with Jack is a completely innocent encounter with an old friend, there is nothing romantic between the two of them. And a third recollection is introduced, where Eve meets Jack for lunch, who volunteers to write her a check for $10,000 to cover the debt.

During Eve’s cross-examination, the prosecutor drops a bombshell. It is revealed that Eve had a child with her first husband and had asked her maid and companion Addie to raise the child as her own while Eve made a living.
Michael Strong, Eve’s defense attorney is furious that he wasn’t told about the secret. Maybe he could have done something with the information, but now it just looks bad for her.

O’Connor tries to make Eve look heartless, abandoning her baby to work as a model, but she defends herself by telling him that she wanted her baby, but she was young and just couldn’t take care of it by herself. So she asked her friend Addie to raise him as her own. Eventually, she hired her so that she could be close to Gilly. The prosecutor makes the case that when Howard fired Addie, Eve felt threatened that her son would be taken away and that was the motive for murdering him.

When Eve is found guilty, Addie never believing that they would convict Eve, tries to commit suicide by drinking more of the poison that she used to kill Howard. She survives but leaves a note confessing to the murder, and clearing Eve of the crime. As the episode comes to an end, the prosecuting attorney is disturbed that the jury could have convicted an innocent woman.

Hitchcock ties things up in the show’s cheeky prologue letting us know that Addie was later tried, convicted, and hanged for the murder.


What Really Happened was broadcast on Friday, January 11, 1963, on CBS. It is directed by Jack Smight and stars Anne Francis as Eve Raydon, Ruth Roman as Addie, Gladys Cooper as Mrs. Raydon, and Steve Dunne as Jack Wentworth (Mintlaw in the novel). Howard Raydon (Birtley in the book) is played by Gene Lyons and Adelaide’s son, Gilly, is played by Michael Crisalli.

What Really Happened is an unusual entry for the show because it is based on a true story.

In 1876, British lawyer Charles Bravo died of antimony poisoning, and his wife Florence was suspected of murder but not convicted. The highly-publicized case involved Florence’s extravagant lifestyle, her previous marriage to an alcoholic Canadian military man, and her subsequent relationship with a doctor while recovering in a sanatorium. She bought a mansion and hired a woman named Jane Cox as a live-in companion. The case was unable to determine the culprit.

Marie Belloc Lowndes published her novel, What Really Happened, in 1926, bringing attention back to the infamous Bravo case in England. Mrs. Belloc Lowndes, a renowned English novelist, had a successful writing career spanning several decades, starting with her first book in 1898. One of her most well-known works was The Lodger (1913), which was adapted into a film by Alfred Hitchcock in 1927. Lowndes updated the Bravo case to the 1920s in What Really Happened, providing her own perspective on the matter.

in 1932, Lowndes adapted her novel into a play that remained faithful to the novel, it was performed in the West End of Duke of York’s theater.

When Henry Slesar was approached to adapt the novel for television, 26 years after its initial release, it was unclear whether Alfred Hitchcock or Joan Harrison had more familiarity with the book as opposed to the play. Slesar who worked on the popular soap – The Edge of Night from 1967-83, added the plot twist at the end that would be perfect as soap opera writer’s melodramatic flourish.

What Really Happened was directed by Jack Smight with beautiful underscoring by Lyn Murray who creates a stirring pathos within the narrative with a transformative melody that shifts and governs the emotional plot. Teleplay by Henry Slesar is based on the novel by Marie Belloc Lowndes. Co-starring the great Tim O’Connor as the prosecuting attorney.

Jack Smight (1925-2003) worked in TV and film from 1949 to 1986. He directed four episodes of The Twilight Zone – The Lonely, The Lateness of the Hour, The Night of the Meek, and Twenty-Two. He also directed four episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. His most well-known films were Harper (1966), Midway 1976, The Illustrated Man 1969, and the disaster film- Airport 1975.

Demonstrating his usual wry likability as Jack Wentworth is Steve Dunne (1918-1977), born Francis Dunne, who was in movies from 1945 and on TV from 1951. He was on the Hitchcock show five times, including Ray Bradbury’s Special Delivery and Henry Slesar’s The Man with Two Faces.

Michael Strong the defense lawyer is a busy character actor – known for Dead Heat on a Merry Go Round 1966 Jame Coburn and Point Blank 1967 starring Lee Marvin and Angie Dickinson and a slew of television shows including Columbo 1974 Negative Reaction.

Gene Lyons (1921-1974) plays the unfortunate Howard Raydon; he was on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour three times and also made appearances on The Twilight Zone and Star Trek. He was best known for a recurring role on Ironside.

*THE PARAGON -s1e20 aired Feb 8, 1963 – Joan Fontaine

Joan Fontaine Bio:

Joan Fontaine and Cary Grant in Suspicion 1941.

About being cast in weepy melodramas “They seemed to want to make me cry the whole Atlantic.”

British American actress- Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland, known professionally as Joan Fontaine possesses a natural, understated beauty, famous for her roles in two distinctive pictures by Alfred Hitchcock – Rebecca in 1940 and Suspicion in 1941. She was one of the last Hollywood stars who became disciplined in their craft during the high point of the 1930s. Fontaine began her career in the mid-1930s in the theater and quickly transition to the big screen blossoming into one of Hollywood’s greatest superstars of the 1940s.

Joan Fontaine moved to California with her mother and sister Olivia after her parents split up. She was driven by her older sister, Olivia de Havilland’s success – who also wound up a prominent Hollywood legend. Joan Fontaine’s enduring sibling rivalry with her equally famous sister, Olivia, was well-known in Hollywood circles.

[in 1978, about sister Olivia de Havilland] Olivia has always said I was first at everything. If I die, she’ll be furious because, again, I’ll have got there first.

[on beating sister Olivia de Havilland for the Oscar] I froze. I stared across the table, where Olivia was sitting. “Get up there!” she whispered commandingly. Now what had I done? All the animus we’d felt towards each other as children, the savage wrestling matches, and the time Olivia fractured my collarbone, all came rushing back in kaleidoscopic imagery.

By the way, we may not get along personally, but I am absolutely thrilled that my sister has accomplished what she has. Imagine what we could have done if we had gotten together. We could have selected the right scripts, the right directors, the right producers – we could have built our own empire. But it was not to be.

Her acting career began on the stage in 1935, and eventually led to her signing a contract with RKO Pictures that same year. Due to the competitive nature of the relationship between the sisters, it was impossible for both of them to pursue acting careers in Hollywood under the name “de Havilland”. So Joan initially tried using the name Joan Burfield for her debut film in George Cukor’s romantic comedy No More Ladies (1935) at MGM, starring Joan Crawford, Robert Montgomery, Charles Ruggles, and Edna May Oliver.

However, she relented and adopted her stepfather’s surname, Fontaine. At RKO, having gained experience in several minor roles, received her first major role in The Man Who Found Himself in 1937.

RKO considered Fontaine their rising star and trumpeted The Man Who Found Himself 1937 with John Beal as her first starring role. Billing her as the ‘new RKO screen personality” after the end credits.

Also that same year she appeared in You Can’t Beat Love starring Preston Foster and she was cast as Fred Astaire’s leading lady in George Steven’s A Damsel in Distress 1937 two years after her debut. Although it was a typical romantic lead role, being the first actress other than Ginger Rogers to star opposite Astaire was a significant moment in Joan Fontaine’s career as an “English rose.”

At RKO George Stevens cast her in Gunga Din 1939 as Douglas Fairbanks Jr.’s love interest, but her part was a small one.

Also in 1939, Fontaine was cast as Peggy who travels to Reno but really doesn’t want a divorce, in George Cukor’s brilliant all-star ensemble in the women-centered comedy-drama The Women, which includes, Joan Crawford, Norma Shearer, Rosalind Russell, Paulette Goddard, Florence Nash, Marjorie Main, Ruth Hussey, Virginia Pine, and Mary Boland.

There is a standout scene during the poignant telephone call, where Peggy speaks to her husband, who is neither seen nor heard on screen. The entire film is exclusively cast with women.

Fontaine gradually progressed to more significant roles and after a fortuitous meeting with David O. Selznick at a dinner party one evening, she happened to be seated next to the producer who invited her to audition for the role of the nameless heroine. After enduring a rigorous six-month series of film tests alongside hundreds of other actresses, she was offered the lead role in Alfred Hitchcock’s psychological thriller – Rebecca shortly before she turned 22.

For O. Selznick, it was the second time he won an Oscar for Best Picture with Rebecca in 1940, after his first award for his sweeping epic Gone With the Wind in 1939. Ironically, it was Joan’s sister Olivia de Havilland that received the nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of the demure Melanie Hamilton in O.Selznick’s picture.

The overwhelming success of Rebecca catapulted her to stardom in American cinema, and she went on to become one of the most popular actresses of her time.

BRIDES OF HORROR – Scream Queens of the 1960s! 🎃 Part 2

In 1940 Joan Fontaine garnered her first Academy Award nomination for her performance as the timorous new mistress of Manderley in Hitchcock’s Rebecca 1940. She lost out to Ginger Rogers for her performance in Kitty Foyle, but Fontaine went on to win the following year for her next Hitchcock film, Suspicion.

The Great Villain Blogathon 2019 Dame Judith Anderson as Mrs. Danvers “Do you think the dead come back and watch the living?”

As the archetype of the woman-in-peril, Fontaine conjured up the timid young woman who marries the moody and brooding Maxim de Winter, though all actors are overshadowed by Judith Anderson’s on-fire performance.

Cinematographer George Barnes (known for his work in films like “Spellbound” 1945, “Force of Evil” 1948, and “The File on Thelma Jordan” 1949), employed stark contrasts between light and darkness, which Alfred Hitchcock incorporated as a recurring motif in the film with Fontaine’s young blonde protagonist dressed in soft, muted clothing being shadowed by the uncannily dark presence of Mrs. Danvers.

Joan Fontaine is marvelous at conveying an enchanting vulnerability, but there is a clutter of emotions behind those angelic features. She was capable of bringing to bear a transformation from child to woman, a feat she triumphed in with several of her films.

”Fontaine’s stock in trade was gentle, vulnerable young women, making her perfect casting for Alfred Hitchcock’s Hollywood debut, and her own first leading role, in Rebecca in 1940. As the ‘second Mrs. De Winter’, in thrall to her dashing husband and under the spell of her predecessor, her performance is faultless, her nervousness and almost childlike naivety in complete contrast to Judith Anderson’s scheming housekeeper Mrs. Danvers.

Hitchcock instructed Fontaine to tiptoe around Manderley, her husband’s gothic pile, with her handbag on her arm, as if at a hotel, highlighting the sense of discomfort she feels trying to fill the shoes of the beautiful and mysterious Rebecca.” -From the British Film Institute

As scholar Mary Ann Doane points out that Rebecca is “initiating the ‘paranoia’ strand of the woman’s picture, a sub-genre in which gullible women discover that the men they married possess strange and sinister intents. The cycle continued through the 1940s-Suspicion (1941) Gaslight (George Cukor 1944) and Secret Beyond the Door… (Fritz Lang, 1948).”

Here is an excerpt from Leonard Leff’s book- “For Selznick who read a synopsis of the manuscript in late spring 1938, the story of the novel’s awkward and shy heroine seemed ideal. Selznick’s most impressive discoveries tended to be young women, including Ingrid Bergman, Vivien Leigh, and Joan Fontaine; furthermore, had had long been associated with the industry’s premier “women’s director” George Cukor. In certain respects a “woman’s producer,” attuned to the sensibilities and psychology of the American female (at least as purveyed by the era’s mass-circulation magazines), Selznick agreed with story editor Val Lewton that the second Mrs. de Winter “probably exemplifies the feeling that most young women have about themselves.”

Fontaine gentility is perfect for the timid heroine, uncertain and immature mutable and fearful, modest and unworldly. Laurence Olivier was unhappy that Joan Fontaine had been cast instead of his wife actress Vivien Leigh.

“I made about seven tests for Rebecca (1940). Everybody tested for it. Loretta Young, Margaret Sullavan, Vivien Leigh, Susan Hayward, Anne Baxter, you name her. Supposedly, [Alfred Hitchcock] saw one of my tests and said, “This is the only one”. I think the word he used to describe what set me apart was “vulnerability”. Also, I was not very well-known, and producer David O. Selznick saw the chance for star budding. And may I say he also saw the chance to put me under contract for serf’s wages.” –Fontaine

In Rebecca 1940, Joan Fontaine is given the role of an innocent and painfully shy young heroine who remains nameless throughout the film, as she is in du Maurier’s novel who suffers the indignities at the hands of the most demoniacal of all treacherous housekeepers.

She meets the brooding aristocratic widower Maxim de Winter (Laurence Olivier) who is the master of Manderley. They marry and Maxim brings his new bride back to his ancestral home. At first, she is clumsy and awkward trying to find her way around as mistress of the house.

According to what I read, some early versions of the script had the protagonist’s name as Daphne, which was inspired by the story’s author. However, it appears that Hitchcock ultimately chose to leave the character unnamed.

The second Mrs. de Winter is bewildered and haunted by the unseen presence of the first Mrs. de Winter, the uncanny and beautiful Rebecca, who has died in a boating accident a year before. Mrs. de Winter is psychically tortured by the sinister Mrs. Danvers who was Rebecca’s faithful and adoring servant played by the always imposing Judith Anderson, who bombards Joan Fontaine with memories and tactile possessions of the dead woman, whom we never see. She is truly a phantom that haunts the film, the narrative, and our heroine.

Joan Fontaine is often overshadowed by the size of the rooms and the camera work and Mise-en-scène conveys the heroine as inferior and insignificant. As she wanders like a fairy tale princess lost in an unwelcoming world. She is clumsy, painfully shy, and awkward around the servants who try to fuss over her. The phone rings, and it’s the gardener asking for Mrs. de Winter, not realizing that he is asking for her she answers him and then hangs up the phone, “Mrs. de Winter? Oh, I’m afraid you’ve made a mistake. Mrs. de Winter’s been dead for over a year. Oh, I mean…”

Gladys Cooper is the third intimidating woman in the story to come along and make the new Mrs. de Winter feel inadequate.

Fontaine would again be nominated for an Oscar for her role as Lina McLaidlaw Aysgarth in Alfred Hitchcock’s Suspicion 1941. In her role she won the Best Actress Oscar for her as the shy heiress who marries a scoundrel, Cary Grant. She is the only actress who won an Oscar for a Hitchcock film.

Once again a victim In Hitchcock’s Suspicion, Fontaine plays opposite Cary Grant as the charming yet reckless Johnny Agar.

Lina is the daughter of a wealthy British General who unexpectedly meets the debonair Johnny on a train. After a whirlwind courtship, they marry and almost immediately Lina begins to have regrets.

Fontaine loses faith in her husband to the extent she believes he’s going to kill her after a series of small incidents. “Which causes suspicion to take root in the woman’s brain and grow finally into a thorny and forbidding monster.” (Edwin Schallert – The New York Times)

The movie, which was based on the novel “Before the Fact,” offered one of the most outstanding female roles in Alfred Hitchcock’s filmography. Hitchcock wanted to stay true to the novel’s ending, in which Fontaine’s character, Lina, commits suicide by drinking poisoned milk given to her by Johnny. However, the studio did not allow a major star like Grant to be portrayed as a murderer, and Lina’s suspicions about her husband’s intentions were proven wrong. This clever twist created a wonderfully intricate relationship between Grant and Fontaine’s characters, allowing them to traverse their superb chemistry on screen.

20th Century Fox borrowed Fontaine In 1942 to appear in Anatole Litvak’s This Above All with co-star Tyrone Power.

In addition to being associated with one of Daphné Du Maurier’s most famous characters, Fontaine is also remembered as the hapless Jane Eyre in Robert Stevenson’s moody film adaptation along with writer Aldous Huxley of Charlotte Brontë’s dark, malignant Gothic novel.

Like a jewel in a night sky, Joan Fontaine is not surprisingly obscured somewhat by the dark cloud of Orson Welles & Rochester’s personalities.

Despite the fact that Jane is described as plain in the novel, Fontaine seems to shatter that prescribed identity given her undeniable beauty is inescapable.

One of Fontaine’s trademarks is her ability to access a wide-eyed impressionable young woman as symbolized in roles like Tessa Sanger in Edmund Goulding’s The Constant Nymph in 1943 based on Margaret Kennedy’s novel and play. Fontaine stars alongside Charles Boyer as a struggling composer whom she falls madly in love with but marries her vain cousin Alexis Smith who grows jealous of the bond they share.

While it may not have been her most outstanding work “The Constant Nymph” showcased her talent well, highlighting her character Tessa’s unwavering loyalty, a recurring theme in many of Fontaine’s roles.

Charles Boyer and Joan Fontaine in The Constant Nymph 1943.

Then came various pictures including Frenchman’s Creek. The film – Like Rebecca, was also based on a novel by Daphne du Maurier. Fontaine personally considered Frenchman’s Creek one of her least favorites among the films she starred in.

O. Selznick wanted to cast her in I’ll Be Seeing You in 1944 but she refused, saying she was “sick of playing the sad sack.” Selznick suspended her for eight months.

in 1945 The Affairs of Susan the romantic comedy co-starring George Brent. She returned to RKO to do From This Day Forward in 1946, in which she plays struggling veteran Mark Steven’s optimistic wife.

In August 1946 Fontaine established her own company, Rampart Productions, with her then-husband William Dozier. O.Selznick and Fontaine parted ways in February 1947 when her contract ended and she would work exclusively for Rampart with the exception of the one film a year she committed herself to with RKO.

Their first film would be Ivy in 1947 produced by Rampart Productions and released through Universal. Fontaine broke away from her archetypal vulnerability and was cast as Ivy Lexton co-starring with British actor Herbert Marshall. In this Gothic tale, she plays an unfaithful wife with murderous intentions.

Fontaine gives a tour de force performance as Ivy Lexton in Sam Wood’s Ivy 1947 which takes place in turn-of-the-century England. Here, she plays a monstrous female with a craftiness that is altogether frightening, as her seemingly sweet facade hides a black heart that causes 3 different men infinite psychological torment. The first husband has lost his fortune, her jealous lover threatens a scandal, and the third is a wealthy bachelor with social status she schemes to conquer.

She frequently played the role of a committed and resolute woman as seen in her portrayal of the faithful Lisa in Max Ophüls’ 1948 masterpiece, Letter from an Unknown Woman, produced by John Houseman. One of several European-style art films produced in Hollywood in the late 1940s, Ophüls’ romantic melodrama reveals the life of a woman from her early years to her untimely death, as she remained in love with immoral pianist Louis Jourdan who realizes way too late, the depth of her undying devotion.

Fontaine has an onscreen transformation as Lisa, who loses the wistful naiveté of a child and becomes a sophisticated mature woman who becomes possessed by the idea of and wastes her adoration on – the decadent self-absorbed womanizer French actor Louis Jordan.

“A bittersweet meditation on the evanescence of love. It’s more sardonic than the book and being governed by Hollywood codes more tactful in recounting the fate of a woman who loved not wisely but too well.” – J. Hoberman

In the 1948 film noir Kiss the Blood Off My Hands co-starring Burt Lancaster, fate intervenes when the paths of the lonely nurse Jane Wharton and a fugitive cross paths. Lancaster a belligerent outsider Burt Saunders who spent two years in a Nazi prison camp and now has accidentally killed a man. When he breaks into Jane’s apartment he gains her sympathy and convinces her that he is innocent. Fontaine is moving her lost effort to help Lancaster find redemption.

Burt Lancaster and Joan Fontaine in Kiss the Blood Off My Hands 1948.

Fontaine’s delicate, transcendent goodness reflected in her soft voice and the thoughtful gaze she was often cast in the role of an innocent maiden, was flipped on its head in roles like femme fatale Christabel in Nicholas Ray’s Born to Be Bad 1950.

At Paramount, she appeared in Billy Wilder’s The Emperor Waltz 1948 and went to Universal for another film for Rampart in the comedy with James Stewart called You Gotta Stay Happy with James Stewart

In both pictures Born to Be Bad and Ivy, Joan Fontaine manifests villainous women while still channeling her grace.

Nicholas Ray’s Born to Be Bad, is a melodramatic film noir that features Fontaine as a predatory Christabel Caine cunningly deceptive and destructive young woman, a ‘honey-voiced demon’( The New York Times). Zachary Scott is a wealthy sap and Robert Ryan is his successful novelist friend. She marries Scott for his money but throws herself at Ryan and they carry on a lurid affair.

Ryan plays against Joan Fontaine’s ‘poor moral’ female character in the shape of Christabel Caine. She is the film’s wicked woman, who wears the façade of innocence and kind-heartedness.
Their attraction is dark and inscrutable and feeds her cunning hidden side, while she works to infiltrate the conventional world that Donna and Curtis inhabit. She objects to the presence of a  ‘brutal character’ in one of Nick’s novels, this is when he tells her, “If you ever draw an honest breath, I want to be there to see it. I’ve never seen anybody choke to death.”

In 1952 she starred with Ray Milland and Teresa Wright in George Steven’s melodrama Something to Live For, and MGM hired Fontaine to play the love interest in Richard Thorpe’s romantic action/adventure Ivanhoe 1952 along with Robert Taylor, Elizabeth Taylor, and George Sanders.

She was reunited with Louis Jourdan in Decameron Nights 1953 then went to Paramount for the low-budget Flight to Tangier 1953 with Jack Palance.

Then she was cast as Eve Graham in Ida Lupino’s The Bigamist 1953 written and produced by Collier Young.

”When I came to Hollywood I did not know [Ida Lupino], and she was married to Collier Young, his nickname was “Collie”. A few years after they were married, they got a divorce but remained friends. I had been in pictures for a few films and Ida wanted me to be in a film with her called The Bigamist (1953). It turned out that Collie was going to co-produce the film with Ida. I got a chance to meet Collie, I fell in love with him, and I married him. So, as it turned out when Ida was very ill and in the hospital, I visited her. She knew that I loved animals and asked if when the time comes, would I take Holden [Lupino’s dog] to come and live with me. So this is how I came to be Holden’s owner. So it turns out that I got two collies from Ida Lupino, and they both turned out to be dogs!”Fontaine

The scarcity of roles that suited Fontaine’s particular style prompted her to increasingly explore opportunities in television and theatre during the 1950s. In 1953 she starred in 2 episodes of Four Star Playhouse, and an episode of The Ford Television Theatre and The 20th Century-Fox Hour.

In 1954, she received favorable reviews for her performance as Laura in Tea and Sympathy on Broadway, playing the role that Deborah Kerr had originated. During the show’s tour, she acted alongside Anthony Perkins for several months.

In 1956 she returned to the big screen in Fritz Lang’s noir thriller Beyond a Reasonable Doubt and Island in the Sun 1957, the same year in Until They Sail she plays Anne Leslie the eldest sister of Jean Simmons, and Piper Laurie (read my interview here:) in a stand-out role as Deila Leslie in Robert Wise’s compelling drama about women during war who must struggle without their husbands while they are fighting in the Pacific. Fontaine was a big hit with Island in the Sun 1957 with romance lead Harry Belafonte. She then made A Certain Smile 1958 at Fox.

Piper Laurie: The Girl Who Ate Flowers

Fontaine, Sandra Dee in her first film role, Piper Laurie, and Jean Simmons in Robert Wise’s Until They Sail 1956.

Heading into the 1960s she appeared in Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse, Startime, and the season 1 episode of One Step Beyond The Visitor, after that she did 5 episodes of General Electric Theater.

Feature films included the sci-fi thriller Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea in 1961 where she played Dr. Susan Hiller, and Baby Warren in Tender is the Night in 1962.
The Paragon is the only episode that Fontaine appeared in for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.

Later on, in the 1960s her career began to diverge into lesser-quality films and she found herself in the realm of Hollywood starlets cast in low-budget horror films.

She starred in and co-produced the Hammer horror film The Witches aka The Devil’s Own 1966 which was Fontaine’s last appearance on the big screen. She went on to act in various suspense and horror-themed television series such as One Step Beyond 1960, the episode ‘The Visitor’ for Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea 1961, and an intense performance as a pathological perfectionist dragon in The Alfred Hitchcock Hour’s The Paragon.

Concerto Sinostro- The Alfred Hitchcock Hour- Seven Exceptional Episodes

The Witches 1966 -features a script by Nigel Kneale, which tells the story -following a horrifying experience with the occult at an African missionary, a schoolteacher Gwen Mayfield (Fontaine)moves to a small English village after suffering a nervous breakdown, only to discover that she is the target of black magic by a devil cult there too where she must try and stop a human sacrifice.

On stage: In October 1964 she returned to Broadway to appear in A Severed Head.

Her other stage work included Cactus Flower and an Austrian production of The Lion in Winter.
In 1967, she appeared in Dial M for Murder and the following year she appeared in Private Lives. She appeared back on Broadway in Forty Carats.

She returned to Hollywood for the first time in 15 years in 1975 to appear in an episode of Cannon especially written for her and appeared in scattered television shows. 5 episodes of the soap opera Ryan’s Hope for which she was nominated for an Emmy Award in 1980.

She also appeared in The Love Boat, Hotel, and a few TV movies. Her last appearance was in 1994 as Queen Ludmilla in the TV movie Good King Wenceslas.

Despite her on-screen persona, Joan Fontaine’s personal life was plagued with four failed marriages, estrangement from her children, and a well-known feud with her sister, Olivia de Havilland. Nevertheless, Fontaine’s beauty, grace, glamour, and understated elegance in her performances on-screen will forever be admired and celebrated.

Olivia de Havilland die on July 26, 2020, at the age of 104. We share the same birthday, July 1st.

Joan Fontaine passed away on December 15, 2013, at the age of 96. She left behind a legacy of iconic performances and a lasting impact on Hollywood’s golden era.


There is much in my life that might make me the envy of many … fame, fortune, romance, self-expression, and independence. Yet I have found no lasting romance, no marriage that I could salvage without jeopardizing my own happiness or freedom, my own brand of integrity. My career is the result of opportunity and luck as much as anything.

[1985] I have no family ties anymore, so I want to work. I was trying to keep busy. I had a big house to furnish and a wonderful garden to create. I do needlepoint to the ceiling. I still host an interview show for cable in New York. I lecture all over the country. But it wasn’t enough. My theory is that if you stay busy, you haven’t time to grow old. Or at least you don’t notice it.

[1985] I rarely watch television. When you live in New York, as I did for 25 years, you don’t have time. I was out every night at premieres or operas, or if I was at home, I was entertaining. TV is for married couples and their children who have nothing left to say to each other. Conversation has become a lost art.

[1985] At my time in life, I don’t want to do bit parts. Also, Rosalind Russell once said, “Always escape the mother parts.” And I’ve avoided them.

Fast Facts:

Made her screen debut in 1935’s No More Ladies billed as Joan Burfield; has also used the name, Joan St John

She and Olivia de Havilland were the first sisters to win Oscars and the first ones to be Oscar-nominated in the same year, 1941 (Joan won for Suspicion and Olivia was nominated for Hold Back the Dawn)

Co-starred with her mother in Ivy (1947) and The Bigamist (1953)

The autobiography No Bed of Roses was published in 1978

Was vice-president of the Episcopal Actors’ Guild of America

Had a hole-in-one at both California’s Cypress Point and Carmel Valley Golf Clubs

Was a licensed interior decorator and a licensed pilot

Was a recipient of the Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitarian Award


1943 Oscar-Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role: nominated
1941 Oscar-Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role: winner
1941 National Board of Review-Best Acting: winner
1941 New York Film Critics Circle-Best Actress: winner
1940 Oscar-Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role: nominated
1940 National Board of Review-Best Acting: winner


John-“Alice have you ever read any fairy tales? There’s one about a princess. She was very beautiful. She lived in a beautiful castle. Had a beautiful garden. But her fairy godmother warned her not to do one thing. There was a particular flower in that garden that she wasn’t to pick. If she did… she’d lose everything. Her beauty, her castle… everything. Alice– “I don’t get the point”. John –“Alice princess… don’t touch that flower please” Alice- “Oh please don’t be silly they only write fairy stories to keep children out of mischief.”


These Alfred Hitchcock’s teleplays are usually morality driven, with a healthy heaping spoonful of irony and a smear of poetic justice served up on a cold platter… if even only off-screen as delivered by our jovial & quite cheeky host.

We have to ask ourselves in this teleplay is it a woman-in-peril narrative or is it a women-who-put-herself-in-peril narrative? And you may ask Alice’s husband John… why not just walk away. Get a divorce. Was this a mercy killing as if Alice were a sick animal? Ti’s a very uncomfortable commentary that Rebecca West reckons with.

In 1935, Edith Walton reviewed the story in The New York Times and had this to say – “a curiously fascinating yarn, which… makes its heroine so obnoxious that one gleefully assents to murder.”

As a housewife, Fontaine is insufferably injecting herself into the lives of everyone she knows – from friends and relatives to her husband’s business associates. John is a lawyer who though often embarrassed by her impossible performances of propriety, loves her nonetheless. Oblivious to the fact that her constant efforts to “improve” everyone was driving them away, Fontaine would traumatize people with her harsh and cruel observations. Joan Fontaine, many a time her on-screen persona is gentile and refined, vulnerable and soft, however in The Paragon she gives a cringe-worthy performance as Alice Pemberton that gets under your skin, which is the point.

It clearly shows Fontaine’s range – realizing uncomfortably self-conscious and timorous damsels in Jane Eyre, Rebecca, and Suspicion, to inhabitant the role of femme fatale in Born to Be Bad, and not to this torturous upper middle-class vampire – a sucker of people’s joy.

One day, Alice has a strange vision of her own death, and while John dismisses her she is certain that the vision is real, that she’s in danger and death is coming for her.

Alice is an annoyance. She can be venomous, yet childlike. She is the acme of perfection, the paragon, and the bane of all family and friends as she cannot keep her opinions to herself.

She meddles in everyone’s business in a childlike manner as if she innocently means the best for them. But her altruism has sharp teeth and grows to pathological proportions as she alienates everyone around her, even her husband who loves her dearly. He compares her to a fairy in a story. Of that of a princess who is warned not to do just one thing, and did it anyway.

John is a man who adores his wife and sees her as a willful child who just can’t seem to behave. He’s torn between his affection and devotion to the beautifully generous woman he fell in love with and his sense of duty to the others around them whom she’s hurting with her barbs veiled in helpful suggestions, intrusions, and judgmental interferences.

Throughout the narrative, the stalwart John tries to guide Alice away from doing the things that continue to push people away and poison the well of her relationship with the family and others until it just seems as if there’s nothing else that can be done…

Despite her resigned and long-suffering husband Merrill’s attempts to point out her behavior, she remained unyielding, leading Merrill to lose all his friends and clients. John comes home with a mysterious drug called Hexitone and tells Alice that it is a painkiller. Eventually, with no other way out, he resorted to poisoning Fontaine.

The Paragon manages to hurt the heart because while recognizing the vexing behavior of the leading lady, it’s hard to negotiate the end justifying the means. While a story about Alice’s childlike destructive narcissism and poisonous tongue that betrays her well-meaning intentions, it’s her disparaging soul that is pathologically compelled to help/hurt manage/destroy the ones she loves… it’s also a testament to Joan Fontaine’s acting that it leaves one aching! Unless watching the darkness close in around her leaves you coldly unmoved.

The Paragon was first broadcast on February 8, 1963. Directed by Jack Smight and written for the screen by Alfred Hayes adapted from a story by British author Dame Rebecca West.
Hayes’s teleplay managed to stay true to West’s original story and managed to add the necessary conventional flourishes television demanded of its mystery and suspense format.

Cinematographer John L. Russell who worked on Hitchcock’s Psycho 1960 and The Man from Planet X 1951 and The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms 1953, also did the camerawork for 21 of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour series and 10 episodes of Boris Karloff’s Thriller including 2 of the finest -The Cheaters and Parasite Mansion.

Russell seems to magically capture a shadowland, a borderland where the dreamworld and the lucid world lose touch with each other as Alice tries to make sense of her intangible claustrophobia. Lyn Murray’s soul-stirring score runs like a ghost haunting the halls of the episode, with a melody, a motif you’ll hear in several of the series episodes, that only augments the story’s emotional understanding of the situation.

The Paragon stars the enchanting Joan Fontaine as the saccharin tyrant Alice Pemberton and the very amiable Gary Merrill as her husband John Pemberton. Stoic and bewildered John Pemberton.

Alice tells John about her phantasm, which he believes is her imagination. Alice doesn’t see John taking a vial out of his jacket pocket and studying it.

Hayes strategically features the medicine bottle in several close-ups throughout the hour-long episode, ensuring that viewers remain aware of its presence. The label reveals that the drug, Hexitone, is actually methohexitone – a powerful barbiturate used as an anesthetic in the late 1950s.

When Alice eventually discovers the vial, we’re treated to yet another close-up of the label.

There are several uncomfortable scenes that showcase Alice’s intolerable treatment of various family members and friends.

The story opens like this:

Alice Pemberton is visiting her mother when she has a recurring nightmare. An amorphous shadow moves toward her emerging out of the blowing lace curtains, a giant transparent black veil that is threatening to catch her in its net.

The curtains in Alice’s room rustle as the ominous shape begins to form. A menacing shadow lurking… perhaps a portent of things to come? Russell frames Fontaine in close-up, lying in bed, a princess having a night terror. A nightmarish eclipse threatens to swallow her up.

Hayes places the nightmare that Alice relates to John later on in the story and repositions it at the beginning of the episode which already triggers an immediate sense of apprehension and augury. Russell’s camerawork creates an effect shot of her frightened face that is superimposed over her frozen in bed. It is a waking nightmare.

As it threatens to envelop her she calls out her husband John’s name. Her mother rushes in.

“Alice, what is it?”
“It happened again”
“Poor darling. Is it some kind of nightmare?”
“Well, I’m in bed, and the curtains move and they begin to billow when there isn’t any wind and something comes from behind them.”
“Some thing?”
“A shadow or something… dark… something horrible. I wait and it moves nearer and I can’t move and I know it’s going to destroy me!… that’s odd. The curtains I keep seeing in my nightmare. I just realized… they’re the ones in my bedroom at home.”

There is a scene where he goes to the public library and looks up the details of the barbiturate drug Hexitone, which alerts him that an accidental overdose can cause coma or death.

“Mother, didn’t I throw that dressing gown in the rubbish? You must have got it out again. What happened to the new dressing gown I brought you? Didn’t you like it?
“Oh yes, very much. Oh, maybe the color.’’
‘’I chose dark brown.
“Oh yes, it’s a lovely dark brown. Very suitable. But maybe it’s the cut.’’
‘’ It’s exactly like the one I saw Mrs. Milford wear’’
’Oh yes, and Mr Milford is such a good preacher I’m sure his mother must be very proud of him.’
‘’Well, I’m sure she wouldn’t be wearing a thing like that out in the front garden, And making jokes with the postman’’
‘’Oh darling do I really look so dreadful. Don’t you worry about your old mother darling She’s past redemption.’’

When she gets home she comments on the fact that Ethel has dusted and tidied up but accuses her of having a phone call from her mother warning her that she was coming home early. Ethel defends herself and says that she always keeps the house just the way she sees it – all the time she’s been away.

“Ethel… You sure my mother didn’t telephone you?’’
‘’I told you, Mrs. Pemberton. The phone hasn’t rung all morning.”’

Next Alice visits her sister Madge, opening the curtains and thrusts the room into daylight when she was trying to sleep. Alice immediately complains that the maid didn’t greet her at the door. Madge explains that she let her maid go because she can’t afford one. “Of course, you can. Does Walter expect you to clean your own house? “Well, I’ve been cleaning it.’’

Alice starts to tidy up. She asks how their mother was doing. “Oh, she’s alright She always seems perfectly happy just muddling along.’’

Madge defends their mother- ’’Oh I don’t think she does much muddling, I think she knows how she likes to live and she lives that way.”

Madge’s children come home. She tells Alice not to encourage her daughter Betty (Susan Gordon), who tells her she wrote a composition. “I prayed for you to get well.”  and that the composition was about what she wanted to be when she grows up. And I said a missionary.’’Oh, what a nice ambition.’’ “I’m going to go to the islands and I” ll convert all the natives. ‘’

Madge is horrified ‘’All right Betty that’s enough.” She asks Aunt Alice if she really does have to go and change her clothes. Alice tells her that she looks absolutely fine and contradicts her sister. “I’m your mother, not Aunt Alice.”

“You see what happens. I’ve asked you Alice please Alice not to talk to Betty so much about religion.’’ ‘’Why not?’’ ‘’It’s not healthy.’’ ’Oh that’s nonsense Don’t you want your children to be taught any religion.”
‘Of course, I do but when a ten-year-old says she wants to be a missionary in Timbuktu that’s exhibitionism’.’
’Don’t be so scientific If you brought your children up in an old fashioned way instead of being so liberal with them.’’ ’They’re my children Alice.’’ ’Yes obviously from their manners.’’ ’And what’s wrong with my children’s manners?” ‘’Well look at Jeffrey.’ ‘’Well, what about Jeffrey?’’ ‘’Well, I’m not as modern as you are. Well I mean isn’t there something just a little bit sissy about him. Clinging to you like that.’’ ‘’He’s five years old. Why should he cling to me I’m his mother?”’

She complains that he was clinging and kissing her without even saying hello to her. She tells her she’d be worried about her son, but she tells Alice she worries more worried about Betty.

Alice has done her damage. Her hit-and-run damage. Now she’s off to see her brother Leo. Before Alice leaves Madge tries to embrace her just like when they were kids. Alice, uncomfortable with her sister’s gesture of affection moves away, then tells her that she’s looking tired and should have Walter get her some help.

Alice arrives at her next target, her brother Leo’s house. She walks right into the house without knocking and finds her nephew Collin sitting on the steps reading. He’s wearing thick glasses which is framed in a way to tell us he’s a solitary bookworm. He is visibly startled by her sudden appearance. He obviously is intimated by her. Disturbed, he sits up and recoils when he sees her. He says nothing, “It’s me your Aunt Alice. Well, can’t you see me?”
He walks up the stairs to get away from her.“Collin, if you don’t stop reading you’re not going to have any eyes at all.”

She begins to tell her brother Leo who’s a doctor about his being ill and that she was reading in a medical journal about it. Evie his wife immediately tries to get him out of the house to protect him from Alice’s weaponizing her attentiveness to his health. She reminds him that he has a patient who is waiting on his house call. Alice even gives him a hard time about Mrs Dickinson even though she’s bedridden, and asks why can’t she come to the office. She also doesn’t like the sound of his cough. He leaves Evie to deal with it.“Leo of all people. He’s a doctor. He of all people should know how to take care of himself.” Evie tells her, “We’re all doing the best we can, Alice.”’

She leaves broken people in the wake of her passive-aggressive vituperations.

She complains about Evie having a button missing, hinting no, coming out and telling her that it’s a sign of her character and that Collin needs a haircut, that is if he can get his nose out of a book long enough. Evie tells Alice that they’re very proud that Collin likes to read.

As Alice says goodbye she remarks about the beautiful afternoon, “Aren’t John and I lucky not to have any worries? Isn’t it wonderful to be at peace with oneself in the world of course (Alice never takes a breath) It’s partly my doing I would have worries if I gave into them, but I never do. Oh look at me I’m counting my blessing when you have so much to do.’’ Alice not even having taken her black gloves off touches Evies’s face. Cued up by the strident strings and quiet but angry horns, Evie slams the front door. Alice’s words like locusts have left her home.

Alice is home with John now. “Oh, darling I’m so glad you’re here. Everyone’s been so horrid. Why is it that nobody wants to be happy or enjoy life except me?’’ ‘’ poor baby nobody understands you, do they?… ‘Except you’’ she kisses him. John obviously adores her.

Later there is a very intimate scene between the two of them, “I’ve kissed you, but you haven’t kissed me.” Alice “You said something under your breath like forgive me. Why should I forgive you? What have you done? “I didn’t mean anything.”

“Have you been unfaithful to me?” She smiles and touches his nose affectionately
He tells her, I couldn’t be even if I wanted to I’ve thought of nothing but you all the time you were away. You’ve haunted me.”

Alice is like the specter of judgment, the murmur of perfectionism that haunts everybody’s lives.

“What do I have to forgive you for?

”Oh, I guess I was just asking you to forgive me for being what I am and for doing what I don’t. Just as you might ask me to forgive you for being you.”

She complains about Mr. Norton coming over to play cards. His wife is 30 years younger than him. He tells her that he likes Norton “Alice promise me you won’t me you won’t say anything at dinner.” She asks, ”About what? ‘’ ‘‘Don’t give Norton any advice Don’t tell him how wonderful old age is Just let him have his dinner and play cards will you.’… And don’t talk too much. Promise me.’’

John’s friend Mr. Norton is a very wealthy businessman and Johns would like him to be a new client. That’s why he asked him over for dinner and to play cards, but he leaves early. Norton says to Alice after she puts John down about his terrible memory, that that’s very human. He comments, in a subtle way that he finds her offputting. ‘You’re a very unusual person.’’
‘’ Heavens Mr. Norton you mustn’t flatter me I’m a very simple person.’‘’On no my dear anything but simple.’’

John tells her that Norton is rich and might have given him all his business. Alice doesn’t think he’ll change his mind because of her. She assures him, “I simply said that you’d gotten over all those bad habits.’’  ”Yes, you’ve told him that too.”

He tells her, that perhaps a man like Norton who thinks she might have to look after him, ‘like I’m feeble-minded, might not be a very reliable lawyer to give his business to.’ She says he should have dropped a hint at dinner so she could have told him a wonderful lawyer he is. But the point is John feels that Norton would like to find that out for himself.

Alice in her grandiose cloud of egoism, is cheerful even when surrounded by John’s emotional unrest due to her unrelenting interference.

He tells her he needs the business as he has so few clients and no one comes to see him anymore. She starts to tell him it’s the town, but he grabs the brass fire poker away from her. She looks surprised “It’s not this town!” (It’s her).

“For my sake, promise me and this time keep your promise to leave Madge and Walter alone and that includes Evie and Leo.”

Later on, when John asks Alice to promise to leave her sister alone, in a telling moment that foreshadows the story’s fatalism that says, this woman is incurable, John smiles and says, “‘I might do something violent if you don’t [leave them alone]… [I might] murder you.'”

John-“Alice have you ever read any fairy tales? There’s one about a princess. She was very beautiful. She lived in a beautiful castle. Had a beautiful garden. But her fairy godmother warned her not to do one thing. There was a particular flower in that garden that she wasn’t to pick. If she did… she’d lose everything. Her beauty, her castle… everything. Alice– “I don’t get the point”. John –“Alice princess… don’t touch that flower please” Alice- “Oh please don’t be silly they only write fairy stories to keep children out of mischief.”

“listen to me carefully. Don’t look at me through the mirror, look at me.”

“I want you to listen to me very carefully because I’m going to tell you the truth. Alice I’m going to tell you the truth about yourself and I’m gonna do it right now. Because tomorrow it might be too late. Alice, you’re a wonderful person You’re the salt of the earth in the ten years I’ve been married to you I’ve never known you to do anything dishonorable You’d hold your hand in a hot fire for someone you love. You’d give away your last nickel for someone in your family. I know that And I know that now that you’ve found out Madge is broke you’ll shower her with presents. Shower! (He laughs) you’ll drown her. You’ll be so generous with her that she’ll grit her teeth every time the postman delivers another package.

Alice “That’s a strange thing to say’’

“What I’m trying to say Alice is that nobody likes having salt rubbed into their wounds ‘’
“’ Salt rubbed into their wounds
You never give up an opportunity to make people feel inferior You insist on managing their lives and then you expect them to be grateful.”

“Madge has been talking against me hasn’t she?’’

‘’No what I’m trying to tell you Alice is that you hurt people, You hurt them continually and intolerably You find out everybody’s vulnerable points and then you shoot arrows into it. Sharp poison arrows. You find out what allows people to survive and you kill it…’’

Alice can’t hear a word John is saying. She is drunk with her domestic, moral tyranny.

“I’m back to where I was before you went away.”
”I’m tired you know how talking exhausts me… oh and darling do tell Ethel to bring up my cocoa.”

She asks him about the tube of white powder she found in his jacket. He tells her that he got it from Leo to help him sleep. “Does it help? “If you know the right dose.”

Of course, she complains about Ethel leaving finger marks all over the silver pot. That it takes all her time just looking after her.

Not taking a breath while complaining about Ethel, he walks out of the room for a moment to get the vile, so he can put the Hexatone in her cocoa. She begins to sip from the cup.

“This brand tastes worst than the last.” Although it tastes odd she drinks it. He sits in his chair across the bed and watches her drink it. He washes the cup and saucer and rinses out the pot. “Whatever for?” “I don’t really know. Won’t help. But I don’t care.”

She drinks the lethal cup of cocoa now doomed to relive the moody opening sequence with the waves of darkness closing in on her. The cup is framed in close-up, once again it is a nod to Hitchcock’s Suspicion when Cary Grant brings the glass of milk up the stairs.

Alice settles into bed as John rinses out the cup. John sits in the dark. He quietly sits in a chair across the room and lights up a cigarette, waiting for Alice to fall asleep into a fatal slumber. He sits watching over her, almost oddly murderously compassionate, though he is killing her.

Alice begins to feel and see the same suffocating blackness as she did at the opening of the piece. She begins to have her night terror and calls out for John. The darkness consumes her. Fade to black -The beginning and the end of the story come full circle. The darkness returns.

The gloom that prophesied her death. It is chilling as it is melancholy.

Alfred Hitchcock, Fritz Lang, or Jean Renoir could have directed this bit of psychologically intense thriller with its disturbing surreal opening sequence that melds so well with Lyn Murray’s and Robert Drasnin’s magnificently haunting melodies. It’s a heart-wrenching episode with a powerful performance by Joan Fontaine who slips in and out of a surreal revelation that there is no redemption, it’s way too late…

The score works most powerfully in this episode as if it has its own lurking conscience, the shadow that hovers over Alice. The story itself plays out like a fairytale as the ending is quite severe, and although Alice deserves a swift kick in the arse for being so hurtful and shooting those arrows into people’s wounds as John told her, does she deserve this ending to the story? By now in these films isn’t it obvious not to drink the warm milk or the cocoa as it were…


Alfred Hayes continued his streak of adapting stories by distinguished authors for the small screen, following his adaptation of Sir V.S. Pritchett’s story The Wheelbarrow which was turned into Bonfire for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour that stars Peter Falk and two of our leading ladies, Patricia Collinge and Dina Merrill.

This time, he adapted a story by Dame Rebecca West for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, as per the producers’ trend of seeking out works by acclaimed authors.

The episode, titled “The Paragon,” aired on CBS on February 8, 1963, and was based on West’s story “The Salt of the Earth,” originally published in two parts in the March and April 1934 issues of Woman’s Home Companion. It was later included in West’s 1935 collection of short novels, The Harsh Voice. Interestingly, this wasn’t the first adaptation of the story for television, as it had been adapted four times previously: on

Actor’s Studio, May 12, 1949, written by Elizabeth Hart
The Revlon Mirror Theater, June 30, 1953
Encounter, January 4, 1955, written by Elizabeth Hart
Playdate, November 29, 1961, written by Elizabeth Hart

This is your EverLovin’ Joey saying don’t drink the cocoa unless you make it yourself!

Coming up in Part 3

Gena Rowlands & Nancy Kelly in The Lonely Hours, Betty Fields in The Star Juror, Laraine Day in Death and the Joyful Woman, Anna Lee in Last Seen Wearing Blue Jeans, Doris Lloyd in The Dark Pool, Diana Dors in Run for Doom, Anne Baxter in A Nice Touch, Katharine Ross in The Dividing Wall, Kim Hunter in The Devil of Adelaide Winters, and Margaret Leighton & Juanita Moore in Where the Woodbine Twineth.

5 thoughts on “It’s the pictures that got small! – “Good Evening” Leading Ladies of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour Part 2

Leave a Reply