It’s the pictures that got small! – “Good Evening” Leading Ladies of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour Part 4

See PART 1 & 2 & 3 Here

💥SPOILERS

*The Lonely Hours -Gena Rowlands & Nancy Kelly- s1e23 – aired May 8, 1963

Gena Rowlands Bio:

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.” -bfi.org.uk

“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.

Minnie works in a museum and has never forgiven the movies for selling her a bill of goods. “The movies lead you on,” she tells her friend Florence. “They make you believe in romance and love . . . and, Florence, there just aren’t any Clark Gables, not in the real world. Still, Minnie dreams, and keeps a romantic secret locked in her heart: She’s glad the movies sold her that bill of goods. (Roger Ebert)

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

From an interview with Matt Zoler Seitz – talking about A Woman Under the Influence-

“That was my favorite movie. I loved doing that movie. I loved it because I loved working with Peter Falk, I loved the mix of comedy in it, that was sort of real comedy. 

The film was about a woman who was obsessed with the love of her husband, for her husband. And he was a regular guy, worked for the city, had to do his work at night, or in daytime when there was a call for it. She plans so heavily for a romantic night, gets her mother to take her children over to her house, gets house in tiptop shape—she was a woman who was really obsessed. Then he got a call that the water line had broken and had to call her and say that he couldn’t come home later, and then he came back the next morning with all of his friends, and she was very happy to see him to offer them all breakfast, but mostly because she wanted to please him always, and she offers to make them spaghetti. Do you remember that scene?

Yes, I remember the spaghetti scene. Everybody remembers that scene, it was a great scene.

”It’s so wonderful to do a scene like that, where it feels so true. You can tell a lot about her in that scene. You see that everything she did was to please him…

I also liked the fact that in that film, I was a little wacko, but my husband understood that and he loved me, and it didn’t bother him that I was as strange as I could be. When I have this terrible breakdown and have to go away for a while, leave him and my children, oh—that’s a hard scene. We’re showing a hard moment in a person’s life, a terribly hard moment. Then she comes back and they try to make it easy for her as possible. It’s just so good, all the scenes.”

As Myrtle Gordon, Rowlands gives another masterful performance in Cassavetes’ Opening Night portraying a successful stage actress’s ‘final agony of bottoming out’ (Ebert), 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.

Gena Rowlands in Opening Night 1977.

Rowlands plays the role “At perfect pitch: She is able to suggest, even in the midst of seemingly ordinary moments, the controlled panic of a person who needs a drink, right here, right now.” (Roger Ebert)

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.

“The scenes in which Myrtle in Opening Night consults first one and then another spiritualist are typical of Cassavetes’ genius in filming madness. He gives us characters who are clearly breaking apart inside, and then sends them hurtling around crazily in search of quick fixes and Band-Aids. (In “Love Streams,” the hard-drinking Cassavetes surrounds himself with hookers, while Sarah (Rowlands), as his sister, fills a taxicab with animals she has “rescued” from a pet store; in “A Woman Under the Influence,” a crowd of basket cases sit down to eat a big dinner that has been whipped together under the delusion that life is normal and everybody is having a great time.” Roger Ebert

Gena Rowland in Gordon Douglas’ Tony Rome 1967.

In Gloria 1980 directed by John Cassavetes, a film Rowlands considers a ‘gangster comedy’ gets to play the hard-edged gun moll she would have perfected in the best film noirs of the 1940s. The film takes an unexpected approach to motherhood- as 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. ‘‘I don’t want to be a victim! Victim, that’s passe, I’ve played a victim. I don’t want to be a victimized, you know, a victimized person again…This is a victimized person isn’t it?’  he assures her -‘’ No, it’s not a victimized person. A very strong person. You’re not a victim, you’re an ‘anti-victim.” ”Good, don’t get it in your mind that I’m a victim!’” (Rowlands from a conversation with husband John Cassavetes).

Cassel and Rowlands in Minnie and Moskowitz in 1971.

Gloria for Gena Rowlands is where she gives flight her roles rooted in vulnerability and deep psychological storms. In the film, she attains ascendency and puts a gun to the head of the personal victimization, and defies some of her older collaborative roles with Cassavetes interpreted by instability and downward spirals. She wouldn’t allow herself to be trapped by stereotypes of ‘eccentric, middle-aged women.’ which was a role that established her on-screen persona in the 1970s.

“Love is a stream. It is continuous. It doesn’t stop.”

In 1984’s Love Streams, directed by John Cassavetes, Gena Rowlands portrays Sarah Lawson, a character whose life has been unexpectedly upended when she finds herself in the midst of a divorce from her husband Jack, portrayed by Seymour Cassel.

Adding to her pain, her young daughter Debbie (Risa Martha Blewitt) chooses to live with her father instead. At a time when she questions whether she is worthy of love, experiencing an emotional breakdown she reaches out to her brother Robert (Cassavetes).

Rowlands objected to Cassavete’s script finding herself once again playing a ‘victimized person’, but he assured her that Sarah was truly strong.

Sarah’s divergence from the past ‘madwoman archetype’ is in her resilience from her earlier roles in the 70s – as Mabel in A Woman Under the Influence whereas her therapist in Love Streams has a similar commentary that her love is “too strong for her family,’’

And unlike Minnie who is stripped down by Cassel in Minnie and Moskowitz in 1971, and Myrtle Gordon whose mind becomes fractured during the New York premiere of her play in Opening Night, Sarah comes to a reckoning about how love flows and can be reached. And no one but Rowlands could compel heartache to emerge out of a smile.

Source Andrew Key

Source Chris Wiegand The Guardian

Source: RogerEbert.Com

Nancy Kelly Bio:

Actress of radio, stage, film, and television, Nancy Kelly with her whisky voice became a Hollywood child actress who performed alongside Gloria Swanson she was talented enough to appear on Broadway in a revival of Macbeth Macbeth in 1926 and was Tyrone Power’s leading lady in John Ford’s western Jesse James 1939. And cast in the lead role in the low-budget horror movie about a woman who claims the is the reincarnation of a witch burned at the stake 300 years ago in Woman Who Came Back 1945. Having worked on the radio on The March of Time between 1932-37 and appearing on stage drawing great reviews for her performances as Blossom in Susan of God and for Clifford Odets’s The Big Knife, and Season in the Sun 1950, her most unforgettable role was as Christine Penmark, Rhoda’s (Patty McCormack gave a delirious performance as the sociopathic Rhoda) mother in director Mervyn LeRoy’s psychological drama The Bad Seed 1956.

Nancy Kelly in John Ford’s Jesse James 1939.

Kelly’s performance is a riveting at times cringeworthy examination of a mother cornered by maternal conflict when she discovers that her seemingly innocent little blonde angel is in fact a cold-blooded psychopathic murderer.

“virtually everyone in the film becomes so fantastically abnormal that it grows ridiculous and grotesque. Little Patty McCormack, who plays the murderer, not only acts with incredible sang-froid but she also postures with such calculation that it is hard to see how anyone could mistake her show of innocence for a fraud.” – Bosley Crowther

Nancy Kelly wore the role of Rhoda’s mother in both the theatrical Broadway, 1954-55 stage production and the adaption to the big screen.

Walter Kerr of the New York Herald Tribune wrote of her Tony Award-winning stage performance:

“Though Miss Kelly has done attractive work on Broadway before, she has never really prepared us for the brilliance of the present portrait” (Walter Kerr-New York Times, January 14, 1995).

In contrast to Kerr’s take on Kelly’s performance, the often unforgiving Bosley Crowther wrote this scathing assessment of her work in the film:

“Nancy Kelly makes the mother of this child so saturnine and so foolishly fatalistic that her outbursts of frenzy toward the end when little darling coolly compounds her murders, deprive her of the sympathy she should have. This reviewer had the inhuman feeling that this poor woman oddly got what she deserved.”

In 1956, she was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Actress for her performance in The Bad Seed but lost to Ingrid Bergman in Anastasia.

Kelly dove effectively into television starting in the 1950s by appearing in episodes of Studio One, Playhouse 90, Climax!, Suspicion, Alcoa Theatre, and a particularly tense performance as Janet Willson who is daunted by an unseen manic during one dark rainy night in

As sure as my name is MonsterGirl, this is a Boris Karloff Thriller! “The Storm”

The Boris Karloff’s Thriller episode The Storm. She also appeared in the Edmund O’Brien series Sam Benedict, Medical Center, and her next last appearance in Jack Palance’s underappreciated cop show Bronc. And lastly, the made-for-TV movie Murder at the World Series in 1977.

She died in 1995 of complications from diabetes at the age of 73.

NANCY KELLY DIALOGUE:

Vera-“Michael and I are leaving now Mrs Henderson, I’m taking him home with me. Oh, I am sorry for you because I think in your own way, you’ve grown really fond of my baby. But you see Michael is my child. I’ve known that from the very beginning….”

SYNOPSIS:

Amidst the chaos of family, confusion, and anxiety, Murray’s music is tragically beautiful and stretches you in deep places.

Directed by Jack Smight this is perhaps one of the most disturbing yet poignant performances for  Nancy Kelly The Bad Seed 1956 as Mrs. J. A. Williams/Vera Brandon alongside Gena Rowland as housewife Louise Henderson. Louise finds herself in conflict with the cryptic Vera Brandon who lives under the cloud of delusion, and despair.

Joan Harrison had envisioned a narrative that is entirely woman-centered, and the story is framed within the world of women, a tribalization of motherhood, viewed through the eyes of women and by using an all-female cast.

The episode which is driven by a sense of extreme unease was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Program – Drama. It is considered to be one of the best episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.

Joyce Van Patten is delightful, playing Louise’s next-door neighbor Grace, and it’s always fun to see her do anything. Juanita Moore has a bit part as Mrs. McFarland. And character actress Jesslyn Fax plays the landlady, Miss McGuiness.

Based on a novel by Celia Fremlin called The House Before Dawn with a screenplay by William Gordon, and a most extraordinary soundtrack music by composer Lyn Murray.

The Lonely Hours features the work of two masterful actresses, Rowlands who is solid and intuitively manages to tap into the wavelength that something is just not right with Kelly’s character. Nancy Kelly, while a menacing figure who threatens Rowland’s breezy yet frenetic suburban world, manages to come across as a sympathetic, damaged woman who is haunted by loss.

It is perhaps one of the most intense teleplays, the story and its performances of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour series, aside from perhaps Teresa Wright’s performance in Lonely Place, interesting that both titles include loneliness as their theme.

The Hendersons had considered renting a room upstairs to a student to bring in extra money. Louise’s husband is out of the picture for the entire episode except when Louise invokes his existence during their sparse one-sided phone calls.

When the curious Vera Brandon shows up looking for a quiet room to rent in order to finish her thesis, she spots Louise’s little boy Lonnie and the camera catches her fixating on him in his high chair. It strikes us as well, that little Lonnie has dark curly hair, looking more like he’d be the saturnine Vera Brandon’s child than the polished blonde Louise.

Once the dangerous, deranged Vera Brandon moves in the suspense begins.

but first…

The episode opens with Tchaikovsky blasting on the record player. Rowlands is on the phone trying to make arrangements and going over the minutia of life, taking care of the house and her two little girls who are a distraction running around. Nancy Kelly walks in on the din of the crazy life of an upper-middle-class housewife.

Though obviously a tireless mother and housewife, Louise Henderson is purely flawless, dashing around the kitchen serving breakfast, feeding her 7-month-old little boy named Lonnie, and keeping tabs on her girls, she still manages to look like the cover of Good Housekeeping with her chic sleeveless dress and fetchingly coifed golden hair. The telephone rings and it’s her husband calling long distance, he is away on a business trip and will be gone for another week.

The harried Louise is trying to wrangle the precocious and imaginative girls, one of them is Joyce Van Patten who comes over most days to play. All three keep her busy while her husband is away on business. We never meet him, he is a phantom on the phone to us.

Miss Vera Brandon (Kelly) enters comely, polite, tailored, and a bit more old-fashioned, she is a bit of a contrast next to Louise who is more bourgeois and chic. The girls let her in while their mom Louise is still talking on the phone. Vera Brandon already transforms the space as she begins to take control in tiny ways. She immediately turns off the record player, then she concentrates on Lonnie.

As Vera inquires about the room to let, and when Louise remarks that she and her husband had only been thinking about renting a room, Vera explains that someone at the university must have mentioned it. She explains to Louise (Rowlands) that she needs a quiet place to work on her thesis.

After seeing the room, which is a bit small and cluttered at first, Vera decides to rent the room for $30 a month.

Shortly after Vera Brandon moves in, Louise becomes very suspicious about the woman in her house and why she seems so engrossed in Lonnie.

In the next scene, Vera pulls up in front of a different house carrying a bassinet bundled up in blankets that she watchfully holds close to herself while she goes into this other secret apartment that she is renting under the name of Mrs. J.A. Williams.

Her landlady Miss McGuiness (character actress Jesslyn Fax known for Rear Window (1954), Kiss Me Deadly 1955 and The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1966) is renting it to the mysterious Miss Brandon for an extra month and has been told that it’s for her and her baby son Michael.

Something strikes us as off with the way she is holding the bassinet, we sense there is no baby. There is something tangible about Vera – she is deranged and may even be dangerous.

When Miss McGuinness knocks on Vera’s door she seems alarmed. She tells her that Michael is asleep and keeps her landlady at bay standing outside the door, but takes the toy from her that came in the mail that day. After she tells her that they’ll be staying longer and that she and the baby will be staying with a friend for a few days. Vera puts the toy next to the bassinet and the baby is revealed to be a doll.

Miss McGuiness seems curious about the baby peeking in the baby’s room just a little to try and catch sight of him. Miss Brandon takes out a brand new musical toy horse, winds it up, and places it by an almost lifelike baby doll covered in the blanket.

Later while having coffee together with Grace (Van Patton), Louise mentions that Miss Brandon knows her professor’s husband but she tells Louise that Vera Brandon’s name doesn’t mean a thing to her.
Although Miss Brandon said she knew Grace’s brilliant husband. Brandon also seemed to know both she and Mark are blondes. Vera Brandon is very dark like Lonnie who has very thick dark black hair.

Joyce Van Patten – “If this woman is going to arouse all your latent hostility why take her in?”
Rowlands “In the first place it wasn’t hostility It was idle curiosity and in the second place I need the extra money in the first place.”

Vera Brandon arrives with her suitcase, and Louise introduces her to her friend, Mrs. Grace Thorpe

in a telling moment, explains the topic of her doctoral dissertation to Grace, who looks on blankly and then turns and invites Louise to a fashion tea. Vera is portrayed as a slightly older, educated woman, who does not fit in among the vapid suburban housewives.

Grace (Joyce Van Patten)“Louise tells me that you’re writing your doctoral thesis.”

Vera “Hmm, I’m a few years behind my original schedule.”

Grace “In what field?”

Vera “Oh, I’m doing a comparative study of the effects of alien philosophy. I’m in history – Greek origins really.”

Perhaps allusions to the classical myth of Medea about the woman who murdered her children.

Grace looks completely struck dumb by Vera’s intellectual nitty gritty. She switches to a topic she’s more comfortable with and tells Louise that she really wants her to come to the fashion tea tomorrow and so Vera Brandon uses the opportunity to volunteer to watch Lonnie and Louise agrees to it.

Vera Brandon goes into Lonnie’s room while he’s fussing and she quiets him down, “I’m here now. I’m here with you and I’ll never leave you. I’ll never leave you – sshh Michael.” She holds Lonnie’s hand as he looks up smiling at her.

The next morning the girls joke that Miss Brandon is ‘a spy… a secret, atomic spy’ but Louise is used to the girls and their wild imaginations and the games they play with each other.

When Louise leaves for the fashion tea, Vera is left alone with Lonnie, and she is able to call him Michael. She drives him to her other home and now can freely show him off to her landlady, no longer a doll hidden in a blanket. Vera is thrilled when Miss McGuiness tells her that Michael is ‘just the image of you.’ Once inside, she takes Lonnie into the room she has turned into a nursery with a crib and toys. Vera’s neurotic motherly attachment to the baby only intensifies the tragic and disturbing nature of her actions.

We assume that Vera has finally taken off with Lonnie but at the end of the day she has returned to Louise’s home, Vera opens up Lonnie’s door. It is a surprise to us that she has brought him back to his mother. Louise finds Vera holding Lonnie very dearly.

The moment is a tense one and Louise seems disquieted by Vera’s attention on her son, then she sees the toy horse in the crib. “Where did this come from?” She asks the little horse. Vera Brandon tells her she bought it while she was out and that it has a music box and plays a lullaby. Louise seems visibly struck in a weird way. Her Intuition?

At night, Louise is reading in bed when she hears Lonnie crying. She goes to his room to find Vera holding him and walking back and forth, trying to comfort him. Louise gives Vera a quick lesson in parenting and Vera internalizes her antagonized by this.

cross Fade:

Late at night, Louise hears Lonnie crying. When she goes in to check on him she finds Vera Brandon holding him.

“I was awake Mrs. Henderson. I thought I might reach him before he disturbed your sleep.”

Louise seems vexed and grabs Lonnie from her arms and admonishes her.

Louise “It’s wrong to pick up a baby every time he cries, Miss Brandon. I’m trying to coax him to sleep through the night.” But she replies, “I think the baby is hungry Mrs. Henderson.”
Louise “I’m sure he is, I’ll take care of it. “

Vera Brandon looks wounded. Louise calls upon her maternal privilege to put Vera in her place.

Louise is quickly developing a more heightened sense of distrust, and drawing on her instincts that something’s off with this woman in her home.

Her girls find a little book with a few men’s names in it, including their father’s name. Louise assures her daughter that Miss Brandon is not a spy. But even her little girl notices that there’s something strange about Vera. And senses that her mother doesn’t like her.

Vera overhears that Mark will be home in a couple of days.

When Louise and Grace go out for the day and Lonnie is left with Katie, a babysitter that Louise specifically hired to watch Lonnie instead of Vera.

But Vera takes Lonnie out of the house again, telling Katie that Louise said it would be okay for her to take him out with her shopping. Vera takes Lonnie back to her secret apartment again.

When Louise returns home and finds Lonnie gone, Katie tells her, “Miss Brandon hasn’t come back yet.”
Louise “Yes I noticed her car was gone.”
Katie  (Willa Pearl Curtis) “But the baby’s with her.”
Louise “What!”
Katie ”Well Lonnie was fussy and she had some shopping to do, so she thought the fresh air might do him good.”
Louise yells “Katie!”
Katie “What, What’s wrong?”
Louise “Wrong! She has Lonnie”
Katie “Well she said it would be alright with you.” Shaking her head
Louise “Katie you had no right to do this.”
Katie “Do what?”
Louise “How could you let her take him out of your sight?”
Katie “Well she said it was alright with you.”
Louise “Katie I changed your day this week so you would be here with him YOU, not HER!”
Katie “But you never told me, Mrs. Henderson.”
Louise “Oh Katie.”

Grace “Louise Louise you’re falling apart.”

Louise “You haven’t seen anything yet!”

Grace “What are you going to do?”

Louise “I’m gonna call the police.”

Grace “Louise don’t you think you should find out what happened first before you make a fool of yourself?”

Vera Brandon walks in with Lonnie.

“Mrs. Henderson.”

Louise “Where have you been?’’

Vera Brandon “Surely Katie told you we went for a little walk.”

Louise “How dare you take my baby out of this house without my permission!”

Louise grabs him away from Vera Brandon. 
Vera Brandon “It just never occurred to me that it would upset you. I was out shopping and I found your little bakery. Well, we’d a been home earlier but I stopped to buy you some of that coffee cake you like so much.”

Louise looks over at Grace. Feeling guilty and Grace looks back like she believes that her friend has overreacted to a very nice gesture. She has embarrassed herself momentarily but trusts that she’s right about the situation and her suspicions about Vera Brandon.

Louise is snooping through the drawers in Vera’s bedroom and finds the small black book with three names and addresses in it and tears out the page. Her husband, Mark Henderson is one of them.

As Louise does some investigating she finds out that Vera Brandon has given three different reasons including her renting the room from her, for trying to get close to each of the three families, each with a boy 7 months old.

Louise goes in search of the two other names in the book. Looking for some answers and hoping to find a connection between the three people and Vera Brandon.

Louise hunts down Sandra Mathews, (Jackie Russell who appeared on episodes of Thriller and The Night Stalker, as well as the episode with Diana Dors- Run for Doom of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour) a young mother who accomplishes looking upbeat and snapping gum in her mouth while filling Louise in about her encounter with Vera Brandon. Sandra recalls that Vera came to the house when her baby was three months old to offer him a modeling contract. Robbie is a little blonde boy.

She tells Louise –“Oh yeah did she come after you too? That one with that baby modeling pitch?”

Louise “Well she’s rather tall and dark.”

Sandra “Yeah that’s her. She came around when Robby was about 3 months old. I told her when Robbie’s six months I’ll sign, but I didn’t expect to see her again.”

Louise “Why not?”

Wife “Well I mean my little guy’s real handsome, I mean a real doll, but this Miss Brandon hardly even looked at him. Like nothing.”

Next Louise goes to the McFarland Motel. There she meets Juanita Moore. Her son Joel is 7 months too, like Robbie and Lonnie.

Louise “I’m looking for some people name McFarland.”

Mrs. McFarland (Juanita Moore) “I’m Mrs. McFarland.”

Louise “Oh how do you do I’m Mrs. Henderson. Your name was given to me by Vera Brandon.”

Mrs. McFarland ‘‘Oh yes, I remember her.”

Louise “Was she working with a modeling agency?”

Mrs. McFarland “No, she didn’t mention that. She read my husband’s advertisement and telephoned for part-time secretarial work We’re in insurance and real estate, we run this Motel.”

Louise “But she never worked for you?”

Mrs. McFarland “She came by to see us but then she lost interest right away.”

Louise “Oh well thank you I won’t take any more of your time. Bye-bye Joel. He sure is a healthy looking one.”

Mrs. McFarland “He really is. I had him with me from the very first. I think it makes a difference.”

Louise “So did I. That’s why I love St. Dominics.”

Mrs. McFarland “St Dominic Hospital? That’s where I had Joel.”

Suddenly Gena has a flash, “St Dominics?”

She goes to the hospital and asks about the other two mothers she finds from the book and
questions the sister if she remembers a Vera Brandon. The sister tells her, there was a Vera but, “it wasn’t Brandon, it was Williams.” She goes to look at the records. Louise finds out that Vera lost her baby named Michael.

The sister, “Oh yes I remember her now. She was one of our sad ones. Her husband had deserted her and her baby died.”

Later on the phone with her invisible husband “Oh no Marc I’m not afraid, it’s just that I don’t want her here any longer.” Louise plans on gonna asking her to find another place to live.

Vera Brandon comes into the room once Louise hangs up with her husband, and informs Louise that she’s leaving. “Actually Mrs. Henderson I’d like to talk to you about the room. I do hope you won’t be offended, but I spend almost the entire afternoon looking for another place to live.”

Louise, “Well no, we said we’d try it, and if it didn’t work out.”

Vera Brandon “Well if it weren’t for my work I’d be pleased to stay, but I did see a place this afternoon that I think will be a little better for me.”

It seems that Vera is planning something with Lonnie and it’s about to happen.

Louise seems relieved, a light comes over her she doesn’t have to deal with this problem anymore –

Louise “When would you be leaving?”

Cinematographer John F. Warren always seems to frame the two women’s faces using low-key lighting to emphasize their eyes.

Gena Rowlands sparkles and Nancy Kelly is deep and sadly hollow. The dramatic exchange between these two marvelous actors throughout the episode is remarkable as it is disquieting.

Vera Brandon “Oh tomorrow, the weekend is a good time to get settled.”

She asks for a cup of coffee, then she laces it with sleeping pills to knock Louise out so she can grab Lonnie/Michael.

In Louise’s stupor -half sleep-half woozy from the drugs she hears Vera Brandon speak to her

“Michael and I are leaving now Mrs. Henderson. I’m taking him home with me. Oh, I am sorry, I really do feel sorry for you. I think in your own way you’ve grown really fond of my baby. But you see Michael is my child. I’ve known that from the very beginning. From that first day 7 months ago. See they brought me your baby and they told me it was mine. Oh, that poor pale weak little thing. But I knew they were lying.”

Louise figures out where Vera Brandon has taken Lonnie after the girls tell her that ‘the spy lady’ left her coat behind with a piece of paper with her address on the rent receipt in the pocket. She calls the police and tells them that Vera has kidnapped Lonnie, and Grace comes over for support.

Louise confronts Vera.

Louise “If you’ve harmed that baby.”
Vera “Harmed, you think I’d harm my own son.”
Louise “That baby’s not yours.”
Vera Mrs. Henderson everybody in this neighborhood knows my son. We’ve lived here for over a month. They know him at the candy store, they know him at the drug store, at the toy store, and even my own landlady knows him. “Would you like to talk to her?”
Louise Mrs. Williams, Miss Brandon, You’re Michael is dead.”
Vera “Your Lonnie is dead. Oh, I know how hard it is for you to face it. I know but you have a beautiful home and a lovely family.”
Louise “Hospitals don’t make mistakes.”
Vera “It was deliberate they meant to do it.”
Louise “No you’re wrong.”
Vera “No I was conscious every minute when Lonnie was delivered I saw him before he took his first breath I know. Mrs. Henderson, I don’t think there’s any point in continuing this. Now I want you to go away and I want you to stop annoying us and if you still persist in coming here I’m gonna have to take steps to see that you stop.”

Finally, a policewoman arrives pretending to come help clear everything up and to take Vera to the hospital to get the birth certificate for Michael so she can prove he is hers. She convinces Vera to come with her to St. Dominics.

The turmoil wakes up Lonnie but when Vera picks him up, she cannot quiet him, becoming frustrated she begins to shake him violently. Hysterical, Vera yells at him “What’s wrong with you!”

Vera speaks not to the two women, but to herself, “That’s another terrible thing that they’ve done, they’ve let him stay with them for all these months he doesn’t even know me.”

Louise comes out of the nursery holding the doll swathed in the blanket and offers him to Vera, “He’s quiet now.’ The pain of watching Vera Brandon quietly disassemble is unbearable to watch. His pain is palpable. She is lost in a state of agonizing delusion. Nancy Kelly’s performance is absolutely heart-wrenching.

The policewoman takes Lonnie and hands him to Louise, then there is a shot of the creepy lifelike doll sitting in a playpen.

Vera walks toward the door of her apartment, accompanied by the policewoman, and Louise returns to the nursery and holds Lonnie tightly in her arms.

CREDITS:

Starting in 1960, Gordon added writing for TV to his repertoire in addition to his acting career. He went on to pen scripts for a range of shows, such as Thriller, The Fugitive, and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, among others, until 1981. During this time, he also took on roles as story editor or consultant for various series, including The Fugitive, and directed a couple of TV shows. Moreover, Gordon produced a total of 32 episodes of The Fugitive. Among his notable writing credits are six teleplays for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, the first being “Bonfire,” co-written with Alfred Hayes. He followed up with “The Lonely Hours,” adapted from the novel The Hours Before Dawn.

In 1958, Celia Fremlin Gollar published her debut novel, The Hours Before Dawn, which she wrote during sleepless nights spent pushing her baby around London. Inspired by her own experience with parental sleeplessness, she crafted a story exploring this theme, which became her first published work.

The Hours Before Dawn was adapted for television for the first time as a live broadcast on the U.S. Steel Hour on September 23, 1959. The cast included Colleen Dewhurst as Vera, Mark Richman as Mark, Teresa Wright as Louise, and Jack Carter as another character, with Philip Lewis credited as the teleplay writer. Unfortunately, this live broadcast is now lost.
The second TV adaptation of Fremlin’s novel, titled “The Lonely Hours,” aired on CBS as part of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour on Friday, March 8, 1963. The teleplay was written by William D. Gordon.

Joyce van Patten plays Louise’s friend, Grace; she was a busy actress in film and television from 1946 to 2018 – Her TV roles included parts on The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, and The Odd Couple.

Alice Backes plays the policewoman at the end of the episode. She is a familiar face on television having worked in radio and then in film from 1948 to 1978. Her busy television career lasted from 1952 to 1997 and included roles in Boris Karloff’s Thriller, The Night Stalker, and six episodes of the Hitchcock series, including one of the most eerie, The Jar.

Willa Pearl Curtis plays the babysitter, Katie, this was the only episode of the Hitchcock show in which she appeared. She had a part in The Wages of Sin 1948 as the Bordello maid. She appeared in Second Chorus 1940 with Fred Astaire and Paulette Goddard, as Mrs. Wertheim’s Assistant in The Lost Weekend with Ray Milland 1945, also a maid in The Pirate 1948, and as Hannah Thomas in Native Son 1951.

Juanita Moore (1914-2014) as Mrs. McFarland, is featured in 3 of this series starring in Where the Woodbine Twineth. She plays the second woman whom Louise visits after seeing her husband’s name and number in Vera’s little black book; she had a six-decade career on screen from 1939 to 2001 and is best remembered for co-starring in Douglas Sirk’s remake of Imitation of Life (1959). She was also in four episodes of the Hitchcock series, including Where the Woodbine Twineth.

Playing the role of Miss McGuinness, Vera’s landlady, was Jesslyn Fax (1893-1975) who appeared on screen from 1950 to 1969. She had minor roles in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window (1954) and North By Northwest (1959), as well as on five episodes of Hitchcock’s TV show, including “Coming. Mama”. Fax also made an appearance on the TV show Batman.

Alice Backes plays the policewoman at the end. She had a busy career in television, including roles on Thriller, The Night Stalker, and six episodes of the Hitchcock series in particular the odd installment entitled The Jar.

Continue reading “It’s the pictures that got small! – “Good Evening” Leading Ladies of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour Part 4”

It’s the pictures that got small! – “Good Evening” Leading Ladies of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour Part 3

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

💥SPOILERS!

*The Star Juror Betty Field s1e24 aired March 15, 1963

Betty Field bio:

Betty Field and John Wayne in Shepard of the Hills 1941.

Betty’s fascination with the theatre was ignited in her early teenage years and led her to enroll at the American Academy of Dramatic Art by 1932. She marked her professional debut in 1933, performing in a summer stock production of “The First Mrs. Fraser,” and went on to secure stage roles in various locations. Her passion for theatre took her all the way to London, where she landed a job in a theatre production of “She Loves Me” at the beginning of 1934.

Her Broadway premiere, in November 1934, was as an understudy for the comedy “Page Miss Glory,” directed by George Abbott, in which she also played a minor role. Despite her rather unassuming appearance and distinct, monotone voice, Betty began to regularly perform in comedic plays, often under Abbott’s direction. She received high acclaim for her roles in plays such as “Three Men on a Horse” (1935), “Boy Meets Girl” (1936), “Room Service” (1937), and “The Primrose Path” (1939).

Paramount executives were impressed with Betty’s portrayal of Barbara, Henry Aldrich’s girlfriend, in the stage production of “What a Life” (1938), and they subsequently signed her to a seven-year contract after the play was adapted into a film in 1939. Throughout the 1940s, Betty played a variety of leading ingénue and supporting roles. One of her early career highlights was her performance as Mae, a farm girl, in the film adaptation of John Steinbeck’s classic novel “Of Mice and Men” (1939), which starred Burgess Meredith and Lon Chaney. However, despite her talent, Betty didn’t quite achieve stardom, partly due to her reserved demeanor and tendency to avoid the Hollywood scene.

Betty had the privilege of acting alongside some of Hollywood’s most esteemed leading men, such as Fredric March in “Victory” (1940) and “Tomorrow, the World!” (1944), John Wayne in “The Shepherd of the Hills” (1941), Robert Cummings in “Flesh and Fantasy” (1943), and Joel McCrea in “The Great Moment” (1944).However, her most remarkable performance was in the heart-wrenching role of the tormented daughter mistreated by her father, played by Claude Rains, in the classic drama “Kings Row” (1942).

Flesh and Fantasy was an eerie and whimsical part for her, she stars in one of the vignettes as Henrietta a dowdy woman who comes upon a mysterious mask during Mardis Gras and then goes to a party festooned with regalia, turbulence, and a romantic game of cat-and-mouse with the handsome Michael (Robert Cummings) A beautifully tragic tale of loneliness and the essence of what beauty is. The use of masks creates a nightmarish landscape of human disconnection.

From The Vault: Flesh & Fantasy (1943)

After delivering a powerful performance as Nona Tucker in the extraordinary depiction of Americana hardship lensed by impressionist director Jean Renoir (one of my favorite auteurs) – “The Southerner” (1945), Betty made the decision not to renew her contract with Paramount.

 

Zachary Scott and Betty Field in The Southerner 1945.

Instead, she took a hiatus from appearing in pictures and returned to her first love – the stage and Broadway. There, she appeared in distinguished plays like “The Voice of the Turtle” and “Dream Girl,” which was directed by her husband John Abbott, and won the New York Drama Critics Circle award in 1946. Her portrayal of Hedvig in Ibsen’s “The Wild Duck” also received critical acclaim.

Betty came back to work at Paramount cast as Daisy Buchanan in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby co-starring Alan Ladd. It wound up being a misadventure for the actress when the picture flopped with some critics claiming she was miscast and not glamorous enough and Ladd too was accused of being lackluster. However, Betty remained beloved on Broadway, showing off her versatility in plays such as Twelfth Night, The Rat Race, Ladies of the Corridor, and The Fourposter playing opposite Burgess Meredith, both taking over for Jessica Tandy and husband Hume Cronyn.

Betty’s expressive features had become tougher, more weathered, and bleak by the time she greeted Hollywood hello again in the mid-1950s. Still, she thrived as a character actress, portraying a number of mundane, wearisome, and unstylish roles yet with the same Betty Field authenticity. She brought credibility to a range of flawed provincial mothers and wives in films such as the highly-regarded Picnic (1955) with Kim Novak, Bus Stop starring Marilyn Monroe, and Lana Turner in the melodrama soaper Peyton Place 1957.

Even her stage roles reflected the changing face of her acting parts with productions of The Seagull, Waltz of the Toreadors, Touch of the Poet, and Separate Tables. And in the 1950s and 1960s, she began to work steadily in television.

During the 1950s and 1960s, Betty also worked steadily on television, taking on a variety of prominent roles. She continued to act at a consistent pace, although she preferred to avoid the limelight.

Betty’s final film appearance was a small but notable role as a streetwalker in Clint Eastwood’s Coogan’s Bluff (1968). Continuing to work on stage she was fearless as the imperishable Amanda in Eugene O’Neil’s The Glass Menagerie and the fragile Aunt Birdie in The Little Foxes, and in 1971 she turned in her last performance on stage as the mother Beatrice in The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man in the Moon Marigolds, a part that in 1972, Joanne Woodward tackled in Alvin Sargent’s film adaption.

Betty passed away at age 57 from a fatal cerebral hemorrhage in 1973, just before filming was set to begin for The Day of the Locust (1975), in which she had been cast as the flamboyant evangelist ‘Big Sister.’ The role was later taken over by Geraldine Page. Betty Field is an often criminally overlooked Hollywood actress who truly contributed some of the finest performances on stage, film, and television.

DIALOGUE

“You act like you’d like to see me electrocuted.”- George
“A couple of shock treatments wouldn’t do you no harm.”– Betty Field

Slamming the fridge door and shuffling her feet. Jenny confronts George’s peculiar behavior on the jury.

Jenny – “Would the star juror care to give me some justification for his behavior George- “What behavior? What behavior! The behavior that has brought down ridicule and scandal over our heads!”

George-“What you talkin’ bout Jenny?”

Jenny- “Have you gone deaf and blind?… Unplug your ears… open your eyes! George Davies the most respected highly thought-of citizen in this town protecting this infidel, this murderer… No wonder you get indigestion.”

SYNOPSIS:

In this darkly humorous episode, Dean Jagger stars as George a mild-mannered Pharmacist who is overcome with murderous lust one afternoon after putting the moves on Lola the town squeeze. When she spurns his advances he chokes her to death to keep her quiet.

Betty Field is shrill and unnerving, playing his fish wife, who annoys all of us with her whining, shrewish voice, her needling and berating George in a way that gets under the skin. Though I can see the tendency to want to needle and berate George.

Lola’s hot-tempered boyfriend J.J. is later arrested for the crime and put on trial. Knowing the boy is innocent, and not able to prove it without his confessing his own guilt, George sees a way out of his dilemma when he is appointed to the jury.

Through his efforts, J.J. is found innocent after he poses so many doubts to the rest of the jurors that he goes free.

The townsfolk boycott George’s store for helping the kid go free. And they treat him like an outcast. His wife treats him like he’s disgraced the family, saying that he’s embarrassing her and that her mother was right all along, there was insanity in his family.

But the townsfolk still believe he did it and persecute him and his mother. This irritates the vengeful townspeople so much that they force him to want to commit suicide and he gets shot by George when he struggles to get the gun away from him. He can’t do anything right.

George can’t deal with his guilty conscience and being hounded by the town and finally cracks up trying to convince them he murdered Lola and shot J.J.

But they just dismiss him as a meek, passionless man not capable of murder and just in need of rest. Having suffered a nervous breakdown from the pressures of the trial…

It begins… the story takes place somewhere in the South. It opens with the mild-mannered storekeeper George Davies and his wife Jenny dozing off on their picnic blanket near the rest of the townsfolk who are spending a lazy day.

George wanders off leaving Jenny sleeping under newspapers used as a blanket. He stumbles onto the town’s young stunner Lola Penderwaller,(Cathy Merchant plays Lola and had a brief screen career from 1961 to 1965 that included roles in four episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and a part in Roger Corman’s The Haunted Palace 1963) who is a spirited flirt boasting her beautiful body in a scant swimsuit. Director Herschel Daugherty subtly emphasizes the contrast between Lola and his dowdy wife Jenny who is back on the blanket, snoring like a truck exhaust and oblivious. Lola teases George, leading him on only to a certain, harmless point, offering him a beer. When George gets sexually aroused, he tries to grab a kiss, and Lola rebuffs his advances. The normally gutless George violently slaps her and proceeds to choke the life out of her.

In a tense moment, Will Hutchins who plays Lola’s boyfriend, the uncultivated and untamed J.J. Fenton floats by in his rowboat, the cowardly George camouflages himself behind a bush then sneaks back to the picnic blanket, taking his place next to the clueless Jenny.

“George here’s that nice fat neck you were eyeing before church… you want it now?”

Regular television character actor Crahan Denton seen on several of Boris Karloff’s anthology series  Thriller plays Sheriff Walter Watson who comes to the picnic with his sons to fish at the lake. He greets George and Jenny who offers them her fried chicken and ironically wisecracks that George loves the necks. It’s an inside joke that George finds secretly comical, but it shows on his face.

Jenny asks the same question every time she sees Sheriff Watson. Are there any criminals in jail this month? He remarks ”the only criminal in our town is time.” “Well, he’s a criminal everywhere I wish you could lock Old Man Time up.” Sheriff -” That would be alright. If we could just send Old Man Time to the electric chair.”

That reference hits George a little too close.

Lola’s lifeless body is found in the woods by the Sheriff’s son and George goes back home. There is one instance of black humor when George references ‘necks’ telling Jenny that the sheriff is “up to his neck in trouble.” George decides to go to his local bar to grab a beer, and on walking through the door the crowd accuses him of being the murderer. They all begin to laugh and tell him that they’ve been saying that to everyone who comes into the bar.

Jenny’s beau J. J. ( a role that I could easily have seen James Best take on, being adept at playing young handsome unruly types). J.J. breaks into a frenzy inside his jail cell, violently tearing apart his mattress. The sheriff sends George to his pharmacy to bring back a sedative. He keeps insisting, “You know I didn’t kill her.” Of course, George knows the truth.

George makes an anonymous phone call to the sheriff, disguising his voice, he confesses to the murder but hangs up before revealing his identity. J.J. is released on bail by his mother and begins dating Alice. Back at home with his mother and Alice, his mother is working as a laundrywoman to make ends meet. J.J. is certain he’s going to fry. Alice stands out from J.J.’s humble mother (Katherine Squire) in the downbeat atmosphere of their broken-down house, with the racy way she carries herself.

George calls J.J. to give him an anonymous warning. He also sends the judge a letter and winds up serving on the jury.

The trial begins and George consumed with guilt over J.J. being wrongly accused, insinuates himself and disrupts the courtroom proceedings. He becomes ‘the star juror’, asking a slew of questions that point to reasonable doubt.

That night, he finds a doll in a chair and a sign that says ‘electric chair’s tacked onto his back door. The jury comes back with a not-guilty verdict and J.J. is set free. When George leaves the courthouse, everyone in town now spurns him. Some of the older boys in town go to J.J.’s house and throw mud on his mother’s clean wash that drifts on the clothesline. The townsfolk even boycott George’s pharmacy, bewildered he cries to Jenny, “Well, what have I done, Jenny? Have I committed a crime? You act like you’d like to see me electrocuted.”

J.J. and his new girlfriend Alice (Jennifer West) show up at the pharmacy, looking like a true bad boy, with a black leather jacket, cowboy hat, and black boots, after all, he is the town’s murderous outcast and exile. He already started out from the wrong side of daylight, poor white trash, his mother taking in wash. Like Lola, he chooses to pal around with girls who don’t have any class. Lola was known as the town slut, who lived in a motel and Alice was a girl from up in the hills.

“He’s already got himself a new one, Alice from up in the mountains.”

Jenny gets hysterical, “George Davies if you had wanted to kill me, you couldn’t have done a better job if you had used a knife, you couldn’t have caused more pain. You not only had to smear my name and the name of your child with scandal and ridicule, you had to dishonor us too. By going MAD!!!!

‘Ridicule and scandal over our heads!”

”You’re not getting out of this house George!”

It doesn’t matter that George had managed to persuade the jury that there wasn’t enough evidence to convict J.J. and he is found not guilty. The town goes crazy.

After he loses his job, J.J. is offered the job of strangling chickens, the suggestion once again of George’s mode of killing Lola.

George tries to confess to the Sheriff. “I panicked and choked her and ran. Taking with me the weapons of the act. My and.”

J.J. gets angry with George and doesn’t think he did him any favors helping out.”’You couldn’t hurt a fly. I don’t want your lies to save me. I don’t want your burnt offering.”

George goes to the crime scene and hears haunting voices in his head accusing him of being a “killer.” Desperate for absolution, he confesses to the sheriff, but his admission falls on deaf ears. Meanwhile, a group of young men vandalize J.J.’s home and brutally beat him until Alice intervenes with a gun. George rushes to J.J.’s side and prevents him from taking his own life, but in the struggle, the gun goes off and J.J. is fatally shot.

The episode draws to a close with the sheriff telling George to go home to rest. George bursts into laughter as he realizes by the end of the ordeal, he’ll never be taken seriously. The irony and fatalistic tone of the episode has been flipped on its head, Lola’s murder will never find closure and we are left with a touch of macabre humor from the situation.

CREDITS:

The episode is directed by Herschel Daugherty who directed 16 episodes, some of the best of Boris Karloff Thriller including The Grim Reaper starring William Shatner, Henry Daniels, Elizabeth Allen, and Natalie Schafer as mystery writer Beatrice Graves, and also Prisoner in the Mirror. He was responsible for 3 of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, and episodes of Suspicion 1958, Lux Playhouse 1959.

In the 1960s he appeared in tv shows including, 5 episodes of Checkmate 1960-61, 2 episodes of 87th Precinct 1961-62, Alcoa Theatre 1962-63, Kraft Mystery Theatre 1963, a few of The Twilight Zone, 2 episodes of East Side/West Side 1963-64, Mr. Novak, For the People, The Doctors and The Nurses, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Dr. Kildare, Felony Squad, Mission: Impossible, The Time Tunnel, The Rat Patrol, Hawaii Five-O, It Takes a Thief, Star Trek, an episode ‘Elegy for a Vampire of Circle of Fear and Police Woman in 1975.

The Grim Reaper [Essay on Thriller with Boris Karloff] “To me death is no more than a business partner”

He also directed several made-for-TV movies, Winchester 73 (1967), The Victim 1972, and She Cried Murder 1973.)

The Star Juror is James Bridges’s second script for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour which aired on CBS on Friday, March 15, 1963, It was based on a 1958 French crime novel called The Seventh Juror by Francis Didelot.

The Star Juror stars Dean Jagger started out in vaudeville and on the radio before starting his movie career in 1929 and his TV career in 1948. He won an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor for his role in Twelve O’Clock High in 1949. He also co-starred in master director Fritz Lang’s Western Union (1941). He was also a regular on the TV series Mr. Novak from 1963 to 1965 as the high school principal. He also appeared in The Twilight Zone episode Static. He also appeared in 1972 he appeared in an episode of Columbo -The Most Crucial Game, featuring Robert Culp a regular murderer on the show.

Playing the sheriff is familiar character actor Crahan Denton who appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Presents in Coming Home and Incident in a Small Jail. He appeared in perhaps one of the top five episodes of Boris Karloff’s anthology series Pigeons From Hell.

Pigeons From Hell [Essay on Boris Karloff’s Thriller] “Is anybody home?”

J.J.’s mother is played by Katherine Squire (1903-1995), who was on screen from 1949 to 1989 and who gave similarly odd performances in two episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Pen Pal, and Man From the South starring Steve McQueen. Squire plays Peter Lorre’s wife.

She was also in two other episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, as well as episodes of The Twilight Zone and Thriller’s Portrait Without a Face. Her husband, George Mitchell plays the judge and was also a busy character actor from 1935 to 1973. He appeared in four episodes of the Hitchcock series, including Forty Detectives Later and The Black Curtain. Like Squire, he could be seen on The Twilight Zone and Thriller; he also appeared in the classic western, 3:10 to Yuma in 1957.

Norman Lloyd’s daughter Josie plays George’s daughter… you can see Josie in The Alfred Hitchcock Hour episode Body in the Barn starring this feature’s star Lillian Gish. Josie also can be seen as Mayor Pike’s daughter Josephine who sings Flow Gently Sweet Afton in sour tones and the neurotic wallflower Lydia Crosswaithe on The Andy Griffith Show.

*THREE WIVES TOO MANY – s2e12 -Teresa Wright- aired Jan.4, 1964

TERESA WRIGHT BIO:

“I only ever wanted to be an actress, not a star.”

Teresa Wright – lamblike at first glance, but don’t let the soft smile lead you to believe that there isn’t something gutsy within that charming glow. She is one of the most engaging actors who showed a resolute luster, and independence to take on Hollywood with the same veracity she pursued wicked Uncle Charlie in Shadow of a Doubt.

Teresa Wright was not only endearing but there was a lack of ceremony and authenticity to her acting and her personal life She was discovered by Samuel Goldwyn and gained early recognition for her exceptional performances in her first three films, becoming the only actor to receive Oscar nominations for each of them. Wright earned an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress and one for Mrs. Miniver.

It stands to reason that Times drama editor Edwin Schallert described Wright’s burgeoning career as “one of the most remarkably brilliant for a young player in Hollywood.”
Despite being a Hollywood star, she remained true to herself and rejected the pretentiousness that came along with being a star. She achieved Hollywood stardom on her own terms, without selling out for the sake of glamour.

Teresa Wright was resolute in her refusal to pose for photographs while wearing bathing suits, as well as to subject herself to superficial interviews in gossipy fan magazines. And at first, Goldwyn told her he was not of “the bathing suit school of Hollywood producers.”

Born Muriel Teresa Wright in Harlem, New York City. While attending the exclusive Rosehaven School in Tenafly, New Jersey she discovered a passion for acting after watching Helen Hayes in “Victoria Regina.”

While attending high school in Maplewood, N.J., Wright participated in theatrical productions. Although one teacher advised her to pursue typing instead, a public-speaking teacher mentored her and provided her with plays to read. He also arranged for her to spend two summers at the Wharf Theater in Provincetown.

In the two summers preceding her graduation, after receiving a scholarship, she began apprenticing at the Wharf Theatre in Massachusetts appearing in such plays as The Vinegar Tree and Susan and God.

She performed in school plays and graduated from Columbia High School in Maplewood, New Jersey graduating in 1938, then made the decision to pursue acting professionally and then moved to New York.

Wright had to drop her first name when she found out that another actress named Muriel Wright was already registered with Actors Equity.

In 1938, in her first play, she landed an understudy role in Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town” on Broadway and then toured in the play.

It was a minor role, but also served as a chance to understudy the lead ingénue character of Emily, actress Dorothy Maguire however when Maguire failed to return, Teresa continued in the same role under Martha Scott. Wright would eventually replace Martha Scott when the actress adapted the role of Emily in the film version.

Following her successful stage performances, Wright made her remarkable Broadway debut as Mary in Life With Father in 1939. This caught the attention of playwright Lillian Hellman, who recommended her to Goldwyn for the screen version of Hellman’s The Little Foxes.

It was during her one-year run performance in Life with Father when a talent scout from Goldwyn saw her and Teresa Wright landed her breakout role as Alexandra in The Little Foxes in 1941.

Herbert Marshall Teresa Wright and Bette Davis in The Little Foxes 1941.

She gained recognition for her work alongside Bette Davis (who played the cold calculating mother Regina) and Patricia Collinge who reprised her unparalleled Broadway role as the mercurial Aunt Birdie) in the film.

At that time she had signed a contract with MGM but refused to do publicity stunts or cheese-cake shots that would turn her into a centerfold:

“The aforementioned Teresa Wright shall not be required to pose for photographs in a bathing suit unless she is in the water. Neither may she be photographed running on the beach with her hair flying in the wind. Nor may she pose in any of the following situations: In shorts, playing with a cocker spaniel; digging in a garden; whipping up a meal; attired in firecrackers and holding skyrockets for the Fourth of July; looking insinuatingly at a turkey for Thanksgiving; wearing a bunny cap with long ears for Easter; twinkling on prop snow in a skiing outfit while a fan blows her scarf; assuming an athletic stance while pretending to hit something with a bow and arrow.”

Though she became the unwilling pin-up girl, Teresa Wright became Goldwyn’s biggest overall star during the 1940s.

Teresa received Oscar nominations for her roles in “Mrs. Miniver” (1942) the only movie she made for her studio MGM and “The Pride of the Yankees” (1942), winning the Best Supporting Actress trophy for Mrs. Miniver.

In both roles, Teresa Wright gave heartwarming performances as the granddaughter in the sentimental war-era Mrs. Miniver and as baseball icon Lou Gehrig’s kindhearted wife in Pride of the Yankees starring opposite Gary Cooper. Wright now one of the most appealing newcomers in Hollywood had garnered two Best Supporting Actress and Best Actress nods in the same year.

She holds the record for receiving back-to-back Academy Award nominations in her first three film roles, which still stands today.

Teresa Wright received top billing for Shadow of a Doubt a film that was her personal favorite and which earned every bit of that limelight in Alfred Hitchcock’s psychological thriller placing Wright at the center of the story as serial killer Joseph Cotten’s unsuspecting niece Charlie.

Unsuspecting at first…

When Young Charlie (Wright) is over the moon about her favorite Uncle Charlie coming to her sleeping California town for a visit, the whole family celebrates his arrival. Her mother Emma, Charlie’s older sister (Patricia Collinge who appeared with Wright in The Little Foxes and Casanova Brown) can’t wait to dote on her baby brother. But soon, it comes to light that Charlie might have left strangled wealthy women in his wake, and in fact, may be The Merry Widow killer the police have been furiously chasing down up and down the coast. Now young Charlie who once dreamt of leaving her boring existence behind has stumbled onto a terrifying secret that threatens her life.

Teresa Wright manages to give a nuanced performance as Charlie Newton who daringly holds her own in a game of cat and mouse with Joseph Cotten, all tangled up in danger as she carefully draws out his murderous impulses.

Wright never falters or is self-conscious in the role and her chemistry with Cotten is electric. She brings a complex emotional depth to young Charlie that elevates the film beyond its thriller trappings. Overall, Wright’s performance in Shadow of a Doubt is a testament to her skill as an actress and her ability to imbue even the most seemingly ordinary moments with profound emotional gravity.

Young Charlie is in alignment with killer Charlie’s acumen for subterfuge. In the house, all cracks on as simple as one of Emmie’s cakes if you don’t crack the eggs. But in the shadows beyond the edges, the family is unaware of, the two characters diverge – one set on self-preservation with a malignant disgust for fat lazy wives who live off their husbands and the other who seeks out the truth and bends toward humanity. Their same names are where it begins and ends. And Wright is a glowing jewel in the blackness of Hitchcock’s nightmare.

Uncle Charlie: The cities are full of women, middle-aged widows, husbands dead, husbands who’ve spent their lives making fortunes, working and working. And then they die and leave their money to their wives, their silly wives. And what do the wives do, these useless women? You see them in the hotels, the best hotels, every day by the thousands, drinking their money, eating their money, losing the money at the bridge, playing all day and all night, smelling of money, proud of their jewelry but of nothing else, horrible, faded, fat, greedy women.”

Young Charlie: ”But they’re alive. They’re human beings.”

Uncle Charlie: ”Are they? Are they, Charlie? Are they human or are they fat, wheezing animals, hmm? And what happens to animals when they get too fat and too old?”

After marrying screenwriter Niven Busch in 1942, and appearing in the disappointing Casanova Brown 1944, Teresa Wright returned to form as Peggy Stephenson in William Wyler’s The Best Years of Our Lives, featuring the ensemble cast of the Academy Award-winning film in 1946. Wright played the caring daughter of Fredric March and Myrna Loy who develops a romantic connection with the troubled veteran played by Dana Andrews.

Teresa Wright told friends that in William Wyler’s post-war drama, she was relieved to play an aspiring home wrecker.

“I’m going to break that marriage up! I can’t stand it seeing Fred tied to a woman he doesn’t love and who doesn’t love him. Oh, it’s horrible for him. It’s humiliating and it’s killing his spirit. Somebody’s got to help him. “

At last, she could finally shed her wholesome persona trying to save the man she loved from a no-good tramp (Virginia Mayo as Marie) who barely knew Fred (Dana Andrews), but director Wyler couldn’t even give her credit- calling her “the best cryer in the business.” And Goldwyn continued to cast her as the unworldly, vulnerable lasses.

1946 with Dana Andrews in The Best Years of Our Lives.

In 1946 she would star in Lewis Allen’s romantic drama The Imperfect Lady with leading man Ray Milland.

Next, Wright played Thor Callum in her husband’s screenplay for Raoul Walsh’s Pursued 1947 – a western starring Robert Mitchum and Judith Anderson about a young boy plagued by nightmares of his family’s brutal murder who is taken in by a neighboring family. He falls for his kind-hearted adoptive sister, but he faces trouble from his hateful adoptive brother and enigmatic uncle who want him dead.

So In 1948 she was once again cast as an innocent waif Lark Ingoldsby in the romantic drama Enchantment.

And while she was unhappy with the picture, the critics sang its praises-Newsweek said she “glows as the Cinderella who captivated three men,” and The New York Times said of her performance that she “plays with that breathless, bright-eyed rapture which she so remarkably commands.”

But Wright had enough of playing Cinderellas and after refusing to go on a long publicity tour promoting the film, Goldwyn canceled her $ 5,000-a-week contract and publicly criticize her as “uncooperative.”

“I will gladly work for less if by doing so I can retain the common decency without which the most acclaimed job becomes intolerable,” she told The Times during the wildly public brouhaha more than half a century ago.

Teresa Wright would wind up starring in three films for studios other than Samuel Goldwyn Productions, and in the end, Enchantment opposite David Niven and Farley Granger would turn out to be her last picture with Goldwyn after she refused to star in the studio’s next film.

In December 1948, after rebelling against the studio system that brought her fame, Teresa Wright had a public falling out with Samuel Goldwyn, which resulted in the cancellation of Wright’s contract with his studio. In a statement published in The New York Times, Goldwyn cited as reasons her refusal to publicize the film Enchantment, and her being “uncooperative” and refusing to “follow reasonable instructions”.

In her written response, Wright denied Goldwyn’s charges and expressed no regret over losing her $5,000 per week contract.

“I would like to say that I never refused to perform the services required of me; I was unable to perform them because of ill health. I accept Mr. Goldwyn’s termination of my contract without protest—in fact, with relief. The types of contracts standardized in the motion picture industry between players and producers are archaic in form and absurd in concept. I am determined never to set my name to another one … I have worked for Mr. Goldwyn for seven years because I consider him a great producer, and he has paid me well, but in the future, I shall gladly work for less if by doing so I can retain my hold upon the common decencies without which the most glorified job becomes intolerable.” –Teresa Wright

Even though her removal resulted in Wright losing a salary of $125,000, it did not diminish her capability to secure distinguished parts. Despite working on her subsequent film for a significantly lower budget of $20,000, it turned out to be another timeless classic – a post-war era drama that was released in 1950. Teresa gave a marvelous performance in Fred Zimmerman’s The Men starring newcomer Marlon Brando.

Working freelance with other studios she appeared in several inconsequential pictures that were never critical successes, though she did star in screenwriter husband’s western thriller Pursued in 1947 starring alongside Robert Mitchum, and another of his, The Capture in 1950 another crime western starring with Lew Ayers.

She starred in Something to Live For in 1952 directed by George Stevens, starring Ray Milland and Joan Fontaine.

She appeared in California Conquest in 1952, Count the Hours! 1953 a film noir directed by Don Siegel and starring Shadow of a Doubt co-star Macdonald Carey. And after that, she appeared in Track of the Cat in 1954 and Escapade in Japan in 1957.
In 1952 Teresa Wright made her foray into television with an episode of Robert Montgomery Presents. The show was called And Never Come Back and 2 episodes of Betty Crocker Star Matinee.

Also in 1952, she starred with Joseph Cotton in Andrew L. Stone’s The Steel Trap an obscure film noir about a Los Angeles bank manager (Cotten) who comes up with a plan to steal money from the bank’s vault and flee to Brazil with unsuspecting wife Laurie. (Wright) Andrew L. Stone made quite a few off-the-beaten-path noirs like A Blueprint for Murder in 1953, The Night Holds Terror in 1955, and Cry Terror! In 1958.

In 1953 she was cast in The Actress, although she was only in her early 30s, Teresa Wright began taking on character roles, even playing Jean Simmons’ mother.

The Actress directed by George Cukor and written by Ruth Gordon it is an account of the actress/playwright Ruth Gordon’s life. Teresa Wright plays Annie Jones, with Jean Simmons as Ruth Gordon Jones. The film also stars Spencer Tracy, Ian Wolfe, Anthony Perkins, Kay Williams, and Mary Wickes.

During a period in which Teresa Wright struggled to find dramatic roles, though immersed in her distinguished career in the theater she started to do considerable work for television starting with live dramatic anthology series.

The Golden Age of TV provided another lifeline to active work. She remained the strong actor that she was in productions including a TV adaptation of the beloved holiday classic, The Miracle on 34th Street (1955), in which she played the role Maureen O’Hara brought to life.
Wright was keeping very busy on television. She would appear as Mary Todd Lincoln in Love is Eternal installment of General Electric Theater and that same year in 1955 she appear on The Elgin Hour, Your Play Time, The Loretta Young Show, 3 episodes o Lux Video Theatre, The Alcoa Hour and a TV movie called The Devil’s Disciple. In 1956 she appeared on Screen Directors Playhouse and 2 episodes of Four Star Playhouse, 3 episodes of Climax!, Star Stage, The Star and the Story, Celebrity Playhouse, Studio 57, and 2 episodes of The 20th Century-Fox Hour.

Between 1952 and 1957 she appeared on several episodes of Schlitz Playhouse and The Ford Television Theatre, also in 1957 with an episode of The Web and Playhouse 90. Between 1954-1962 she made 5 appearances on The United States Steel Hour.

She also began shifting her focus to the stage, where she found the dependability her acting craved. She appeared in productions of Salt of the Earth in 1952, Bell, Book and Candle, and The Country Girl in 1953. In 1954 she starred in Henry James’ The Heiress and in The Rainmaker in 1955. In 1957 she co-starred with Pat Hingle in The Dark at the Top of the Stairs returning to Broadway.

Throughout her television career, she received three Emmy nominations. The first nomination was for her portrayal of Annie Sullivan in the 1957 CBS adaptation of “The Miracle Worker.” Her second nomination was for her role as the renowned photographer in “The Margaret Bourke-White Story” on NBC in 1960. Lastly, she was nominated for a guest appearance on the short-lived CBS series “Dolphin Cove” in 1989.

She starred as Ruth Simmons in the captivating, low-budget The Search for Bridey Murphy (1956) which tells the story of an American housewife who believed she lived before. And in 1958 she appeared in the film noir crime drama The Restless Years with John Saxon and Sandra Dee.

And In 1959, she married playwright Robert Anderson, continuing to focus on the stage and working in television. She appeared in Anderson’s emotional drama I Never Sang for My Father in 1968 in the role of Alice.

The film would be adapted to the screen in 1970 and starred Gene Hackman and Melvyn Douglas, with Estelle Parson in the role of the adult daughter Alice.

In 1969, Teresa Wright would be cast as Jean Simmon’s mother giving the strongest performance in Richard Brook’s bleak drama The Happy Ending starring Jean Simmons as a disillusioned wife who runs away from her stifling married life in a depressed fugue binging on Casablanca, popping pills and drinking.

Wright Was just 11 years older than star Jean Simmons who played her daughter in The Actress in 1953 and The Happy Ending in 1969.

During the 1960s, Teresa Wright returned to the New York stage, starring in three plays: Mary, Mary (1962) at the Helen Hayes Theatre as Mary McKellaway, I Never Sang for My Father (1968) at the Longacre Theatre as Alice, and Who’s Happy Now? (1969) at the Village South Theatre as Mary Hallen. She also toured across the United States in stage productions of Mary, Mary (1962), Tchin-Tchin (1963) as Pamela Pew-Picket, and The Locksmith (1965) as Katherine Butler Hathaway.

Teresa made numerous television appearances throughout the decade, including on CBS’s The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (1964), NBC’s Bonanza (1964), CBS’s The Defenders (1964, 1965), and CBS Playhouse (1969). She would also appear in numerous made-for-TV movies.

In 1975, Teresa Wright appeared as Linda Loman opposite George C. Scott in the Broadway revival of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. In addition to her previous roles, she depicted the rigid Aunt Lily in a 1975 revival of Eugene O’Neill’s Ah, Wilderness! on Broadway, as well as in “Mornings at Seven” during its Broadway run and subsequent tour.

And in 1980, she won a Drama Desk Award as a member of the Outstanding Ensemble Performance for her appearance in the revival of Mornings at Seven.

During her appearance in Los Angeles for a performance in Mornings at Seven at the Ahmanson Theater, she shared a bit of her wisdom with aspiring actors in a USC class in 1982. “I wouldn’t pursue film, and I didn’t back then. I’d use every angle to try to get into a repertory company.”

In 1989, she earned her third Emmy Award nomination for her performance in the CBS drama series Dolphin Cove. Teresa also appeared in Murder, She Wrote in the episode “Mr. Penroy’s Vacation”. Her final television role was in an episode of the CBS drama series Picket Fences in 1996.

Teresa Wright’s later film appearances included a major role as Laura Roberts in Somewhere in Time (1980), playing the grandmother in The Good Mother (1988) alongside Diane Keaton, and her last role as Matt Damon’s eccentric landlady Miss Birdie in John Grisham’s The Rainmaker (1997), which was directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

“I’m just not the glamour type. Glamour girls are born, not made. And the real ones can be glamorous even if they don’t wear magnificent clothes. I’ll bet Lana Turner would look glamorous in anything.”

Teresa Wright was a masterful actor, luminous, unflinchingly genuine, and too – she is unforgettably resilient, and undeniably beautiful.

TRIVIA:

According to A. Scott Berg’s book, “Goldwyn: A Biography”, it is stated that Samuel Goldwyn “offered her a contract that night” (pg. 358). However, in a 1959 interview with Reel Classics, Teresa expressed her interest in playing the part of Alexandra in “The Little Foxes” but was hesitant about committing to a long-term studio contract. Despite this, after the film wrapped and her attempts to return to the stage were unsuccessful, she ultimately signed with Goldwyn and remained in Hollywood. (The interview is archived in the Columbia University Oral History Research Office.)

Her nickname was “Mooch”.

Married two famous Playwrights: Niven Busch and Robert Anderson, both also native New Yorkers.

Was the first female star signed under contract to Samuel Goldwyn Productions.

Was supposed to star in The Bishop’s Wife opposite David Niven and Cary Grant, which is a vehicle that Goldwyn had bought especially for her.

In honor of her heartfelt performance in The Pride of the Yankees (1942), when Teresa Wright died in 2005, when the roll call of former Yankees who had passed on was announced, her name was read out among all the ballplayers.

Along with Fay Bainter, Barry Fitzgerald, Jessica Lange, Sigourney Weaver, Al Pacino, Holly Hunter, Emma Thompson, Julianne Moore, Jamie Foxx, Cate Blanchett, and Scarlett Johansson, she is one of only twelve actors to receive Academy Award nominations in two acting categories in the same year. She was nominated for Best Actress for The Pride of the Yankees (1942) and Best Supporting Actress for Mrs. Miniver (1942) at the 15th Academy Awards in 1943, winning the latter award.

Her husband, Niven Busch, originally penned Duel in the Sun (1946) for her to play the lead, as a departure from her girl-next-door roles. But pregnancy forced her to drop out, and Jennifer Jones got the lead.

She was originally set to star in producer David O. Selznick’s Duel in the Sun (1946), which was written by her then-husband, Niven Busch. However, shortly before filming was to begin she got pregnant, and Busch had to go to Selznick’s office to inform him that she would have to bow out of the film. Selznick, known for his single-mindedness, tried to talk Busch into letting her play the part, which called for a lot of physical action, and Busch absolutely refused. As he turned to leave the office, Selznick blurted out, “Dammit, Busch, she isn’t the only one you screwed!”

She was nominated for the 2015 New Jersey Hall of Fame for his services in the Performance Arts.

Teresa Wright’s cheeky stroke of genius in this episode is filled with macabre and black humor delivering a diabolically composed and humorous resolve as she works her way through each of Dan Duryea’s other wives, as casually as a housewife doing chores. A serial murderer housewife that is.

It is perhaps one of my favorite performances of Wright because of the comical dark side she invokes, quite the departure as Wright greatly envisioned from the ‘best little cryer’ that had been hitched to her in the 1940s and 50s.

Her chemistry with Duryea is fabulous as they play off each other and slowly the revelation comes to his character that she’s been shadowing him on each of his routine rendezvous’ with the other Mrs. Browns at his 3 other homes. It’s a brilliant setup. As he realizes she’s a killer and he’s out three wives.

And now… THREE WIVES TOO MANY!

Dialogue:

Marion Brown tells her husband (Duryea)- “You have been a bigamist 4 times. Now you can stay alive with me or be dead away from me!”

SYNOPSIS:

Dan Duryea is a gambler and a proud bigamist name Raymond Brown. Ray has a passion for fine cuisine and is a professional gambler who uses his wealthy wive’s money to finance his bets.
Each of his wives believes he is a salesman, so he uses his trips away from home to visit his bookie when spending a few days with each wife in three different cities.

He truly loves his wife… I mean all four of them. But something is going quite wrong. One by one his wealthy meal tickets are all turning up dead.

Though Marion is Ray’s third and they’ve been married for three years. She is the most central wife and has been the long-time dutiful wife who discovers that Ray is a bigamist. Marion has been patiently waiting to finally have her philandering husband all to herself.

Could she be the one who is bumping off all of Ray’s wives? Wright takes a much different approach from the gentle farm wife Stella in The Alfred Hitchcock Hour’s Lonely Place and shows herself off to be quite resourceful when holding onto her cheating husband.

Marion who is the wealthiest and oldest of the bunch is driven to murder by jealousy and the survival instinct to keep Ray all to herself. She visits each of the other wives and quietly dispenses with them by lacing their cocktails with poison.

Each town Ray arrives at home to see one of his wives, the police are there while she is being carried out on a stretcher. At first, the police just chalk up each death to suicide and he convinces the cops that he has an alibi. Raymond starts to suspect that Marion is behind the deaths, but he doesn’t have any proof.

Because each murder has happened in 3 different cities, the police never connect the women’s deaths. Marion is able to move easily from murder to murder because she is a refined, beautiful, and charming woman who can easily seduce unsuspecting women into dropping their guard.
And she has learned to be a fantastic bartender who brings her own strychnine.

Ray has managed to stick to an unchallenging subterfuge with his four wives, in order to prevent them from knowing about each other.

Directed by Joseph M. Newman, who directed 10 episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Three Wives Too Many is a powerfully satirical parody with sharpened edges pulled off masterfully by Teresa Wright who is the strong protagonist Marion Brown, in a predominantly woman-centered thriller. Leaving Duryea on the periphery looking in on the wake of his misadventures and marital anarchy. The episode explores greedy love, betrayal, and delicious revenge.

As Brown comes to the realization that all of his wives are now dead, the television adaptation abandons suspense, instead going for the cynical observations about post-war American gender roles of husbands and wive in the 1960s.

The episode is a masterful bit of dark humor as the two paths converge, the take-offs and landings of Ray and Marion both traveling on the same path but for different reasons, and only Marion is aware of both.

The show begins in Newark, N.J. where a taxi pulls up to an apartment complex. A woman, elegantly attired and with a little grey in her hair, steps out of the cab. There’s a close-up of her finger pressing the doorbell of an apartment. The card on top of the button bears the inscription “Mr. & Mrs. R. Brown.”

Now inside the apartment, a younger woman in pants gets up from an upscale modern sofa (a contrast to the traditional interior design and furnishings of her home in Baltimore) to answer the door. Marion, tells Bernice that she flew in from Baltimore just to see her. After dancing around with niceties, she lays it out that she’s a relative by marriage…

Bernice –“Forgive this place I’m a terrible housekeeper when my husband isn’t around -well even when he is.”
Marion “It’s difficult to care when your husband’s gone so much.”
Bernice “Oh well won’t you sit down I didn’t even ask your name.”
Marion “Mrs. Brown.”
Bernice “Mrs. Brown?”
Marion “Mrs. Raymond Brown we’re kind of related.”
Bernice “Well that’s kind of reassuring, knowing I belong to such a large family.”
Marion “Haha tremendous. I’m just astonished at how many relatives keep showing up in Baltimore.”
Bernice “Are you here on a pleasure trip Mrs. Brown- Oh that sounds like I’m talking to myself.”
Marion “My name is Marion. Sort of on business for all of us but your husband said that for any big investment, both of you have to agree.”
Bernice “Oh no not always.”
Marion “I mean since the money is really yours.”
Bernice “He told you that?”
Marion “Well it’s true isn’t it?”
Bernice “Well in a way. When we were first married he needed some extra money and I had some. But then husbands and wives share don’t they?”
Marion “Oh yes always, everything.”
Bernice “You say that so pointedly.”
Marion “My dear the Browns are famous for getting to the point.”
Bernice “You’re not related are you There’s something in back of this Mrs. Brown what is it? You’re not remotely related to my husband.”
Marion “That’s right.”

She maintains that sardonic southern charm that stings like a snake bite.

Marion “It’s more than remotely.” her eyes flicker as she looks at Bernice
Bernice “I don’t understand.”
Marion “I’m related directly to your husband.”
Bernice “How?”
Marion “By a previous marriage.”
Bernice “You’re his ex-wife?”
Marion “His present wife. He’s my husband too.”
Bernice “How could he! how could he!”
Marion “By being selfish.”
Bernice “He was kind.”
Marion “He married both of us. there may be others.”
Bernice “He loved me.”
Marion “I know it hurts but you must realize what he is.”
Bernice “How can you be so unemotional about it?”
Marion “I’ve had my tears…”

As the scene unfolds, Marion reveals Ray’s bigamy to Bernice (Jean Hale) and to us. Shaken, Bernice is consoled by Marion, who suggests they should both retaliate against their husband.

Marion tells her, “’ You are a beautiful woman, Bernice, you’ll have no trouble at all finding a new husband. But a woman my age, now I would have a problem.'”

However, Marion’s own sinister plan comes to light as she prepares cocktails for the two of them, but secretly laces Bernice’s drink with poison.

Having premeditated the murder, Marion takes great care to wipe her fingerprints from the bottle and glass. Bernice unwittingly ingests the lethal drink and promptly collapses onto the floor and Marion goes home to Baltimore.

Brown is seen trimming a flower outside his house before he heads inside to give it to Marion. On the surface, it seems the perfect image of a happy couple. However, their easy banter carries an ominous undertone, evident to both Marion and us who have already seen Bernice lifeless on the floor after a lethal dose of Marion’s payback to Ray.

Ray thinks he’s been successful at hiding his secret life, but what Ray doesn’t realize is that Marion is onto him. Now both he and Marion share a blueprint of duplicitous and now sinister transgressions.

She’s happy he’s finally home. He tells her that he plans on taking her to Europe, where women in their 40s come into their own.

At some point, the scene turns ominous as Ray and Marion go down to the cellar to inspect the hole and the oil tank that will eventually be installed there. We’re aware that Ray feels something lurking as he slips and falls into the hole like a grave. He gazes up at the tank that is suspended over his head held only by a chain.

Marion reaches for a crank handle that could potentially trigger the tank to release abruptly. Brown cautions her to handle it carefully, oblivious to the fact that she is privy to his marital treachery.

She tells him ”It just wants you here all the time.” and when she goes to hug him, he falls into the hole. He yells at her to take her hand off the handle. But she lingers a bit… one slip and the tank could fall and crush him.

As the camera follows Marion up the stairs it pauses and something in her eyes says that she knew exactly what she was doing when her hand lingered on the handle.

Once Ray goes back upstairs Marion strokes the handle following his footsteps flirting with the idea of killing him. She seems to be holding it like an old friend. Or maybe a new one?

Teresa Wright is an absolute natural beauty. She’s glowing and totally empowered.

Another plane lands, prompting Brown to drive to a nearby public park where he rendezvouses with Bleeker, who outwardly appears like a businessman but is, in reality, a bookie. Brown places a significant bet and Bleeker who is already on his third marriage and confesses that he’s constantly arguing with his wife. Brown offers some discreet and telling advice, that you can choose to marry “for love AND money…

“I’m a creature of habit.”

Ray gets home to see Bernice and finds the police swarming all over the apartment, investigating what they say is an apparent suicide. The scene is played as an absurd comedy as he seems utterly flustered by the commotion, all the while hiding the fact that this is only one of his many wives. He insists that she wouldn’t kill herself. She just bought a new cookbook, because she knew he liked fine cooking. Everything she did was to please him. She was happy. “She was beautiful and strong. I loved her.”

”I envy you…”

Following the funeral, Brown is confronted by Bernice’s sister and brother-in-law at the empty apartment he lived with Bernice. Her catty sister confronts Ray about Bernice having cried every day from loneliness, and his being on the road all the time. This paints a very different picture of their seemingly ideal marriage. She blames him for her death However, as they leave, the sister’s timid husband tells Ray that “I envy you”, a hint that he wishes his overbearing wife would meet a similar fate.

Ray is now in Hartford he goes to call his other wife Lucille. But by now she has answered the door and once again Marion is waiting for her and doesn’t waste any time putting her cards on the table.

“Why did you do it? Why did you marry my husband?”

She asks, “‘Why did you marry my husband?'” As she points a small pistol at Lucille. This other beautiful wife tells Marion that they’ve been married for five years, which means she’s been married the longest to Ray.

Marion toys with Lucille and tells her that she has not yet decided whether to kill her or not.

The two women begin to talk about him and Marion shares her insight with Lucille, ‘A man is what he does, not what he says.’

Quote shockingly, Lucille defends Ray ‘I admire any man who can get along with so many women.”

As part of Marion’s method of choice, she goes into the kitchen to prepare the drinks and slips the poison into the bottle. One more to go…

Lucille (Linda Lawson) played the role of the enigmatic mermaid in Curtis Harrington’s surreal NIGHT TIDE.

THE BEACH PARTY BLOGATHON- CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954) & Night Tide (1961) : Gills-A LOVE STORY!!!

“He seemed happy.”
“Well, he pretended so much how could you tell? A man is what he does not what he says. Why should we spare his feelings we’re not his only wives.”

”Mix it with something.” Marion laughs, “what did you say?” I said mix it with something.” “Delighted!” She pours the poisonous cocktail.

Once again Ray arrives as Lucille’s lifeless body is being taken out of their apartment. And once again he is greeted by another policeman who says she must have killed herself. Ray is absolutely aghast at this point, “She loved life too much!'” And in this odd twist on the husband always being suspected, he is not suspected of foul play.

Ray phones Marion that he’s leaving for Boston and for the first time she asks to go with him and he says yes. In their hotel room, she is beaming after having had a ‘wonderful day.’
He tells her that he has a late-night business appointment, but she informs him that she’s going home that night. Revealing in a cryptic comment –

 ‘I know I’m becoming more important in your life every day,’ she says, and he responds, “‘More than you realize …'” Wright is so comically effective with all her dialogue using a cheeky sardonic purr that tickles you with each delivery. This particular line highlights its best example.

Ray suspects Marion but still isn’t quite sure, those his facial expression conveys it with mocking distress, as she pulls the strings. He meets Bleeker one more time and tells him that he’ll need more financial backers before he can proceed with any more wagers. Though he loves each one of his wives, essentially they have been business ventures after all.

The last wife is carried out by the police.

He enters his house in Baltimore and finds Marion lying on the couch, and he fears the worst.

When she wakes up and seems perfectly fine, Brown feels relieved. Marion suggests they have a cocktail informing him that she’s become very good at mixing drinks.

And as they talk, he notices a pamphlet titled The Widow’s Guide on the coffee table and grows visibly worried.

He runs downstairs to check the basement and discovers that the hole is still there and will remain as a reminder that it can always turn into a grave. But the tank suspended above it is now gone.

“Marion!!!!!”

“Why did you yell at me like that?” “You were so still. So motionless.”

Marion insists on mixing Ray a cocktail. “Where’s the harm? A drink here and there never harmed anybody. At least not me… I turned over a whole new leaf”
“It sounds like you turned over a whole new tree.” “You are delicious!”


“She tells him to stop acting like a fugitive from justice .”Why’d you say that?”
“As if the police had you linked with some terrible crime.”
“Out with it! Say it and get it over with.”
Marion uses his traveling sales job as a metaphor.
That the company has asked too much of him. That he should concentrate on this area. ‘Our Area.”  Meaning their marriage.
“What if I don’t like it?”
“You don’t have to like it. You just have to accept it.”
“Then it’s true You did it… all of them.”
She drinks from both glasses. “See a marital bond.”

When he goes to call the police, she warns him, “I will see you executed for murder if you leave me.”

Whatever the police find out they’ll only discover that you had a motive. ”The police accepted my explanations.”Explanation singular. One explanation yes, two…maybe… three.” (she shakes her head)

“I will see you executed for murder if you leave me.”

Now you can be happy with me or be dead away from me.”

“I was a happy man.” “A very unhappy man.” “Ecstatically happy.”

She gives him the choice. If not the police… there’s always the hole in the cellar.

CREDITS:

Three Wives Too Many was adapted for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and broadcast on CBS on Friday, January 3, 1964. It was written by Kenneth Fearing who wrote seven novels, including The Big Clock in 1946, which the 1948 film that kept the title was released. It was later adapted as No Way Out in 1987. From the mid-1950s to 1960 he had several of his stories were published in crime and mystery digest.

Arthur A. Ross wrote the teleplays for eight episodes in the last two seasons of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, airing in 1964 and 1965. Beginning his career as a scriptwriter for films in 1942, he diversified to radio in 1951 and television in 1952.

Ross was responsible for the screenplays of The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) and The Creature Walks among Us (1956), although he endured a period of blacklisting in the 1950s. He won an Edgar Award for collaborating on the script of the Kraft Mystery Theatre episode “The Problem in Cell Block 13” (1962) and continued to write for both television and film until 1980.

Joseph Newman embarked on his Hollywood career in the 1930s, initially as an assistant director, before progressing to directing shorts. Eventually, in 1942, he earned the distinction of a feature director. One notable film he directed during the span of 1942 to 1961 was “This Island Earth” (1955). Newman transitioned to television directing from 1960 to 1965, helming notable episodes of “The Twilight Zone” and “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour,” including the acclaimed episode “An Unlocked Window.”

Dan Duryea (1907-1968), cast as Richard Brown started out on Broadway in the 1930s before venturing into film in 1941. Duryea made frequent appearances in Westerns, and at times entered the world of villainy during the dark, sordid, and guilt-ridden days of film noir including Fritz Lang’s “The Woman in the Window” (1944) and “Scarlet Street” (1945). He also had roles in The Great Flamarion, Criss Cross, Too Late for Tears and Johnny Stool Pigeon, Black Angel, Terror Street, and The Burglar -He also made an appearance on “The Twilight Zone.” episode Mr. Denton on Doomsday.

Robert Cornthwaite portrayed Bleeker, Brown’s bookie. His on-screen presence extended from 1950 to 2005, encompassing numerous television appearances in shows like “Thriller,” “The Twilight Zone,” “Batman,” “The Night Stalker,” and two episodes of “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.” You might remember his performance as the altruistic scientist who insists on making friends with the volatile super-carrot-like alien in Howard Hawk’s The Thing from Another World” (1951).

David Fresco who portrayed Bernice’s sister-in-law’s husband who envies Duryea being free of his wife can be seen in numerous television roles in shows such as “The Twilight Zone,” “Batman,” “Night Gallery,” and “The Odd Couple.” Impressively, he was featured in a total of 12 episodes of the Hitchcock show, including “The Gloating Place.”

 

Continue reading “It’s the pictures that got small! – “Good Evening” Leading Ladies of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour Part 3″

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.

💥 SPOILER ALERT!

*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

ISOBEL ELSOM BIO:

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.

Dialogue-

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.

Synopsis:

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

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 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.

Credits

* 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

GENA ROWLAND’S BIO

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.” -bfi.org.uk

“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

SYNOPSIS

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.

CREDITS

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.

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

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

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

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

SILVER SCREEN STAR’S JOURNEY TO A SMALL GOLDEN BOX

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

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

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

The Anne Sothern Show began in 1958.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gloria Swanson in Behind the Locked Door S2E22 1964.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Alfred Hitchcock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Repeat Performances:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Norman Lloyd in Alfred Hitchcock’s Saboteur 1942.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Carradine-I am a ham! Part 1

Actor John Carradine attends the premiere of Dark Eyes on March 23, 1981, at Warner Beverly Theater in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

“I am a ham! And the ham in an actor is what makes him interesting. The word is an insult only when it’s used by an outsider – among actors, it’s a very high compliment, indeed.“

In the history of cinema, there are stars that burn white hot. Then there are those who wind up taking a detour – yet they’ve earned the vibrancy and a willingness to explore even the vast floor of the ocean’s bottom – this is emblematic of a beloved cult B actor. Those who tickle us with a zeal for chills and chagrins, guffaws and gadzooks, individualism and inimitability, captivating and crapola!

In his later years, John Carradine would come to be known as one of these… the crime is… he was a damn sensational actor!

“I never made big money in Hollywood. I was paid in hundreds, the stars got thousands. But I worked with some of the greatest directors in films and some of the greatest writers. They gave me the freedom to do what I can do best and that was gratifying.”

In regards to his horror legacy, this is what he had to say in 1983 in an interview for KMOX tv:

“That’s the least of my work. I’ve done almost 400 films and only 25 have been horror.”

When you think of John Carradine you might recall his brilliant performance as Casy in The Grapes of Wrath. Carradine had worked with some of the most notable actors and directors in the history of cinema and by the end of his career, he also managed to plumb the depths with some of the crummiest.

Then again you might be excited by his translation of the Dracula mythos in five films: two from Universal’s finely tuned House of Frankenstein (1944), House of Dracula (1945), and three from the later decade’s trash heap – Billy the Kid Versus Dracula (1966), Vampire Hookers (1978), and Nocturna (1979).

On Bela Lugosi in 1956: “Lugosi was a craftsman. I’ve known him for 25 years. He was a considerate and kind gentleman. As for the parts we both played, he was the better vampire. He had a fine pair of eyes. Nobody will ever be able to fill his shoes. He will be missed by us all.”

Like Whale’s Frankenstein monster, Carradine actually missed out on playing the monster and the lead role in Dracula (1931).

With 354 film and television credits to his iconic career, John Carradine was known for his distinctively deep baritone voice and tall, thin frame, a ‘towering, craggy frame’ which often earned him roles as villains and sinister characters, mad doctors, Draculas, hobos, drunks and a slew of nefarious Nazis devils!

At times he had the charm of a jaunty Grim Reaper. Even those smart pale blue eyes that flicker cannot be obscured by that quizzical squint.

William Beaudine on the set of The Face of Marble 1946.

He often worked with director John Ford but you’ve no doubt seen him playing a mad scientist in Captive Wild Woman 1943, The Face of Marble 1946, and The Unearthly 1957.

But one thing that links all these archetypes together is Carradine’s range of either an austere penetrating reserve or a flamboyant spirit framed by his willowy shape. Carradine can intone with either his whispering rumination from a well-written script or summoning his grandiose voice as he reads aloud the trashiest, tackiest dialogue that only he can make appear as a highfalutin soliloquy.

His nicknames were the Bard of the Boulevard and The Voice.

The Face of Marble (1946) An Odd John Carradine Obscurity with an “Identity Crisis”

Carradine’s career includes significant Academy Award-worthy roles, but in contrast, once he started his descent into the madness of acting obscurity, he embodied figures of grotesques and unsavory types. Eventually, he appeared in films more like a drifter just passing through in overambitious garbage Z movies. And now, he will always be considered one of the big-time heavies of the horror genre.

Still, he has left behind a legacy of striking screen performances: the sinister Sgt. Rankin in The Prisoner of Shark Island, and the somber “Long Jack” of Captains Courageous. He played a melancholy Lincoln in Of Human Hearts, a treacherous Bob Ford in Jesse James, the curious stranger Hatfield of Stagecoach, and one of his greatest contributions to the acting craft, as earnest dispirited preacher Casy in The Grapes of Wrath. All masterful characters in Hollywood’s golden age of filmmaking.

Carradine appeared in eight Oscar Best Picture nominees: Cleopatra (1934), Les Misèrables (1935), Captains Courageous (1937), Alexander’s Ragtime Band (1938), Stagecoach (1939), The Grapes of Wrath (1940), The Ten Commandments (1956), and Around the World in 80 Days (1956). Only the last of these won.

He has appeared in eight films that have been selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant: The Invisible Man (1933), The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Stagecoach (1939), The Grapes of Wrath (1940), Johnny Guitar (1954), The Court Jester (1955), The Ten Commandments (1956) and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962).

Though he was known for his ability to bring a kiss of intensity and an air of mysteriousness to his characters, often cast in villainous and sinister roles – he was highly regarded for his versatility and range as an actor. Despite his status as a horror icon, Carradine was more than just a genre actor and never wanted to be known for his long involvement with horror pictures, as he called them.

He was transitional in all genres such as historical dramas, war and spy films, film noir, westerns, horror, sci-fi, mystery thrillers, and romantic comedies. His career ran the spectrum of storytelling.

Carradine was capable of serious dramatic reverie, and earnest and sober performances til ultimately – schlocky b movies, ‘The ‘Divine Madness’ of this flamboyant, grand old man of the theater and Hollywood, Carradine’s persona emerged as a confluence between the individualist and distinguished gentleman.’ (John Carradine: The Films edited by Gregory Willam Mank)

But after all this superior work in an industry that chewed up and spits out great actors, even after his contribution to the horror genre that once saw him as one of the ruling class in Universal’s horror films such as House of Frankenstein and House of Dracula. There is a place for him amongst the aristocracy of Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee, and Peter Cushing, though he might be considered the vagabond of the horror pantheon, as he will undoubtedly be remembered for his role in B horror and exploitation films.

“I have shot, strangled, or otherwise disposed of many a victim on the screen in my day. However, more mayhem has been committed on me than I ever committed on anyone else. I have been poisoned, drowned, shot, pushed off cliffs, hanged, strangled, electrocuted, and run over by subway trains.”

05 May 1983, Los Angeles, California, USA — 5/5/1938- Los Angeles, CA: Screen villain sculptor in spare time. John Carradine, who plays the part of a sinister scoundrel in the movies, is quite a sculptor on the side. He is shown here putting the finishing touches to the head of his five-year-old son, Bruce. This work is included in the current art show by non-professional artists in the film industry at the Stanely Rose Gallery here. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

John Carradine is a noble eccentric, a cult icon who enjoyed photography and painting, sang opera, loved sculpting, knew the Bard’s work by heart, and could recite Shakespeare at every opportunity. Interviews and commentary from other people in the industry would relate stories of John Carradine getting potted with a drink in hand and spouting Shakespeare and funny anecdotes. “He had a repertoire of bad jokes and off-color reminiscence of Old Hollywood.” He was famous for that as much as for his acting.

Carradine is known for his theatricalizing, his out-of-control drinking, and his private life which was a circus. A life bombarded with non-conformity, chaotic marital trials and tribulations, arrests for not paying alimony, drunk driving, prostitution scandals, and bankruptcy that left him destitute.

With all the disorder in Carradine’s life, the reputation that the actor built from his earlier career took a ruinous insult over the years.

By the end, the actor didn’t bother to read a script, he learned his part no matter how ridiculous yet he took anything that came his way so he could pay the rent, finance his dream of having his own theater company and support his boys.

“An opera cape, top hat, ebony stick, and glittering diamond studs set John apart in a town where a tuxedo is considered formal dress. At intermissions, he stands gracefully in the lobby, smoking a long Russian cigarette and twirling his cane… It is the kind of exhibitionism that made Hollywood, in its colorful beginnings, the most talked about town on Earth…”

John Carradine with his actor sons, John, Keith, and Robert courtesy Getty Images date unknown.

Fred Olen Ray: “He was both a prince and a rascal” …” He was colorful and dramatic… He had a sweeping, majestic personality and an extraordinary voice that somehow managed to make the worst dialogue sound good.”

Keith Carradine: “Here was this Shakespearean actor who, in the 1950s to feed his children, did a lot of horror movies. That’s mostly what he’s known for. I think it sort of broke his heart.”

We know him for his deep voice, that low-pitched booming voice that sounds like well-worn leather and warm spices-cinnamon, sandalwood, and clove. He delivers his dialogue more like a fustian oratory, a sagacious silver-tongued scholar intoning a sermon instead of reading his lines straight.

From an interview with KMOX tv:

What do you think made you so successful as an image that I think maybe that incredible voice?

“I think the voice helped and another thing that helped I think was the fact that – well my face Darryl Zanuck was once heard saying when he came out of the rushes for something that I was in. He said “that guy Carradine got the god damndest face (He laughs) What he meant by that I don’t know but I think that was part of it. Well I think the voice helped a lot. Cecil DeMille said I had the finest voice in the business and he was right I did have the finest voice in the business. Still have. But it’s because I had been because I spent so much time in the theater and because I did Shakespeare. As I told my boys if you want to. Be an actor play all the Shakespeare you can get your hands on. Cause if you can play Shakespeare you can play anything. And I did a lot of Shakespeare. Cause that’s why I became an actor because I wanted to be a Shakespearean actor.”

John Carradine is an actor that commands a parade of imagery and similes. He’s just that darn interesting. I find him to have an almost regal symmetry that strikes me as handsome.

He is wraithlike and sinewy, withered, worn to a shadow, and as thin as a rake yet his presence is boundless.

A lanky actor wafting around the screen like a willow tree, hollow-cheeked, rawboned, and lantern-jawed, the opposite of Herculean – but make no mistake his presence is immortal.

And in a not-so-flattering light, he’s been referred to as cadaverous.

“I wasn’t eccentric in those days. I was just trying to learn my craft and improve what I had… cadaverous I’m a very thin man Cadaverous means looking like a cadaver and at least I do look alive. I look like I might live another five minutes!”

Continue reading “John Carradine-I am a ham! Part 1”

John Carradine “I am a ham!” Part 2

Carradine found himself accepting ludicrous parts in Poverty Row and low-budget chillers in order to fund his ambitious theatrical productions, by the 1960s he was degraded by taking on roles just to pay the bills.

He traveled to Africa for Paramount’s Tarzan the Magnificent and acted on Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone 1960 episode ‘The Howling Man.’

When David Ellington (H.M Wynant) seeks refuge at a remote monastery where Carradine is the solemn Brother Jerome in a heroic white beard, robes, and staff and the brotherhood stands guard over the devil (Robin Hughes) whom they trapped and locked away. Ellington disregards their warning and unwittingly releases evil upon the earth. This was a more sedate role for Carradine.

He was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6240 Hollywood Blvd. on February 8, 1960.

In 1962 he returned to Broadway in Harold Prince’s production A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. He played Marcus Lycus the scheming whoremaster of a Roman house of ill repute. The show saw 964 performances in New York’s Alvin Theatre.

“A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum” – Zero Mostel, right, is the lead performer in the Broadway musical “A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum”, along with (left to right:) John Carradine and Jack Gifford.

Carradine also appeared in several television series. Lock Up 1960 – as James Carew in the episode ‘Poker Club.’  He made an appearance in The Rebel 1960 as Elmer Dodson in episodes ‘Johnny Yuma’ and ‘The Bequest.’

These were bare times for Carradine. He wasn’t making it financially for all the film and television work. He took a role in NBCs Wagon Train in 1960 in an episode called ‘The Colter Craven Story’, directed by John Ford.

Considered his favorite experience working in the horror genre – was appearing in Boris Karloff’s superior horror/film noir anthology series Thriller 1961, which ran from 1960-1962.

From an interview with KMOX in 1983:

What was your favorite horror film that you did?

“Oh god I don’t know. Eh, I don’t think I had one. I think it’s probably something I did with Boris. I did several for Boris. He had his own series that he introduced as a host and on a couple of them he worked also on as an actor. And I did two or three of those with him and for him. And I think that was the best part of the horror genre that I did.”

What was he like to work with.?

“Oh, charming. He was a charming man. And I first worked with him on the first thing he did in this country. We had a play down in Los Angeles, the old Egan Theater which was a 400-seat theater down on Figueroa street. And we did a play together called Window Panes which he played a brutalized Russian peasant immigrant unlettered. And I did a Russian peasant half-wit and there was a character sort of a Christ-like character who was wanted by the authorities as he was, was a rebel. But the ignorant peasantry took on him almost as a Christ figure and I did that for ten weeks and we moved over to the Vine Street Theater which is now the Huntington Hartford in Hollywood. And Boris played the brutalized Russian peasant and played it to the nines. And we became very good friends then. And that was in 1928. And we remained good friends until he retired and went back to England.”

For Thriller, Carradine was cast as Jason Longfellow and Jed Carta in ‘The Remarkable Mrs. Hawk’ starring Jo Van Fleet and directed by John Brahm, and ‘Masquerade’ starring Elizabeth Montgomery and Tom Poston directed by Herschel Daugherty and blessed with a whimsically macabre score by Mort Stevens.

Carradine as Jason Longfellow with Hal Baylor in Thriller episode ‘The Remarkable Mrs. Hawk’ 1962.

Above are two images: from the episode ‘Masquerade.’

For the series, Carradine appeared in two of the most comic and compelling episodes. In ‘The Remarkable Mrs. Hawk’ and ‘Masquerade’ he was both sardonic and sinister.

In Masquerade airing in 1961 Carradine plays Jed Carta, leader of a depraved family of murderers and cannibals who entraps wayward travelers, stealing their money and butchering them like hogs. When Tom Poston and Elizabeth Montgomery stumble onto the creepy dilapidated house to get out of a rain storm, Carta greets them with dark glee, trading menacing cracks with Montgomery. What lies beneath the surface might be something more nefarious than the mere suggestion of evil cloaked in black humor that surrounds the Carta family and Carradine’s spooky wisecracks. He’s magnificently droll, skulking around the dreadful house, with Poston, and Montgomery being assailed by disembodied cackling and dimwitted Jack Lambert who wields a large butcher knife lumbering around. Dorothy Neumann plays the feral Ruthie chained to the wall spewing animosity for the Carta clan and demonstrating an itchy type of lunacy. It’s both comical and arouses jitters simultaneously. In my opinion, it is one of Carradine’s most underrated roles in the horror genre, emphasizing his ability to shuffle both dark humor and horror equally.

Boris Karloff’s Thriller The Remarkable Mrs Hawk: A Modern Re-telling of Homer’s Odyssey, Circean Poison with a Side of Bacon.

In ‘The Remarkable Mrs. Hawk’ starring Jo Van Fleet as Mrs. Hawk/Circe, Carradine plays Jason Longfellow an erudite transient who stumbles onto the true identity of Mrs. Hawk, and the secret of her ‘Isle of Aiaie Home of the Pampered Pig.’

Cultivated and shrewd, Longfellow is a scheming vagabond who plans on using his revelation about Mrs. Hawk to his advantage – much to an ironic end.

It’s an inspiration for writers Don Sanford and Margaret St. Clair to transform a classical tale from Greek mythology and position it within a southern Gothic rural setting, using a hog farm and a visiting carnival/State Fair that adds a layer of mystique and mayhem. There’s a great scene that utilizes theatrical anachronism wonderfully when Cissy Hawk (Van Fleet)  carries the bowl, or ‘Circe’s cup’ the night she feeds the pigs grapes and proceeds to turn Johnny (Bruce Dern) back into a man for a while. Under the moonlight, she conducts an ancient rite on modern rural farmland as Pete (Hal Baylor) watches in fright and disbelief from his window.

Not only is this particular episode so effective because of Jo Van Fleet’s performance as the modern-day witch but it’s also due to the presence of the ubiquitous John Carradine, whose facial expressions alone can be so accentuated by his acrobatic facial expressions that make him so uniquely entertaining to watch not to mention listening to his Shakespearean elucidations, hard-bitten insights, and crafty machinations.

Carradine enters the story: A train whistle is blowing in the backdrop. There is a close-up of Jason’s (John Carradine’s) face. Carradine is the perspicacious  Jason Longfellow, an erudite transient, shabby and unshaven, dressed like a gypsy with white tape holding his black-framed glasses together. Skinny, almost skeleton-like, and lanky. Longfellow’s razor-sharp acumen betrays his urbane sensibilities that travel incognito like a stowaway. He may look like a scraggly bum, but he is a highly educated defector of society. He also enjoys giving his companion Peter grief, waging his intelligence that he uses as a refuge. Pete is a  wayward boxer who looks to Longfellow as a mentor. This horror-themed, fable-like episode is overflowing with ironic, comical repose until the baleful scenes leap out at you when Circe wields her powerful magic.

A Pan flute is trebling a child-like tune, a delightful wisp of scales. To the left of the screen are a pair of black & argyle socks with holes worn in the toes, tapping out the melody in the air with his feet. A fire is burning in the trash can. This is a slice-of-the-night mystique of the hobo’s life. Carradine as Jason Longfellow is sitting in a cane back fan rocking chair, a junkyard living room, and a cold tin coffee pot atop an oil drum.

Suspecting their friend Johnny’s disappearance is connected to Mrs. Hawk (Jo Van Fleet) and the rumors about her young handymen all gone missing.

”If I knew Johnny’s fate, my friend, I’d understand why Mrs. Hawk’s farm is designated Caveat Accipitram among the brotherhood ” Jason’s eyes bulge out of the sockets with glee and rancor.

Carradine manifests an exquisite mixture of the facial expression of a malcontent. Pete seems stupefied –” Hhm?” “Come on.. speak American would ya” Jason raises his voice and changes his tone to indicate the hierarchy in their educational backgrounds. ” Caveat Accipitrum… Caveat Accipitrum   BEWARE THE HAWK….” Longfellow ends his little lesson for Pete with emotive punctuation.

He grunts/laughs dismissively “Oh…Hey!” and looks away and takes a drag of his cigarette with his bone-like fingers, squinting his thoughtful blue eyes (not obscured by the black and white film) as if in deep contemplation about the matter. Longfellow was written for Carradine.

Following Thriller, John Carradine made 9 guest appearances on the popular The Red Skelton Hour 1961.

Carradine as Major Starbuckle in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance 1962.

Ford found working with Carradine a trial because of his free-spirited style but he cast him once again, this time joining him in 1962 with The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance starring James Stewart and John Wayne. Carradine played the bombastic Senator Cassius Starbuckle.

Carradine’s cameo happens toward the end of the film in a scene at the political convention with him kicking up a fuss “soldier, jurist and statesmen” he’s a mouthpiece for the cattle ranchers opposed to statehood. This would be Carradine’s last significant role with director John Ford.

“Offering up a caricatured portrayal of a bombastic Southern blue-blood blowhard, he strikes poses, grandstands, and dishonestly paints his political foe (Stewart) as a killer not fit for government. Without half trying Carradine was capable of exuding just the right sort of seedy grandeur in this pompous scoundrel role; his theatrical oratory enlivens the final reel of a movie. “ (Mank)

In 1963 he directed Hamlet at the Gateway Playhouse on Long Island where he performed the melancholy Dane.

Carradine made appearances on the television series The Lucy Show in 1964 as Professor Guzman in the episode ‘Lucy Goes to Art Class.’

Also in 1964, he appeared with Carroll Baker, Karl Malden, and Richard Widmark with Carradine playing Major Jeff Blair a gambler who joins James Stewart in a card game in Ford’s western Cheyenne Autumn 1964.

The Wizard of Mars, and Curse of the Stone Hand where he appeared for one minute as part of director Jerry Warren’s added footage in order to use Carradine’s name in the credits for his movie pieced together from two French dramas creating an incoherent mess.

Throughout the 1960s he worked constantly in Summerstock – appearing in Enter Laughing, Arsenic and Old Lace 1965 and in Oliver as the sly Fagin in 1966.

Carradine in John Ford’s Cheyenne Autumn 1964 starring Carroll Baker.

Carradine with Andrea King in House of the Black Death 1965/71.

in the low-budget House of the Black Death Carradine had more of a prominent role as Andre Desard, plays the patriarch of a family of Satanists and werewolves, with Lon Chaney, Jr. playing his evil brother Belial who sports a pair of horns and battles over their ancestral home. The film also stars Tom Drake and noir star Andrea King.

1966 saw Carradine cast as a smarmy Dracula once again in the bottom basement horror/western Billy the Kid vs Dracula directed by William ‘one shot’ Beaudine, with supportive roles by Virginia Christine and Marjorie Bennett. Carradine is painted as looking like a pasty-faced, maniacal magician with a greasy satanic goatee mustache, widow’s peak, frills, cravat, and top hat. Traveling by stagecoach in the Old West, Dracula meets James Underwood on his way to the cattle ranch to see his niece Betty (Melinda Plowman). When the passengers are killed by Indians, he assumes Underhill’s identity and seeks out Betty as his next undead bride. Carradine comes under suspicion for a series of unexplained murders. His Dracula sleeps in a bed not a coffin and moves around in broad daylight. Whenever Carradine exerts his hypnotic stare, Beaudine used a colored spotlight that turned his face a bright red, with Dracula dashing in and out of the frame, in a badly designed special effect.

“I have worked in a dozen of the greatest, and I have worked in a dozen of the worst. I only regret Billy the kid versus Dracula. Otherwise, I regret nothing… it was a bad film. I don’t even remember it. I was absolutely numb.”

He had a small role in Munster, Go Home in 1966 for Universal where he played the oddball butler Cruikshank. On television, he appeared on episodes of Daniel Boone in 1968 and Bonanza in 1969 as Preacher Dillard.

In 1967 he hosted five horror tales as part of Gallery of Horrors – Not to be confused with the superior portmanteau – Amicus’ Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors. Five short tales of the supernatural introduced by Carradine, who does appear in the first edition as a 17th century Warlock in ‘The Witch’s Clock’ about a young couple who find a cursed clock that can raise the dead.

‘The Witch’s Clock’ segment of Gallery of Horrors.

Continue reading “John Carradine “I am a ham!” Part 2″

What a Character! 11th Annual Blogathon 2023 Elisha Cook Jr. – Like it says in the newspaper I’m a bad boy

It’s the 11th Annual What a Character! Blogathon. Not only is it my favorite gathering of bloggers paying tribute to actors who deserve our recognition, but it also gives me a reason to dive in and binge their films and television appearances. Thank you, Aurora at Once Upon A Screen, Kellee at Outspoken & Freckled, and Paula at Paula’s Cinema Club  for hosting this year’s wonderful event!

Impish pint-sized, blue-eyed, and baby-faced with a  raspy voice, American character actor Elisha Vanslyck Cook Jr. was born on December 26, either 1903 or 1906 (sources vary) in San Francisco, California.

Cook spent his childhood in Chicago, Illinois, and his first job was selling programs in the theatre lobby. He attended St. Albans College and the Chicago Academy of Dramatic Art, debuting on the stage at age 14, and was an assistant stage manager at age 17. He later traveled with a repertory company as a stage actor, appearing in vaudeville, debuting in the vaudeville act Lightnin.’ He worked in stock companies where he got his first big break after Eugene O’Neill cast him in the lead role of his production of Ah, Wilderness on Broadway.

At age 23 Cook debuted on the Broadway stage in 1926 as Joe Bullitt in the musical comedy Hello, Lola. He also appeared as Dick Wilton in Henry Behave 1926, Many a Slip, Hello, Gertie 1926-27, The Kingdom of God 1928-29 – (featuring Ethel Barrymore), and Her Unborn Child 1928  at the Empire Theatre. In 1963 he returned to the stage as “Giuseppe Givola” in “Arturo Ui” on Broadway, written by Bertolt Brecht from The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui. The show featured the music of Jule Styne.

Elisha Cook Jr. then moved to Hollywood where he settled in 1936. He made his film debut revising his stage role as the romantic young lead in the film version of Her Unborn Child 1930 alongside Francis Underwood. “A vividly dramatic all-talker of the Broadway stage hit which rocked the nation with its frankness.” After Hollywood spotted the young actor’s fun-sized flair, he would not return to the stage until 1963.

The diminutive actor co-starred in over 220 films and television shows from the 1930s to the 1980s. His film career, including his later television roles, lasted almost 60 years. Cook a flexible actor, played a wide range of characters. ‘Cookie’ as his friends referred to him, was cast in a wide variety of genres starting out in musical comedy, westerns, crime dramas, and most notably film noir and B horror movies.

“Few actors could claim to have played as many memorable roles in as many recognized classics or to have become the answer to so many Hollywood trivia questions,” – Robert Thomas, Jr., in a New York Times obituary.

Continue reading “What a Character! 11th Annual Blogathon 2023 Elisha Cook Jr. – Like it says in the newspaper I’m a bad boy”

BRIDES OF HORROR – Scream Queens of the 1960s! 🎃 Part 1

This special The Last Drive in Halloween Feature will conclude with Part 4 and it’s primary focus exclusively on the great Barbara Steele!

‘through the complex changes in society surrounding traditional female roles using the ambivalence of the horror genre’ – Claudia Bunce

The 1960s were plagued by controversy and convulsed with violence. Horror cinema with the exception of Hammer Studio and European filmmakers’ colorful pageantry of Gothic tales, and the colorful dreamlike poetry of Mario Bava, mainly transitioned from classical themes. In the 1950s, B-horror movie narratives were concerned with outside hostile forces, alien invasions, and fear of nuclear war, but the new decade began to explore more interior horror that originated in the home and within ourselves. And many of these movies stand out as women-centric protagonists…

“Widely interpreted as a pivotal moment in the horror genre. Suggestive that monstrosity must be defined as inherent to the bourgeois family structure rather than an arcane social aberration: the crimes of Norman Bates can be read as the consequence of the sexually active mother, not unlike Marian Crane. The film is profoundly subversive.” – source unknown

After Riccardo Freda abandoned Black Sunday, the project went to cinematographer Mario Bava and became his directorial debut. The film was the start of the director’s momentous contribution to the genre with his masterful grasp of mise en scené composition, allegorical visual symbolism imagery, and the bold use of expressionist color, vivid tones, and spectrum of light. Bava directed Kill, Baby Kill! 1966 features a ghostly little blonde girl (actually a boy actor) with a white ball that is the creepy harbinger of a series of violent deaths.

Mario Bava unleashed on us his very dark-hearted black & white Black Sunday in 1960 with jolting scenes of death and a new horror goddess, the provocative, wide-eyed- Barbara Steele. During the decade of the 60s, Steele’s ascendance within the genre was part of a broader trend in horror cinema that echoed the real world. Her strong presence and instinct to captivate our gaze, stood head to head with male horror stars Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing during that period of horror cinema. Barbara Steele inhabited the haunted screen with such a formidable primacy, there’s no disputing she is the ultimate scream queen.

The Italian movie industry of the 1960s saw a wave of Italian gothic chillers. Bava’s Blood and Black Lace 1964 is best remembered as the first ‘Giallo’ a particularly savage trademark of murder mysteries.

Riccardo Freda directed The Horrible Dr. Hichcock 1962 and The Ghost 1963, Margheriti’s beautifully orchestrated, eerily atmospheric ghost story Castle of Blood and Ciano’s Nightmare Castle 1965. All starring Barbara Steele.