🚀 “Keep watching the skies!” Science Fiction cinema of the 1950s- The year is 1951- Part 1

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BENEVOLENT VISITORS FROM SPACE, DREADFUL BEGINNINGS, UNKNOWN WORLDS, FUNNY MEN, LONE SURVIVORS, INVISIBLE BOXERS AND KILLERS GORILLAS.

Two Lost Worlds

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Directed by Norman Dawn the film stars James Arness as Kirk Hamilton, Kasey Rogers as Elaine Jeffries, Bill Kennedy as Martin Shannon, Pierre Watkin as Elaine’s father, Magistrate Jeffries, Gloria Petroff as Janice Jeffries, Tom Hubbard as John Hartley, Jane Harlan as Nancy Holden, Tom Monroe as Captain Tallman, Michael Rye as Captain Hackett, and Fred Kohler Jr.as sailor Nat Mercer.

In 1830, on the American clipper ship named ‘The Queen’ first Mate Kirk Hamilton is assailed by bloody pirates led by Captain Hackett. Kirk is brought ashore to treat his wounds, where he meets Elaine Jeffries and the two fall in love. But Elaine is engaged to rancher Martin Shannon and of course a the male rivalry begins. Once again the ruthless Captain Hackett raids and plunder the colony and kidnap Elaine and her little friend Nancy Holden. Which leads Kirk and Martin Shannon to rescue them from the pirates and various dinosaurs that inhabit the volcanic island!

two lost worlds the dinosaurs

Two Lost Worlds Nancy Holden and a dinosaur this aint Alice through the Looking Glass

This ain’t Alice through the looking glass!

Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man

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Directed by Charles Lamont a satirical look at H.G. Wells’ story with our two funny men Bud Abbott and Lou Costello at the center! The film also stars Arthur Franz as boxer Tommy Nelson, Nancy Guild as Helen Gray, Adele Jergens as Boots Marsden, William Frawley as Detective Roberts and Sheldon Leonard as Boots Morgan…

Comedy didn’t escape the horror genre so it certainly didn’t lose time letting Abbott & Costello have a crack at The Invisible Man! By the 1950s they needed gimmicks to seduce their fans into adoring them again. The pair play Bud Alexander and Lou Francis amateur private eyes, hired by boxer Tommy Nelson (Arthur Franz) who’s been accused of killing his manager, to clear his name of the murder. Tommy takes scientist Helen Gray’s serum that produces invisibility. In a hilarious scene Lou poses as a boxer while the invisible Tommy is really doing all the slugging. Of course the duo find the real killer!

Abbott and Costello meet the Invisible Man 1951

ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE INVISIBLE MAN, Bud Abbott, Arthur Franz, Lou Costello, 1951
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE INVISIBLE MAN, Bud Abbott, Arthur Franz, Lou Costello, 1951
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE INVISIBLE MAN, Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Arthur Franz, 1951
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE INVISIBLE MAN, Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Arthur Franz, 1951

Det. Roberts: [Tommy Nelson is gone] How did he get out?

Lou Francis: Installments.

Det. Roberts: Installments?

Lou Francis: Yeah, he did a Gypsy Rose Lee, come here!

[they find Tommy’s clothes lying about]

Lou Francis: That, that’s all that’s left of him.

Det. Roberts: Evidently Nelson changed clothes… what was he wearing when you last saw him?

Lou Francis: Air… nothing but air… and then he asked me how he looked.

Det. Roberts: Wearing air? What are you talking about?

Lou Francis: I went to shake his hand, his hand was gone, I looked up to speak to him, his head was gone. Then he took off his shirt, his body was gone, he took off his pants, his legs were gone! Then he spoke to me, I was gone.

Bride of the Gorilla

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Director Curt Siodmak, (director The Magnetic Monster 1953 & Curucu The Beast of the Amazon 1956, Black Friday, The Ape and The Invisible Woman 1940-story/screenplay, The Wolf Man 1941-screenplay, Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman 1943, Son of Dracula 1943-screenplay, I Walked with a Zombie 1943-screenplay )

Bride of the Gorilla stars the gorgeous Barbara Peyton as Mrs. Dina Van Gelding, Lon Chaney Jr. as Police Commissioner Taro, Raymond Burr plays it cool as Barney Chavez , Tom Conway as Dr. Viet, Paul Cavanagh as Klaas Van Gelder , Giselle Werbisek as Al-Long, Carol Varga as Larina, Woody Strode as Nedo the Policeman. and Steve Calvert as the Gorilla.

Bride of the Gorilla lobby card Burr and Payton

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“The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked!Klaas Van Gelder

Bride of the Gorilla ape and burr

Raymond Burr plays Barney Chavez who manages a plantation in the jungles of South America. He desires his boss plantation owner Klaas Van Gelder’s wife and in order to get his wife Dina he murders him in cold blood. But he is vexed by the old witch Al-Long who has seen his crime, he believes that he has been cursed to become a nocturnal gorilla run amok

Deep in the South American jungle plantation manager Barney Chavez (Raymond Burr) kills his elderly employer in order to get to his beautiful wife (Barbara Payton). However, an old native witch witnesses the crime and puts a curse on Barney. Does he really transform into a killer ape by night or is the curse just a matter of suggestion, and psychological head games pressing on his guilt. He is driven mad believing that he is the ‘jungle demon-the succarat’.

Bride of the Gorilla old witch Al-Long

Bride of the Gorilla Long Chaney as Taro

Police Commissioner Taro: [narration] This is Jungle – lush, green, alive with incredible growth – as young as day, as old as time. I, Taro, Police Commissioner of Itman County, which borders the Amazonas River, know it as well as any man will ever know it. Isn’t it beautiful? But I have also learned that beauty can be venomous, deadly, something terrifying, something of prehistoric ages when monstrous superstitions ruled the minds of men, something that has haunted the world for millions of years rose out of that verdant labyrinth. Let me tell you how the jungle itself took the law into its own hands. This was Van Gelder Manor, built to stand against the searing sun, built to shelter generations of Van Gelders, it also has become prey to the powers of the jungle, that terrifying strength that arose to punish a man for his crimes.

The Day the Earth Stood Still

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🚀 KLAATU BARADA NIKTO

day the earth stood stil klaatu and gort arrive

Directed by the master who started out as an editor working with Val LewtonRobert Wise, created this iconic film which gave the science fiction genre a level of artistic authenticity. It’s memorable and sensational for so many of us because of  Wises’ directing, Leo Tover’s photography, acting by a stellar cast led by Michael Rennie and Patricia Neal and the art direction, set design and spectacular visual effects.

Day_The_Earth_Stood_Still 1951 on the set

Day the earth Stood Still the ship shows up in the sky

Day the Earth STood STill the saucer in Washington

Day the Earth Stood Still-Klaatu emerges

Day the Earht Stood Still miliary

Day the Earth Stood Still Klaatu with offering looks like a weapon

Michael Rennie plays Klaatu a visitor from another world, millions of miles away from Earth who brings a very dire yet hopeful message to us earthlings. “We have come to visit you in peace and with goodwill.” Klaatu appears essentially as a heavenly angel on a mission of mercy.

Klaatu has been sent as a representative by an organization of planets who have found a way to curb their tendencies toward war by installing other powerful robots like Gort to police them, “In matters of aggression we have given them absolute power over us!” Well, that’s a very provocative statement to make coming from Hollywood in the midst of The Cold War, but hey it’s one method, albeit a dangerous one, as Klaatu explains that “This power cannot be revoked. At first signs of violence they act automatically  against the aggressor. The penalty for provoking their action is too terrible too risk.” The violation implies that their planet will be destroyed, which is what Klaatu warns the Earth about. Yes, Klaatu you haven’t achieved perfection with this system but you say it works. So does every dictatorship and totalitarian state.

Of course Michael Rennie is also not at all difficult to listen to as he isnt’ a 10 foot one eyed amorphic blob or a grotesque pants monster. Writer/Film historian Bill Warren mentions this inaccuracy in his book and cites Erich von Däniken. He was an ancient alien theorist claimed that if aliens had visited before they could come again. Perhaps they left a few travelers behind who shacked up with earthlings and voilà thousands of years later you have a very sophisticated and silky talking Brit who looks smashing in a custom tailored suit.

Day the Earth Stood Stilll-Klaatu comes in peace

Day the Earth stood still people watch as Klaatu approaches more crowd

Patricia Neal is beautiful in that retiring style of  hers as widow Helen Benson, Hugh Marlowe plays insurance man Tom Stevens, the wonderfully sage Sam Jaffe plays Professor Jacob Barnhardt, Billy Gray plays Bobbie Benson, Frances Bavier runs the rooming house (another Aunt Bea) as Mrs. Barley, and Lock Martin is lurking inside that great robot silver pants-suit called Gort!

There are tiny bitty part for Stewart Whitman plays a sentry, Olan Soule has a bit part as Mr.Krull, Dorothy Neumann as operator Margaret and Richard Carlson as Thomas Stevens Jr. and few more familiar character actors we all love!

Part of the charm of this film for me on a side note is seeing three of The Andy Griffith Show players like Dorothy Neumann who plays Otis Campbell’s wife, Olan Soule who plays hotel clerk / prissy choir leader Mr. Masters, and of course Francis Bavier the lovable Aunt Bea.

Neumann on the line

Dorothy Neumann as Rita Campbell isn’t always just barking at Otis or pouring his hootch down the drain. She’s been a hard working character actress in so many television shows and films you probably love! (The Snake Pit 1948, Sorry, Wrong Number 1948, she was Helen Lawson’s maid in Valley of the Dolls 1967

Leo Tover is at the helm of the camera, and captures the feeling of a world in befuddlement as well as framing many scenes with a noir sensibility as he had shot so skillfully before with The Snake Pit 1948, The Secret of Convict Lake 1951, and A Blueprint for Murder 1953. Art direction by Addison Hehr and Lyle R. Wheeler (Gone with the Wind 1939, Rebecca 1940, All About Eve 1950, Compulsion 1959) The post-modern expressionist Art Deco interior ship design is out of this world by Set direction by Thomas Little (The Grapes of Wrath 1940, All About Eve 1950)

The flying saucer or space-craft which allegedly cost $100,000 was modeled after actual sightings that were very popular and becoming rampant during that time in the 1950s And of course there’s always Bernard Herrmann’s use of the theremin that just quivers my strings.

Thanks to the direction of Robert Wise (one of my personal favorite directors), The Day the Earth Stood Still is considered one of THE best and most beloved American Science Fiction films of the fifties. One of the interesting themes that runs through the movie is how Christ-like or archetypal Savior figure Michael Rennie’s character Klaatu is– as he comes to save the Earth from their violent ways, and from themselves–in the end only to sacrifice his own life for the cause, then to be resurrected –moving on leaving his grave warning in our laps.

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Day the Earth STood Still Lincoln

Day the Earth stood Still at the monument washington SAVIOR IMAGE

Day the Earth Stood Still People Watch as Klaatu approaches crowd

Day the Earth stood STill the army aims

Day the Earth Stood Still 1951 Klaatu is shot by the army

Day the Earth stood still the miliary waits

Day the Earth Stood Still Klaatu is down

Day the Earth stood Still Gort comes out of ship after Klaatu is shot

Day the Earth Stood Still Klaatu gets up atfer shot meets the military

The film does work as a allegory during the Cold War era which warns us against our transgressions and wicked tendencies toward violent aggression. Klaatu arrives in his spacecraft with his robot companion a gleaming and imposing silver giant named Gort. Klaatu has been sent by an inter-planetary federation that fears Earth will use the atomic-bomb to destroy the universe in the not too distant future, and warns that if they do not stop their aggressive behavior, they will be blown to bits. Met by the military Klaatu extends an olive branch in the form of a gadget that they interpret as a weapon even though he tells the people of Earth “We have come to visit you in peace and in good will”. But they begin firing upon him wounding him and imprisoning him in a hospital where he escapes and assumes the identity of a gentlemanly earthling. Bernard Herrmann’s signature melodic motif of tumult underscores a wonderful scene as authority figures search frantically for Klaaut, and Wise shows the public in various rapt by their radios and television set, reading newspaper headlines about the missing space man!

day-the-earth-stood-still-prisoner at the hospital

Day the Earth Stood Still-lets just say we're neighbors Mr Hardy-it's hard to think of another planet as neighbors

After Mr. Hardy who comes to interview Klaatu asks where he comes from Klaatu tells him that he’s traveled millions of miles to this planet Klaatu –“lets just say we’re neighbors” Mr Hardy-“It’s hard to think of another planet as neighbors.”

day the earth stood still Klaaut is missing from the hospital

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Day the Earth Stood Still the roomers see Mr.Carpenter in the doorway of the rooming house

Day the Earth Stood Still Maj.Carpenter arrives at the rooming house

In the meantime Klaatu takes a small Washington boarding house as a mild mannered Maj. Carpenter where he meets Helen Benson (Patricia Neal) and develops a poignant relationship with she and her son Bobby (Billy Gray). Helen is being wooed by insurance agent Tom (Hugh Marlowe) who turns out to be as aggressive and dangerous as the majority of antagonists in the film.

Taking the name from the tag on a borrowed jacket he’s wearing, Klaatu takes the identity of Major Carpenter. When he arrives at the rooming house everyone is stunned at first, as he stands in the shadows.

Day the Earth Stood Still Maj. Carpenter Arrives

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Day the Earth Stood Still a meal at the rooming house

Mr. Krull “It’s enough to give you the shakes. He’s got that robot standing there, 8 feet tall just waiting to just waiting for orders to destroy us!”

Day the Earth Stood Stil at the dinner table

Helen- “This space man or what ever he is, we automatically assume he’s a menace. Maybe he isn’t at all… {…after all he was shot the minute he landed here } I was just wonder what I would do?” Maj. Carpenter-Well perhaps deciding on a course of action he would want to know more about the people here. To orient yourself in a strange environment.”

Day the earth stood still Mrs Barley -he comes right here from earth

Mrs. Barley-“If you want my opinion he comes from right here on Earth!”

Olan Soule , John Brown as George Barley and Francis Bavier, Patricia Neal and Michael Rennie as Maj. Carpenter are having a meal at the rooming house.

Day the Earth Stood Still Maj Carpenter sits with PAtirica Neal 3

Klaatu wants to walk among the people of earth to try and understand their, ”strange, unreasoning attitudes.” As Phil Hardy says Robert Wise’s film works so well because of his masterful balance of the ‘ominous allegory with the sub-plot of Rennie’s attempt to discover what humans are really like.’

Day the Earth stood Still Klaatu in Bobbys room with Patricia

In an amazing scene, where he shows his benevolent nature, Bobby catches his new friend at the blackboard in the Professors lab and solving a complex equation that he had been struggling with, in a few seconds. Bobby asks if the Professor had done it wrong, Klaatu tells him “It just needs a little help.”

benevolent Klaatu solves a problem

Klaatu also is befriend by the kindly, wise and brilliant scientist Professor Jacob Barnhardt (Sam Jaffe) who recognizes that Klaatu is not a threat nor a false prophet and reflects the better nature of humankind.

You have faith, Professor Barnhardt?- Klaatu

“Our problems are very complex Klaatu, you mustn’t judge too harshly”Professor Barnhardt

“I can judge only by what I see.” –Klaatu

“ Your impatience is quite understandable’ –Professor Barnhardt

“I’m impatient with stupidity” –Klaatu

Day the Earth Stood Still Sam Jaffe at the blackboard

Professor Barnhardt: It isn’t faith that makes good science, Mr. Klaatu, it’s curiosity. Sit down, please. There are several thousand questions I’d like to ask you.

Day the Earth Stood Still Klaatu and Patricia noir frame hiding from the miliary

Robert Wise and cinematographer Leo Tover know how to paint a film noir canvas within the realm of science fiction The Day the Earth Stood Still bares a striking resemblance to many great noir pictures and their familiar tropes… not the least the misunderstood man on the run forced into the shadows, aided by a good women who has faith in him!

Day the Earth Stood Stil Patricia Neal and Michael Rennie

"The Day the Earth Stood Still" Michael Rennie, Hugh Marlowe, & Patricia Neal 1951 20th **I.V.
“The Day the Earth Stood Still”
Michael Rennie, Hugh Marlowe, & Patricia Neal
1951 20th
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Day the Earth STood Still Bobby discovers Klaatus secret

Bobby follows his friend Maj. Carpenter/Klaatu and discovers his secret! In a panic he runs and informs his mother all about it. She tells him he’s been dreaming again, but she also happens to be with Tom (Hugh Marlowe) who is just waiting to get Maj. Carpenter out of the picture and sets the end in motion.

day the earth stood still bobby sees Klaatu with Gort go into his ship

Day the Earth stood still Klaatu goes into ship to stop the earth

Day the Earth Stood Still stunning visual inside ship to stop the earth

The set design and use of lighting lends to the magnificent & moody atmosphere of the film.

Day the Earth Stood Still-Annex - Rennie, Michael

As the title of the film suggests… it’s striking when the moment emerges and everything stops, or stands still.

Klaatu sets the wheels in motion to stop the motion all over the earth! And so everything grinds to halt not only all means of transportation in this modern world, trains, ships, automobiles and buses, tools of industry cease like– farming machines that milk the cows, power stations and factories. Even the creature comforts people take for granted, like washing machines which are left with puddles of sopping clothes, milkshakes that don’t get shook and those poor people at the top of the roller coaster at the amusement park … A nation wide man hunt for the space man begins!

Day the Earth stood Still paper Are we long for this world

New York the streets have clammered to a halt

London all has stalled

London piccadilly circus is shut down people in the streets

Russia nothing works the roads filled with cars

Russia the people stand around

traines stop working

cars in the street and buses wont start

washing machines leave soaking messes

stuck on a rollercoaster

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Day the earth stood still after thing stop people gather by the ship and GORT

Day the Earth STood Still the reporter

Reporter: I suppose you are just as scared as the rest of us.

Klaatu: In a different way, perhaps. I am fearful when I see people substituting fear for reason.

Day the Earth Stood Still the army plans

day-the-earth-stood-still-Patricia Neal and Michael Rennie

He tells Helen “If anything should happen to me, you should go to Gort… You must say these words, Klaatu Barada Nikto. You must remember these words.”

Day the Earth Stood Still GORT blasts two soldiers

day the earth stood still GORT blasts two soldiers decompose into light

day the earth stood still patricia neal encounters GORT

day the earth stood still patricia neal gets frightened of GORTS imposing nature

day the earth stood still GORT stands at the ready lit up

day the earth stood still patricia neal cowers as GORT hovers

day the earth stood still GORT stands before patricia neal viser closed

day the earth stood still patricia neal cowers in corner noir frame fear

Day The Earth Stood Still Gort Carries

day-the-earth-stood-still-GORT on ship with Patricia Neal

Day the Earth STood Still -the resurrection of Klaatu:Christ

Gort resurrects the Christ-like Klaatu

Day the earth stood still GORT close up

In the end, he is gunned down which summons the ire & wrath of Gort who opens up his metallic visor and lets loose a laser beam killing the soldiers. Consistent with the theme of deliverance and resurrection Gort brings Klaatu back to life and ascends like an other-worldly angel from the Earth to return to his delegation leaving behind the message that they either learn to live in peace or be destroyed that we do not have the temperament to be in control of atomic weaponry.

Day the Earth Stood Still Klaatu ship in the park night shot

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Day the Earth STood Still Gort close up

Day the Earth Stood Still-Gort outside the ship

“I will not speak with any one nation or group of nations I don’t intend to add my contribution to your childish jealousies and suspicions. —Klaatu

Day the Earth Stood Still Klaatu and Gort 2

Day the Earth stood Still nations

Day the Earth Stood STill-It is no concern of ours how you run your own planet

“It is no concern of ours how you run your own planet, but if you threaten to extend your violence this earth of yours will be reduced to a burned out cinder… your choice is simple… join us and live in peace or pursue your present course and face obliteration!… We shall be waiting for your answer… the decision rests with you.”–Klaatu

Day the Earth Stood STill ship takes off night

Klaatu and Gort take off in the ship, he ascends back into the heavens our future rests with us!

An ‘ominous allegory’a reflection of our fears and mistrust– a message that it’s not too late to be overseen by giant soulless robots that might malfunction and reduce you to a cinder if you have an angry outburst about your $6 coffee tasting like mud!.

Day the Earth Stood Still Gort

Klaatu’s command to —“Gort! Klaatu barada nikto!”

Gort, Patricia Neal and Michael Rennie

Five

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Directed by Arch Oboler (Strange Holiday 1945 starring Claude Rains, Bewitched 1945 starring Phyllis Thaxter, Bwana Devil 1952 in 3D, The Twonky 1953 and another 3D film The Bubble 1966)

Arch Oboler had been regarded very highly for his work in old time Radio primarily on “Lights Out” another show about fantasy/horror & science fiction themes.

Stars William Phipps, Susan Douglas Rubes, James Anderson, Earl Lee and Charles Lampkin.

This independent film has all the trappings of a low-budget art-house film with science fiction over-tones that’s rather dreary and nihilistic in tone. It’s deals with the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust that wipes out the entire civilization except for five survivors. The story has been dealt with either viewed through a campy lens as with Roger Corman’s amusing vision of radioactive fall-out Day the World Ended (1955) with it’s cast of diverse survivors stuck in a canyon who are at risk of mutations out in the eerie fog, some turning on each other as their limited resources.

As with Corman’s beloved cult foray, Five’s characters are also victims of radioactive dust clouds, that kills off the animal life on the planet and essentially vaporizes people down to their skeletons.

William Phipps (Crossfire 1947, War of the Worlds 1953, The Brothers Rico 1957 & a slew of television appearances) plays Michael, a man who survived the nuclear disaster because he was stuck in an elevator at the top of the Empire State Building high enough to shield him from the atomic clouds (perhaps I should re-think my fear of elevators and my fear of heights -hhm) He encounters the only other survivors up in the mountains, Rosanne (Susan Douglas) who is going to have a baby, another recognizable actor from the 50s is the handsomely intense James Anderson, who plays an aggressive neo-Nazi named Eric, a black doorman named Charles (Charles Lampkin, another familiar face and busy television & film actor) and Mr. Barnstaple (Earl Lee), a bank clerk who is complete denial about what has happened, of course he succumbs to radiation poisoning.

With the mixture of personalities left to band together it isn’t any wonder that tensions build especially because there is only one woman left to go around. Eric cannot help but antagonize Charles and try to make an object out of Rosanne. Roxanne is still waiting for her husband to return, safely to her. The film has a filthy strain of meanness in it, as Oboler wants us to feel the desperation and detestable situation for ourselves. Eric kills Charles and grabs Rosanne with her newborn baby telling her that they are going to search for her missing husband in the city. It’s gruesome and dismal as they stumble upon skeletons in mid pose, in doorways, in their cars trying to escape. When she finds out that husband has perished she wants to go back up to the mountains. The two struggle and Rosanne tears his shirt exposing the fact that Eric has radiation burns all over his chest. In yet another very bleak turn of events, Rosanne’s baby dies while she’s making her way back to the mountains. All that are left now are Michael and the distraught Rosanne to be the archetypal Adam & Eve in a not so paradisiacal Eden drenched in atomic fallout.

The New York Times review said of Oboler’s Five- “Mr. Oboler spends so much time scanning the landscape, the sky, the sea and clouds that he can’t seem to bring himself to tangle with the problems fo his meek and baffled crew. And when he does he contents himself with fashioning a little drama of left-over racial hate in a world virtually empty of people, rather than seek the terror in a human void.”

STAY TUNED FOR PART II OF KEEP WATCHING THE SKIES -THE YEAR IS 1951

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Nature’s Fury Blogathon: 🐜 Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963) Melanie Daniels as Metaphor: Wanton With Wings-“What are you? I think you’re the cause of all this, I think you’re evil!”

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The clever & cheeky Barry of Cinematic Catharsis has summoned this great and powerful idea for a Summer Blogathon! Whether it’s the weather, or giant mutant bugs, blood hungry sharks, large animals run amok, or the elements gone awry–Nature’s Fury can be seen in so many fascinating and awe inspiring feature films and those lovable B movie trends that showcase the natural world in chaos. I immediately thought of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds as it is a film that has stayed burned in my mind since I first saw it as a child. Certain scenes will never lose their power to terrify.

And in celebration of this event, I’ve actually written a song and made a film/music mash up to tribute Tippi Hedren in The Birds, with a montage from the film featuring my song Calling Palundra

iconic scene the running

Hitch birds

“The Birds expresses nature and what it can do, and the dangers of nature. Because there’s no doubt that if the birds did decide, you know, with the millions that they are, to go for everybody’s eyes, then we’d have H.G.Wells Kingdom of the Blind on our hands.”-Alfred Hitchcock

tippi and crow promo shot

“Why are they doing this? They said when you got here, the whole thing started. Who are you? What are You? Where did you come from? I think you’re the cause of all this… I think you’re evil EVIL!” Actress Doreen Lang playing the hysterical mother in the diner!

This tribute video features my special song written just for this blogathon…. Here’s Melanie Daniels & the birds– with my piano vocal accompaniment, ‘Calling Palundra’

The children’s song “Risseldy Rosseldy” heard at the school when the crows began to unite as a gang is the Americanization of an old Scottish folk song called “Wee Cooper O’Fife”

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Image courtesy of: Jürgen Müller’s colorful Movies of the ’60s

On it’s face The Birds can be taken literally as a cautionary tale about the natural world fighting back against the insensitivity & downright barbaric treatment of nature’s children and the environment at the hands of humankind. Is it a tale of simple unmitigated revenge against the town for the killing of a pigeon? Or is there something more nefarious & psycho-sexual at work? Once you peel back the top layer of the visual narrative there are multi metaphors at work.

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From Dark Romance: SEXUALITY IN THE HORROR FILM by David J. Hogan- “Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963) is probably the ultimate expression of this sort of nameless dread. It is a film that cheerfully defies description: it is horror, it is science fiction, it is black comedy, it is a scathing look at our mores and manners. It is a highly sexual film, but in a perversely negativistic way.”

Before the release of The Birds in 1963, Tippi Hedren made the cover of Look Magazine with the heading “Hitchcock’s new Grace Kelly”.

Tippi Hedren in Marnie 1964
Tippi Hedren in Marnie (1964) What Grace Kelly had in pristine beauty and sophistication, Hedren possesses an undertow of sensuality that pulls you into that gorgeous mystique.

As with Hitchcock’s other, worldly beautiful blonde subject — the strong willed socialite Lisa Carol Fremont (Grace Kelly) in Rear Window (1954) The Birds features the stunning Tippi Hedren as the coy, confident and a bit manipulative Melanie Daniels a San Fransisco socialite who descends upon Bodega Bay with a similar uncompromising will. Stiff, stolid and cocky Lawyer Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor) meets Melanie in a pet shop where the two share shallow, faintly romantic barbs and repartee. Mitch is shopping for a pair of love birds for his sister Cathy’s eleventh birthday and Mitch pretends in a condescending manner to mistake her for the clerk.  Melanie goes along with the mistaken identity as a way to flirt until his slightly mean-spirited joke backfires when she accidentally let’s a canary loose and while it lands in an ashtray Mitch throws his hat on it and places it back in it’s cage smugly saying “Back in your gilded cage Melanie Daniels.” revealing that he not only knew who she was from the very beginning and has quite a snotty preconceived notion about this socialite whom he appears to judge as running with a ‘wild’ crowd and is amoral. He manages to make a bit of a fool out of Melanie. The contrast between the flirty glib and calculating Melanie Daniels and the less interesting, judgemental and arrogant Mitch Brenner kicks off a chemistry that really isn’t as vital to the story as what the two personalities represent. 

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As Melanie is about to enter Davidson’s Pet Shop, she hears and sees a tremendous gathering of Seagulls in the sky. It is a foreboding moment of things to come…
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From the opening of The Birds, devoid of any musical lead-in or further soundtrack, all natural noise of bird sounds are what underscore the films visual story. The Seagulls in San Fransisco are many and loud this afternoon as Melanie takes notice…
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Melanie enters the shop as Alfred Hitchcock exits, giving the customary cameo walking two dogs that happen to be his own white terriers Geoffrey and Stanley!
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Tippi Hedren, Hitchcock’s new beautiful blonde to supplant the other object of his affections/fixation… Grace Kelly.
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Melanie (Tippi Hedren) has come to pick up the Mynah bird that she has ordered, but the shipment is late. She remarks to pet shop owner Mrs. MacGruder (the lovable Ruth McDevitt) “Hello Mrs. MacGruder have you ever seen so many gulls? What do you suppose it is?” Mrs. MacGruder supposes, “Well There must be a storm at sea that drives them inland you know.”

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Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor) enters the pet shop and approaches Melanie asking for help in purchasing lovebirds for his kid sister
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Melanie is attracted to this handsome yet smug and polished smart ass in a suit, so she plays along pretending to be the clerk and continues to help him, giving completely ridiculous answers to his snide questions as he grills her about ornithology. The louse!
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Mitch –“I wonder if you could help me?” Melanie –“what?” Mitch –“I said I wonder if you could help me” Melanie “Just what is it you’re looking for sir?” Mitch “Lovebirds…” Melanie “Lovebirds Sir?” Mitch “Well I understand there’s different varieties is that true?” Melanie “Oh Yes there are” Mitch “Well uh these are for my sister for her birthday, and see uh as she’s only gonna be eleven, I wouldn’t want a pair of birds that were… too demonstrative.” Melanie “I understand completely” Mitch “At the same time, I wouldn’t want them to be too aloof either.” Melanie “No of course not” Mitch “Do you happen to have a pair of birds that are… just friendly?…aren’t those love birds? Melanie “no those are red birds” Mitch “Aren’t they called strawberry finches?” Melanie “oh we call them that too…Oh now here we are love birds” Mitch “those are canaries…Doesn’t this make you feel awful?’ Melanie “Doesn’t what make me feel..?” Mitch “Having all these poor little innocent creatures caged up like that” Melanie “Well we can’t just let them fly around the shop you know” Mitch “No I guess not, is there an ornithological reason for keeping them in separate cages?” Melanie “Well certainly it’s to protect the species” Mitch “Yes I expect that’s important especially during the molting season” Melanie “Hhm that’s a particularly dangerous time” Mitch “are they molting now?” Melanie “some of them are.” Mitch “how can you tell?” Melanie “well they give a sort of tang dog expression” Mitch “yes I see well what about the love birds?” Melanie “Are you sure you wouldn’t like to see a canary? We have some very nice canaries this week” Mitch “Alright, alright may I see it please? (he holds out his hand)”
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An ornithology lesson. These are strawberry finches not ‘red birds’

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Melanie tries to hold a canary to show Mitch, but the little yellow bird flies out of her grip and starts fluttering all around the shop.

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Mitch utters this insult at Melanie… “Back in your gilded cage, Melanie Daniels!” The louse!!!
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Melanie feels a sting… realizing that she has been made a fool of by this cocky fella she doesn’t even know but she wants to know him…
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Melanie “What did you say?” Mitch “I was merely drawing a parallel Miss Daniels” Melanie “How did you know my name?” Mitch “A little birdy told me” Melanie “Hey wait a minute, I don’t know you” Mitch “Ah, but I know you” Melanie “how?” Mitch “We met in court” Melanie “We never met in court or any place else” Mitch “Oh that’s true let me rephrase, it I saw you in court” Melanie “When?” Mitch “Don’t you remember one of your practical jokes that resulted in the smashing of a plate glass window” Melanie  “I didn’t break that window” Mitch “Yes but your little prank did–Judge should have put you behind bars!” Melanie “What are you a policeman?” Mitch “I may know a little about the law and I’m not too keen on practical jokes” Melanie “Well what do you call your Lovebird story if not a practical joke?” Mitch “Oh I really wanted the Lovebirds” Melanie “Well you knew I didn’t work here, you deliberately…” Mitch interrupts “Right! I recognized you when I came in I just thought you’d like to know what it’s like to be on the other end of a gag, what do you think of that?” Melanie  “I think you’re a louse.” Mitch  “I am, good day Miss Daniels” Melanie “I’m glad you didn’t get your Lovebirds” Mitch “Oh I’ll find something else… see you in court”

Melanie runs after Mitch and catches sight of his license plate number, getting his information from her father’s contacts at the newspaper. She decides to follow him 60 miles up the coast with a pair of Lovebirds to see him at his mother’s home in Bodega Bay where he spends his weekends.

And one of the popular theories is that it’s her driving impulse to seduce Mitch that has sparked the inexplicable terror that takes siege upon the residents of the sleepy little seaside community.

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Once at Bodega Bay, she asks a storekeeper where to find Mitch’s little sister and is given Annie Hayworth’s address, where Melanie proceeds to drive to.

Now it’s time for two thirds of the triad of grasping women to meet each other. The confident socialite stylish and stunning in pursuit of Mitch, and the brooding beautiful woman he left behind who’s sullenness is as palpable as the surrounding sea. Though Annie winds up being a very good person, loves her students, and though she’s in pain and sees Mitch moving into a dynamic relationship with a outre sophisticated blonde, she winds up being a true friend, to the point of ultimately sacrificing her own life.

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Annie in an ironic tone “I guess that’s where everyone meets Mitch.”

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Annie meets Melanie at car
Annie “Did you drive up from San Fransisco by the coast road?” Melanie “Yes” Annie “Nice drive” Melanie “It’s very beautiful” Annie “Is that where you met Mitch?” Melanie “Yes” Annie “I guess that’s where everyone meets Mitch” Melanie “Now you sound a bit mysterious Miss Hayworth” Annie “Do I, actually I’m an open book I’m afraid , or actually a closed one” She looks down at the cage of Lovebirds Annie “pretty, what are they?” Melanie “Lovebirds” Annie with a pain that stretches deep across her face “I see… good luck Miss Daniels.”

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Melanie rents a boat from Doodles Weaver credited as the boat rental guy.

She starts up the motor and begins to head across the bay just to bring Mitch a ‘practical joke’ present in kind, what else but… a pair of Lovebirds. She has written him a letter which she winds up tearing up, instead placing a card for his sister Cathy presenting the Lovebirds as the originally intended birthday gift for her.

Melanie moves across the bay toward the object of her desire adorned in Edith Head’s glamorous boating attire, a luxurious mink, that stunning green suit and high heels, (yes! it’s a very understated chic outfit for the occasion of man hunting) Tippi’s gorgeous green suit she is seen wearing throughout the film was referred to by multi Academy Award winning fashion designer Edith Head, as “Eau de Nil” or Nile water!

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Melanie gets out of the motor boat, surrounded by beauty and serenity, the mood, peaceful, the quiet before the storm… she proceeds to sneak into the Brenner farmhouse to leave the Lovebirds for Mitch, or well eh Cathy, yeah Cathy.
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Melanie waits until Mitch is in the barn, sneaks into the house and leaves the cage of Lovebirds in the den, ripping up her original letter to Mitch and instead just placing a birthday card for his little sister Cathy. How cagey.. oops sorry for the pun guys!

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the tranquility and romantic game-play is about to shift, from this moment on…

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Melanie is attacked by a crazed sea gull who swoops down from the cloudy blue sky to put a nice gash in her beautiful head, messing up that very coiffed blonde hair with the faint trickle of blood dripping down her face and a spot on her glove.

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Mitch helps Melanie taking her into the diner to get her wound cleaned up, “That’s the damnedest thing I ever saw, it seemed to swoop down at you deliberately.”

Continue reading “Nature’s Fury Blogathon: 🐜 Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963) Melanie Daniels as Metaphor: Wanton With Wings-“What are you? I think you’re the cause of all this, I think you’re evil!””

The Women of Alfred Hitchock’s Hour (1962-1965)

This review is part of the Summer of MeTV Classic TV Blogathon hosted by the Classic TV Blog Association.

Click here CLASSIC TV ASSOCIATION BLOGSPOT 

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THE ALFRED HITCHCOCK HOUR

Concerto Sinostro- The Alfred Hitchcock Hour- Seven Exceptional Episodes

Alfred Hitchcock the television years: 8 indelible episodes!

There were 93 EPISODES in the series.

Alfred Hitchcock and Crow

“GOOD EVENING…

Hitchcock:To be quite honest, I am not interested in content at all. I don’t give a damn what the film is about. I am more interested in how to handle the material to create an emotion in an audience.”

As a child of the 60s, as soon as the emblematic theme song and opening credits started to play, I would feel chills running up my spine. I remember the reruns were still broadcast late at night, I understood that each story had something foul afoot, a shadow of the uncanny loomed over my tiny shoulders and the room filled up with a sinister quiver. Even with it’s smart-alecky delivery and Hitchcock’s well placed tongue-in-cheek humor to offset some of the more gruesome aspects of the show, I couldn’t wait til 10pm and the idea of watching a dreadfully good mystery even for such a young impressionable mind as my own! The timpani as intermezzo between each thrilling scene to raise the goose bumps and keep the heart pounding!

Alfred Hitchcock transported his brand of cheeky suspense narratives from the big screen to the advent of the intimate living-room television experience of the 60s where tv stations were fertile with playhouse theater melodramas, stage play-esque stories featuring some of the most emotive and original character actors who’s careers were vibrant with possibility.

Using some of the most well known mystery writers, seriously cutting edge and unorthodox directors, and the best actors who could bring forth the most nuanced performances from the riveting scripts.

The show premiered on Thursday, September 20, 1962 from 10pm-11pm on CBS. It ran opposite Alcoa Premier Theater on ABC and The Andy Williams Show on NBC. from 1963 -1964 it moved to Friday nites and then from 1964-1965 it found it’s slot on Monday nites opposite Ben Casey on ABC.

The Alfred Hitchcock Hour ranks among the top fifty longest-running series in television history!

Robert Bloch talks about his years working with Hitch, starting out on the program in 1959. He was summoned to Shamley Productions office and offered an assignment to write a script based on Frank Mace’s story “The Cukoo Clock.” Bloch began adapting his own published stories along side the other writers on staff. Bloch’s work was only dramatized by other writers when his commitment with the competing anthology show wasn’t calling for his time. That show was Boris Karloff’s Thriller. Bloch recalls producer and part of the creative team Joan Harrison as a remarkable lady who went from secretary to screenwriter to independent producer with a unique vision.

Norman Lloyd had a certain style of speech and mannerism which might designate him an Englishman when in fact–he was born in Jersey City, New Jersey! Starting out as an unbelievably talented actor who worked several times with Hitchcock in film. Lloyd played Fry in Hitch’s Saboteur 1942, & Mr. Garmes in Spellbound 1945. 

Lloyd had been blacklisted and hadn’t been able to work in television for four or five years.

“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

Norman Lloyd

Hitch was a world-figure. He was a man of great humor, had a very definite view of the world. He saw the world a certain way and we have as a result what is known as the Hitchcock film. It became the Hitchcock story, so to speak, almost like an Edgar Allen Poe story.” Directors try to imitate him but they never get the mixture right. Only Hitch had the mixture of the romance, the suspense, the humor, the twists” -Norman Lloyd

Joan Harrison started out as Hitchcock’s secretary, began reading scripts, writing synopses, and actually contributing to the scripts. She followed Hitchcock to Hollywood in 1939 working as his assistant and then was hired by MGM in 1941 as a scriptwriter. In 1943 she became a producer for Universal Studios. To her film credits, she produced some of the most compelling film noir/ mysteries. One of my personal favorites, Phantom Lady 1944 and then… The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry 1945, Nocturne 1946 They Won’t Believe Me 1947, Ride the Pink Horse 1947, Eye Witness 1950, and Circle of Danger 1951.

Director Robert Siodmak, Joan Harrison, Ella Raines and Franchot Tone on the set of Phantom Lady
Director Robert Siodmak, producer Joan Harrison, Ella Raines and Franchot Tone on the set of Phantom Lady 1944

Executive Producers on the showNorman Lloyd and Joan Harrison are partly what made the series so enigmatic. Producers included Herbert Coleman, Robert Douglas, David Friedkin, Gordon Hessler, Roland Kibbee and David Lowell Rich.

The cinematographers who worked on various episodes included Stanley Cortez, Benjamin Kline, Lionel Linden, William Margulies, Richard Rawlings, John L. Russell and John F. Warren. With art direction by John J Lloyd and Martin Obzina.

The magnificent musical contributions were offered by Hitchcock veteran Bernard Herrmann and a personal favorite of mine, Lyn Murray, whose stirring melodies recycle themselves in several of the most poignant episodes. The brilliant and prolific Pete Rugolo can be heard as well as Stanley Wilson.

Florence Bush was the hairstylist for the show, and she was very active during the 60s! You’ll spot her name listed in the credits on so many television programs of that era. Including Leave it to Beaver and Hitchcock’s film Psycho!

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THE DIRECTORS- Bernard Girard, John Brahm, Alan Crosland Jr., Alf Kjellin, Norman Lloyd, Sydney Pollack, Jerry Hopper, Joseph Pevney, Leonard Horn, Jack Smight, Charles F. Haas, David Lowell Rich, James Sheldon, Herschel Daugherty, Robert Douglas, Joseph Newman, Harvey Hart, Laslo Benedek, William Whitney, Leo Penn, Harry Morgan, Philip Leacock, Lewis Teague, Arnold Laven, David Friedkin, James H. Brown, Alex March, Herbert Coleman, William Friedkin and Alfred Hitchcock…

THE WRITERS Ray Bradbury, Robert Bloch, Henry Slesar, Cornell Woolrich, Richard Matheson, Gilbert Ralston, Clark Howard, Richard Deming, Morton S. Fine, David Friedkin, Lewis Davidson, Larry M Harris, James Bridges, Selwyn Jepson, Andrew Benedict, Anthony Terpiloff, Avram Davidson, Alfred Hayes, James Holding, Helen Nielsen, Arthur A Ross, Stanley Abbott, Lee Kalcheim, Ethel Lina White, Oscar Millard, James Yaffe, Andre Maurois, Clyde Ware, Davis Grubb, Nigel Elliston, John Wyndham, Harlan Ellison, Robert Branson, C.B Gilford, Francis Gwaltney, Harold Swanton, Margaret Manners, William Fay, S.B. Hough, Emily Neff, Barré Lyndon, Jack Ritchie, Alvin Sargent, Hugh Wheeler, Veronica Parker Jones, Boris Sobelman, Joel Murcott, Margaret Millar, Richard Levinson, William Link, Thomas H Cannon Jr., Randall Hood, Gabrielle Upton, Robert Westerby, Miriam Allen DeFord, William D Gordon, John Collier, James Parish, Kenneth Fearing, Robert Gould, Robert Arthur, William Fay, George Bellak, Robert Twohy, Leigh Brackett, Frederick Dannay, Manfred Lee, Mann Rubin, Douglas Warner, Henry Kane, Alec Coppel, Amber Dean, Lou Rambeau, Edith Pargeter, Charles Beaumont, Francis Didelot, Celia Fremlin, Roland Kibbee, Lukas Heller, Elizabeth Hely, Rebecca West, Richard Fielder, Nicholas Blake, Lee Erwin, Marie Belloc Lowndes, Julian Symons, John Bingham, V.S.Pritchett, John D MacDonald, John Garden, Andrew Garve, Marc Brandell, Patricia Highsmith, Samuel Rogers, Oliver H. P. Garrett

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Writer Robert Bloch- was a contributor to many of the shows spine chilling narratives!

Hitchcock first managed to develop an anthology series that drew from his magazine and radio stories of the macabre, suspenseful, crime drama and cheeky thriller, often lensed with a noir style. This show was of course Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Eventually in order to compete with the growing market of 50 minute teleplays, like Playhouse 90, Boris Karloff’s Thriller, The Twilight Zone etc, Hitchcock changed his format to meet an hours worth of programming, still employing Hitch’s classic introductory droll prologue. And where Karloff’s Thriller painted the stories with a more macabre brush stroke, Hitchcock’s anthology show presented these criminal acts in two parts in a most ironic and irreverent manner…

According to John McCarty, Hitchcock made the shift from half hour show to the 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.

While Boris Karloff’s Thriller was pervasive with it’s stories of the macabre and the uncanny, Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone with it’s more sociological morality with a heavy science fiction spin, Alfred Hitchcock maintained an ironic lens on very suspense/crime oriented material that kept the focus on human nature as perilous. He always provided the same sort of ‘twist’ at the end as in it’s pithy precedent Alfred Hitchcock Presents!

While Alfred Hitchcock Presents might have provided a shorter more enlivened ride to the turn of plot because it had to deliver the lightning in a more synoptic amount of time, the hour format allowed for more psychological background, with room to build the character study of the players involved.

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Alfred Hitchcock is still the larger-than-life, Aesopsian voice of modern crime-infused with foul deeds springing from human nature and the darker sides of the mortal mind and how far it can reach when working under a compulsion, obsession or pathology. His vision created some of the most compelling little dramas for a ’60s audience to digest, still relevant after all these years.

Hitchcock’s brand of humor was dry and witty, ironic and fablist. Drawing from some of the finest mystery writers of the day, his little tour-de force dramatizations showcased some of the best examples of theatre and acting even on the small screen. His first show which gave us a 25 minute sequence that the series featured premiered on October 2, 1955 after Alfred Hitchcock had been directing mesmerizing films for over three decades!

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“GOOD EVENING…..”

The iconic opening title sequence for the show has become unforgettably imposed in our psyches and in popular culture, as the simplistic yet mirthful intro possesses the camera fading upon an easily recognizable caricature of Hitchcock’s porcine yet endearing profile. Set against one of the most memorable musical themes written by Charles Gounod’s– the piece is called Funeral March of a Marionette. A type of adult nursery song that tickles the funny bone’s comparable curious bone… the one that gets triggered when there’s a marvelous mystery afoot! The theme– suggested by Hitchcock’s musical collaborator, the brilliant Bernard Hermann.

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As if it couldn’t get any more smashingly wicked and alluring, Hitchcock himself takes shape behind the silhouette from the right of screen, then in grand theatrical style walks center stage to eclipse the drawing. He commences with his nightly, “Good evening…” and we are in for an irresistibly gripping treat!

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The opening set of each episode, 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. Many of his missives took shots at the sponsors, spoofing the popular American fixation on commercials and commercialism.

Always at the end of the show, Hitchcock would re-appear to lead the audience out of the evening’s events. To either enlighten them on the aftermath of a story, the scenes they did not see, and to reassure us that the criminals featured did get their comeuppance. To tie up any loose ends within the question of morality’s swift hand.

Originally 25 minutes per episode, the series was expanded to 50 minutes in 1962. The show was then renamed The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. Hitchcock directed 17 of the 268 filmed episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

Hitchcock did direct one of the hour long episodes called “I Saw the Whole Thing” starring John Forsyth who is accused of hit and run, while several witnesses swear they saw him leave the scene of the accident.

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Here is how the show was syndicated back in the 60s:

  • Sunday at 9:30-10 p.m. on CBS: October 2, 1955—September 1960
  • Tuesday at 8:30-9 p.m. on NBC: September 1960—September 1962
  • Thursday at 10-11 p.m. on CBS: September—December 1962
  • Friday at 9:30-10:30 p.m.on CBS: January— September 1963
  • Friday at 10-11 p.m. on CBS: September 1963—September 1964
  • Monday at 10-11 p.m. on NBC: October 1964—September 1965

The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, lasted three seasons from September 1962 to June 1965, There were 93 episodes in total. Alfred Hitchcock Presents had a total of 268 episodes.

Hitchcock directed two episodes of Presents that were nominated for Emmy Awards–“The Case of Mr. Pelham (1955) and one of the most popular stories with it’s fabulous dark humor, “Lamb to the Slaughter” (1958) starring Barbara Bel Geddes.

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The episode that won an Emmy Award was one of my particular favorites as it is both poignant and eerie, “The Glass Eye” (1957) starring Jessica Tandy, Tom Conway and Billy Barty. Robert Stevens won for his direction.

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Cinematographer John L. Russell’s incredible shots of Jessica Tandy in The Glass Eye

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“An Unlocked Window” (1965) is one of the most starkly intense and transgressive in nature of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and won an Edgar Award for James Bridges writing in 1966. The episode stars Dana Wynter and Louise Latham, both wonderful unsung actresses!

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Dana Wynter and T.C. Jones in An Unlocked Window–nurses in peril oh my!
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Louise Latham in An Unlocked Window

THE ACTRESSES— Martha Hyer, Vera Miles, Patricia Breslin, Angie Dickinson, Carol Lynley, Carmen Phillips, Isobel Elsom, Charity Grace, Susan Oliver, Kathleen Nolan, Peggy McCay, Adele Mara, Lola Albright, Dee Hartford, Gena Rowlands, Jayne Mansfield, Dina Merrill, Patricia Collinge, Jan Sterling, Elizabeth Allen, Anne Francis, Ruth Roman, Gladys Cooper, Inger Stevens, Zohra Lampert, Diana Hyland, Joan Fontaine, Irene Tedrow, Sarah Marshall, Nancy Kelly, Betty Field, Katherine Squire, Martine Bartlett, Phyllis Thaxter, Natalie Trundy, Linda Christian, Laraine Day, Anna Lee, Lois Nettleton, Madlyn Rhue, Patricia Donahue, Diana Dors, Claire Griswold, Mary LaRoche, Virginia Gregg, Anne Baxter, Jacqueline Scott, Sondra Blake, Ruth McDevitt, Katharine Ross, Patricia Barry, Jane Withers, Joyce Jameson, Teresa Wright, Linda Lawson, Jean Hale, Mildred Dunnock, Felicia Farr, Kim Hunter, Collin Wilcox, Jane Darwell, Jocelyn Brando, Joan Hackett, Gloria Swanson, Lynn Loring, Pat Crowley, Juanita Moore, Naomi Stevens, Marjorie Bennett, Jessica Walter, Gia Scala, Joanna Moore, Kathie Browne, Ethel Griffies, Sharon Farrell, Nancy Kovack, Barbara Barrie, Doris Lloyd, Lillian Gish, Maggie McNamara, Josie Lloyd, Tisha Sterling, Ann Sothern, Patricia Medina, Elsa Lanchester, Jeannette Nolan, Ellen Corby, Julie London, Margaret Leighton, Lilia Skala, Olive Deering, Kathryn Hays, Dana Wynter, Louise Latham, Sally Kellerman, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Fay Bainter, Jane Wyatt, June Lockhart, Colleen Dewhurst

MY SELECTED EPISODES THAT FEATURE THE HITCHCOCK LADIES OF THE EVENING!….

DON’T LOOK BEHIND YOU (9/27/62) VERA MILES as Daphne

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Vera Miles as Daphne and devilishly handsome Jeff Hunter in Don’t Look Behind You
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Fear grips the campus and Vera Miles… Abraham Sofaer watches Daphne go out into the dangerous night woods

Directed by John Brahm, written by Barré Lyndon (The War of the Worlds 1953) Based on Samuel Rogers novel co-stars Jeffrey Hunter, Abraham Sofaer, Dick Sargent, Alf Kjellin, Mary Scott, Madge Kennedy.

A small college campus is gripped by fear when a maniac is on the loose. Two young female students are slaughtered while walking home through the surrounding nefarious night time woods. All eyes are on several members of the faculty, though the police have no clues to go on. Alf Kjellin plays Edwin Volck an intense pianist/composer who seems very tightly wound, especially around women. Handsome Jeffrey Hunter is Harold the psychology professor who dabbles in abnormal behavior. Harold convinces his fiancée Daphne (the lovely Vera Miles) to act as bait to lure the killer out. Vera Miles is always possessed of a smart and inquisitive sensuality. In this episode she’s perfect as an academic who doesn’t shy from the idea of hunting a serial killer.

Harold-“Daphne, I know this man’s secret. I’ve studied these people, I know how they think!”

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

CAPTIVE AUDIENCE (10/18/62) ANGIE DICKINSON as Janet West

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Actors Ed Nelson and Arnold Moss listen to the recordings sent by the plagued Warren Barrow. Is he a murderer?
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Angie Dickinson is the seductress and James Mason the tormented man

This episode is directed by actor turned director Alf Kjellin, based on the teleplay by Richard Levinson and William Link of Columbo! from a story by John Bingham.

James Mason plays mystery writer Warren Barrow a pseudonym he uses to contact his publisher with a series of tape recordings describing what is either the outline for his latest murder mystery or the details of an actual murder he himself is planning to commit. Barrow describes a relationship with an alluring woman named Janet West (the sexy Angie Dickinson) who wants Warren to kill her husband so they can be together. Ed Nelson plays another writer Tom Keller whom the publisher Victor Hartman (Arnold Moss) asks to review the tapes with him in order to help determine whether the impending murder is real or fictional. Angie Dickinson is so perfect as Janet West, the femme fatale Warren Barrow can’t resist.

Janet West- “You know there’s one part of the Bible I know by heart. I saw unto the sun, that the race is not too swift nor the battle too strong, but time and chance happen to them all. Means you can be as clever as you like but you gotta have luck. You gotta work for it and grab it when it comes. I was very poor when I was young. Very poor…”

FINAL VOW (10/25/62) CAROL LYNLEY as Sister Pamela

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“Oh sister not tears again… you’ve cried a whole river these past weeks”-Sister Jem

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Directed by Norman Lloyd, story and teleplay by mystery writer Henry Slesar (Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Twilight Zone, Two on a Guillotine 1965, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. 1966, Batman 1966, Run For Your Life ’66-67 Circle of Fear 1972, McMillan & Wife 1974, Tales of the Unexpected 1981-1984) co-starring Clu Gulager  Isobel Elsom Carmine Phillips, Charity Grace.

Carol Lynley is Sister Pamela who on the eve of taking her final vows has a crisis of faith. Sister Pamela fears that she might just be hiding from the world. The Reverend Mother (Isobel Elsom) sends Pamela and Sister Jem (Charity Grace) on a mission to collect a valuable statue of Saint Francis that is being donated to the convent by reformed gangster William Downey (R.G. Armstrong).

On the way back to the convent, the lovely young novice is fooled by slick hoodlum/loser Jimmy Bresson (Clu Galager who is terrific at being smarmy) who stalks train stations stealing bags. Pamela is filled with guilt having let down her dying mentor Sister Lydia (Sara Taft) She leaves the order and submerges herself in the sleazy jungle where Jimmy works and socializes in order to find the statue and redeem herself. Lynley is another underrated actress who delivers an extremely poignant performance as a girl at the crossroads of her life. She has an endearing innocent beauty that is genuine and charismatic.

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!

ANNABEL (11/1/62) SUSAN OLIVER as Annabel Delaney

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“you’ve been pretending so long… you don’t know what’s real and what isn’t”-Annabel

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Annabel-“David, what is my picture doing here? David who lives here?”

Directed by Paul Henreid, written by Robert Bloch, novel by Patricia Highsmith (she wrote the original story for Hitchcock’s Strangers On a Train 1951) costarring Dean Stockwell, Kathleen Nolan, Gary Cockrell, Hank Brandt, Bert Remsen.

Dense browed Dean Stockwell plays research chemist David Kelsey who is hopelessly in love and obsessively fixated on Annabel (the wonderful Susan Oliver). But Annabel is married Gerald Delaney (Hank Brandt) Kelsey assumes a phony identity William Newmaster and pursues Annabel with a blind devotion that is downright creepy. He purchases a beautiful home that he has filled like a shrine to his great love, a place tucked away in the country where they can sojourn in their own private world. Trouble is Annabel isn’t in on the romance. But David isn’t taking no for an answer. Added to the web of obsessive love is the fact that Linda Brennan (Kathleen Nolan) is as fixated on David as he is on Annabel. What a mess!

BONFIRE (12/13/62)DINA MERRILL as Nora & PATRICIA COLLINGE as Naomi Freshwater

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Directed by Joseph Pevney teleplay William D Gordon and Alfred Hayes based on a story by V.S.Pritchett as published in The New Yorker and co-starring Peter Falk in one of his most impressive roles as the psychotic revivalist Robert Evans.

Falk plays a fire and brimstone fanatic who yearns for his own church and will kill in order to achieve his life’s dream. First he woos Patricia Collinge (The Little Foxes 1941, Shadow of a Doubt 1943, The Nuns Story 1959) as the wealthy Naomi Freshwater, murdering her one night in order to take over her large house he claims she promised to him in order to help him build his tabernacle. The scene is quite disturbing and fierce. a well done scene that predates many psycho-sexual narratives to follow.

When her niece, the world traveling Laura (Dina Merrill) comes to get her aunts things in order, Robert begins to romance her with the same bombastic fervor as he did her aunt Naomi. As Robert discloses his past to Laura, she discovers that he might have killed his first wife as well and that he has visions of his calling to be a great evangelist. Evans is a deranged ego-maniacal woman hater who mistakes his visions of glory for the need to be in control!

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

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

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Robert- “Burn it… burn it. Take your whole past and burn it out there in that fire pit. Start a new life with me” Laura- “I don’t have your faith in new lives Robert.” Robert-“But I told you once… I’ve got the faith.”

WHAT REALLY HAPPENED (1/11/63)ANN FRANCIS as Eve Raydon & RUTH ROMAN as Addie

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

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Directed by Jack Smight with a teleplay by Henry Slesar, based on the story by Mary Belloc Lowndes who wrote the novelette The Lodger, which was the inspiration for Hitchcock’s first suspense film in 1927 and of course the version with Jack Palance in 1953 called The Man in the Attic. 

One of my favorite episodes due to the presence of Ann Francis as Eve Raydon and Ruth Roman as her companion Adelaide ‘Addie’ Strain. Eve is framed as a jezebel by her nasty vicious old mother in law.The storyline has a definite undertone of lesbian desire, akin to Lillian Hellman’s A Children’s Hour. Eve is married to a stuffed shirt named Howard ( Gene Lyonsthe commissioner -Ironside) who resents Addie’s presence and is still tied to his mommy’s (the great Gladys Cooper Rebecca 1940, Now, Voyager 1942, The Song of Bernadette 1943) apron strings. Howard fires Addie who has been hanging around Eve in the position as ‘maid’ who also happens to have a little boy name Gilly who breaks a valuable antique sending Howard into a rage and prompting him to fire her. Addie who is desperate to stay with her mistress, poisons Howard’s night time glass of milk by spiking it with some K9 liniment. But Eve is accused of the murder instead and her intolerable mother-in-law is all too happy to see her pay for the crime. co-starring Michael Strong as defense attorney Malloy, Stephen Dunn as Jack Wentworth, Tim O’Connor as Prosecutor Halstead.

Addy talks to Eve about Howard finally firing her-“He means it this time… things could have been so different!”

Addy Strain to Molloy- “I can’t believe that all this is happening it’s all that woman’s fault. That awful old woman… Mrs Raydon. She hates Eve. She’s always hated her. She hates Eve just because she married her son. That’s why she accused Eve of killing him.”

A TANGLED WEB (1/25/63)ZOHRA LAMPERT as Marie

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I heard you David. You're going to marry the maid. At least this afternoon you're going to marry the maid. My wedding present to you will be my absence%22
Gertrude Flynn as Ethel Chesterman “I heard you David. You’re going to marry the maid. At least this afternoon you’re going to marry the maid. My wedding present to you will be my absence.”

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Marie-“Your eyes shine in the dark David. I think you are part Cat”. David –“A tiger a leopard ready to pounce.” Marie-“I’m going to have to get a wonderful cage to put you in.” David-“Nobody is going to put me in a cage!! Marie-“Stop David you’re hurting me…”

Directed by Alf Kjellin, with a teleplay by writer/director James Bridges (When Michael Calls 1972, The China Syndrome 1979) based on a story by Nicholas Blake.

Zohra Lampert plays Marie a naÏve french maid who runs off with the wealthy son David (Robert Redford) who is actually a compulsive cat burgler/jewel thief. David’s wealthy mother throws a few coins at them to buy a toaster, goes to Europe and changes the locks on the door. And so for money David runs to his partner in crime Karl.And so begins a queer struggle with David’s odd accomplice, a flamboyant wig designer Karl Gault played to the hilt by Barry Morse.

David cannot change the way he is, although he is truly in love with Marie he only knows how to steal and scheme. Karl falls in love with Marie creating the immortal triangle. In order to get his rival out of the way, Karl creates an elaborate ruse in order to trap David in a robbery gone wrong and have him arrested for the murder of a guard. Co-starring Gertrude Flynn as David’s mother Ethel Chesterman.

Marie-“Your eyes shine in the dark David… I think you are part cat.”

THE PARAGON (2/8/63) JOAN FONTAINE as Alice Pemberton

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

Directed by Jack Smight with a teleplay by Alfred Hayes and a story by Rebecca West. The Paragon allows screen legend Joan Fontaine to give what I feel is perhaps one of the most extraordinary performances of her career. As the infuriating perfectionist who meddles in everyone’s lives Alice Pemberton married to the beaten down John Pemberton played by the always wonderful Gary Merrill.

John loves his wife but is beginning to feel the strain from years of Alice’s intruding and dictating moral codes and her ideals to anyone within reach even the maid Ethel played with fabulous scorn by Irene Tedrow. All her friends and relatives cringe at the sight of Alice, for they know she will inject some sort of righteous advice and admonition. Alice is like a child who cannot see the damage she has done, or how she hurts the people around her. She believes that she is helping to improve themselves, though she alienates herself instead. John urges with a tender yet firm clue that she must stop her behavior before it’s too late. Even relating a fairy tale to her with a warning… Alice is very much like a character in a fable who does not heed the warnings or the signs that she is tempting the shadows to converge upon her!

THE LONELY HOURS (3/8/63)NANCY KELLY as Mrs. J. A. Williams / Vera Brandon & GENA ROWLANDS as Louise Henderson

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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….”

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Directed by Jack Smight with a teleplay by William D Gordon based on a story by Celia Fremlin.

Louise (Gena Rowlands) is a busy mother of two precocious young girls Jennifer Gillespie (What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? young Jane) and a small infant boy. She rents the room upstairs to the mysterious Vera Bradley (Nancy Kelly) who is supposedly working on her thesis paper, but in fact has her eyes on Louise’s baby boy. She secrets him off each day to another room she is renting, that she has decorated for the little guy. She also calls him Michael. The child looks more like Vera as he has dark curly hair and both Louise and her husband are blonde. Is Vera there to steal the boy and claim him as her own? This is an extremely taut and well acted little story. The performances by both Kelly and Rowlands are stellar. The interplay between the two women brought me to tears, it was so poignantly played without being melodramatic or contrived. A truly heart wrenching experience, especially for fans of these fine actresses as well as one of the most effectively dramatic of all the episodes. Also watch for an appearance by the wonderful Juanita Moore as Mrs. McFarland and Joyce Van Patten as best friend Grace.

THE STAR JUROR (3/15/63) BETTY FIELD as Jenny Davies

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Dean Jagger tries to quiet Jennifer West after he tries to steal more than a kiss from the town hussy Alice.
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Betty Field plays George’s flakey nagging wife.
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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?”  Jenny-“ 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.”

Directed by Herschel Daugherty with a teleplay by James Bridges and story by Francis Didelot

Although this is very much Dean Jagger’s vehicle, Betty Field who is a wonderful actress stands out as the blowsy, whiney wife to George Davies, who becomes so aroused by the town hussy Alice (Jennifer West) while out at the lake during a picnic. When she rebuffs his advances he strangles her and allows her boyfriend JJ Fenton (Will Hutchins) to take the rap for her murder. JJ has been known to knock Alice around, and soon the town is out for his blood. But the guilt of what he has done, drives George to try and defend JJ to exasperating results. This is a quirky dark comedic episode that just seems to want to be kind to George. The show also co-stars Martine Bartlett as Flossie and the wonderful Crahan Denton as Sheriff Walter Watson who just won’t take George’s confessions serious.

THE LONG SILENCE (3/22/63)- PHYLLIS THAXTER as Nora Cory Manson

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Nora’s inner monologue- “In heaven’s name Jean, don’t leave us here alone.”

Directed by Robert Douglas with a teleplay by William D. Gordon & Charles Beaumont based on a story by Hilda Lawrence.

Michael Rennie plays a con man Ralph Manson who marries Nora, (Phyllis Thaxter) for her money. When he screws up an elaborate scheme to embezzle funds from the bank, trying to pin it on her eldest son, he accidentally kills the boy. While trying to make it look like the young man hangs himself, Nora stumbles unto this horrific deed she winds up taking a fall down the stairs that paralyzes her and leaves her in an apparent catatonic state. Which is good for Ralph, as he needs this witness to be silent. But Nora, might not stay silent for long… The well crafted suspense yarn utilizes Nora’s inner monologue to help guide us through the tense narrative cues. This is such a tautly played suspense piece as Nora is conscious of her husbands murderous nature, and his desperation to keep Nora quiet. It;s only a matter of time before he finds of way of making it look like she dies of natural causes. Enter the pretty Natalie Trundy as her attending nurse Jean Dekker who senses something is wrong and stays close by! This one’s a nail biter!

THE DARK POOL(5/3/63) LOIS NETTLETON as Dianne Castillejo & MADLYN RHUE as Consuela Sandino

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Dianne-“Oh Nanny it’s wrong, I didn’t think he’d blame you” Nanny-“The important thing is that he isn’t blaming you” Dianne “Oh I’m letting you be hurt and I can’t do that.. I didn’t think he’d react this way. Nanny I”m going to tell him the truth” Nanny-“What are ya going to tell him. That you were with the baby holding a drink!” Dianne-“But you’re not the guilty one, he mustn’t blame you Nanny-“Dear in the past when things went badly you know what happened. You don’t want that now You promised him that you’d give it up. Oh when the baby was here it was better… but better’s not what you promised!”
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Lois Nettleton as Dianne and Doris Lloyd as Nurse Andrina Gibbs

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Consuela- “She feels guilty, she feels responsible for the baby’s death. and the drinking helps her to forgot. so we’ll see that she continues to drink. And when the bottle is all gone. We’ll get more Vodka. Or whiskey or what ever she likes. She can hide it from Victor for a while I suppose. But he will find out-And then he’ll be terribly hurt. and disappointed in her. He’ll need help and sympathy from someone else!”

Directed by Jack Smight with a teleplay by Alec Coppel and William D. Gordon, based on a story by William D. Gordon.

Lois Nettleton plays Dianne Castillejo who adopts a little boy, who drowns in their swimming pool while she is sitting out in the sun with a coctail. Dianne is a recovering alcoholic and there is a question as to whether she was intoxicated when the tragic accident occurred. Dianne is visited by a mysterious woman, (Madlyn RhueConsuela Sandino who claims to be the little boys birth mother. She proceeds to blackmail Dianne about the circumstances of the little boys death. She convinces Dianne to allow to her stay in the house as a guest being an old school friend. Here she plans on helping Dianne submerge herself in booze so she’ll pay out loads of money and eventually have to be taken away to a sanatorium where she can then work on the handsome (Anthony George) Victor. Co-starring Doris Lloyd as Nanny. 

RUN FOR DOOM 5/17/63 DIANA DORS as Nickie Carole

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John Gavin as Dr. Don Reed and Tom Skerritt as friend Dr. Frank Farmer… Don is just smitten.
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scott brady as Nickies stand by boyfriend Bill
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Nickie-singing Just One of Those Things-“so goodbye dear and amen… Bill- “Where you going?” Nickie-“Maybe California. You know I came back just to have a look at you. You got real weak eyes Bill. Here’s hoping we meet now and then.”  Bill- “But you haven’t asked me to come along “Nickie-“Well I came here thinking I’d have to, but I don’t need you anymore the boomerang’s broken baby’ Bill-“You wanna bet!” Nickie “Uhuh, It was great fun, but it was just one of those things.”

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Directed by Bernard Girard with a teleplay by James Bridges and a story by Henry Kane.

Doctor Don Reed (John Gavin) falls head over heels for a sexy night club singer, the slinky Nickie Carole,(Diana Dors) who is just no good. Both his father and Nickie’s own band leader boyfriend try to warn Don. Nickie accepts Don’s proposal of marriage, and then his father drops dead after hearing the news. The newlyweds use the inheritance money to take a honeymoon cruise, in which Don stumbles upon his bride getting all snuggly with another passenger. In a rage, Don causes the man to fall overboard. Of course Nickie urges Don to keep his mouth shut. And he is now a murderer. Soon after Nickie grows tired of Don, as her old lover Bill warned would happen, and this hard edged old boyfriend (Scott Brady) Bill Floyd of the Bill Floyd Trio shows up in the picture again… What will happen to this dangerous triangle of lust and obsession…

THE SECOND SEASON!

A HOME AWAY FROM HOME (9/27/63)  CLAIRE GRISWOLD as Natalie Rivers

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Natalie-“I understand, they’re patients aren’t they? Permissive therapy?” Dr. Fennick-“Yes that’s it exactly. A new method, an experiment. I wanted to prove that my patients would act normally if treated like normal human beings.”

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Sarah-“Oh I feel fine doctor just fine. I always feel fine talking to you.”  Dr Fennick-“That’s what I’m here for’ Sarah-“Yes I know but… what am I here for? Beatrice Kay as Sarah Sanders the aging film star.
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inmates Virginia Gregg as Miss Gibson and Ronald Long as The Major
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The real doctors are locked up in the attic!
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the deranged Ray Milland as Dr. Fennick who menaces Natalie (Claire Griswold ) in Home away from Home- The Alfred Hitchcock Hour

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Virginia Gregg as Miss Gibson-“The doctors told everyone about you. I know they’re just CRAZY to meet you!!!”

Directed by Herschel Daugherty with a teleplay based on his story by Robert Bloch from Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine.

This is one of those great ‘the inmates have taken over the asylum’ narratives starring Ray Milland. Milland plays Dr. Fenwick a mentally disturbed doctor who believes in role playing as a therapeutic means to unlocking a patients identity crisis and finding happiness. After he kills the director of the sanitarium, he assumes his identity! of course. He locks away the staff in the attic and allows the inmates to pick roles that would suit their desires. Things are going pretty well until the directors niece Claire shows up to visit her uncle. At least she has never seen her uncle before so she quickly assumes that Milland is who he says he is. Unfortunately Claire discovers the dead body of her real uncle and urges Fennick to call the police. Uh oh! What mayhem will ensue.

There are great little parts by Virginia Gregg as Miss Gibson roleplaying the nurse, Connie Gilchrist as Martha, Mary La Roche as Ruth… and Beatrice Kay as Sarah Sanders!

A NICE TOUCH 10/4/63  ANNE BAXTER as Janice Brandt

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That’s actor Harry Townes lying dead under that shiny star pillow…

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Janice referring to Larry (George Segal) –“He’s the kind of man who could make you do anything… anything at all…”

This episode is directed by Joseph Pevney with a teleplay by Mann Rubin

George Segal plays the young ambition actor who wins over casting agent Anne Baxter as Janice Brandt. Janice falls deeply in love with Larry the cocky and short tempered actor with whom she gets a screen test for in Hollywood and turns him into an upcoming male lead.

She has given up everything for this strong willed actor, her career, even sacrificing her marriage.

While back in New York, Janice calls Larry desperately telling him that her ex-husband Ed (Harry Townes) has tracked her down completely drunk and is now unconscious on the floor. Larry calming coaches Janice into finishing off the job by smothering him with a pillow, so she can finally be free and join him in Hollywood… But is that all there is to it?

TERROR AT NORTHFIELD (10/11/63)  JACQUELINE SCOTT as Susan Marsh & Katherine Squire as Mrs La Font

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Sheriff Will- “You can’t think of anyone at all who might have had a grudge against Frenchie?” Katherine Squire as Mrs La Font- “Only one person Will, Myself. He was my son, I loved him … there was no harm in him he never hurt anyone but he was lazy. He would not accept responsibility. That’s why he wanted me at the restaurant so I could do all the work of running it, while he’d play Frenchie La Font for the public. I used to get so angry with him. So angry… (crying)
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The creepy custodian of the library terrorized poor Susan with his tales of working the slaughterhouses

Directed by Harvey Hart with a teleplay by Leigh Brackett, and a story by Ellery Queen

In Northfield, a rural community in northern California a teenage boy Tommy Cooley is found brutally murdered. His father R.G. Armstrong, who is a religious fanatic goes on a mission to avenge his boy’s murder. There is only one piece of evidence, a broken off part of the car’s headlight found a the murder scene. First, believing that he is getting signs from God, he murders Frenchie La Font (Dennis Patrick) the person who owned the car. Then the car falls into the hands of an elderly librarian who considered purchasing the car and might have had access to it. The residents of Northfield become terrorized by the events and demand that (Dick York) Sheriff Will Pearce do something about it. Jacqueline Scott who plays Susan March a librarian and the Sheriff’s girlfriend is now the one who wound up with La Font’s car. Cooley now suspects her. He is on a mission from the lord to avenge his sons death. Will Susan be next? Co-stars Katherine Squire as Mrs.La Font who turns out a tremendous performance as the mother of a good for nothing son who winds up being the victim of Cooley’s wrath.

THE DIVIDING WALL (12/6/63) KATHERINE ROSS as Carol Brandt

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Carol-“You don’t talk much do you?” Terry-“I guess not” Carol –“Is the rest of your family like that? Quiet I mean? Terry- I don’t know. I don’t even know who they were. I was raised in a county home” Carol- “You mean like an Orphanage? Terry “Now what else could it mean? I’m sorry maybe we oughta start back, it’s a long way” Carol -“We can take the subway Terry –“I wanna walk-you wanna take the subway go ahead if that’s the way you feel about it “Carol-“why did you come with me?” Terry“I didn’t mean it like that. It’s just that it’s the rush hour now…. Look I gotta thing about being closed up in places is all.” Carol- “Claustrophobia?” Terry- “yeah” Carol- “So does Mr Calucci… He was a prisoner of war” Terry– “I was a prisoner once… No war though.” Carol –“You mean the home.” “Terry- “Home reformatory, state prison, take your pick. Anything else you’d like to know? Carol“Some date huh?” Terry-Bet you don’t have any boyfriends like me.” Carol-” I don’t have any boyfriends”Terry– “come on” Carol- “I haven’t dated since high school.” Terry- “Girl like you why not? Carol-“what do you know about me?” Terry “I could learn.”

Directed by Bernard Girard  (Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round 1966, The Mad Room 1969) with a teleplay by Joel Murcott based on a story by George Bellak.

Three paroled ex-convicts stage a heist but inadvertently unleash radioactive cobalt on a small urban city street. Actors Chris Robinson, Norman Fell and James Gregory who are now garage mechanics decide to rob the payroll office. When they can’t crack open the safe, they take it to their garage, which is adjoined to the little shop next store run by Carol.

Terry who is acutely claustrophobic (Chris Robinson) begins a romance with Carol, as he struggles between self preservations and his sense of humanity and love for this beautiful young woman. Katherine Ross is a particularly seductive pixie in this episode. Ross’ presence brings an element of realism and humanist equilibrium to the very nihilist tone of the story.

GOOD-BYE, GEORGE (12/13/63) PATRICIA BARRY is Lana Layne / Rosemary ‘Peaches’ Cassidy

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Lana/Peaches-“You and snakebite are among the very few things that fail me in that respect.”

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Directed by Robert Stevens with a teleplay by William Fay and story by Robert Arthur.

This is one of the more cheeky mystery installments of the show, and Patricia Barry is just superb as the brassy dame with a secret past who’s looking out for number one. The night she wins the Oscar, movie star Lana Layne is visited by her old ex-convict husband George (Stubby Kaye), who, she thought had died in a prison fight. Rosemary ‘Peaches’ Cassidy had married the bum when she was only seventeen and didn’t know any better. But George has plans of letting Lana remain his wife, since she’s so successful and wealthy, and if they did get divorced she’d owe him half of anything that was hers. She wants to marry handsome manager Harry Lawrence (Robert Culp). Lana clocks George on the head and accidentally kills him. Now Lana and Harry must try to hide the body while finding a place to have their honeymoon, assailed by gossip columnist Baila French (Alice Pearce- Bewitched’s neurotic neighbor Gladys Kravitz). It’s a comedy of errors!

HOW TO GET RID OF YOUR WIFE (12/20/63) JANE WITHERS as Edith Swinney

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Rosie “You’ve had a narrow escape. Well life’s given you another chance. And you should take it… You should free yourself. When something’s over it’s over” The always delightful Joyce Jameson as Rosie Feather the ‘dancer’

Directed by Alf Kjellin story and teleplay by Robert Gould

Withers plays Edith Swinney the consummate nagging harpy who dominates her husband’s Gerald’s (Bob Newhart) mundane life. Gerald concocts a very elaborate plan to drive Edith mad using paranoia as he digs a grave like hole for a fish tank, leaving empty boxes of rat poison around the kitchen. Edith is so convinced that Gerald is out to kill her that she shares her fears with her friends and neighbors. Gerald purchases a pair of rats from a pet shop and plants them in the kitchen. She falls for the bait and puts rat poisoning in his cocoa making it look like murder made to look like suicide. She calls the police the next morning, but they find a very alive Gerald. Edith is arrested for attempted murder… but is that the end of the story. Joyce Jameson stars as dancer Rosie Feather, always fabulous, perhaps playing the featherbrained blonde bombshell –but always endearing!

THREE WIVES TOO MANY (1/3/64) TERESA WRIGHT as Marion Brown

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

Directed by Joseph Newman with a teleplay by Arthur Ross and story by Kenneth Fearing.

Dan Duryea is a gambler and a proud bigamist name Raymond Brown. 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. At first it appears that they are suicides. But the police start to suspect Brown of murder. Marion, (Teresa Wright) has been the long time dutiful wife who has waited and suffered through heart ache 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 and shows herself off to be quite resourceful when holding onto a philandering husband!

BEYOND THE SEA OF DEATH (1/24/64/) DIANA HYLAND as Grace Renford & MILDRED DUNNOCK as Minnie Briggs

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Grace Renford- “All men are rotten aren’t they Minnie, as soon as they’re interested in me they’re no good!

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Aunt Minnie-“If he’s a doctor at all he should be giving out pills not talking to dead people!”

Directed by Alf Kjellin with a teleplay by Alfred Hayes and William Gordon. Story by Miriam Allen de Ford.

Grace Renford (the haunting Diana Hyland) plays a wealthy and beautiful socialite who longs to meet the man of her dreams. Someone who will love her for who she is and not the money and status that is her legacy. The lonely Grace answers an ad in a spiritualist magazine where she begins to correspond with a young man named Keith Holloway (Jeremy Slate).

He is an engineer who does his work in Bolivia, or so he says. When he comes to the states to meet Grace for the first time, she has rented a modest apartment and pretends that she is just an ordinary working class girl. Minnie (Mildred Dunnock) acts as guardian to the lost waif, and knows something isn’t quite right with this man. But when Grace and Keith get engaged, she tells him about her true identity. Keith insists that he is not interested in her money, and that he has his own business ventures in Bolivia. Keith returns to South America, planning on having Grace join him soon. But Grace gets a telegram saying that he has been killed in a mining accident.

Sent into the world of spreading grief, Grace turns to spiritualism and mysticism to find a way to contact her lost love. Thus appears Dr.Shankara (Abraham Sofaer) who can connect Grace with her dead love. Wanting to shed her worldly goods, she gives away her possessions to the Dr and his temple. But Minnie suspects that Keith is very much alive and that a scam has been going on with the doctor for years. Minnie tries to intervene with disastrous results!

NIGHT CALLER (1/31/64) FELICIA FARR as Marcia Fowler

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Roy- “A string of men friends all the time Mrs Fowler, a string of men friends, a string of men friends all the time ssh don’t tell anybody Roy this is your Uncle Joe from Kokomo Roy, why don’t you go outside in the yard for a little Roy huh!… {…} There’s a smell of death around women like you. Death and corruption. You corrupt people the way you go on all the time. So you better cut it out you understand that” Marcia Fowler-“Get away from me you’re out of your mind. Nobody would blame me now if I shot you now with your filthy phone calls, breaking in here like this. How exciting am I now with a gun pointing at you?”

Directed by Alf Kjellin with a teleplay by Robert Westerby & Gabrielle Upton based on Upton’s story.

Felicia Farr  plays the sexy Marcia Fowler who accuses the neighborhood thug Roy Bullock (Bruce Dern) of not only playing peeping tom, but sexually harassing her. Roy is a tightly wound teen filled with angst and rage and could possibly be a psychopath while we’re at it. He denies it, when confronted by Marcia’s husband. (David White)

Marcia does appear to be self-absorbed, neglecting to pay enough attention to her stepson. But when the obscene phone calls begin, Marcia convinces her hubby to confront Roy about it, who tells him she’s just looking for attention. When Roy Fowler goes away on a business trip he challenges Marcia calling her a tease and a lousy wife and mother, the way his own mother had failed. Okay, so the angry boy has mother issues. Things get out of hand when Marcia begins to feel threatened and takes out a gun. But is everything as it seems!

THE EVIL OF ADELAIDE WINTERS (2/7/64)– KIM HUNTER as Adelaide Winters

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Directed by Laslo Benedek with a story and teleplay by Arthur Ross

Kim Hunter is stunning as a ruthless woman who has no conscience and borders on the sociopathic. At the end of WWII, Adelaide exploits the grief and loss of surviving members of family to act as a spiritual medium. She earns a nice living by taking money from these grieving people, claiming to ease their suffering by connecting them with their lost loved ones. Gene Lyons plays Adelaide’s bunko buddy Robert who helps set up the patsies for the taking.

The is nothing more heinous than bilking grieving families of soldiers killed in battle out of their money pretending that she can communicate with them.

Enter the wealthy widower Edward Porter (John Larkin) who has just lost his son in the war. Adelaide convinces him to join her in a séance. Desperately lonely and longing for his son’s return Edward begins to come around and embrace Adelaide’s powers. Edward has also fallen in love with Adelaide and wishes the three of them to be together…!

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Robert (Gene Lyons)- “I taught you everything there is to know about this racket..” Adelaide “Profession Robert.” Robert – “That’s what you’d like to pretend, but it is a racket, a swindle a con game as any I ever did.” Adelaide-“ I only obtain the more crude aspects of the profession from you.” Robert-“Everything and I want you to stop pushing me around.” Adelaide-“You taught me a series of Halloween tricks. Carnival mumbo jumbo… I made it pay.” Robert –“They’re still carny tricks.” Adelaide-“Science!” Robert- ‘And you took them from me…”

BEAST IN VIEW 3/20/64JOAN HACKETT as Helen Clarvoe

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Directed by Joseph Newman with a teleplay by James Bridges and a story by Margaret Millar  (Rose’s Last Summer-Boris Karloff’s Thriller starring Mary Astor).

Joan Hackett, (The Group 1966) a very underrated actress of the 60s & 70s plays Helen Clarvoe a woman who is being tormented by phone calls from a menacing woman named Dorothy who is threatening her life. Kevin McCarthy is lawyer Paul Blackshear who agrees to investigate and track the maniacal Dorothy down. The crazy woman blames Helen for the break up of her wedding engagement. Paul finds a photographer for whom Dorothy recently posed, though she has destroyed any negatives and photos of herself. Then the photographer is murdered! While in the midst of his investigation, Paul receives a frantic call from Helen that Dorothy has broken into her apartment and is holding her at gunpoint!

BEHIND THE LOCKED DOOR( 3/27/64)GLORIA SWANSON as Mrs. Daniels

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Mrs. Daniels-“No Dave… this is your home now!”

Directed by Robert Douglas with a teleplay by Henry Slesar and Joel Murcott. Story by Slesar.

When Dave Snowden (James MacArthur) and his new bride Bonnie (the lovely and underrated Lynn Loring) visit the estate owned by Bonnie’s late father, Dave finds a mysterious locked door and surmises that there must be something of value hidden there. Bonnie tells her mother (Gloria Swanson) that they’ve just been married, who instantly assumes that Dave is after her inheritance. Mrs.Daniels tries to give the young man money to go away and annul the marriage. Dave is hungry for money and gets Bonnie to go along with a plan for her to fake a suicide attempt by overdosing on sleeping pills. This they hope will get the mother’s sympathy. Things go badly when a child hood illness leaves Bonnie allergic to sleeping pills. The climax is stunning as the great ironic natural law of justice is served. Swanson is marvelous as always as the elegant and protective Mrs Daniels!

THE GENTLEMAN CALLER (4/10/64) RUTH McDEVITT as Miss Emmy Wright

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Miss Emmy Rice –“I was just thinking of how awful it is when people are so mean to each other. That’s one thing when you get to be seventy five, you see clearer than anything else. How mean people are to each other.”

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Directed by Joseph Newman with a teleplay by James Bridges and story by Veronica Johns.

The delightful Ruth McDevitt plays Miss Emmy Wright, an elderly lady who sits in the park and is befriended by Gerald Musgrove (Roddy McDowall) who with his wife have just successfully robbed $100,000 but need a good place to hide the doe ’til the heat is off.

Emmy is a known pack rat, who invites the couple over to her cluttered and quirky place for many social dinners. Gerald gets the bright idea of stashing the loot inside the old dust covered magazines that Emmy has collected over the years. Gerald also convinces Emmy to draw up a will leaving him the beneficiary so that they can later kill her off and claim the clutter that holds their stolen cash. This is a dark comedic episode with stellar performances by both McDevitt playing off McDowell’s usual droll manner. Co-starring Juanita Moore as Mrs. Jones and Naomi Stevens as Mrs Goldy.

THE ORDEAL OF MRS. SNOW (4/14/64) PATRICIA COLLINGE as Adelaide Snow

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Directed by Robert Stevens with a teleplay by Alvin Sargent and story by Patrick Quentin.

Patricia Collinge is one of my favorite character actors. Here she turns in quite a moving performance as a woman trapped in a safe with timing running out. And in this episode I’m particularly fond of her doting on her two siamese cats, being a staunch advocate for cats and someone who shares their home with let’s say a variety of pussycats, a siamese rescue being just one of them!

In The Ordeal of Mrs Snow Aunt Adelaide Snow is at the mercy of her scheming niece’s husband Bruce (Don Chastain) who is afraid that auntie will go to the police about his check forging. While away on a weekend vacation, he locks Mrs. Snow inside the bank vault in her house, hoping she’ll suffocate and it will look like an accident. But he has also locked one of her cats inside as well. Thank god, because these little felines are very smart indeed. Mrs Snow’s niece Lorna, (Jessica Walter) tries to call her aunt, worried that something is wrong, not realizing what her sneaky murderous husband has done… Don’t worry, the cats come to the rescue! Also co-staring George Macready as Adelaide’s dear friend Hillary Prine.

THE SECOND VERDICT (5/29/64) SHARON FARRELL as Melanie Rydell

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Directed by Lewis Teague with a teleplay by Alfred Hayes and a story by Henry Slesar.

Sharon Farrell plays the seductive Melanie Rydell who doesn’t intentionally get men chasing after her. But her psychotic husband Lew Rydell (Frank Gorshin) gets off on a murder charge after Ned Murray (Martin Landau) successful gets him an innocent verdict. To Ned’s horror he learns that Lew is in fact a hot headed jealous nutcase who was guilty of murder and is now accusing him of going after his sexy wife. Ned is conflicted by law, but wants to bring this loaded canon to justice but can’t get him prosecuted for the same crime twice. He solicits the help of an old gangster friend who owes him one, but realizes that he has inadvertently put a hit out on the unstable Lew.

ISABEL (6/5/64) BARBARA BARRIE  is Isabel Smith

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Directed by Alf Kjellin Teleplay by William Fay and Henry Slesar, from a story by S.B. Hough.

Again, the highly underrated Barbara Barrie, who has always given her all in any performance, notably several of The Naked City. Here she plays a very timid and unstable single woman, (I will not use the word spinster here, though most analysis makes use of the word, I find it offensive) Isabel wrongly accuses Howard Clemens (Bradford Dillman) of sexual assault. Howard Clemens is sentenced to two years in prison for the crime he didn’t commit. Once he is released, the first thing he does is steal a large amount of money. $13,000 which is the amount he would have drawn as a salary had he not been thrown in jail.

He comes back to the same town where Isabel teaches, and opens up a record shop. He purposefully manages to bump into Isabel until he finally gains her confidence. Eventually the pair become engaged. While on their honeymoon, Howard tampers with the fuel ignition switch on the boat which will cause the boat to explode. He tells Isabel to take the boat out alone. A bit later he hears the blast and is finally satisfied that he has gotten his revenge on her at last.

BODY IN THE BARN (7/3/64) LILLIAN GISH as Bessie Carnby

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Directed by Joseph Newman (The Outcasts of Poker Flats 1952, The Human Jungle 1954, This Island Earth 1955, The Twilight Zone ’63-’64) with a teleplay by Harold Swanton and story by Margaret Manners.

I’ve written about this marvelous episode for Movie Silently’s The Gish Sisters Blogathon! Here Lillian Gish plays the sassy Bessie who lives with her daughter Camilla (Maggie McNamara) Bessie is a staple of the town, and when her handyman falls to his death because of the arrogance of her neighbor Samantha Wilkins (Patricia Cutts-The Tingler 1959) and her whipped husband Henry (Peter Lind Hayes) Bessie goes on a mission to try and bridge the feud with the couple by inviting them over for supper.

Samantha refuses to break bread with the Carnbys, but Henry starts to insinuate himself into Bessie and Camilla’s life. One night Henry disappears and Bessie sees Samantha digging a hole in the barn. She accuses the woman of murder and eventually Samantha is executed for killing her husband. But… Henry unexpectedly returns, claiming to have been on a long sea voyage not able to hear about his wife’s trial. Bessie suspects that Henry has staged the whole thing and begins to feel terrible guilt about what she has done. Will she be able to rectify the awful mistake she has made and bring Henry to justice?

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Bessie-“To bring to the light of day the two lies that together make a truth. “

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CHANGE OF ADDRESS (10/12/64) PHYLLIS THAXTER as Elsa Hollands

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Elsa –“There’s something wrong with this house, I lye awake at night and I can feel it. There’s is something wrong with this house Something we don’t know about.”
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Elsa-“That’s the girl I saw at the beach, she’s lovely” Keith- “What I want, what I really want. What I’m sure as sitting here want… uhhh.” Elsa –“Keith it may be, it just very well may be I want the same thing”. Keith- “What are you talking about baby? what you were talking about… Elsa-“how we rid ourselves of each other… and when! Me of you and you of me.”

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Elsa… do you really need to go down to the basement to see what your adolescent husband wants to show you? Can’t you guess!!!!

Directed by David Friedkin with a teleplay by Morton Fine and David Friedkin and a story by Andrew Benedict.

Elsa Hollands (Phyllis Thaxter) hates the new beach house. Keith Hollands (Arthur Kennedy) refuses to grow older, and chases after the local beach hottie Tisha Sterling. The house gives Elsa the chills, and it doesn’t help that Keith starts digging a hole in the basement floor that he claims is for the new boiler. Elsa and Keith keep clashing over the strain in their marriage. She just wants to go back to her old apartment and senses something terribly wrong with the damp place.

While Keith is playing around with the young blonde beauty, Elsa contacts the ex-owner’s wife to discourage her from selling, and perhaps finds out the truth about the place. When Keith can’t take Elsa’s complaints anymore, finding her an obstruction into his world of new found vitamins, jumping jacks, young beach bunnies, hair dye, turtle necks, late nites out at the disco dancing along side the dreamy blued eyed Michael Blodgett, he kills her and buries her in that nice big hole he’s been digging. But will Elsa’s investigation come back to bite Keith in those awfully ugly jogging shorts?

WATER’S EDGE (10/19/64) ANN SOTHERN as Helen Cox

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Helen-“Funny you dreaming’ about me and here we are. Life’s a big surprise.”

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Directed by Bernard Girard with a teleplay by Alfred Hayes and a story by the great Robert Bloch!

Rusty Connors (John Cassavetes) is newly released from prison. While in prison his mate Mike Krause (Rayford Barnes) talks incessantly about the perfect blonde he left behind. Krause dies in prison, and so while Rusty gets out he decides to look up this gorgeous dish that was married to his former cellmate. Krause had been in prison for robbery and murder, but neither the money nor the body of his partner have ever been found. Could Krause’s wife Helen know where the loot is stashed?

Rusty comes to find Helen (Ann Sothern) slinging hash at a greasy spoon, but she is far from the pin up that Mike Krause crooned about. Still Rusty plays up to her, thinking that she can lead him to the stolen money. The pair form a tumultuous sexual relationship, both greedy to find the hidden cash. Which they stumble onto in an abandoned boat house infested with starving rats. The two might just turn on each other, but you’ll have to see the episode and find out for yourself! This is a macabre and gritty story by the master of the suspense genre Robert Bloch author of Psycho

LONELY PLACE (11/15/64) TERESA WRIGHT as Stella

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Stella “I”m scared of Jesse… You scared of him too. You scared too. talking don’t help Emery I heard you talking to Jessie in the orchard. You told him you married me to have someone to feed ya. Is that why we ain’t ever have any children?”

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Directed by Harvey Hart with a teleplay by Francis Gwaltney and a story by G.B Gilford

Teresa Wright is outstanding as poor Stella, married to a horrible dolt of a husband who doesn’t appreciate her. Emory (Pat Buttram is a weak and unloving bumpkin who owns a peach farm. This is a dark Americana tale about a quiet woman named Stella who suffers in silence but has a few joys, like the love of animals, in particular her little pet squirrel. One day an ominous drifter asks if he can work the farm for a bit. Bruce Dern plays Jesse, in a role that surpasses so many of the psychopaths he’s had opportunity to play. Jesse has a particular viciousness that is spine tingling. While he helps harvest the peach crop, he secretly torments Stella with his fondness for his sharp knife. Stella feels threatened but her husband acts clueless, while at times we see that he is very aware of what is going on, he just chooses not to intervene out of cowardice. The episode is perhaps one of the most psychologically enthralling, and it’s climax will leave you breathless. The performances are absolutely stunning. Just as frightening as any modern thriller on the screen today! And Wright turns in a performance that tugs at your heart with so many levels of emotional reflection as a woman trapped by her circumstances. John F. Warren’s cinematography portrays a rural hinterland that is otherworldly and melancholy.

MISADVENTURE (12/7/64) LOLA ALBRIGHT as Eva Martin

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Eva-“You crying? You are crying Ha! What do you’ve got to cry about? If anybody’s gonna cry it should be me. Although I must say… You are a most unusual gas man!”

Directed by Joseph Newman with a story and teleplay by Lewis Davidson.

Eva (Lola Albright) is an adulterous wife to unsuspecting businessman (George Kennedy) who is a penny pincher though he is quite well to do. One day a mysterious stranger (Barry Nelson) manages to work his way into the house by claiming to be the gas man. He acts very peculiar, until finally he gets her into bed. Colin convinces Eva that it would be easy to kill her husband… This zany and interesting episode has a lot of twists so I won’t give anything away! Just watch for great performances by Nelson and in particular the lovely Lola Albright who can do comedic mystery thrillers with ease!

TRIUMPH (12/14/64) JEANETTE NOLAN as Mary Fitzgibbons

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Mary-“You are a vain man.” Brother Thomas-  “A minor vice.” Mary-“There is no such thing as a minor vice.” Brother Thomas “trimming a mustache harms no one.” Mary-“It’s so difficult for you to be the kind of missionary you should be.” Brother Thomas- “I have a good reputation.” Mary-“Because I have made sure of it.” Brother Thomas“yes you have.” Mary-“you begrudge me that recognition.” Brother Thomas-“I’m the first to admit it.” Mary-“I have loved you.”

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Mary- “I don’t know if I still do. I’ve had to forget my needs and devote myself to your work.”

Directed by Harvey Hart with a teleplay by Arthur Ross and story by Robert Branson.

This is a particularly intense addition to The Alfred Hitchcock Hour due to the fine performances by Ed Begley and one of my favorites Jeanette Nolan. Nolan plays Mary the enigmatic wife to a missionary medical man (Begley). The strong woman behind the man so to speak. Begley plays Brother Thomas Fitzgibbons who in actuality is an incompetent surgeon living in a primal world in the rugged terrain of India. Mary is ambitious and wants all the glory for her and her weak husband. When Tom Simcox and Maggie Pierce –Brother John Sprague and his wife Lucy come to help the mission, Mary fears they will expose the truth about Brother Thomas’ work, as well as usurp their position there. Oh what a tangled web we weave. Nolan almost reignites her Lady Macbeth with her role as the conniving and treacherous Mary Fitzgibbons– Her silver tongued laments as always put her at the top of my favorite character actors!

WHERE THE WOODBINE TWINETH (1/11/65) MARGARET LEIGHTON as Nell Snyder & JUANITA MOORE as Suse

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“Do you believe me about Mingo?”

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Eva-“Is it dark where daddy is?”-Nell ” I hope not… I don’t know.” -Eva “Numa knows Mingo says it’s brighter than day!… they have bumble bees there too.”-Nell- “Who’s Mingo honey?”-Eva- “My best friend!”

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This is one of Alfred Hitchcock Hour’s most supernatural of tales that breaks the mold of the crime/suspense drama. Along with The Sign of Satan, The Monkey’s Paw, and The Magic Shop by H.G Wells. Where the Woodbine Twineth could have fit nicely into Boris Karloff’s Thriller anthology series. A haunting tale that will stay with you for a long time. Margaret Leighton is mesmerizing as Aunt Nell, a woman who just cant embrace her little niece’s wild imaginative tales. I’ve recently become acquainted with Leighton’s work and have fallen in love with the actress!

Directed by Alf Kjellin with a teleplay by James Bridges and a story by Davis Grubb (wrote Night of the Hunter, The Cheyenne Social Club and a few short stories for Rod Serling’s Night Gallery 1971.

Leighton is marvelous as she coldly, rigidly lacks understanding of her recently orphaned niece who talks about fey people who live under the davenport and visit her at night. When Eve comes to live with the elderly Mississippi riverboat Captain Snyder, her grandfather, her aunt Nell just can’t break through.

Nell just believes the child to be willful and lazy trying to blame things on her imaginary friends like Mr. Peppercorn and Mingo… Aunt Nell just can’t handle the role of caretaker to a wily and free spirited child and begins to crack under the pressure. The conflict becomes very real when Nell challenges Eva at every turn.

When Eva (Eileen Baral) gets a wonderful Creole doll she names Numa from her riverboat King grandfather, tensions ignite  and Nell comes face to face with the mystical world where the woodbine twineth. A nether region between life, death and the realms you cannot see with the naked eye. To balance out the constant struggle between the suffering Nell and the precocious Eva, is the calming and level headed presence of Juanita Moore as Suse, who understands Eva and is more like a mother to the young girl than Nell can possibly manifest from her rigid identity.

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Nell is obsessed with controlling Eva, and catching her at lies. She fears the child’s freedom, and resents how happy she can be. When she hears Eva chatting and playing with Numa, the doll grandfather had given Nell suspects that it is a child from the neighborhood.

Eva warns that if Nell takes Numa away, Eva will have to trade places with Numa and go to dwell “Where the Woodbine Twineth.”

But obstinate Aunt Nell defies Eva and puts Numa on top of the player piano, Eva steals Numa away and runs into the woods. Suddenly in an eerie haunting manner the player piano mysteriously starts up by itself. Nell desperate stumbles onto Eva in the backyard playing with a little black girl –they are dancing.

Nell chases the girl away, warning her to stay away but then Eva disappears. When Nell finds a doll in Numa’s box it looks exactly like a porcelain version of little Eva, Nell realizes that the magic was real and that she has lost her little niece forever to the ether world beyond the trees… A changeling in her place, never to return.

One of my all time favorite episodes. Just effectively creepy yet magical stuff… with a haunting quality that lingers…

FINAL PERFORMANCE (1/18/65) SHARON FARRELL as Rosie

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This piece directed by John Brahm from a teleplay by Clyde Ware & Lee Kalcheim. (Let’s Scare Jessica To Death 1971, All in the Family 1972) is a story based on Robert Bloch.

Roger Perry plays Cliff Allen a television writer on his way to Hollywood who picks up a pretty hitchhiker named Rosie.(Sharon Farrell) Later Rosie accuses Cliff of abducting her when he is stopped by the local police. Of course Cliff denies the charges but the sheriff orders him to come back to town with him. Cliff’s car breaks down, and so he is forced to stay over in a very run down motel.

Off the beaten path Motels already smack of creepy so as you can imagine when it turns out that it is run by a washed up vaudeville actor name Rudolph Bitzner or Rudolph the Great ( great –for what you’ll find out! )

Rudolph is played by the wonderful Franchot Tone, who dreams of a comeback someday, and Rosie is the daughter of his dead wife who used to be his partner. Now Rosie not only works at the cafe/motel, but she’s being groomed to be part of the comeback act.

Rosie sneaks off to apologize to Cliff for lying but she is terrified of Rudolph who is forcing her to marry him once she turns 18 which is in a few days. Cliff agrees to help Rosie escape once his car is fixed. But when he goes to her cabin she is not there. Rudolph convinces him to sit out in the audience and watch his great comeback act with Rosie before he leaves for Hollywood.

One of the most subtly grotesque and atmospheric relics of the early 60s before psycho-sexual cinema hit the proverbial fan!

I won’t give it away, you must see this macabre and eerie instillation in The Alfred Hitchcock Hour collection.

ONE OF THE FAMILY (2/8/65) LILIA SKALA plays Nurse Frieda Schmidt

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Directed by Joseph Pevney with a teleplay by Oscar Millard (Angel Face 1952, Dead Ringer 1964) and William Bast. Based on a story by James Yaffe

Dexter and Joyce Daily (Jeremy Slate and Kathryn Hays) hire Dexter’s old German nanny named Frieda (the inimitable Lilia Skala) to come and take care of their newborn baby boy. She did such a good job with Dexter when he was just a tot. But Joyce becomes suspicious when she hears a radio broadcast about a nurse who is wanted in the poisoning death of an infant in San Francisco. Frieda does have some peculiar ways, but Joyce goes as far as to contact the murdered baby’s aunt played by Olive DeeringChristine Callendar only confirms Joyce’s greatest fears that Frieda is the one the police are looking for and that she is a dangerous baby killer!

AN UNLOCKED WINDOW (2/15/65) DANA WYNTER as Stella & LOUISE LATHAM as Maude Isles

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As Maude’s husband reads the newspaper about the recent strangulation murders –she comments-“I read a book about a man who only killed trombone players, he beat them to death with their own trombones.”

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Directed by Joseph Newman with a teleplay by James Bridges and story by Ethel Lina White

Stella Crosson (Dana Wynter) is the nurse to an invalid heart patient (John Kerr) Stella needs help and is very happy to get some relief when Nurse Betty Ames (T.C. Jones) shows up to help. The large house is also inhabited by an alcoholic housekeeper Maude played by the wonderful Louise Latham. The night is fret filled with storms and the news has reported that a maniacal nurse killer is on the loose! Oh, and the power has gone out, so they’re all in the dark.

Maude sends her husband out in the storm to get some medicine, and Stella goes around the house locking all the windows and doors. Except she fails to secure one that is in the creepy basement. The shocking ending will catch you off guard.

THOU STILL UNRAVISHED BRIDE 3/22/65SALLY KELLERMAN as Sally Benner

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Directed by David Friedkin with a teleplay by Morton Fine and David Friedkin and story by Avram Davidson

American Sally Benner is soon to marry London policeman Tommy Bonn (Ron Randall) While on a transatlantic cruise they announce their engagement, but four hours before they are to be wed, Sally has pangs of doubt and goes out into the London fog.  There have been a series of murders and her family grow weary for her safety. Tommy and his partner Stephen Leslie (Michael Pate) go in search of Sally.

They eventually stumble on an odd young man named Edward Clarke (David Carradine) who they suspect might be the strangler, and with the description of the woman he confesses to murdering they fear Sally’s fate. The episode also stars Kent Smith and Edith Atwater as Sally’s parents. This episode is very atmospheric and Kellerman as usual does a wonderful job of manifesting a languid sensuality and longing that hangs like dew on the petal.

POWER OF ATTORNEY (4/5/65) GERALDINE FITZGERALD as Agatha Tomlin & FAY BAINTER as May Caulfield

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Directed by Harvey Hart with a teleplay by James Bridges and story by Selwyn Jepson (Stage Fright! 1950)

Richard Johnson is a smooth con artist Jarvis Smith posing as a stock expert who insinuates himself into the lives of the wealthy Mary Caulfield and suspicious companion Agatha. It’s always wonderful to see Geraldine Fitzgerald in any performance, here it is no exception. She has an elegant and stayed sensibility that can be as poignant as it is sophisticated. She works well against Fay Bainter who is always enigmatic like a fine bit of silverware that is timeless and sturdy. Johnson sheds his kindly Dr Marquay (The Haunting) persona here and plays the perfect cad. Jarvis eventually romances Agatha and takes over the handling of Mary’s sizable fortune, pretending that he is investing it for her. When it comes to light what Jarvis has done, the drama becomes a taut little mystery melodrama.

THE SECOND WIFE 4/26/65 JUNE LOCKHART as Martha

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Directed by Joseph Newman with a teleplay by Robert Bloch from a story by Richard Deming

June Lockhart plays Martha Peters. Martha has answered a lonely hearts and becomes a mail order bride she finally meets Luke Hunter (John Anderson) a miserly reserved sort of man who seems to have no joy in his life. Married once before, his first wife was a mail order bride as well who died under mysterious circumstances. When Luke goes to visit his relatives, Martha’s fears begin to build when she finds a coffin shaped box hidden in the garage. She also hears her husband digging all night down in the locked cellar.

Suddenly Luke insists that they go on vacation for the Christmas Holidays, and urges her to start packing so they can go visit his relatives. Before they leave the house, Luke unlocks the cellar door and insists that Martha go downstairs and see what he’s been working on!

NIGHT FEVER (5/3/65) COLLEEN DEWHURST as Nurse Ellen Hatch

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Directed by Herbert Coleman with a teleplay by Gilbert Ralston and story by Clark Howard, this is a stand out story, with a sublime performance by the always compelling Dewhurst.

Here Dewhurst plays a very compassionate nurse Ellen Hatch who is taking care of a cop-killer Jerry Walsh (Tom Simcox) on his way to death row. Jerry manages to melt Ellen’s tough yet kind exterior and lure her into believing that he’s fallen in love with her so that she can help engineer his escape.

Continue reading “The Women of Alfred Hitchock’s Hour (1962-1965)”

Hyper-Masculinity/Hidden Frailty: The Robert Ryan Aesthetic in Film Noir

In honor of the 40th anniversary of Robert Ryan’s death July 11, 1973 with a special nod to Karen & The Dark Pages for their spectacular tribute to this incredibly real man!

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“Ryan was unfailingly powerful, investing his tormented characters with a brooding intensity that suggests coiled depth. Cut off from the world by the strength of their ‘feelings’ his characters seem to be in the grip of torrential inner forces. They are true loners. Ryan’s work has none of the masked, stylized aura of much noir acting. He performs with emotional fullness that creates substantial, complex characters rather than icons.”Foster Hirsch-FILM NOIR: The Darker Side of the Screen

Clearly Robert Ryan’s infinite presence in film and his numerous complex characters manifest an embracing universal ‘internal conflict’ of masculinity. I tribute certain roles the actor inhabited during his striking career. Though he was cast more often in the part as the imposing heavy, the depth and breadth of Ryan’s skill with his rough-hewn good looks should have landed him more roles as a lead male capable of such penetrating levels of emotion. He had a depth that suggests a scarcely hidden intensity smoldering at the surface.

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Robert Ryan as Montgomery in Edward Dmytryk’s Crossfire 1947
Act of Violence Ryan
Robert Ryan in Act of Violence ’48

A critic for the New York Times reviewing Act of Violence (1948) wrote about Robert Ryan’s persona as the madly driven veteran bent on revenge, Joe Parkson calling him “infernally taut.”

Frank Krutnik discusses ‘Masculinity and it’s discontents’ in his book In A Lonely Street, “In order to make the representation of masculinity in the noir thriller, there follows a schematic run-through of Freudian work on the determination of masculine identity.” Claiming Freud’s work can be co-opted into film with an emphasis of it’s relevance to analysis of the cultural machinery of patriarchy.” He discusses patriarchal culture which relies heavily on the maintenance of a gender-structured ‘disequilibrium’ with it’s roots in the myth of the Oedipal Complex. Involving not only the power-based hierarchy of male service to masculine power but the established normative gender values which inform both the male and female figure.

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Act of Violence Robert Ryan as Joe Parkson co-starring Janet Leigh

Many of the characters in Ryan’s noir world are informed by a cultural ‘determinacy of the phallus’ that authorizes toughness and strips the limits of desire as an obligation to masculine identity. Patriarchal power structure predetermines a fixed and limited role that creates a destiny of submission and impotence in Ryan’s characters. But within the framework of these extreme male figures lies an intricate conflict of varying degrees of vulnerability and fragility.

Ryan manifests this duality within hyper-masculine characters. Outwardly physical, confrontational, and hostile, Ryan is a master at playing men who suffer from alienation and inferiority surrounding their own ‘maleness’ and self-worth. He was never just a dark noir brute or anti-hero but a complex man actualized through layers of powerful dramatic interpretation. His performances suggest a friction of subjugated masculinity bubbling within.

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Ryan as Earl Pfeiffer and Barbara Stanwyck in Fritz Lang’s Clash By Night

The trajectory of the male through the Oedipus Complex encompasses the male subjectivity which is a principle issue in the noir ‘tough-thriller.’ The ‘existential thematic’ link to the Oedipus myth concerns questions of male desire and identity as they relate to the overarching law of existing patriarchal culture substituted for the original fearsome ‘divinity.’ This element is one of the driving psychological themes underlying in any good classic film noir.

In this post I put my focus primarily on Ryan’s characters within the framework of each film and while I discuss the relationship between him and the central players I do not go as in depth as I usually do discussing his co-stars or plot design.

I apply this thematic representation to much of the roles engendered in the films of Robert Ryans‘ that I’ve chosen to discuss here. A patriarchal power structure establishes the tragedy of man’s destiny, a fixed and limited role in the character’s own destiny as there is a predominant power that threatens them into submission and sheds light on their own impotence. So many of the noir characters in a Robert Ryan noir world are shaped by a cultural authority structured through ‘determinacy of the phallus’ that authorizes toughness in the male identity that strips away the limits of desire, as an obligation to ‘masculine identity.’

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Ryan’s stoic boxer Stoker in Robert Wise’s The Set Up

I’m focusing on particular Ryan’s roles within a noir context that depict archetypal hyper-masculine tropes and the problematic strife within those characters. Whether Ryan is playing the deeply flawed hero or the tormented noir misfit, his characters are afflicted with an inherent duality of virility and vulnerability, an inner turmoil, alienation, persecution and masochism. It’s a territorial burden that Robert Ryan so effortlessly explores.

These films show Ryan’s trajectory through forces of menacing restraint and poignant self-expression. Within a noir landscape, the schism of stark virility and tenuous masculinity exposes the complexity of alienation, masochism and frailty. Robert Ryan’s performances are a uniquely fierce and formidable power.

I’m discussing: The Woman On the Beach (1947) haunted & emasculated coastguardsman Lt. Scott Burnett, Caught (1949) neurotic millionaire Smith Ohlrig, The Set- Up (1949) noble over- the-hill boxer Bill ‘Stoker’ Thompson, Born To Be Bad (1950) misanthropic & masochistic novelist Nick Bradley, Clash by Night (1952) cynical misogynist projectionist Earl Pfeiffer, Beware, My Lovely (1952) morose psychotic vagrant handyman Howard Wilton,On Dangerous Ground (1952) unstable, alienated violent cop Jim Wilson, Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) racist persecuted ex-con Earle Slater.

Within the framework of these ‘extreme’ male figures lies an intricate conflict with varying degrees of vulnerability & fragility within the male psyche. The narratives don’t necessarily flesh out this conflict plainly, but Ryan’s performances certainly suggest and inform us about the friction of this subjugated theme bubbling to the surface as he manifests the duality within his hyper-masculine characters. Robert Ryan was a master at playing men who suffer from alienation and inferiority surrounding their own ‘maleness’ and self-worth.

Robert Ryan

Ryan is never just a dark noir ‘brute’ or anti-hero but moreover a complex male who is actualized through layers of powerful dramatic interpretation. A complexity of stark virility and ‘tenuous maleness’ as the narrative witnesses Ryan’s trajectory transforming him through various dynamic forces of menacing restraint and poignant self-expression. Outwardly physical, confrontational, hostile and ultimately masculine, and the schism that is inwardly emotional, alienated, self deprecating, masochistic and fragile within the film noir landscape. Robert Ryan’s performances still maintain a uniquely fierce and formidable aesthetic of the ‘suffering-marginalized man.’

Continue reading “Hyper-Masculinity/Hidden Frailty: The Robert Ryan Aesthetic in Film Noir”

MonsterGirl’s Quote of the Day! Psycho

“We all go a little mad sometimes~ Anthony Perkins in Psycho”-Norman Bates