The Intriguing Everyman: Cult Star Stuart Whitman

There is a rugged sensuality about Stuart Whitman with his thick black hair and that sexy cleft in his strong chin. I’ve been totally gone gaga over the man for as long as I can remember. Although he doesn’t possess the typical pretty leading man looks like Paul Newman or Marlon Brando, Whitman has an offbeat sex appeal that I’m drawn to more than the obviously handsome guy. Maybe it’s his commanding brows framing his deep drawn blue eyes. Or perhaps it’s his raspy suede voice one octave down from middle C and that outre cool swagger that gets me. I love the self-assured manner that he exudes in every one of his roles. There are over 180 films and television roles to his credit. It seems like he lived a very full life on his terms, and had a great appreciation for the ladies– lucky them! He was also long time friends with many of his working colleagues and that says a lot to me.

Stuart Whitman was born on Feb. 1, 1928, in San Francisco. He appeared in summer stock plays in New York until  the age of 12. After living in New York his family moved to Los Angeles in the mid-1940s. He graduated from Hollywood High School in 1945, then enlisted in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for three years. While in the service he was secretly trained in boxing by his uncle, and won boxing matches as a light-heavy weight. After an honorable discharge he attended acting classes at night with the Michael Chekhov Stage Society and studied for four years.

He joined the Ben Bard Drama School in Hollywood debuting in the school’s production of Here Comes Mr. Jordan, which ran for six months.

20th Century Fox scooped Stuart Whitman up while amassing new talent during the late 1950s.

In 1952, Stuart Whitman continued to appear in small roles in George Archainbard’s Barbed Wire and Tay Garnett’s One Minute to Zero. Universal signed him In December, 1952, which got him a tiny part in Douglas Sirk’s All I Desire with Barbara Stanwyck and The All American.

His most memorable and brave portrayals is of Kim Fuller in The Mark.

In The Mark, Stuart Whitman takes on the compelling, challenging role of Jim Fuller, who after serving three years in prison for the abduction and attempted molestation of a nine year old girl, is let out. Jim Fuller coming to terms with his past has gone through extensive therapy with psychiatrist McNally (Rod Steiger) and is released a reformed man, given a good job, and tries to acclimate himself back into normal society. He starts up a relationship with the company secretary Ruth (Maria Schell) who has a 10 year old little daughter. The ugly monster that is his past creeps up behind him and challenges his chance at a new life. While the film’s subject is still one of revulsion, the character of James Fuller is framed sympathetically, partly because he never went through with committing the crime. The film gives a well explained symptomology through Dr. McNally’s compassionate trained eye for uncovering the truth, and flashbacks aide us in seeing Fuller’s utter agony with what he contemplated doing. He stops himself from going through with the assault and vomits at the thought of it. He drives the little girl back to town where he is met with an angry mob. He asks to be locked up because he is sick.

The Mark explores without reservation the conflicted Jim Fuller, which in the cinema at that time breaks ground.He finds solace in his relationship with a sympathetic psychiatrist Rod Steiger. The Mark costars Maria Schell.

While the film is quite black & white with it’s Freudian brush strokes, the story is still compelling and Guy Green’s direction works well to light the flame under the kettle slowly. The Mark was released in a time in film releases where sexual ‘deviation’ was being experimented with at the cinema. Director Basil Dearden’s taut drama Victim (1961) starring Dirk Bogarde about homosexuality and blackmail, director Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) that deals with mental illness, homosexuality and cannibalism, and Lillian Hellman’s story directed by William Wyler The Children’s Hour (1961) that deals with the stigma of lesbianism.

Originally Richard Burton was cast in the part of Jim Fuller and the part of Ruth was to be Jean Simmons. And while Burton is of course one of those incredible actors who is laudable at dancing a waltz with complex and damaged, Whitman is profoundly adept at pouring out multitudinous levels of torturous self loathing and social anxiety in a plot full of minefields the protagonist can step on. The film earned him the Oscar nomination for Best Actor not only for his incredibly nuanced performance but partly for his brave and challenging accomplishment. The Mark features Whitman’s complex portrayal of a sexual deviant and a self reflexive man struggling to come to terms with his predilections while finding his way back into society again. There’s a good reason he was nominated for Best Actor… he deserved the award.

Excerpts from an Interview From Shock Cinema Magazine by Anthony Petkovich

SC: What was the challenge for you in making THE MARK?

STUART WHITMAN: “I was doing a screen test at 20th with Lee Remick for a movie called The Candy Man which Tony Richardson was going to direct. And I got a telephone call from Kurt Frings my agent at the time. And Kurt tells me, “Don’t go back” ‘but I’m shooting right now I said. “Don’t go to the set.” He said “What do you mean?” ‘Don’t go back Just go home, pack a bag and catch the four o’clock to London this afternoon. You’re gonna shoot a movie in Ireland.” I asked “Well, what’s the name of the picture?” “Not to worry. Don’t ask any questions. Just get on the plane and go.” And I remember racing to the airport to catch the plane and running into the actor Dane Clark, “Where you going Stuart?” He asked me “ I’m off to do a thing called THE MARK” I told him, “but I don’t know anything about it.” THE MARK? He said “My God, I really wanted to play that role, Jesus Christ.” So that was the only indication I received that it was something special… Well Richard Burton was originally supposed to do my role in THE MARK but he was starring in Camelot and couldn’t get out of his commitment to do the play. So Kurt–who handled Burton and Maria School, the female lead in THE MARK and wonderful to work with-he squared me into the thing.”

“So they put me up in a hotel in London, and I had three days there before going on location to Ireland. Now when I arrived at the London hotel, all of these British reporters were asking me “What do you think about doing this movie?” ‘I haven’t read it” I told them “ I don’t know. Let me read it , then I will tell ya” So I got rid of all of the reporters because I really didn’t know what the fuck the movie was all about. And in my hotel room, when I finally read the script, I kind of freaked out. So much so that I was thinking to myself “Well, I could get sick and tell them that I can’t do the movie—I had all kinds of excuses that I was going to lay on ‘em so that I didn’t have to tackle this project. Then I thought, “Well, fuck it. If I”m in the right business or the wrong business I”ll know if I can pull this one off. And if I can I”ll be alright, But yeah it was difficult to do. And that’s when I first met Rod Steiger. Since Rod and I had a lot of scenes together, he said “you want to come over to my house and we’ll just run over the lines and get familiar with it?” “Absolutely” I said to him.”

After the dreaded Night of the Lepus, Whitman survived the blip in his momentum and proclaimed his comeback with multiple entertaining films and television roles, many that helped him attain cult status. Including Lawrence Harvey’s excursion into cannibalism Welcome to Arrow Beach, and master of horror Tobe Hooper’s sub-genre of horror films— the hillbilly slasher Eaten Alive starring Neville Brand and Carolyn Jones. My favorite is his performance as the love sick paramour of Piper Laurie’s in Curtis Harrington’s Ruby (1977). The underrated nightmarish ghost story and a great vehicle for Piper Laurie. Whitman brings that wonderful 70s sensibility to the film as he aches for his lover to return his affections.

Meg Foster and Stuart Whitman in Lawrence Harvey’s Welcome to Arrow Beach

Stuart Whitman and Rory Calhoun in Night of the Lepus

Stuart Whitman also stepped into the role of cult leader of People’s Temple Jim Jones with a hyperbolic performance in GUYANA: CULT OF THE DAMNED.

Aside from some his more obvious diversions into the cult market, Stuart Whitman delivered memorable roles in films like director Monte Hellman’s Shatter 1974 where he plays an a cool character, an international hit man who is now himself a target. Whitman can slip into a diverse range of characters from sympathetic child molester, to homicidal cult leader/mass murderer, cut throats and heroes, urbane hitmen or a variety of sheriffs. From the 60s decade through the 70s Stuart Whitman’s roles ran the gamut.

Making his film debut in 1951 science fiction films uncredited in director Rudolph Maté’ and George Pal’s When Worlds Collide credited as Kip Whitman and in director Robert Wise’s The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951). Whitman gained popularity as a cult actor appearing in a variety of films The Girl in the Black Stockings (1957)  co-starring Mamie Van Doren and Anne Bancroft.

The 1960s were a  golden time for Whitman where he found himself to be one of the leading stars in Hollywood. Another outstanding example of his versatile acting ability is showcased in the intense crime drama based on New York gangsters — Murder, Inc. 1960 and the 1964 psychologically disturbing, psychotronic  Shock Treatment 1965. Whitman plays an actor Dale Nelson who is hired to locate $1 million in stolen money, so he gets himself committed to the institution run by Lauren Bacall. But finds himself immersed in the depths of insanity inside the asylum. Then there was the international assembled cast for the aviation extravaganza comedy Those Magnificent Men and their Flying Machines and the fantastic adventure film The Sands of the Kalahari.

Stuart Whitman in The Sands of the Kalahari (1965)

Murder, Inc. Year : 1960 USA Stuart Whitman Director: Burt Balaban.

Stuart Rosenberg’s directorial debut Murder, Inc (1960) co-starred Peter Falk in his explosive role as Abe Reles.

SC: Hey, I don’t want to forget about MURDER, INC.

STUART WHITMAN: “I did that while I was still under contract to 20th They said “you’re going off to New York to do this thing called Murder, Inc. So on the plane I’m reading the script, and I’m thinking “wow! What a role here… Abe Reles… And when I got to New York and they picked me up in a limo at the airport, they asked me “how did you like the script? “Oh God, I just loved it” And they said “we got an interesting young guy, a character actor named Peter Falk who’s gonna plays Abe Reles” “Wait” I said, “I thought that was my role” “No, no You’re going to play the kid in it.. with May Britt.. the love affair part of the story.” And I said “Oh shit, I don’t want to do it. SO I called up (Spyros) Skouras (president of 20th Century Fox from 42 to 62) and said “Now Mrs Skouras that’s not the role I wanted to do” No do it” he said.

Anyhow, Peter Falk and I were getting along, getting some good stuff into the picture but when they fired the director Stuart Rosenberg, we had a sit down strike between us actors. But then a full out strike was coming along, and 20th said “The strike is coming up, so we have to finish this picture right away—before it hits.” Well, the very day we finished the picture, the strike hit. But that’s why there are two directors credited on Murder Inc. Burt Balaban was the producer so when Rosenberg got fired he stepped in.”

Stuart Whitman was very physically fit and started doing a lot of macho-type movies around this time, like westerns Rio Conchos 1964 and The Comancheros 1961. Whitman has top billing in the well-cast western, The Comancheros, and maintains a glorious chemistry with Wayne. He plays a womanizing gambler who kills a nobleman’s son in a dual. He escapes the noose but is hunted down the honest Captain of the Texas Rangers Jake Cutter (John Wayne). It’s directed by Michael Curtiz, and both men exchange quick-witted dialogue. Inevitably the two become friends. Cimarron Strip 1967-68 was Whitman’s short lived highly charged 90 minute TV western which was his show starring as the serious Marshal Jim Crown. Episodes featured other great actors like Richard Boone, Warren Oates, and Robert Duvall. I read that Cimarron Strip was of Whitman’s favorite projects.

Stuart Whitman as Marshal Jim Crown in the television western series Cimarron Strip 1967-68

Stuart Whitman in Rio Conchos (1964)

Stuart Whitman and co-star John Wayne in Michael Curtiz’s The Comancheros (1961)

Stuart Whitman was so versatile he was able to stand astride both television and feature films from dramatic hits to film noir, horror and cult exploitation. Some of his most notable films are Ten North Frederick (1958), director William Wellman’s Darby’s Rangers (1958) co-starring James Garner. Whitman does a superb job piece of work as a ballsy American soldier who joins an elite group who are trained as special forces during WWII. Andrew L. Stone’s The Decks Ran Red (1958) co-starring James Mason and Dorothy Dandridge. 
The Longest Day (1962), The Comancheros (1961) co-starring John Wayne, The Sound and The Fury (1959) co-starring Joanne Woodward, the grand British comedy adventure spectacle Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (1965), Shock Treatment (1964) co-starring Carol Lynley and Roddy McDowall as a very disturbed gardner, René Clément’s The Day and the Hour (1963) co-starring Simone Signoret. Stuart Whitman plays an American soldier who is shot down behind enemy lines and is aided by the French resistance. Whitman directed one specific scene that Clément agreed to let him shoot. There is an impassioned chemistry between the sublime Signoret (a favorite actress of mine) and Whitman, as the two journey to escape the Nazi’s in occupied France. Clément is at his finest profiling war torn Europe, his focus on the stirring content and eloquent faces that populate his films.
Stuart Whitman in Darby’s Rangers (1958) – directed by William Wellman
Joanne Woodward and Stuart Whitman in The Sound and the Fury (1959)
Stuart Whitman holding Simone Signoret in a scene from the film ‘The Day And The Hour’, 1963. (Photo by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images)
Le jour et l’heure (The Day and the Hour) Year: 1963 Director: René Clément -Simone Signoret, Stuart Whitman, Billy Kearns
Le jour et l’heure Year: 1963 Director: René Clément Simone Signoret, Stuart Whitman
Le jour et l’heure Year: 1963 Director: René Clément  Simone Signoret , Stuart Whitman
Whitman plays the compassionate prison guard who believes in rehabilitation not the death penalty in Convicts 4 (1962). His performance adds a real and humanist impact to the tense and confining spaces of the prison. There are also fine appearances by Rod Steiger, Sammy Davis Jr. and Vincent Price. Whitman felt at home in the western, he starred in Rio Conchos (1964), and then the turbulent psycho-drama An American Dream (1966) co-starring Janet Leigh and Eleanor Parker.
Night of the Lepus (1972) co-starring Janet Leigh and Rory Calhoun. Apparently Whitman felt that this low budget horror film was the decline of his career. Stuart Whitman was forced into taking the role in William F. Claxton’s ridiculous horror flick. In it, Whitman and Janet Leigh play zoologists who accidentally unleash giant bunny rabbits. The film is laughable and was partly responsible for the blemish on his career, though the film has attained cult status.
He managed to work with some of the most prominent directors, William Wellman, Frank Borzage, Don Siegel, Richard Fleischer, Michael Curtiz, Douglas Sirk, Jacques Tourneur and  René Clément.
After guest starring in dramatic television programs Lux Video Theatre, Four Star Playhouse, Zane Grey Theater and Dr Christian. He gained recognition in the lead role as Marshal Jim Crown in the successful Western television series Cimarron Strip that ran from 1967-68 on CBS. Other television appearances include Death Valley Days Highway Patrol 1956-57, Have Gun-Will Travel (1958), Bracken’s World (1970), Rod Serling’s Night Gallery episode Lindemann’s Catch and Fright Night.
He was in Circle of Fear (1972) The Streets of San Fransisco (1973), Quincy M.E., Knight Rider, A-Team, S.W.A.T., and Murder, She Wrote. He had a re-occurring role in Knots Landing. In 1988, he was featured in Superboy which lasted until 1992. Whitman played Jonathan Kent Superboy’s adoptive father.
Stuart Whitman and Chloris Leachman in Jonathan Demme’s Crazy Mama (1975)
Stuart Whitman and Eleanor Parker in An American Dream (1966)
Fred Williamson, Jenny Sherman and Stuart Whitman in Mean Johnny Barrows (1976)
1971: (L-R) Bradford Dillman, Carol Eve Rossen, Shelley Winters, Stuart Whitman appearing in the ABC tv movie ‘Revenge!’. (Photo by Walt Disney Television via Getty Images)
Stuart Whitman appeared in various tv movies, City Beneath the Sea (1971), Revenge! (1971) co-starring Shelley Winters, The Woman Hunter (1972), co-starring Barbara Eden.
Donald Randolph, Tony Curtis, Richard Long, Stuart Whitman and Palmer Lee in “The All American” 1953 Universal ** B.D.M.

Under contract to Universal Stuart Whitman was still cast in minimal parts in 1953. The first with director Budd Boetticher’s The Man from the Alamo. Then he worked with Jacques Tourneur his crime thriller Appointment in Honduras. Then followed The Veils of Bagdad and Walking My Baby Back Home.

in 1954, he was still getting cast in small roles Charles’ Vidor’s Rhapsody, loaned out to MGM. Stuart Whitman appeared in Brigadoon. He performed on stage at the Coast Theater in Christopher Fry’s Venus Observed.

1955, Whitman maintained his brief images like the man on the beach in Curtis Bernhardt’s Interrupted Melody. Also that year, Whitman had a minor role in the serial King of the Carnival. In that same vein he appeared in Allan Dwan’s war drama Hold Back the Night.  Then came Budd Boetticher’s western Seven Men from Now in 1956 co-starring Lee Marvin and Randolph Scott.

Finally In 1957, Stuart Whitman’s film presence gained visibility in Gerd Oswald’s noir thriller Crime of Passion, and Reginald Le Borg’s War Drums. He got his first leading role in John H. Auer’s Johnny Trouble. Where Whitman plays Johnny Chandler a belligerent young man whom Ethel Barrymore believes is her grandson. Films that followed were Hell Bound co-starring Broderick Crawford and James Mason and Howard W. Koch’s psycho-sexual shocker The Girl in Black Stockings (1957).

Stuart Whitman as Prentiss in The Girl in the Black Stockings (1957)

Carolyn Jones and Stuart Whitman in Johnny Trouble (1957)

Also in 1957 Whitman had a notable role in the military series, Harbor Command based on the United States Coast Guard.

He had a recurring role as police officer Sgt. Walters on the television series Highway Patrol. Whitman  and his co-star Broderick Crawford hit it off and became friends.

He was cast in bit parts in film and stage productions. Then he finally had his breakthrough with the drama Johnny Trouble in 1957 co-starring Ethel Barrymore in her last role. Then he co-starred with Gary Cooper in Ten North Frederick (1958) Stuart Whitman co-starred with Dorothy Dandrige in the crime drama The Decks Ran Red in 1958 where the two kissed showcasing one of the first interracial kisses in Hollywood at the time.

STUART WHITMAN & DOROTHY DANDRIDGE Film ‘THE DECKS RAN RED’ (1958) Directed By ANDREW L. STONE
10 October 1958 CT2447 Allstar/Cinetext/MGM

Dorothy Dandridge and Stuart Whitman in The Decks Ran Red (1958)

excerpts from an Interview From Shock Cinema Magazine by Anthony Petkovich

SC:You also starred with Broderick Crawford (they worked together in Highway Patrol) in The Decks Ran Red 1958.”

STUART WHITMAN: “Dorothy Dandridge, poor baby… She was previously married to one of the two Nicholas brothers {Harold} and their daughter, who was (brain-damaged), eventually had to be placed in a mental institution. And poor Dorothy was going through all of that turmoil while she was making the movie. A goddess, that’s what she was. “You know how Brod got that picture? Listen to this… Andrew and Virginia Stone both produced it with Andrew directing. And I said to them “who are you going to get to play this role (of Henry Scott)?” And they said, “Oh God, we’d love to have Broderick Crawford but he’s a drunk” And I said “Wait a second, if he tells you he’s not going to drink, then he won’t drink” No, they said. And I said “look. Call him up and talk to him. Tell him that I’m in the picture.” So they called Brod up and hired him. And just as I told them Brod didn’t touch a drop until the last day of shooting-then he let go But that’ show he got that job It was actually a good little movie. James Mason was an interesting guy, and we became fast friends. Oh God, he was a sweetheart. But Brod and he just didn’t get along.”

Came 1958, Charlton Heston left the William Wellman’s film Darby’s Rangers. It’s star James Garner took over the role and Stuart Whitman took Garners original character. Starting in production that year was Richard Fleischer’s western These Thousand Hills, and beginning it’s theatrical run was Ten North Frederick. Whitman remarked “many good things came from that”.

In 1958, Hedda Hopper wrote a piece on Whitman which said he could be the “new Clark Gable” :

This is a fresh personality with tremendous impact. He’s tall and lean with shock of unruly black hair and dark hazel eyes which harden to slate grey when he plays a bad man or turns on the heat in a love scene. When he comes into camera range, the audience sits up and says: “Who dat?”

The Decks Ran Red directed by Andrew L. Stone followed and according to Whitman, he got MGM to hire his friend Broderick Crawford with the condition that he remain sober during the shooting.

In 1959, Stuart Whitman replaced Robert Wagner in The Sound and the Fury co-starring Joanne Woodward and Yul Brynner. Woodward and Whitman would find themselves acting together once again in the taut thriller Signpost to Murder 1964. Also that year he appeared in an episode of the popular television show by writer/produced by Gene Roddenberry Have Gun-Will Travel.

Whitman finally started getting leading man roles in director Don Siegel’s Hound Dog Man. Whitman   played a rogue his “fourth heel in a row… I had a ball because the character was a real louse, everything hanging off him and no inhibitions. I like those kind of guys, I suppose because I can’t be that way myself.”

In 1960, he starred in the Biblical drama The Story of Ruth, replacing Stephen Boyd as Boaz.

Stuart Whitman in “The Story of Ruth” 1960 (Photo by RDB/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

That year he co-starred in the darkly violent crime biopic Murder, Inc. Whitman had originally thought that he was to be cast in the Peter Falk role, but wound up playing the romantic lead instead. The film’s production was problematic from the beginning. Director Stuart Rosenberg was fired for taking too long to set up shots. After the actors’ strike the studio was pressured to finish the film so they hired Burt Balaban to finish production.

Then came 1961 and the role that earned him the Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. Stuart Whitman was frustrated with the kinds of roles he was getting. “I had been knocking around and not getting anything to test my ability” When Richard Burton dropped out of production of Guy Green’s The Mark, to take the part in the stage production of Camelot, Whitman was contacted by his agent, the actor not knowing the controversial content of the film, he flew to Ireland to read the script. Though it was a challenge he felt that he could tackle the role of a child molester, and he was right as he garnered the Oscar nomination for his performance. Whitman acknowledged that it “doubled my rating as an actor” yet  “I had a tough time breaking my image in that movie… it blocked my image as a gutsy outdoorsman.”

Whitman then starred in The Fiercest Heart filmed in South Africa. Then he appeared in Michael Curtiz’s religious biopic Francis of Assisi. Curtiz wanted Whitman, to appear in his next film The Comancheros. John Wayne had to negotiate with the studio to get Whitman released from a prior commitment with the studio. Stuart Whitman plays Paul Regret who escapes from the law but is eventually captured by Texas Ranger Jake Cutter (John Wayne).

1962, Whitman starred in Millard Kaufman’s crime drama Convicts 4 and was cast in the all-star feature The Longest Day (1962) The events of D-Day, told on a grand scale from both the Allied and German points of view. 

Publicity Still from The Longest Day (1962)

Le jour et l’heure Year: 1963 Director: René Clément Stuart Whitman, Marcel Bozzuffi
Le jour et l’heure Year: 1963 Director: René Clément Stuart Whitman, Reggie Nalder

From Wiki: In 1963, instead of choosing any of these roles, Whitman played an American pilot in the French film René Clément‘s The Day and the Hour, shot in Paris and set during World War II. As described by Whitman, he got the part through Alain Delon, who he bumped into in an elevator at The Beverly Hills Hotel. Delon invited him to meet the director, and eventually worked out a way to loan him out from his studio contract. During the production of the film, Whitman disagreed with Clément on the direction of a torture scene. Whitman swore to Clément that he could handle it. After coincidentally sitting in a plane next to Sidney Buchman who co-wrote The Mark, they re-wrote the scene. Whitman directed the torture scene and hasn’t directed since. Whitman described Clément, as one of the finest French directors. He enjoyed the experience, saying, “I busted through at last and can now get an honest emotion, project it and make it real. You become egocentric when you involve yourself to such an extent in your role; your next problem is in learning how to turn it off and come home and live with society. It took a lot of time and energy to break through, so I could honestly feel and I’m reluctant to turn it off. Now I know why so many actors go to psychiatrists.”

In 1963, Stuart Whitman appeared in an episode called  “Killing at Sundial” of the first season of Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre. Whitman plays a Native American seeking to avenge his father who was hanged years ago.

1964, Whitman was cast in the expository psychological shiver as the unfortunate Dale Nelson who gets cast into the snake pit of Shock Treatment (1964). Then came the western directed by Gordon Douglas- Rio Conchos co-starring two other leading men Richard Boone and Tony Franciosa. Whitman said that he didn’t like the script, but producer Darryl F. Zanuck dangled the carrot of the lead role in Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines in 1965.  After Stuart Whitman met with Richard Boone and director Douglas he agreed to take the part. Director Annakin had wanted Dick Van Dyke for the lead role in this aviation extravaganza but he had to to accept the studio’s choice and wound up being please with Whitman’s wonderful performance.

In 1965 he appeared in the director George Englund’s film noir Signpost to Murder co-starring Joanne Woodward. Signpost to Murder is perhaps one of Stuart Whitman’s most compelling performances. He plays Alex Forrester an escaped patient from an asylum – takes refuge in Molly Thomas’ (Woodward) house who has secrets of her own. This contemplative thriller with twists is an incredibly underrated psychological thriller and deserves more attention paid to it for its narrative precision.  There is an evocative score by master composer Lyn Murray that underlines the moody discord of the plot. Whitman is superb as the desperate man trying to free himself of being labeled insane, culminating in the emotional eruption of violence. “What a terrible way to live out the one life I have. Shut up. Shut off. Forever lost.”

He got the lead in Cy Endfield’s Sands of the Kalahari. Other actors considered for the role were Richard Burton, Robert Mitchum and Marlon Brando. Whitman had a horrendous time during the shoot, due to the extreme heat on location in Africa, and the baboons whom he had to fight with weren’t trained.  And finally the release of director Ken Annakin’s comedy centered around the aviation craze circa 1910 with an ensemble cast. Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines with Whitman featured as the American participating in the race from London to Paris.

In 1966, Whitman starred opposite Eleanor Parker in Robert Gist’s An American Dream aka See You in Hell, Darling based on the novel by Norman Mailer. The film is a self-indulgent cynical journey as Whitman is suspected of killing his wife (Parker) who plays a miserable alcoholic. Whitman then appeared once again on the dramatic television series Bob Hope Presents  in the episode The Highest Fall of All. He played a suicidal stuntman with a death wish who is willing to do dangerous fall.

In 1967, Whitman came into American living rooms for the first time as U.S. Marshal Jim Crown, the lead character in the television western Cimarron Strip.

Stuart Whitman and Margit Saad in The Last Escape (1970)

1970, Whitman appeared in the episode “Murder off-camera” of Bracken’s World. Also that year, Stuart Whitman starred in The Last Escape and The Invincible Six. He was also in an episode of The FBI. 1971, Whitman acted in director Alexander Singer’s Captain Apache co-starring Carroll Baker and Lee Van Cleef.

Whitman plays a psychic who is hired by Carol Rossen to find her missing husband in the Grand Guignol made for television thriller Revenge! starring Shelley Winters as a twisted vengeful mother who is holding Bradford Dillman captive in her cellar. He appeared in another made for television sci-fi adventure The City Beneath the Sea. In 1972, he plays a hardened, solitary sea captain who catches a mermaid in “Lindemann’s Catch”, an episode of Rod Serling’s horror/fantasy series Night Gallery. Serling wrote the episode and Jeff Corey directed.

City Beneath the Sea (1971) made for tv movie

Also in 1972 he appeared in Disney’s Run, Cougar, Run, and an episode of Fantasy Island called “Carnival/The Vaudevillians“. He did another episode of Night Gallery called “Fright Night” where he must take care of a mysterious trunk in an old family estate. Having a proclivity toward starring in horror he appeared in a television episode of Circle of Fear/Ghost Story called “The Concrete Captain co-starring Gena Rowlands. That same year he appeared in another television movie, The Woman Hunter starring Barbara Eden. Came 1972 Whitman appears as a hitman in “The Set Up” episode of The Streets of San Francisco, and the made for television film The Man Who Died Twice. He also appeared in Love, American Style, and an episode of Hec Ramsey called “A Hard Road to Vengeance.” Curtis Harrington’s Made for Television horror The Cat Creature (1973) co-starring Gale Sondergaard.

In 1974 he took to the horror stage again appearing in the outre creepy and violent Welcome to Arrow Beach co-starring Lawrence Harvey and Joanna Pettet about a veteran who craves human flesh. Harvey who directed had asked Whitman to play the lead role, but he told him he didn’t want to play a cannibal but he’d play the deputy because he wanted to work with Lawrence Harvey.

In 1975, he had the lead role in Call Him Mr. Shatter, and an episode of Cannon called “Man in the Middle”. He co-starred with Fred Williamson in Mean Johnny Barrows. That same year he starred in Jonathan Demme’s exploitation film Crazy Mama co-starring Cloris Leachman. Several generations of women go on to be outlaws robbing banks so they can reclaim the farm in Arkansas that was taken away from them by the bank. Whitman plays Jim Bob who is along for the ride with Melba (Cloris Leachman). In Mean Johnny Barrows (1975) Whitman co-stars as a crime boss with Fred Williamson.

In 1976 he starred in the television series S.W.A.T. episode “The Running Man” and then he took to the Italian action genre working with director Alberto De Martino in his giallo feature where Whitman plays Capt. Tony Saitta and co-stars with John Saxon and Martin Landau in the very slick mystery Strange Shadows in an Empty Room. He appeared along side Rod Taylor and Elke Sommer in Treasure Seeker. He acted in television’s Harry O with friend David Janssen and Ellery Queen. He played the sheriff in Tobe Hooper’s nasty horror gorge- Eaten Alive.

In 1977, television called Stuart Whitman once again to appear in Quincy, M.E. in the highly charged episode “Hot Ice Cold Hearts” He appeared in one of my favorite horror films starring the great Piper Laurie. He starred in J. Lee Thompson’s The White Buffalo co-starring Charles Bronson.

In 1978 Whitman appeared in several television miniseries, The Pirate written by Harold Robins and The Seekers. He also starred in Delta Fox.

Around this time, Whitman collaborated twice with director René Cardona Jr.. In 1979 he starred as Jim Jones in the powerfully disturbing, Guyana, Cult of the Damned. The second film was Los Traficantes De Panico, also known as Under Siege.

“A lot of big people told me I was the number one man the networks wanted,” said Whitman. “I always wanted to play a cop with a heart, a guy who would use every possible means not to kill a man,” he said. “TV has needed a superhero… and I think Crown can be the guy.”

The Los Angeles Times did a profile on Whitman around this time, calling him “an actor of growing importance in a business that needs stalwarts to follow in the steps of the Clark Gables, Gary Coopers, and John Waynes… Whitman is like a finely trained athletic champion – a modest but self-assured chap who seems to know where he is going.”

“I’ve done lots of different parts since I left Hollywood High School and City College”, said Whitman in a 1960 interview, “so the sudden switch didn’t bother me too much. I hope 20th Century Fox will keep the roles varied and interesting.”

“I didn’t need to act to make a living, but I had a real passion for it,” he told writer Nick Thomas. “I just loved to act.”

Whitman described himself to Hedda Hopper as “a real American – have a little bit of English, Irish, Scotch and Russian – so I get along with everyone.”

“I went to so many schools—26 in all!—that I was always an outsider,” he later recalled. “It wasn’t until high school that I could really read . . . I always sat in the back of the room.”

Whitman’s early love for acting came through when he did three summer stock plays in New York when he was 12, but “nobody took that seriously,” he said.

“I reached a point where I said, ‘What are you going to do with your life? You got to get something going.'” he said. “I decided I wanted to spend most of my time on me. So I decided to develop me and educate me.”

According to John Gregory Dunne’s “The Studio,” Whitman was suggested for the title role in The Boston Strangler by John Bottomly, the Massachusetts assistant attorney general who prosecuted Albert DeSalvo. Instead, the role went to Tony Curtis.

Whitman had turned down a number of offers to star on television series over the years, including Mannix and Judd for the Defense. “I wanted more diversity in acting,” he said. “I felt I would limit myself.”

Whitman admitted, “I’m the type who must work constantly.” In the early 1970s, he worked increasingly in Europe. “I left Hollywood because it was getting to be a mad mess!” he said. “There are only about two really good scripts going around and they always go to the industry’s two top stars. I thought that in Europe, something better might come my way—and it did! I’ve made mistakes in the past, but I kept bouncing back. I always thought that an actor is destined to act, but I now realize that if you do one role well, you get stuck with it!”

Stuart Whitman retired from film and television after 2000 after his final appearance in The President’s Man.

Awards and honors Included on the Hollywood walk of Fame (1998) Nominated Best Actor Academy Award, The Mark (1961) Winner (cast member) Western Heritage Awards, The Comancheros (1961)

“The Comancheros” John Wayne, Stuart Whitman 1961 20th Century Fox

“I was filming Francis of Assisi 1961 In Italy with director Michael Curtiz IT was wintertime and a hard shoot And near the end of the film, Michael said “Stuart take a look at this script. It’s called The Comancheros” I read it over and said ‘boy, there’s a role in there that I’d love to be in” And he said I’d love to have you in it. I’m directing it. But the studio has got somebody else cast for that particular part. But we don’t start filming for another month, so when you get back to Hollywood see if you can get on the picture. I’d like to have you. “When I got back, I asked the studio and they said No you can’t do it We’ve got it all sewn up. So I called up Kurt Frings and told him what Curtiz said to me “Well he said “go see the Duke at Paramount He’s on Stage 17 Go talk to him.

Anyhow I worked my way into Paramount went to Stage 17 and when I got there (Wayne) was just going off to his dressing room. So I followed him in— “and Michael Curtiz wants me in your next picture. I really want to do it but the studio is putting up some blockage there. So I hung around there with Wayne for part of the day. And at the end of the day he asked me, “you really want to do the picture huh? Okay You’ve to the job. That’s how I got The Comancheros.”-Stuart Whitman

IMDB Trivia:

Alfred Hitchcock considered him, along with Cliff Robertson, Robert Loggia and Tom Tryon, for the role of Sam Loomis in Psycho (1960), but the role went to John Gavin.
Was a light-heavyweight boxer while serving the United States Army. Ironically, it was his role as a prizefighter in the play “Dr. Christian” that brought him his first leading role in a movie, playing Johnny in Johnny Trouble (1957) opposite Ethel Barrymore.
Was close friends with David Janssen.
In 1960, MGM toyed with the idea of doing an all-male remake of The Women (1939) which would’ve been entitled “Gentlemen’s Club.” Stuart Whitman would have been cast as (Oliver, the bartender who spills the beans about the illicit affair).

Another The Decks Ran Red co-star Whitman commented on was Dorothy Dandridge, who was going through a divorce and had to institutionalize her mentally ill daughter. Whitman was impressed with her strength and described her as a goddess.

Whitman told that when he first met Peter Falk on the set of Murder, Inc., they had differences but eventually became friends. Whitman found The Mark director Guy Green difficult to work with, finding him demanding and too strict, but they became good friends afterwards. On the set of Sands of the Kalahari, Whitman said he became best friends with fellow cast members Stanley Baker and Theodore Bikel, while he didn’t click with Jim Brown at first, they too became friends.

S.W.A.T. – Season Two – “The Running Man” 12/2/75 Stuart Whitman
FILM CLIPS HERE:
Cimarron Strip television show
Johnny Trouble 1957 as Johnny
 
Darby’s Rangers 1958 as Sgt. Hank Bishop
Ten North Frederick 1958 as Charley Bongiorno
The Decks Ran Red 1958 as Leroy Martin
The Sound and the Fury 1959 as Charlie Busch
Murder, Inc 1960 as Joey Collins
The Mark 1961 as Jim Fuller
The Comancheros 1961 as Paul Regret
Convicts 4 (1961) as Principal Keeper
The Day and the Hour 1963 as Capt. Allan Morley
Shock Treatment 1964 as Dale Nelson
Signpost to Murder 1964 as Alex Forrester
An American Dream 1966 as Stephen Richard Rojack
The Invincible Six 1970 as Tex
Captain Apache 1971 as Griffin
Revenge! 1971 tv movie as Mark Hembric
Night Gallery 1972 Capt. Hendrick Lindemann (segment “Lindemann’s Catch”)
The Streets of San Fransisco 1973 episode: “The Set-Up”) (1973) as Nick Carl
Shatter 1974 as Shatter
Crazy Mama 1975 as Jim Bob
Mean Johnny Barrows 1976 as Mario Racconi
Strange Shadows in an Empty Room 1976 as Capt. Tony Saitta
Ruby 1977 as Vince Kemper

Filmography

This is your everlovin’ joey sayin’ goodbye Stuart Whitman… we’ll always have your eyebrows and that sexy voice of yours to enjoy!

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 

to check out this blogathon’s complete schedule!

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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

Robert Bloch writer
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.

alfred_hitchcock

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!

alfred-hitchcock-on-the-set-of-alfred-hitchcock-presents-showing-off-a-noose

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.

Alfred Hitchock Being A Big Goof (1)

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

Vera MIles Jeffrey Hunter Don't Look Behind YOu
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

Dean Stockwell and Susan Oliver in Annabel
“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)”

Walter Graumen puts Olivia de Havilland in peril as a Lady in a Cage (1964) “Right now I am all *animal*” or “Oh, dear Lord… I am… a monster!”

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THE GREAT VILLAIN BLOGATHON APRIL 20-26, 2014 hosted by Speakeasy*Shadows and Satin * Silver Screenings

“She was very badly raped, you see! We were assaulted by a gang of vicious, young, hoodlums in this house! In this very room you are sitting in now! I was left a helpless cripple, but for her the agony was too great! The doctor said it was pneumonia; because it happened some months later! During a flu epidemic! The doctors told me it was pneumonia, but I knew what it was! A VICTIM OF THE MODERN AGE! Poor, poor girl!”-quote from Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (1971)

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James Caan- is the violent anti-social ruffian Randall Simpson O’Connell and a good choice for ‘The Great Villain Blogathon’ since I’ve covered two sympathetic antagonists, I thought it was necessary to write about a true villain in every sense of the word. He’s an *animal* as he calls himself. He is not an anti-hero, he is a sadistic, and violently wired punk a, a vicious hoodlum, a product of a modern age.

The young James Caan embodies such a sociopathic, undomesticated menacing rage that even through the cliché stocking on his face, it makes him all the more frightening. Randall is the axis of this amoral trio who are such anti-social, narcissistic degenerates that they do not evoke a smidgen of sympathy from the audience. Though he may come from trouble beginnings, his displaced rage pits him against Hilyard who represents everything he despises.

Randall is a misogynist brute who beats his girlfriend Elaine (we hear the blows from behind the door as she both screams and exults in sexual excitement), and would have probably sexually harassed Mrs. Hilyard but for the fact that he mentions how he hates his grandmother, an older and sexless figure. He is physically rough with her, feeling that she is an ‘old crow’ who is controlling and manipulative and has pushed her son to threaten suicide. Undertones of an Oedipal nature run through the plot line as Randall is raging against the devouring mother, that Hilyard represents in the story, which truly plays like a modern mythic tragedy. Randall traumatizes Hilyard until she is almost insane with fear.

Lady in a Cage is a grimy urban ordeal drenched in taboo, and inhabited by drunken derelicts, boozy dames, doped-up delinquents and a menacing cruelty that escalates until it is almost unbearable. 

de Havilland’s lovely face distorts in the reflected mirrored panel of the elevator as she begins to unravel from the brutality and captivity she confronts, all within the vanilla white tonality of her quiet house. The interior shots alternating with the outer rat race, the urban grime and modern desolation.

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Randall leers at Hilyard from under the stocking like a vicious hob goblin

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As Tony Williams writes in his chapter Trying to Survive on the Darker Side in The Dread of Difference-edited by Barry Keith Grant-where he cites Grauman’s film “The monstrous adult child product of a traumatic family situation existed in earlier decades, as works such as Curse of the Cat People 1944, Psycho, The Strangler 1963, Lady in a Cage 1964, Marnie 1964, I Dismember Mama 1972, The Killing Kind 1973.”
James Caan had made an appearance as a soldier with radio in Billy Wilder’s Irma La Douce (1963)
Randall was James Caan’s first credited feature film role after getting his start with small television parts such as The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, “Memo from Purgatory” where he plays a writer who goes undercover in a street gang so he can get inspiration for his book. Kraft Suspense Theatre in 1963, Dr. Kildare, Death Valley Days, Combat!, and the ruthless Marty Feketi in ‘Bullets Cost Too Much’ episode of The Naked City 1961 extraordinary social commentary police procedural tv series that ran from 1958-1963. I’m still working through my new dvd box set, and let me tell you, there ain’t nothing like this show with it’s incredible cast of character actors, dramatic story telling and on location cinematography in New York City in the 60s.

A snippet of the exchange between Hilyard and Randall…

Mrs.Hilyard-“You’re from an asylum?”

Randall-“Asylum? Oh no, you don’t. Reformatory. Work farm. I been inside every way there is to be inside. I been some kind of inside since I was nine years old.

Mrs. Hilyard-“Oh I see. You’re one of the many bits of offal produced by the welfare state. You’re what so much of my tax dollars goes for the care and feeding of.”

Caan, with his very ‘masculine’ hairy chest, was a much more subtle psychopath in Curtis Harrington’s psychological thriller Games 1967 where he gaslights the beautiful but emotionally delicate Katherine Ross with the help of sensual goddess Simone Signoret. BTW, I’ll be doing a special feature on the works of Curtis Harrington hopefully by the summer.

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James Caan in Curtis Harrington’s Games 1967 with Katherine Ross

Randall even takes off on Marlon Brando’s Stanley Kowalski from Tennessee William’s A Streetcar Named Desire, as he belches, shirtless (most of the film) and leers and smirks in his outre tight jeans.

This evokes “I think I’m going to be sick” from the respectable Mrs. Hilyard who voices her scorn. Randall is in control and enjoys the power struggle, sadistically amused by her indignation and repulsion, “Watch the human being be sick in a cage.” He’s looking for any excuse to lash out.

Randall says [to George Brady the bum] “We’re gonna kill you. First you, then the pig (Sade)… and then, the human being!”

It is suggested that Randall also likes to beat up on his girlfriend Elaine, as she has a black eye. As I stated earlier, off camera while up in the master bathroom behind closed doors,  it is implied that she actually vocalizes pleasure when he hits her. Elaine herself is an angry and hyper-sexual oddity, perhaps even a  sociopath as well, as she moves her body provocatively, quite aware of her seductive maneuvering. She enjoys watching violent acts and she dances to a small music box in a very sexually inappropriate way. Obviously she is wired to believe that sexuality and violence go together.

Olivia de Havilland  as Mrs. Cornelia Hilyard is terrorized by James Caan as the violent Randall Simpson O’Connell and his gang of sociopathic miscreants.

de Havilland’s Cornelia Hilyard suffers from delusions toward the climax –that Randall is her son Malcolm. First when she faints after she speaks to Randall thinking he is Malcolm and then again when he reads the letter and uses the words ‘release’ – as the screen becomes all wavy, as she self-accuses that she is a ‘monster.’

de Havilland having taken the role after Joan Crawford turned down the part of Cornelia Hilyard, and then ironically stepping in a little later that year to fill Joan’s high heels in Hush Hush… Sweet Charlotte when personalities clashed on the set with Bette Davis and Robert Aldrich.

Walter Grauman (his first film obscure B cult classic- The Disembodied 1957, writing for television Peter Gunn, Matinee Theatre, Perry Mason, The New Breed, The Untouchables, Naked City, Twilight Zone (Miniature) Route 66, Burke’s Law, Kraft Suspense Theatre, Honey West, The Fugitive , The Streets of San Fransisco and Barnaby Jones- Directing tv movie horrors like Daughter of the Mind, The Man Who Cried Wolf, Crowhaven Farm, Paper Man, They Call it Murder and The Golden Gate Murders ’79, a terrific hard to find film with David Janssen and Susannah York.

I just love Grauman’s realist style– it’s raw and captivating mise en scène and here he directs this very taut thriller, that somehow seems to elude a definitive genre category as it falls into place amongst the transgressive noir-hybrids of the 60s, it’s been linked with Grande Dame Guignol cinema, and it’s every bit a suspense crime drama but there is little written about it in any of my books on the THRILLER or NOIR film genres. Film historian Kim Newman points out that the sub-genre that was a popular psycho trend of the 1960s where “the aging actress as *monster* was inaugurated” by Aldrich’s Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)

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It’s also showcases elements of the horror style rampant in the 60s and yet again, I’ve found it difficult to locate it in any index, and I’ve got a full library on that subject as you can imagine. The idea of home invasion and torture isn’t a subject that’s been missed this side of the 21st Century. It’s been a featured narrative on shows like Law and Order, Dexter and Criminal Minds comes to mind.

Gregory A Waller writes in the introduction in American Horrors: Essays on the Modern American Horror Film- “The 60’s provided a number of noteworthy horror films -still disturbing oddities like What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?(1962), Lady in a Cage (1964) and The Haunting (1964) with it’s restrained ‘adult’ major studio, quasi Victorian terror.”

The idea of the home being invaded in an era which was coming off of the industrial age of suburban comforts, ice maker refrigerators, frozen dinners, air conditioners, appliances for an easier way to be a home-maker. the notion of this once safe, comfortable and innocent lifestyle is thus shattered by the intrusion of a doomed and violent world out of control. Even more stunning is that the action happens in broad daylight.

Martin Rubin sums it up in his book Thrillers-Lady in a Cage “epitomizes modern day social decay through the predicament of a cut-off shut-in Olivia de Havilland terrorized by lowlifes and juvenile delinquents”

introducing James Caan-exteriors key to framing an atmosphere of symbolic visual entrapment
The shots of exteriors, interiors and certain objects are key to framing a visual atmosphere of entrapment.

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The script was written by writer/produce Luther Davis  The Hucksters 1047, B.F.’s Daughter 1948, Kismet 1965, Across 110th Street (1972, tv movies Daughter of the Mind 1969 with Ray Milland and Gene Tierney, The Old Man Who Cried Wolf 1970 with Edgar G. Robinson.

co-starring as Caan’s female sidekick is Jennifer Billingsly as Elaine, Rafael Campos is Essie ( very hard working character actor in the sixties and seventies, I especially loved him as Little Emanuel with one leg shorter than the other in All in the Family), William Swan as Malcom Hilyard, Scatman Crothers as the junkman’s assistant,

Lady in a Cage also includes Ann Sothern as the weary and wanton Sade, Jeff Corey as the derelict George L Brady/ who decries, “Repent, repent” the two outliers of society, taking advantage of Mrs. Hilyard’s predicament instead of helping her.

With art direction and production design by Hal Pereira who worked on such great Hitchcock thrillers as Rear Window ’54, Vertigo ’58 and Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s ’61

The evocative soundtrack of beat jazz and experimental nuances by composer Paul Glass  (Bunny Lake is Missing 1965, Five Desperate Women 1971 tv movie, To the Devil a Daughter 1976)

At times Glass underscores the world gone awry with sounds akin to the mechanism of social order having just snapped a spring, and becoming uncoiled and shorted out!

The opening credits are framed with the use of bar like graphics symbolic of not only the literal plot entrapment but the atmosphere of being caged in as well. The linear graphics that interplay with the rolling list of credits remind me of the work of title designer Saul Bass.

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The titles are reminiscent of Saul Bass

Ann Southern as Sade

Leon Barsha takes care of the tense editing. Barsha knows how to create a claustrophobic chaos as he did with Joan Crawford in Sudden Fear 1952, Midnight Lace 1960, editing a few of the most outstanding episodes of The Twilight Zone– A Penny For Your Thoughts ’61, The Grave ’61 and Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up ’61.

Rudolph Sternad production designer/art director-died a year before the film was released. Just to mention a few of his credits-(Dead Reckoning 1947, Walk a Crooked Mile 1948, The Member of the Wedding 1952, High Noon 1952, The Wild One 1953, The Defiant Ones 1958, Inherit the Wind 1960, It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World 1963) Set designers were Sam Comer and Joseph Kish.

Cinematographer Lee Garmes has some list of credits, having started as a painters assistant and prop boy. He lensed some of the most beautifully visual films,  The Garden of Allah 1927, Lilies of the Field 1930, Scarface 1932, Call Her Savage 1932, Strange Interlude 1932 then later uncredited for Gone With the Wind, Guest in the House 1944, and of course some of my favorite films, Nightmare Alley 1947, The Paradine Case 1947 and Portrait of Jennie 1948 onto noirs, Detective Story and The Captive City.

Garmes sets up certain shots that give the impression of a brutally grotesque modern masquerade fête of social misfits on a rampage in a woman-in peril film.

With various close ups on the players faces, in particular de Havilland as she begins to lose it. Often the trio are framed at angles where they look over Mrs. Hilyard who appears like a trapped animal in a cage, as they taunt her from above. She seems smaller and helpless. de Havilland begins to lose her coiffed appearance as she devolves, her hair becomes unkempt and she is drenched in perspiration. It’s quite visually disturbing and graphically unnerving. As these good shockers often are as Grauman and Garmes use extreme close ups of de Havilland’s mouth when she screams for help. The emphasized shots of the alarm bell ringing to no avail, reminds of the detail that cinematographer Ernest Haller paid toward elements of communication and non-escape (the myriad shots of the phone, the stairs) in Aldrich’s What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?

director of photog Lee Garmes
Emphasis on anonymous hands blasting car horns all modern lines of communication that are chaotic and used in an audibly offensive way-dehumanizing noise.
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To show the indifference and cruelty of the world, a little girl runs her roller skates along a bums leg…

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As voyeurs we see Malcolm through window blinds, peering through the bars of his private world- He writes a letter to his mother-“Darling”

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Malcolm is a coded gay character of the film

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Malcolm’s misadventure with the car sets off a chain reaction of horrific events to follow–fate is in the driver’s seat.
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throughout Lady in a Cage Lee Garme’s camera focuses on objects of communication or the lack thereof… Modern conveniences and bourgeois trifle

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Twenty First Century Desolation

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Lady in a CageHal Pereira’s set is more modern, sterile and streamline, inharmonious and unwelcoming. There are many disturbing scenes with the subtle distinction of this hostility and inhumanity like the girl who runs her roller skates over the leg of an unconscious man, an evangelist spouts off about the evils of the world on the radio, a dog hit by a car that drivers keep passing by without stopping.

The date is the 4th of July, it is extremely hot day, people’s nerves are more sensitive and agitated during these heat waves which usually leads to more crime. There are exploding garbage cans in the street to mark the holiday.

Garmes focuses on Mrs Hilyard through the bars on her cage and the reflections in the mirrored panel. We begin as voyeurs. Malcolm is writing his letter, addressing his mother as ‘darling.’ Perhaps a little undeveloped sub-text to be discussed in a different kind of post. Considering that this one is in a series of ‘love notes’ he writes to her. “Darling” Hhmm???

It is made apparent though not explicitly, that Malcolm is in fact gay, and his mother’s domineering personality is at the source of his homosexuality, which is what films of the 60s & 70s would tend to illustrate.

de Havilland has a screen presence that is quite sophisticated and almost imposing with her sense of stylish intellect and decorum. This puts de Havilland’s Mrs. Hilyard in an interesting position on the graph of class struggle, as Randall and his gang aren’t just fighting amongst their own contemporaries, he is challenging an upper class society lady and mother figure to attack back.

Ironically what sets off the sequence of actions that ensue is Malcolm whose car hits a ladder, that tears out wires that short out the power lines. He causes the accident that creates the electricity going out leaving his mother stranded in her gilded prison. He is yet another character in the film who is distracted by his own agenda, self-absorbed carelessness and indifference. Played out like a tragedy, it is at the chance moment when Malcolm causes the power outage that his mother wearing a sheer negligee gets into her elevated cage locking herself inside like a sitting canary. The ‘cage’ has a mirrored panel by the buttons, that allow for de Havilland/Mrs.Hilyard to be seen from various angles and expressions.

With her in her gilded trap is a transistor radio, which is reporting about the uncovered murder victim, a woman who has been decapitated!

Mrs. Hilyard (Olivia de Havilland) is a poetess and a wealthy widow who lives in a stifling bourgeois mansion with her son Malcolm (William Swan) Cornelia, though she is never actually called by her first name, has had an elevator installed in her mansion after she breaks her hip. We see Malcolm writing a letter to his mother as he is about to go away for a weekend, leaving his mother all alone in the house. Malcolm appears to be stifled by his mother’s overbearing love, even to the point of her insisting that he drink his orange juice. As he leaves in his car, he backs into a ladder which nudges a wire that short circuits.

Through this subtle set of events triggering a negative chain reaction causing a power outage, it only sparks the larger series of violent circumstances that begin to spiral out of control. Of course Cornelia Hilyard is now trapped in her gilded cage of an elevator. She has an emergency alarm, which she uses while the electricity is out, but only one person is aroused by the alarm. A derelict wino named George L. Brady (Jeff Corey) hearing the alarm in the alley he ignores her cries for help, and instead helps himself to some of her things. Brady feigns muteness while he rummages around her things, as she is helpless to do anything about it. In desperation she tries to bargain with him to help her, “I will build a shrine to you.”

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The use of white is so vanilla–like Mrs Hilyard

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Repent is tattooed on Brady’s hand

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Much like Joan Crawford’s Blanche Hudson whose entrapment was because she was wheelchair bound, the camera would often focus on the distance between the phone that was always out of reach. The lines of communication had been a constant hurdle to invoke the sense of dread and captivity

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Randall and his little band of riff raff wonder where the old bum stumbled onto a $40 toaster and packs of cigarettes

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Brady shows up at Sade’s apartment, telling her about the house filled with so much loot!

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But Brady is only the first character who will prey on the weakness and vulnerability of Mrs Hilyard. The ferocious and unsympathetic opportunism is a theme that will carry through the film’s story telling. And none is likable and no one is safe from harm. While we might feel slightly ambivalent toward the poor souls who are down and out on their luck, or the proper and uptight Mrs Hilyard who is the central sufferer in the piece, the narrative doesn’t allow much time for us to feel compassion which only illustrates that the message of nihilism translates with an authentic sting. Mrs. Hilyard is every bit part of the testimony of elitist apathy and arrogance that comes along with a hypocritical and so-called civilized modern society.

The film begins to escalate with a real sense of urgency and smothering atmosphere of dread. The derelict Brady fences the goods and then pays a visit to his slovenly dame Sade (Ann Sothern). This sets off yet another ripple in the threatening current that is building in the narrative.

Following Brady from the junk dealer to Sade’s apartment the vicious trio learn about Mrs Hilyard’s house. The savage bunch of hoodlums Randall, Elaine and Essie hang back and wait for the right time to strike. The three lowlifes follow George and Sade to the mansion wearing stockings to obscure their identities, as they start ravaging the place. Eventually they kill the old bum George L Brady who is in a way the second catalyst for the crime of invading and tormenting the trapped Mrs. Hilyard. Hypocritical too as he decries, ‘repent’ though he not only ignores her pleadings for help, he engages the mechanism of ill-fate-he must also be the first to be disposed of. And although we do not see any of the gory details when they stab him to death, the murder is still quite gruesome, as the force of violence still permeates the screen with Paul Glass’ use of music box nuance to create contrast between the two experiences.

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When the phone rings, it startles both Sade and Brady.
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As Mrs.Hilyard yells into the phone after it rings she knocks it off the hook, but Sade rips the wire out of the wall. Hilyard starts to lose it, calling out for help, calling out ’emergency’. Sade creeps up the stairs while Hilyard hangs in mid air in her cage. Hilyard tells her “this is my house, my sons and mine. I broke my hip and am somewhat incapacitated.”

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Sade coldly ignores Mrs Hilyard’s pleading for help “Haven’t you ever needed help?” but Sade stops and only thinks for a split second and continues to walk away.
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“Perfume, is that perfume? A woman, are you a woman?… Listen, Hello my name is Hilyard. I am Mrs Hilyard.” The bum Brady creeps around the stairs and cage. As if the house has been invaded by termites come to pick it clean. Hilyard continues to try and make contact with her intruders “What’s your name. Won’t you answer me. Please answer me” She moves around the inside confines of her gilded prison calling out for them to answer her. With no success.

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“Please help me get out of this horrible cage. Please, please PLEASE!!!!”
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Suddenly the moment is broken with a horrifying wail, as the three hoodlums rush the stairs wearing stocking masks. It’s a immobilizing stunner in the film, that breaks the initial inertia of Hilyard’s entrapment and the circular photography that creates a whirlpool effect. At first an mind numbing monotony and then a blitz of chaos.

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Randall makes Sade his pick up truck
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Hilyard soaked in sweat and crazed has already been driven half mad. Now she is terrified.
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Randall appears at the stair case looming down on her. His face concealed by the stocking mask. Grinning at her he smacks his fists together. A show of brutish force.
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“Who, what monsters… Do you stink… get out…. steal and get out. What sort of creatures are you? Randall slithers over to her and pounds on the top of the cage. “Oh even animals would have more civil compassion than you” Randall –“What… what you. You’re something holier than thou? Huh… You’re something ah. You ain’t no animal?” Hilyard- “I am a human being… a thinking feeling creature” He belches in her face. she winces. “Ah well me I”m an animal. Right now I am all animal. Lot of times I can’t even make animal. A lot of times I’m what do ya call, an inmate. But animal’s better.” Hilyard-“What do you mean inmate… asylum… you’re from some asylum?” He says-“Asylum…(tisk) Oh no you don’t. hahaha… reformatory. Work farm. I been inside everywhere there is to be inside. I been some kind of inside since I was a, 9 years old.” Hilyard with contempt in her voice-“Oh I see… you’re one of the many bits of offal produced by the welfare state. You’re what so much of my tax dollars go to the care and feeding of.” Randall answers her-“Well a, I don’t know from offal, but yeah… yeah. And I sure do want to thank you ma’am for all them tax dollars. The food is lousy though… belch, haha” He begins to literally rattle her cage.

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This image of the ‘outside world’ gazing at us– the audience while they are confronting Hilyard creates a chilling moment that is truly indicative of a horror film– We too become voyeurs looking in on society as it implodes from violence and apathy The four intruders watch her with their masks on. As the monsters watch their prey lose control she cracks within her captivity. They study her. We study them watching her. The entire plot closes in on itself in that moment. The world turns –inside out from outside in.

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She begins an inner monologue “The world must have ended. Someone on one side or the other must have pushed the button. Dropped the bomb.” She puts on her little transistor radio… She hears...”Ladies and gentleman, here stands before us, the man of tomorrow” the radio spouts its media dogma. Modern experimental music underscores the insanity of the moment. The complete loss of rational thought. Civility and safety. Applause The sounds of haywire, slipped cogs and shorted fuses. the noise of chaos. She laughs and drops the radio out of the elevator it lands on the floor and smashes. She begins to laugh heartily. She has lost it.

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They lock Sade in the closet never to be heard from again–not before they rough her up a bit, pushing her into a mirrored dressing table, where she cuts herself. George Brady’s fate is much worse.

At this point Randall sets his sights on Mrs.Hilyard who is trapped as the lady in said cage.

Mrs. Hilyard becomes less consequential at the moment the vicious trio arrive, as she is a symbol of the weakened society–the raw meat for the predatory wild animals, the more vulnerable of the modern jungle which will get picked off first. As Shelley so aptly notes, it’s very ‘Darwinian’ and the survival of the fittest. Mrs. Hilyard as much as refers to the city as a jungle.

Mrs. Hilyard-“I am a human being. A feeling, thinking, human being.”

Randall-mocking her- “Okay. I am *all* animal. Sure beats the hell outta being an inmate…”

Mrs. Hilyard ” … inmate?… Asylum?

Randall begins tormenting her, by playing head games. He shows her a note from her son Malcolm telling her that he’s about to commit suicide because of her overbearing motherly love. “Release me from your generosity. Release me from your beauty. Release me from your love.”

The entire film’s universe is filled with deviant and transgressive characters. Sade is a self-hating woman who demeans herself because of her weight. Her ability to escape the chaos hampered by her greed to take part in the looting of Mrs, Hilyard’s house. To add to the queasy touches, Sade wears a jeweled head band givimg her an odd-ball air of eccentricity. She would again play a similar type of character as Thelma Lambert in Curtis Harrington’s The Killing Kind 1973-another mother who loves her son too well, he becomes a lady killer…

The pawnbroker Mr. Paul only has one-eye. perhaps this is symbolic of a skewed vision of the world that surrounds him. He is also an opportunistic figure. Brady and Sade are afflicted with alcoholism. 

As Peter Shelley says in Grande Dame Guignol Cinema the film is “A disturbing indictment of the amorality of 1964 American society, as well as a nightmare for those suffering from claustrophobia and vertigo, this film introduces Olivia de Havilland to the Grande Dame Guignol subgenre.”

Walter Grauman creates an atmosphere of deafening nihilism that is so harsh and brutal it is almost hard to watch it at times. An indictment of modernity, opportunism and the industrial age, the use of sound with the car horns blaring in clusters of traffic, the sounds from the streets that invade Mrs. Hilyard’s closed in world is exhausting. The film delivers a sense that all of life is a furious, insensitive rhythm of hostility and discord. There is no empathy toward the individual and people are merely anonymous faces making the strident and shrill noise and disturbing the quietude of civilized life.

What makes this a suspense/noir hybrid is the environment of entrapment and flawed characters, with Lee Garmes camera angles and Leon Barsha’s razor sharp editing that keeps the pacing at an uncomfortable beat. Even the graphics that follow the credits representative of bars of a cage symbolized the narrative’s imprisonment. Cinematic bars were deftly used in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? as Aldrich wanted us to feel at ever turn the same sense of captivity that Blanche as well as Jane’s state of mind, and the landscape of the old Gothic mansion which felt like it was desolate and decaying.

And much like What Ever Happened to Baby Jane’s use of the outer world excursions Jane would take that would constantly throw light into the closed in universe of the Hudson’s mansion, Grauman and Garmes utilize shots of the ever turning world outside Mrs. Hilyard’s captivity to emphasize this contrast visually reinforcing the horror that is taking place within the confines of the house that is shut off. We feel that every frame has a sense of intrusion.

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The film has so much cruelty in it… it’s an exercise in Nihilism

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Outside the house, the world goes on spinning, the paper boy delivers the news on an ordinary street

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