Chapter 3 – Queers and Dykes in the Dark: Classic, Noir & Horror Cinema’s Coded Gay Characters:

The subtle gay gangster films of the early 1930s – Little Caesar 1931, The Public Enemy 1931 and Scarface 1932

“Criminals should not be made heroes… The flaunting of weapons by gangsters will not be allowed…”

“… the fashion for romanticizing gangsters” must be denounced.

The three films also evenhandedly parcel out social pathology and sexual aberration: homosexuality in Little Caesar. Directed by Mervyn LeRoy from the novel by W.R. Burnett Little Caesar was first out of the gate and an immediate sensation. A diminutive bandit whose single-minded ambition compensates less for his stature than his repressed homosexual desire, Caesar Enrico Bandello is compact, swarthy and tightly wound; his golden boy pal Joe played by the scion of Hollywood royalty Douglas Fairbanks Jr. is tall, patrician and easygoing.

When Joe finds a female dancer and show business success, the jilted Caesar unhinged by a jealousy that dare not speak its name even to himself, makes his first mistakes in judgement. The male triangle is completed by Caesar’s worshipful lapdog Otera (George E. Stone) who gazes up at Rico with a rapturous desire that, unlike Rico, he barely bothers to sublimate. Doubly deviant Rico dies for his social and sexual sins, asking in tight close-up and choked up tones, “mother of Mercy, is this the end of Rico?”The famous last words inspired an incisive remark from Robert Warshow on gangster psychology:” Even to himself he is a creature of the imagination” from FILMIC – From Sissies to Secrecy: The Evolution of the Hays Code Queer by Mikayla Mislak

“This is what I get for likin’ a guy too much,” Rico ‘Caesar’ tells himself after he realizes he’s lost Joe. Joe, who he has referred to as “soft” and a “sissy.” The very pretty Joe (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) has decided to give up the racket, to be a professional night club dancer. Robinson wisecracks, “Dancin’ just ain’t my idea of a man’s game.”

Joe is romantically involved with Olga (Glenda Farrell). ‘Caesar’ is not only jealous of Joe’s relationship with Olga, he appears to have no use for women at all.

At the end there is a telling close up, a well of tears in his eyes, a subtle quiver in his face. Rico cannot shoot Joe, even though he needs to keep him from squealing. The image of Robinson coming head on with his feelings reveals his struggle with the repressed love for his dancing pal. The scene is very effective when the camera closes in on Robinson, capturing his dewy, wide eyed stare. Behind the scenes what helped the intensity of the look of longing turned out to be a serendipitous moment when Robinson had to fire a pistol while looking into the camera, and was unable to keep his eyes open, each time he pulled the trigger. Eventually they had Robinson’s eyes held open with cellophane tape. The effect worked perfectly.

Another interesting point in Little Caesar that hints at his latent homosexuality is a scene that highlights his clumsy fussiness. Rico is trying on a tuxedo and gazing at himself in the mirror. Posturing gleefully as he swishes at his own reflection. In this scene, Rico also becomes caught in his effete sidekick Otero’s (George E. Stone) gaze, who joyfully watches his boss flit for the mirror.

In The Public Enemy (1931) there is a noteworthy scene, when Tom (James Cagney) goes to his tailor to get fitted for a suit. It’s a hilariously fidgety few moments for Cagney while the flamboyant tailor fawns over his arm muscles. When the movie was re-released, the sequence wound up on the cutting room floor.

According to Mislak In Howard Hawk’s Scarface (1932) it could be seen as having a gay subtext, as Antonio ‘Tony’ Camonte (Paul Muni) shows a repressed homosexual desire for his best friend Guino Rinaldo played by George Raft. Hawk’s film doesn’t work on a blatant exhibition of violence, instead Scarface’s subtlety draws on the subliminal impression of his sexual impulses.

Through my readings, it has been noted that there is a coded gayness inferred from the character of Camonte in Scarface. Rather than the repressed sexual desire for his close friend Guino, I catch more a wind of an incestuous desire for his sister Cesca (Ann Dvorak). Camonte hovers over her with an iron will, not allowing her to have any man touch her. She even alludes to his untoward attentions at one point telling him that he loves her more than just a brother. Camonte (Muni) does focus obsessively over his hair and his wardrobe, which Poppi (Kathy Morely) tells him is ‘sweet’. But there are a few references to Guino being queer. He wears a carnation which is a code for being a gay man in film. Camonte says he’d like a carnation too, takes it out of Guino’s lapel and tells him “Better no one sees you with this.” He also makes a comment about one of the North side gang members not to be taken seriously because he owns a flower shop! Guino doesn’t show any interest in women until nearly close to the end of the picture, when he submits to Camonte’s sister, Cesca.

“The placement of homosexuality or the real possibility of it in an antisocial context is quite natural. Homosexuality when it is invisible is antisocial. The only condition under which homosexuality has ever been socially acceptable has been on the occasion of its voluntary invisibility, when homosexuality were willing to pass for heterosexuals. Obvious homosexual behavior is reflected onscreen as in real life, only in the ‘twilight world’ of misfit conduct. During the brief period of explicit reference to homosexuals in pre-Code films of the early 1930s. Gay characters were psychologically ghettoized by their routine relegations to a fantasy world or an underworld life….

….in addition to strengthening the Code in 1934, Will Hays reacted to criticism by inserting morals clauses in the contracts of performers and compiling a “doom book’ of 117 names of those deemed “unsafe” because of their personal lives. Homosexuality was denied as assiduously off screen as it was on, a literally unspeakable part of the culture. By 1940 even harmless sex-roles farces such as Hal Roach’s Turnabout were considered perilous in some quarters. The film, about a married couple (Carol Landis and John Hubbard) who switch roles by wishing on an Oriental statue, was described by the Catholic Legion of Decency as dealing with ‘subject matter which may provide references dangerous to morality, wholesome concepts of human relationships and the dignity of man.’ ” –Vito Russo

HITCHCOCK SUBVERTS SUSPENSE!

Hitchcock sensed the ambiguous sexuality in Mrs. Danvers (nicknamed Danny) who embodies the forbidding identity of the coded lesbian in 1940s films. As she strides down the halls of Manderley, there is an element of the angry older woman trope, who is vacant of male companionship by choice, with an added streak of dissatisfied longing. She embodies the sterile matron, showing characteristics of an ‘old maid’ attributed to a repressed lesbian.” Rebecca serves as Fontaine’s idealized mother and that Hitchcock’s films present images of ambiguous sexuality that threaten to destabilize the gender identity of the protagonist.” -(Tania Modleski)

Gay Coding in Hitchcock films

Article by Scott Badman & Connie Russell Hosier

“In typical Hitchcock-ian fashion, the “Master of Suspense” often employed in his films subtle references to gay culture, defying conservative attitudes of the late ’50s.”-Scott Badman & Connie Russell Hosier | February 7, 2017- Editor’s note: The following article, like many of Alfred Hitchcock’s films, includes references to sex and violence.

Did Martin Landau play a homosexual in North by Northwest? Did Alfred Hitchcock really show gay sex on-screen in Rope, albeit in an unusual way? Was the whole plot of Rebecca driven by the twisted jealousy of an evil lesbian? And, most surprisingly, did Hitchcock depict a gay marriage way back in 1938’s The Lady Vanishes?”

Alfred Hitchcock was a complicated man, who put a singular stamp on all his films, infusing them with his droll and macabre sense of humor and imbued his work from the point of view of satyr. Hitchcock projects his dark and twisted view of the world as at the end of his films there is sort of a perverted release that he leaves us to contemplate. It also appears that he was playful with the use of his gay coded characters in many of his films.

Nothing Hitchcock did was unintentional, thereby reinforcing proof that there is a gay subtext to many characters in various films. He was very measured in every detail even before the camera captured the scene. But within this method of implying a queer pathology and positing queer elements to the narrative. He was ingenious in the way he veiled his ciphers within the cloak of deniability, in order to slip it by the censors in his cheeky manor.

Though Hitchcock would often imbue his pictures with coded gay characters, among scholars it is still speculative as to which side his view fell on. Given that everything Hitchcock constructed was intentional, it’s easy to see why he would be viewed as homophobic, due to his use of stereotypes that eventually led to queerness possibly being as the source of the crimes. But you have to consider that during the time he reigned, it’s a tribute to Hitchcock that he even embraced the complex issue of homosexuality. It shows me that there was a conscious level of understanding.

In his life, Hitchcock surrounded himself with gay culture be it in England or Hollywood, and he worked with many gay writers and actors. Ivor Novello who starred in two of Hitchcock’s silent pictures was good friends with he and Alma. Hitchcock was also friends with Rope stars John Dall and bisexual Farley Granger who played coded gay characters in the film. Granger also had the lead in Strangers on a Train, co-starring Rober Walker who plays another of Hitchcock’s coded gay characters, Bruno. Anthony Perkins who struggled with his sexuality in real life, plays the ambiguous, stammering, Norman Bates in Psycho. According to Jay Poole, Robert Bloch was interested in ‘abnormal psychology’ and was familiar with Freudian theories on sexual identity. His novel was more suggestive of the taboos, in terms of the incestuous relationship with Norman’s mother and his confused sexual identity.

The assessment of ‘camp’ and queerness can be seen as negative. More contemporary audiences might perceive Psycho as more campy than lurid or scary. Norman’s appearance in the fruit cellar might register with audiences as if he’s a big ugly ridiculous drag queen with a knife. The rest of the film is darkly humorous. (Doty cites Danny Peary)

In contrasting these male characters, one representative of sexually suspect psychosis, the other of gendered and sexual normalcy, Hitchcock blurs the lines between them, creating effects that will inform future depictions of American masculinity… While Lila Crane has been read positively as a lesbian character, and also as Carol Clover’s prototype for the ‘final girl” I demonstrate here that Lila is a more ambiguous figure, tied to social repression and the law. […] (Norman’s voyeurism and Lila’s examination of Norman’s room as pornographic) Infusing these pornographic motifs with addition levels of intensity and dread was the increasingly public threat of homosexuality within the Cold War context in which Hitchcock’s related themes gained a new, ominous visibility. What emerges in Psycho is a tripartite monster-voyeurism-homosexuality-pornography.” — (Scott Badman & Connie Russell Hosier)

WARNING SPOILERS:

Saboteur (1942) producer/writer Joan Harrison wrote the screenplay and collaborated with Hitchcock on many projects for both film and television. In the period of the 1940s to the 1950s, movies often conflated homosexuality with unsavory characters like Nazis, communists, and terrorists.

Saboteur stars Robert Cummings as plane mechanic Barry Kane who is framed for the terrorist bombing of a military instillation’s aircraft hanger where they manufacture planes. After he sees his friend die in the explosion, police assume that it was Kane who filled the fire extinguisher with gasoline. Kane goes on the run, to try and find the man he suspects is the saboteur, Frank Fry (Norman Lloyd) who is the real murderer who committed the heinous crime.

Kane stumbles onto a secret group of ‘the firm’, 5th columnists who are plotting to sabotage key targets, military planes, ships and dams. Kane is dropped into the middle of a cabal of dangerous Americans who have infiltrated positions of power in order to carry out their nefarious plan to disrupt the democratic system and cause chaos. Socialite dowager Mrs Henrietta Sutton (Alma Kruger) is a New York philanthropist who provides cover for the ‘firm’ run by Otto Kruger as the coldly, sinister Tobin. Kane pretends to go along with the group, and in one scene in a taxi with Alan Baxter who plays Mr. Freeman, there is a queer exchange between the two. Freeman tells Kane about his two little children, one of them is a boy, whom he wishes was a girl. He’s letting his son’s hair grow long, and hesitates cutting it. Then he shares his reminiscence about his boyhood when he had glorious long blonde curls. Kane tells him to cut his son’s hair and “save yourself some grief.”

Purely by Hitchcockian fate, Kane is thrown together with Pat (Priscilla Lane) who comes to his aid and at one point tries to distract Fry at the top of the Statue of Liberty. The beautiful Pat, flirts with Fry in order to stall him until the police get there, but he isn’t the slightest bit interested in her at all. In fact he seems annoyed by her presence. He’s a slim effete figure, a swishy loner with a serpent like grin. Theodore Price, in his book ‘Hitchcock and Homosexuality’ (1992), has no doubt Fry was gay. (Ken Mogg 2008)

Saboteur climax prefigures that of North by Northwest between Thornhill (Cary Grant) and the sinister Leonard (Martin Landau) who is also a gay Hitchcockian figure.

We first hear a remark spoken by socialite Mrs Sutton (Alma Kruger) when Barry (Kane) is taken to the saboteurs’ New York lair, as Barry enters the upstairs room. Mrs Sutton is addressing a couple of her male colleagues, whom she reprimands: ‘I have to hover over you like an old hen.’

This is precisely the line Hitchcock uses in Rebecca to characterize the somewhat de-natured estate-manager Frank Crawley (Reginald Denny) – nearly all the men in the film are so afflicted – and will be uses again in The Paradine Case to characterize the gay Latour (Louis Jourdan).

Frank Crawley is ‘as fussy as an old mother hen’; Latour, we’re told, had been ‘like an old mother hen’ to his beloved master, the blind Colonel Paradine.- Ken Mogg (2008)

In North by Northwest (1959) Martin Landau’s character Leonard, displays an undercurrent of homosexuality, that is subtly implied. He’s a devoted bodyguard whose gaze of his boss, Phillip Vandamm, seems to be bubbling with a refined sensibility, romantically fixated Vandamm (James Mason), a communist spy being hunted by the CIA. For a 1950s film, Leonard’s immaculate fashion sense and his fastidious swagger is a cue of his being queer. Nearing the climax of North by Northwest, the telling scene set in a mid-century modern house reveals Leonard’s love for Vandamm. Hitchcock even sets up the motive for Leonard shooting the object of his affection, jealousy and rejection. A notable line toward the end of the movie, Leonard remarks, “Call it my woman’s intuition” affirming the effete stereotype of a feminine gay man. Vandamm is genuinely flattered (contrary to homosexual panic) by Leonard’s feelings, which hints at his motivation for killing the thing he loves. Vandamm (Mason) tells him in that coldly sober tone of his, “I think you’re jealous. I mean it, and I’m very touched. Very.” As Scott Badman & Connie Russell Hosier point out, Hitchcock direction shows a “progressive perspective for its time but so brief that it doesn’t fully register with most viewers. Much later, Laundau acknowledged that he played Leonard as a homosexual, albeit subtly.”

From the opening of Strangers on a Train (1951), Hitchcock frames the entrance way to the story with a close shot on the main character’s shoes walking to catch the train. Bruno wears elaborate wing tips with high heels and Guy wears a more toned down fashionable pair of shoes, which are in opposition to each other and illustrate the contrast between the two main characters.

Robert Walker’s Bruno, is a menacing, creepy guy with flashy ties, who positions himself after a chance meeting on a commuter train, to assert his influence over famous tennis player, Guy Haines (Farley Granger). Bruno begins to flatter Guy, and insinuate himself by sharing his knowledge of Guy’s personal life. He is very proud of his tie that his mother gave him. It is a garish accoutrement dappled with lobsters. Like his silken smoking robe and another tie with the name Bruno embroidered on it. Bruno also spouts a lot of ‘ideas’ he has in that ever prompted mind of his, when talking about Guy’s upcoming divorce and bigamy scandal, “I’ve got a wonderful theory about that.”

Bruno insists on Guy having lunch with him, “sent to my compartment… You see you’ll have to lunch with me.” It is obvious, though Hitchcock is very subtle about broadcasting the cues, that Bruno is wooing Guy. Bruno is very effeminate in his demeanor, you could say that he has a ‘flaming’ air about him, always dropping hints about his sexuality. “My father hates me”, insinuating that he is not the kind of man he expects of him. “I’ve got a theory that you should do everything before you die.” He tells Guy amorously, “I like you, I’d do anything for you.”

Bruno Anthony’s plan is for both men to exchange each other’s murders. There are several scenes that scream Hitchcock’s gay coding. Initially, when the two men meet each other on the train, Bruno is flirtatious, dressed in ‘flamboyant clothes’, which to gay audiences, is seemingly clear to be a gay pick up. Bruno’s not only attracted to the handsome Guy, but he is in fact stalking him as an ‘object’ to fulfill his needs and be his ‘partner’ in his deranged homoerotic plot.

His mother, Mrs. Anthony (the wonderful character actor Marion Lorne) does Bruno’s nails and dotes over her son. As Bruno tells his mother, he wants his nails to look right.

The homosexuality is not explicitly stated, but there is too strong an import for critics and audiences in the know, to ignore. And, considering Hitchcock’s fascination with homosexual subtexts, it’s not a stretch to read into various scenes this way.

There is also the insinuation that Bruno has some serious mother issues, which is one of Hitchcock’s point of reference for his gay coding, such as his use of it with Norman Bates in his film Psycho. Bruno amuses himself by antagonizing his mother (Marion Lorne) who is completely in the dark about the twisted pathology of her homicidal son.

Bruno has set-up a visit from Guy who finds himself talking to the sociopath, who’s been waiting for Guy, while lying in bed in his silky pajamas. Is this actually arranged as a bedroom seduction?

Another brief sequence takes place at the end which centers around a carousel, a possible symbol of fluid sexuality, and sexual foreplay. The scene shows Bruno and Guy wrestling with each other, the movements could be read as Bruno really achieving what he wanted, to have sex with Guy. Hitchcock even cut different versions of the movie for Britain and the U.S., toning down the implied homosexuality in the American version — proof positive that he was fully aware of the gay implications in his movies. –(Badman and Hosier)

Hitchcock’s Rope (1948) is based on the play by Patrick Hamilton’s Rope’s End is perhaps one of the more obvious coded gay films with homosexual subtexts in his canon. Arthur Laurents, who eventually came out of the closet and wrote the screenplay, said during a commentary “What was curious to me was that Rope was obviously about homosexuals. The word was never mentioned. Not by Hitch, not by anyone at Warners. It was referred to as ‘it’. They were going to do a picture about ‘it’, and the actors were ‘it’.” The original British stage play was loosely based on the sensational true crime committed by Chicago students Leopold and Loeb in 1924, who killed a fellow student, just to see if they could get away with a motiveless crime. The script was penned by Arthur Laurents in collaboration with Hume Cronyn and Ben Hecht.

Brandon (John Dall) and Philip (Farley Granger) are entitled, affluent snobs, who are self-aggrandizing psychopaths with a Nietzschean superiority. Hitchcock arranges a taut stage play, around a case of Folie à deux. Brandon and Philip are implied coded lovers, who used the crime of murder to stimulate each other as if it were a sex act. The intellectual discourse they have in the beginning of the picture is overshadowed by the sexual banter that precedes what ultimately will become the act of committing a murder. Rope from the beginning of the picture inaugurates a very feverish sexual undercurrent.

In real life, John Dall was gay but died in 1971 without talking openly about his homosexuality. Farley Granger was bisexual when making the movie and then was in a lifelong gay relationship starting in 1963. Alfred Hitchcock was well aware of the sexual orientations of both actors and was reportedly pleased with what is now called the on-screen “chemistry” between the two.

He coded Brandon and Philip as gay by their “sex scene.” It occurs at the very beginning of the movie, which is also the murder scene. Hitchcock is strongly equating murder with sex. The murder-sex occurs behind curtained windows. The death scream corresponds to the orgasm. Now visible, the murderers Brandon and Philip quickly put the body in a cabinet and go into a postcoital exhaustion. Philip doesn’t even want the light turned on. In an inspired touch, Hitchcock has Brandon light a cigarette, a standard Hollywood indicator for “we just had sex.” – (Badman and Hosier)

The unorthodox murderers throw a dinner party with the victim stuffed inside an antique trunk. The film was initially banned in Chicago and other cities, because of its implied homosexual relationship between the two killers. In 1959, the story was revised as Compulsion directed by Richard Fleischer scripted by Richard Murphy and based on the novel by Meyer Levin. Compulsion remains closer to the actual true life crime, and the implicit queer undertones are brought more to the surface, with less of Hitchcock’s cheeky innuendo.

Hitchcock employs many homoerotic symbology and allusions, as the couple reenact the murder, with the director conflating violence and sex. For instance, Brandon gets a bottle of champagne still invigorated by the murder, while Philip the weaker of the murderous pair, is nervous. Brandon fondles the bottle of champagne as the two stand close together very intimately. He grasps the champagne bottle as phallus and flirts with the top of the bottle, yet not releasing the cork. All this is stages as foreplay. Philip finally takes the bottle from Brandon and liberates the cork. They then toast to their victim. Film Critic Robin Wood asserts, in The Murderous Gays: Hitchcock’s Homophobia, that these films could be made as more positive or sensitive to homosexuality rather than “traffic in homophobia” and that it perpetuates the notion that homosexuality leads to violence.

Psycho (1960)

Psycho works as a warped adult fairytale about getting lost and paying for one’s transgressions. Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) is a Phoenix secretary who embezzles forty thousand dollars from her employer’s client, and goes on the run. Marion is also shown to be a fallen woman, a sexual deviant herself with no morals, not only is she a thief but she is also having an affair with a married man Sam Loomis, (John Gavin). Driving in torrential rain, she pulls into the Bates Motel, an eerie, remote motel off the beaten path. The motel is run by a ‘queer’ sort of young man, Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) who lives up in the brooding house on the hill, under the dominant authority of his cruel and elusive mother. As Poole puts it, Norman “remains locked in a disturbed world, and, as the film progresses, becomes murderously mad.”

Norman Bates: “A boy’s best friend is his mother.”

Norman is not a masculine figure, he is a mama’s boy who does his mother’s bidding. He is continually identified with his mother and, according to Freud and his psychological tunnel vision, would probably have evolved into a homosexual because of his Oedipal desires. Hitchcock perverts Freud’s narrow theory, by making sure the narrative shows Norman to be attracted to women, not men. It is when Norman’s arousal of the female body, that he dresses in frumpy dresses to represent his mother, who then takes over and annihilates the object of Norman’s desire. Many viewers assume that Norman is a repressed homosexual because he dressed in women’s clothing when manifesting his mother’s personality. Cross-dressing was stereotypically associated with homosexuality, however, Hitchcock’s film tries to make it clear that Norman is attracted to women from the very beginning with the seductive Marion. The concept of fluid sexuality was not understood in 1960, so conflating cross-dressing with homosexuality was a commonly misleading view.
Another interesting point that Jay Poole (Queering Hitchcock’s Classic) brings out is how the décor of the house is itself, queer. Referring to what he cites Foucault’s theory of ‘We Other Victorians’ which essentially invokes ‘the image of the imperial prude.’ Therefor the Bates house itself with it’s provincial Victorian style from a queer perspective represents the constraints of Victorian sexual expectations, which is — we do not speak of sex, and any relations are to remain between a heterosexual married couple in the privacy of their own bedroom. Norman is surrounded by this oppressive atmosphere, tries to fight his impulses, and his carnal desires. He does this by dwelling in his mother’s house, hoping that she will control the voyeuristic, dirty lustful desire he is having about Marion.

Norman Bates: “People never really run away from anything. The rain didn’t last long, did it? You know what I think? I think that we’re all in our private traps, clamped in them, and none of us can ever get out. We scratch and we claw, but only at the air, only at each other, and for all of it, we never budge an inch.”

Marion Crane: “Sometimes we deliberately step into those traps.”

Norman Bates: “I was born in mine. I don’t mind it anymore.”

Psycho, is the first of Hitchcock’s films to break tradition from his usual cultured mystery/suspense tropes. He decided to present this narrative using a pallet of B&W to set up a different tonality. Without the use of his vivid colors that he often used with cinematographer Robert Burks. Psycho deals with a more graphic, monochromatic, psycho-sexual sickness. A sickness that erupts in unprecedented perversity and violence for the director. Hitchcock also kills off his heroine in the first 20 minutes of the film. Psycho, will forever be known for ‘the shower scene.’

It also brings to the screen one of THE most hauntingly intense scenes that will remain in the collective consciousness, for what it lacks in vivid bloodshed, it possesses an uncomfortable voyeuristic gaze that brings us into Norman’s mind with the twists and turns, it assaults us, because of its deeper brutality, a more queasy feeling of psychic angst and inverts our gaze, as Marion stares back at us with her lifeless eyes.

“It’s not like my mother is a maniac or a raving thing. She just goes a little mad sometimes. We all go a little mad sometimes. Haven’t you?”

In 1950s into 1960 was a time when Americans were seeking out the American ideal, and cultural conformity. It was also a time when many audiences did not explore alternative sexualities and would have conflated homosexuality with a deviant and dangerous personality. Poole suggests “Hitchcock queers the image of sexual purity but reinforces naturalized heterosexuality as the film progresses… Hitchcock utilizes the Freudian explanation of homosexual development in his explanation of Norman’s development as a psychopathic killer despite Norman’s apparent heterosexual orientation.”

Hitchcock believed he made the perfect choice in casting Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates, the homicidal misfit who put on a dress and wig to embody his cruel mother. Norman became a serial killer with a fixation on his castrating mother, because she dominated his life and turned him into a monster. Perkin’s himself soft-spoken, androgynous, even perhaps a slightly effete actor. Alfred Hitchcock envisioned another gay character whose inherent corrupted humanity stems from their conflict of being queer. By queer it can refer to the process of shattering normalcy, and the vision from the perspective of a heternormative lens. Psycho takes the audience into a place of dis-ease, where seemingly ordinary people are capable of monstrous acts. If Hitchcock’s film is subverting the value of 1950s America, and the transgressive content of Psycho breaks from societal norms, then it can be read as a ‘queer’ film.

[voiceover in police custody, as Norman is thinking]” It’s sad, when a mother has to speak the words that condemn her own son. But I couldn’t allow them to believe that I would commit murder. They’ll put him away now, as I should have years ago. He was always bad, and in the end he intended to tell them I killed those girls and that man… as if I could do anything but just sit and stare, like one of his stuffed birds. They know I can’t move a finger, and I won’t. I’ll just sit here and be quiet, just in case they do… suspect me. They’re probably watching me. Well, let them. Let them see what kind of a person I am. I’m not even going to swat that fly. I hope they are watching… they’ll see. They’ll see and they’ll know, and they’ll say, “Why, she wouldn’t even harm a fly…”

As ‘Judith Butler’ Gender scholar, and ‘Hall’ speak of gender as performance, Hitchcock was clear in the way he developed Stephano and Bloch’s central characters in Psycho. In the final scene the murderer is revealed and his inner monologues keep hidden, the source of a disturbed, untroubled ‘victim’ of faulty psychological development.’ The opening montage sets the scene for the dark thing that takes place inside ordinary towns and inside the minds of ordinary people. (source: Poole)

Psycho was a vehicle that queered what the public had come to expect from Hitchcock films, and,much like its real-life inspiration (Ed Gein), it queered the notion that America was a place where ‘normal,’ was defined as a quiet, safe, small town life, free from the darkness that lurds in modest roadside motels… With Psycho, Hitchcock abetted by Stefano’s script, would shock audiences with sexual innuendo, apparent nudity coupled with a sadistic stabbing scene. Perhaps most shocking of all, he would leave audiences wondering what might lie below the surface of family, friends neighbors and themselves.” (Jay Poole)

Rebecca (1940), was not one of Hitchcock’s favorite films at all. Adapted from the Gothic novel by Daphne du Maurier, the sick soul here is a menacing lesbian. The formidable Mrs. Danver’s ( played by the equally formidable Judith Anderson) is the head Matron of Manderley, living in the shadows of the former Mrs. de Winter. She is a love sick sapphic with an unnourished desire for her dead mistress, Rebecca. Manderley itself is like a hollow mistress that consumes those inside it’s ominous hallways. ‘Danny’ resents the new Mrs. de Winter and in one revelatory scene taunts her (Joan Fontaine) trying to drive her to suicide through her cruel torments. She parades Rebecca’s lingerie with a lustful smirk on her diabolical face, running her hands under the sheer, delicate fabric, as if she were fondling Rebecca herself.

Mrs. Danvers’ jealousy of Maxime de Winters’ new bride is driven by obsession, a lesbian coded manifestation, one of jealousy and sexual desire. For Joan Fontaine’s character Danvers reenacts through story telling, all the attentions she used to lavish on her beloved mistress, running her bath, brushing her hair, admiring the finery of her monogrammed pillow cases. Though Rebecca is only seen as the painting of an alluring woman her ghost haunts Manderley and the new Mrs. de Winter.

In Hollywood movies of the 1940s, coded lesbian characters were far less common than coded gay men. Portrayals of lesbians might define them as dangerous and threatening, as is the case with Mrs. Danvers. Mrs. Danvers implies that she had been married. This allowed Hitchcock’s deniability against Judith Anderson’s lesbianism But Mrs. Danver’s eventual demise is brought about by her inability to accept Rebecca’s death or allow anyone to replace her love. And so her desire consumes her literally, in fire.

The Lady Vanishes (1938)

When I first saw Charters (Basil Radford) and Caldicott (Naugthon Wayne) in The Lady Vanishes my radar went off like a firehouse siren during the scene where they are both sitting up together in a small bed, one wearing the pajama tops and the other wearing the bottoms, (giving the appearance of both being naked in bed. It was such a marvelous coded moment and I knew they were a loving married gay couple. I found it so refreshing to see the British comedy duo playing a cheeky proper English couple who are cricket fanatics trying to get back to London while the Hitchcockian espionage is happening under their noses.

I enjoyed their farcical vignette about a pair of golfers, the one comedic entry in an otherwise moody collection of ghost stories- Dead of Night (1945) which like The Lady Vanishes, also stars Michael Redgrave.

Hitchcock excelled at getting fine performances from his supporting cast members. They usually are finely honed characterizations portrayed by perfectly cast actors, fascinating and funny, imbued with his dry British humor. Charters and Caldicott are wonderful examples. Played by Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne, two fine stage actors who reprised these characters in subsequent movies and BBC radio programs, Charters and Caldicott follow a long tradition of comedy duos of older men in British Music Hall, vaudeville and stage performances. Most audiences of the time, especially British audiences, would have interpreted their relationship simply as one between eccentric, middle-aged bachelors. (Badman and Hosier)

Though there are so many elements of the duo that is ambiguous, Hitchcock imbues Charters and Caldicott with an affection and closeness that reads like a positive coded gay pairing. The two aren’t played as stereotypically flamboyant or campy. Later in the movie, Charters and Caldicott are heroic in facing down danger, during an onslaught of gunfire by fascist spies.

Charters and Caldicott are stranded at the only hotel in a tiny alpine village. The desk clerk informs them that they must share the maid’s room. When they meet the voluptuous Germanic blonde, they glance at each other with an expression that appears to be saying we’re not interested. When they follow the maid to her cramped room, Charter’s cracks “It’s a pity they couldn’t have given us one each” which could be interpreted as each having their own woman, to have a bit of a romp with. But Charters clarifies himself by saying he meant two rooms. One for the maid and one for them. A mainstream audience could read their conduct as two heterosexual British gentlemen, but if you read between the lines, it is suggested that they have no interest in women. In another scene when the maid enters their shared room without knocking, both men act startled by the intrusion. Caldicott moves in a way that conjures up the role of protective mate. Once she leaves, Caldicott locks the door.

A master of queering the screen, Hitchcock plays with sexuality using his skillful methods of innuendo and artful suggestiveness — In an already masterful way of blurring the lines of reality and adeptly flirting with transgression, Hitchcock’s milieus are perfect playgrounds for coded gay characters.

Continue reading “Chapter 3 – Queers and Dykes in the Dark: Classic, Noir & Horror Cinema’s Coded Gay Characters:”

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

“Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.”
Sigmund Freud

“Ladies and gentlemen- welcome to violence; the word and the act. While violence cloaks itself in a plethora of disguises, its favorite mantle still remains sex.” — Narrator from Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965)

Faster Pussycat
Tura Satana, Haji, and Lori Williams in Russ Meyer’s Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! 1965
Cul-de-Sac
Françoise Dorléac and Donald Pleasence in Roman Polanski’s Cul-de-sac 1966
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Constance Towers kicks the crap out of her pimp for shaving off her hair in Sam Fuller’s provocative The Naked Kiss 1964
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Peter Breck plays a journalist hungry for a story and gets more than a jolt of reality when he goes undercover in a Mental Institution in Sam Fuller’s Shock Corridor 1963
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Bobby Darin is a psychotic racist in Hubert Cornfield and Stanley Kramer’s explosive Pressure Point 1962 starring Sidney Poitier and Peter Falk.

THE DARK PAGES NEWSLETTER  a condensed article was featured in The Dark Pages: You can click on the link for all back issues or to sign up for upcoming issues to this wonderful newsletter for all your noir needs!

Constance Towers as Kelly from The Naked Kiss (1964): “I saw a broken down piece of machinery. Nothing but the buck, the bed and the bottle for the rest of my life. That’s what I saw.”

Griff (Anthony Eisley) The Naked Kiss (1964): “Your body is your only passport!”

Catherine Deneuve as Carole Ledoux in Repulsion (1965): “I must get this crack mended.”

Monty Clift Dr. Cukrowicz Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) : “Nature is not made in the image of man’s compassion.”

Patricia Morán as Rita Ugalde: The Exterminating Angel 1962:“I believe the common people, the lower class people, are less sensitive to pain. Haven’t you ever seen a wounded bull? Not a trace of pain.”

Ann Baxter as Teresina Vidaverri Walk on the Wild Side 1962“When People are Kind to each other why do they have to find a dirty word for it.”

The Naked Venus 1959“I repeat she is a gold digger! Europe’s full of them, they’re tramps… they’ll do anything to get a man. They even pose in the NUDE!!!!”

Darren McGavin as Louie–The Man With the Golden Arm (1955): “The monkey is never dead, Dealer. The monkey never dies. When you kick him off, he just hides in a corner, waiting his turn.”

Baby Boy Franky Buono-Blast of Silence (1961) “The targets names is Troiano, you know the type, second string syndicate boss with too much ambition and a mustache to hide the facts he’s got lips like a woman… the kind of face you hate!”

Lorna (1964)- “Thy form is fair to look upon, but thy heart is filled with carcasses and dead man’s bones”

Peter Fonda as Stephen Evshevsky in Lilith (1964): “How wonderful I feel when I’m happy. Do you think that insanity could be so simple a thing as unhappiness?”

Glen or Glenda (1953)“Give this man satin undies, a dress, a sweater and a skirt, or even a lounging outfit and he’s the happiest individual in the world.”

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Ed Wood’s Glen or Glenda 1953

Johnny Cash as Johnny Cabot in Five Minutes to Live (1961):“I like a messy bed.”

Dr. Moreau (Charles Laughton) Island of Lost Souls: “Do you know what it means to feel like God?”

The Curious Dr. Humpp (1969): “Sex dominates the world! And now, I dominate sex!”

The Snake Pit (1948): Jacqueline deWit as Celia Sommerville “And we’re so crowded already. I just don’t know where it’s all gonna end!” Olivia de Havilland as Virginia Stuart Cunningham “I’ll tell you where it’s gonna end, Miss Somerville… When there are more sick ones than well ones, the sick ones will lock the well ones up.”

Delphine Seyrig as Countess Bathory in Daughters of Darkness (1971)“Aren’t those crimes horrifying. And yet -so fascinating!”

Julien Gulomar as Bishop Daisy to the Barber (Michel Serrault) King of Hearts (1966)“I was so young. I already knew that to love the world you have to get away from it.”

The Killing of Sister George (1968) -Suzanna York as Alice ‘CHILDIE’: “Not all women are raving bloody lesbians, you know” Beryl Reid as George: “That is a misfortune I am perfectly well aware of!”

The Killing of Sister George
Susannah York (right) with Beryl Reid in The Killing of Sister George Susannah York and Beryl Reid in Robert Aldrich’s The Killing of Sister George 1960

The Lickerish Quartet (1970)“You can’t get blood out of an illusion.”

THE SWEET SOUND OF DEATH (1965)Dominique-“I’m attracted” Pablo-” To Bullfights?” Dominique-” No, I meant to death. I’ve always thought it… The state of perfection for all men.”

Peter O’Toole as Sir Charles Ferguson Brotherly Love (1970): “Remember the nice things. Reared in exile by a card-cheating, scandal ruined daddy. A mummy who gave us gin for milk. Ours was such a beautifully disgusting childhood.”

Maximillian Schell as Stanislaus Pilgrin in Return From The Ashes 1965: “If there is no God, no devil, no heaven, no hell, and no immortality, then anything is permissible.”

Euripides 425 B.C.“Whom God wishes to destroy… he first makes mad.”

Davis & Crawford What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
Bette Davis and Joan Crawford bring to life two of the most outrageously memorable characters in Robert Aldrich’s What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? 1962

WHAT DOES PSYCHOTRONIC MEAN?

psychotronic |ˌsīkəˈtränik| adjective denoting or relating to a genre of movies, typically with a science fiction, horror, or fantasy theme, that were made on a low budget or poorly received by critics. [1980s: coined in this sense by Michael Weldon, who edited a weekly New York guide to the best and worst films on local television.] Source: Wikipedia

In the scope of these transitioning often radical films, where once, men and women aspired for the moon and the stars and the whole ball of wax. in the newer scheme of things they aspired for you know… “kicks” yes that word comes up in every film from the 50s and 60s… I’d like to have a buck for every time a character opines that collective craving… from juvenile delinquent to smarmy jet setter!

FILM NOIR HAD AN INEVITABLE TRAJECTORY…

THE ECCENTRIC & OFTEN GUTSY STYLE OF FILM NOIR HAD NO WHERE ELSE TO GO… BUT TO REACH FOR EVEN MORE OFF-BEAT, DEVIANT– ENDLESSLY RISKY & TABOO ORIENTED SET OF NARRATIVES FOUND IN THE SUBVERSIVE AND EXPLOITATIVE CULT FILMS OF THE MID TO LATE 50s through the 60s and into the early 70s!

I just got myself this collection of goodies from Something Weird!

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There’s even this dvd that points to the connection between the two genres – Here it’s labeled WEIRD. I like transgressive… They all sort of have a whiff of noir.
Grayson Hall Satan in High Heels
Grayson Hall -Satan in High Heels 1962
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Gerd Oswald adapts Fredrick Brown’s titillating novel — bringing to the screen the gorgeous Anita Ekberg, Phillip Carey and Gypsy Rose Lee and Harry Townes in the sensational, obscure and psycho-sexual thriller Screaming Mimi 1958
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Victor Buono is a deranged mama’s boy in Burt Topper’s fabulous The Strangler 1964
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Catherine Deneuve is extraordinary as the unhinged nymph in Roman Polanski’s psycho-sexual tale of growing madness in Repulsion 1965

Just like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, Noir took a journey through an even darker lens… Out of the shadows of 40s Noir cinema, European New Wave, fringe directors, and Hollywood auteurs, brought more violent, sexual, transgressive, and socially transformative narratives into the cold light of day with a creeping sense of verité. While Film Noir pushed the boundaries of taboo subject matter and familiar Hollywood archetypes it wasn’t until later that we are able to visualize the advancement of transgressive topics.

Continue reading “Film Noir ♥ Transgression Into the Cultural Cinematic Gutter: From Shadowland to Psychotronic Playground”

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.

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

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

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“GOOD EVENING…..”

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

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

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The opening set of each episode, Hitchcock is given props against an empty stage. At times he himself becomes the prop, or main focal point where he imparts either sage elucidation, comical warning or sardonic advice. A witty prelude to the evening’s tale or just a frivolous bit of shenanigans to put one in the mood for the evening’s program. As he drolly introduces the night’s story, his monologues were conceived of by James B Allardice. Many of his missives took shots at the sponsors, spoofing the popular American fixation on commercials and commercialism.

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

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

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

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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Ed Nelson and Arnold Moss Captive Audience
Actors Ed Nelson and Arnold Moss listen to the recordings sent by the plagued Warren Barrow. Is he a murderer?
Angie and James Captive Audience
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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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)”

Edward Dmytryk’s Walk on the Wild Side (1962) At the Doll House; “When people are kind to each other why do they have to find a dirty word for it”

As part of The Barbara Stanwyck Blogathon hosted by The Girl With the White Parasol

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Barbara Stanwyck in Samuel Fuller’s Forty Guns (1957)

WALK ON THE WILD SIDE (1962)

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The Graphic Genius of Saul Bass post here:

In Edward Dmytryk’s Walk on the Wild Side Barbara Stanwyck is no ordinary ‘Jo’

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Stanwyck was the epitome of independence and determination. She had a streak of non-conformity, toughness, and resilience.

Stanwyck was born Ruby Stevens in Brooklyn, July 16th 1907. A New Yorker like me and a fellow Cancerian. Her mother died and her father disappeared when she was 4, leaving her and her brother in the care of her older sister Mildred and foster homes where she’d often run away. At age 9 Ruby toured with her dancer sister, a John Cort Showgirl practicing the routines back stage. Watching her idol Pearl White on the big screen inspired her to go into showbiz. She quitt school at age 14, followed her sister’s lead and became a Ziegfeld Follies girl.

Ziegfeld Girl 1924 Stanwyck
Ziegfeld Girl 1924 Barbara Stanwyck

In 1929 Stanwyck had the lead in the road company production of the Broadway hit ‘Burlesque’ which was a hit in theater. She shared the stage with Mary Tomlinson, a clergyman’s daughter who most likely ran away from home because she was a lesbian. Mary changed her name to Marjorie Main and become the quick talkin’ ‘Ma’ in the raucous Ma and Pa Kettle series from ’49-’57.

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Marjorie Main as the unflappable Ma Kettle

One of her good friends during those years was pianist Oscar Levant who said Stanwyck was “wary of sophisticates and phonies.”

Ruby became Barbara Stanwyck at age 19 while she had the lead in ‘The Noose’ on Broadway. At 21 she was introduce by Levant to Frank Fay star of Vaudeville and ten years older than she, a closet homosexual, alcoholic and abusive husband. They married and moved to Hollywood in 1929 when Stanwyck was on her way to becoming a star of the silver screen. They used her money and bought a mansion in Brentwood. That’s how she and Joan Crawford (married to Franchot Tone at the time) became neighbors and close friends.

At first Stanwyck starred in a few B movies but began getting attention for her roles in Ladies of Leisure30, Illicit ’31, Night Nurse ’31, and Miracle Woman ’31.

Stanwyck in Illicit
Stanwyck in Illicit 1931

While working with Frank Capra on Ladies of Leisure he taught her that much of acting was conveyed with the eyes, and that unless the audience was drawn in, the dialogue didn’t matter. This was her breakthrough movie. Edward Bernds who worked with Capra said “That first take with Stanwyck was sacred.”

Stanwyck’s first Academy Award nomination was for the down trodden mother Stella Dallas ’37 where her old friend Marjorie Main played her mother-in-law.

Three nominations followed for Ball of Fire ’42 with Gary Cooper, Double Indemnity ’44, and Sorry Wrong Number ’48 with Burt Lancaster. Stanwyck was now on her second marriage to another gay man, the handsome Robert Taylor. Their ’39 marriage was arranged by the studio. The couple had separate bedrooms.

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Barbara Stanwyck and Robert Taylor on the cover of Movie Life

Stanwyck had a life-long relationship with her publicist Helen Ferguson. In ’35 she played the rugged farm girl living in a man’s world– Annie Oakley, a masculine woman who was great with a gun.

Annie Oakley

She did a slew of romantic comedies with charismatic co-stars. Twice with Henry Fonda in the screw ball The Mad Miss Manton ’38, and Preston SturgesThe Lady Eve ’41. Remember The Night ’40 opposite Fred MacMurray was her first film with costume designer Edith Head.

Some of my favorite films of her’s were: playing opposite co-star William Holden in Rouben Mamoulian’s Golden Boy ’39. Then Meet John Doe 1941, Lady of Burlesque, and the immortal femme fatale Phyllis Dietrichson in 1944 Double Indemnity, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers ’46, The Two Mrs. Carrolls ’47, Cry Wolf ’47, B. F.’s Daughter ’48, Sorry, Wrong Number ’48, in 1950 The File on Thelma Jordan, No Man of Her Own  & The Furies. Fritz Lang’s tumultuous Mae Doyle opposite Robert Ryan in Clash By Night ’52, Witness to Murder ’56, There’s Always Tomorrow ’56, Crime of Passion ’57 & Forty Guns ’57.

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Phyllis Dietrichson is brought to life by Barbara Stanwyck in the noir staple Double Indemnity ’44
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Stanwyck and MacMurray Double Indemnity ’44