“There are moments when even to the sober eye of reason, the world of our sad humanity may assume the semblance of hell”-Edgar Allan Poe
The camera frame evolves into a most simplistic line drawing, a chubby caricature of Alfred Hitchcock’s endearing profile which then converges with Charles Gounod’s “Funeral March for a Marionette” as suggested by Bernard Herrmann. Bernard Herrmann had scored so many of Hitch’s feature films, as well as John Williams and Dimitri Tiompkin. Hitchcock appears at first in a shadowy silhouette from the corner of the screen, then stepping prominently into the outline, filling his place as the master of the evening’s suspenseful ceremonies.
Now, I offer a brief snapshot of my oeuvre featuring some of my very favorite episodes of both Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. They never stale, they always tickle and cause that most delicious little shudder, from some of the finest mystery and suspense writers and re-experiencing the delight of seeing how the show had given some of the best acting talents their very first start…right here.
Season 3 Episode 1 aired on (6 Oct. 1957)
Jim Whitely (William Shatner) and Dorothy (Rosemary Harris) begin cleaning out the apartment of his dead Cousin Julia (Jessica Tandy), Jim comes across a small wooden box that contains a mysterious glass eye and starts to relate the strange and macabre story to his wife of why it remains in Julia’s possession.
The proper, lonely, and romantically repressed Julia had fallen in love with a famous ventriloquist named Max Collodi (Tom Conway)Becoming obsessed with the performer she saw all his performances, sending him letters requesting to meet him. Eventually quitting her meager job, in order to follow his show around Europe, Max agrees to meet Julia, setting forth certain conditions upon their first encounter.
Once she arrives at his hotel room, she finds him sitting in a dimly lit atmosphere of mystery, surrounded by shadows and subterfuge. The darkness envelopes him, and he asks her to keep her distance. He sits at a table with his small dummy George.
Overcome with passion as the two begin to talk, Julia tries to reach out and touch the object of her undying passion -Max Collodi, but it comes along with grave consequences.
Season 3, Episode 17 aired on (15 Feb. 1965)
Over the course of two weeks, a psychotic maniac is on the prowl, being reported all over the television and radio. The police are baffled by this madman who is preying exclusively on live-in nurses.
Set the stage for a dark and stormy night, where Nurse Stella Crosson (Dana Wynter) and Nurse Betty Ames (T.C. Jones) are held up by the storm at the house of the man they are taking care of (John Kerr) He’s got a bad heart and lives in a creepy old mansion on the outskirts of town.
Suddenly, the women get a phone call from the murderer telling them that he knows they’re alone, and is on his way over to kill them both. Stella goes around the house making sure all the windows and doors are locked tight, but discovers that they overlooked a small window in the basement that is flapping open from the storm. Is he already in the house?
aired on (19 Oct. 1964) Season 3 episode 3
John Cassavetes plays Rusty Connors who tricks his prison cellmate Mike Krause (Rayford Barnes) into telling him every detail about his gorgeous girlfriend Helen Cox (Ann Sothern). On his deathbed, Mike reveals to Rusty that he’s got a stash of $56,000 hidden away with the help of his dead accomplice, Pete Taylor.
Once Rusty is released, he goes in search of the epic Helen and finds her in the small town of Hanesville working as a waitress in a greasy spoon diner slinging hash and, and not quite as divine as Mike had related in his verbal memoirs.
Rusty pretends to be enamored with the voluptuous Helen, in order to enlist her in helping him find the stashed cash from the robbery. The journey leads them to a ramshackle boat house on a lake, inhabited by a sea of hungry rats.
Season 3, Episode 28 aired on (13 Apr. 1958)
From Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Directed by Alfred Hitchcock himself with teleplay and story by the great darkly humorous British writer Roald Dahl.
Produced by Joan Harrison and associate producer/actor Norman Lloyd.
Barbara Bel Geddes plays the dutiful Mary Maloney, a devoted wife and housekeeper. Husband police chief Patrick Maloney comes home and coldly tells her that there’s another woman he wants to marry and that he wants a divorce. Oh, yeah and Mary’s pregnant with his child, but he’ll let her have the child, they’ll probably be okay.
The usually composed and polite Mary erupts in a moment of rage killing him by way of blunt force trauma to the head with a giant frozen leg of lamb.
She then calmly calls the police, giving them her quick alibi, a story that she’d been out shopping, while the murder occurred. Lieutenant Noonan is the investigating officer on the case. He is bewildered by the lack of a murder weapon missing from the scene of the crime.
Mary being the ultimate hostess and good cook invites the hard-working detective Noonan and the other police officers to stay for dinner. Noonan says while stuffing his face with Mary’s fine meal, “For all we know, it might be right under our very noses.”
Season 5, Episode 11 aired on (27 Sep. 1962)
Dynamic character actor Robert Emhardt is deliciously vile as a very selfish and rude traveling trashy and risqué, novelty salesman who willfully forces a truck off the road, making it virtually impossible for the young injured Pine boy to make it to the hospital for medical care. He ultimately dies because of Salesman Fratus’ actions.
Season 1, Episode 2 aired on (27 Sep. 1962)
Vera Miles is Daphne engaged to Harold (Jeffrey Hunter) Abraham Sofaer plays Dr.McFarlane, Dick Sargent (the 2nd yet inferior Darrin on Bewitched) is Dave Fulton who is madly in love with Daphne, Mary Scott is Wanda Hatfield and Alf Kjellin is Edwin Volck a brilliant composer.
The world of academia is occupied by intellectual types, social misfits, and radical thinkers. At one such particular local college, there is a fiend ravaging women while they walk home through the neighboring woods. At a social gathering of faculty, they speculate the motives of the madman, using their knowledge of criminal psychology and floating theories around while drinking cocktails and fawning over the beautiful Daphne. Is Daphne going to be the maniac’s next victim?
Season 3, Episode 1 aired (5 Oct. 1964)
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour directed by Arnold Lavin and based on a short story by Davis Grubb.
Peter Fonda is Verge Likens a simple, respectable farmer’s boy whose father is murdered by a ruthless politician again perfectly befitting the acting chops of Robert Emhardt as Riley McGrath who thinks he can get away with anything. George ‘Goober’ Lindsay plays D.D. Martin, McGrath’s cutthroat flunky in a role that is quite a contrast from the oafish and good-natured Goober Pyle.
But Verge is smart, patient, and not impetuous when it comes to laying the blueprints for his master plan of revenge.
Season 3, Episode 6 aired on (16 Nov. 1964)
This is perhaps one of the most disturbing pieces of suspense television, that would quite aptly fit onto the larger screen adaptation as a major motion picture. The cinematography is stunning and Teresa Wright and Bruce Dern’s acting is so distinctively nuanced that it lifts the narrative beyond mere television drama. The theme of isolation, dread, and psychological/physical abuse by Emery and Jesse is stunning and at times nightmarish. Teresa Wright plays the meek Stella, a woman who has been so beaten down by her obnoxious and domineering cretin of a husband Emery played by Pat Buttram. Stella is a gentle soul, who loves animals, befriending a little squirrel who becomes her only source of joy. Along comes the menacing Bruce Dern as the mysterious Jesse who is willing to work for $5 a day picking peaches, knowing all too well that Emery is exploiting his labor. He proceeds to terrorize Stella, kill her pet squirrel, and turn the ineffectual and spineless Emery against her, as he is unwilling to protect or defend his own wife, being a cowardly quasi-Neanderthal himself.
Dern inhabits one of the most striking performances as a vicious socio-pathic drifter, so transcendent for its day that it’s utterly chilling to watch the narrative come to force. Dern’s Jesse makes his sleazy character Keeg in Cycle Savages 1969 pale in comparison.