It’s Saturday and the Anti-Damsel Blogathon 2015 is (HER)E!!!

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It’s Saturday, day One of the Anti-Damsel Blogathon 2015! And Fritzi  of Movies Silently who will be taking over on Sunday… and I are SO knocked over by the amazing turn out! We’re glad to see you so raring to go just like those women who kicked down doors, crossed boundaries and forged a wholly unique path for themselves and other women who are empowered and inspiring and unrestrained to be gloriously-themselves.

So I’ll not wasted any further time with ‘cheap sentiment’ as Bette so effectively impresses upon us… and just get on with the show!

Saturday’s –Anti-Damsels

Movies Silently | Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Milton Sills: How Miss Lulu Bett Struck a Blow for the New Woman

Our host Fritzi chooses a ‘new’ kind of women Miss Lulu Bett who as she explains the wonderful Lulu and her story as “throwing off the gloomy shackles of Victorianism and making her own way in the modern world! And Lulu’s not so easy to bully!

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The Last Drive In    Hedy Lamarr : from Ecstasy to Frequency- A Beautiful Life

A true legend, not just because she was considered the most beautiful woman in the world, but because of her enduring spirit to express her genius and the profound contributions she made to science!

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The Motion Pictures | Ida Lupino: An Anti-Damsel On Screen and Off

Lindsey at The Motion Pictures pays tribute to one of the most versatile mavericks Ida Lupino. Actress, writer, director, producer. An Emmy-nominated actress and as Lindsey points out, the second woman ever to be admitted to Hollywood’s Director’s Guild. To look at her long impressive career & body of work is to behold a legend that took the reigns and made her life in the shape of Ida Lupino!

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Mind of Levine | Profane Angel, Boss Bitch: The Madcap Badassery of Tragic Carole Lombard

Mind of Levine comes up with a title that makes me feel all warm inside, because she conjures up a bold title that I can grab onto. As of late, I’ve been devouring every film I can on the incredible Carole Lombard, who tragically died in a plane crash. What would she have accomplished in a life time if she had survived.

She has a pantheon place here at The Last Drive In. Irreverent, hilarious, gorgeous, sublime and one step ahead of her male leads. A comedic timing and genius that shook up a studio system that couldn’t handle her verve. Well just read this amazing contribution to the event in Stacy LeVine’s own words… Carole Lombard forever a legend, and an Anti Damsel if there ever was one!

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Nitrate Glow Hilda of Horus: Prince of the Sun (1968)

Nitrate Glow offers us a beautiful gem from 1968… directed by Isao Takahata. Hilda is the little songstress who was way before her time in terms of animation heroines. Nitrate Glow offers an incredibly eloquent and insightful look at a unique film!

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Speakeasy | Cobra Woman (1944) Maria Montez as Tollea/Naja

Kristina’s offbeat & clever insight =Cobra Woman and it’s a hell of a choice. It’s got the good twin/bad twin paradigm and Maria Montez, a warrior woman in charge! Here’s just a tidbit of Kristina at Speakeasy’s perspicacity!

It is said that “no drug-soaked brain could dream up the horrors of Cobra Island,” ‘but this movie dreamed it up and brought it to vivid life. This is fantastic entertainment and pulpy comic book spectacle bursting at the seams with fantastic things:’

Fantastic things like Maria Montez an Anti Damsel for sure…I know what I’m watching later!

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The Joy & Agony of Movies | Sue Ann (Tuesday Weld) in Pretty Poison (1968)

When you think of a woman who is less imperiled you think Jessica Walter as Evelyn Draper or as The Joy & Agony of Movies did, Tuesday Weld is spine chilling as Sue Ann Stepanek, a pretty sociopath who let’s nothing get in her way! She is the epitome of the ‘pretty bad girl’ It’s a great addition to the Anti Damsel Blogathon!

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Tales of the Easily Distracted | Charade (1963) The tale of four men and the woman who loves him

Leave it to Dorian of Tales of the Easily Distracted to offer us a witty and apropos tribute to the Anti Damsel Audrey Hepburn as Regina Lampert in Charade (1963) Just because Hepburn exudes a delicate finery and elegance, she has always manifested a power that strikes out like a lioness! Charade is a wonderful romantic comedy that showcases why the versatile Audrey Hepburn is a legend!

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Critica Retro | Tess Harding (Katharine Hepburn) in Woman of the Year

Crítica Retrô talks about one of the great Anti Damsel legends Katherine Hepburn as Tess Harding the epitome of the strong & independent gal in Woman of the Year (1942)

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The Hitless Wonder | Lady Jane Ainsley (Frieda Inescort) in The Return of the Vampire (1943)

Frieda Inescort plays Lady Jane Ainsely in The Return of the Vampire 1943. Now it’s no small task to play it empowered along side Bela Lugosi! Lady Jane Ainsley: “Your eyes look like burning coals. Don’t come any nearer. Don’t touch me.”

Serendipitous Anachronisms | Zira (Kim Hunter) in Planet of the Apes 1968

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Serendipitous Anachronisms pays tribute to the great Kim Hunter and her memorable character as Dr. Zira in Planet of the Apes 1968. It’s a passionate piece about brave and brilliant women who command an entire civilization of men, oops I mean apes with her strong leadership style and wisdom… Couldn’t have an Anti Damsel Blogathon without her!

shadowsandsatin | Blondie Johnson (1933) Joan Blondell

The prolific Karen has to say about our lovable Joan “downtrodden Depression-era woman who transforms her existence from bleak oppression to indisputable triumph. Using her wits, her nerve, and her determination” We couldn’t have an Anti Damsel party without inviting one of the most effervescent gals Joan Blondell!

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Once Upon a Screen | Attack of the 50 Foot Woman  Allison Hayes

Who better than to pay tribute to an immensely empowered, and I do mean immense! 50 feet worth of empowered woman, than Aurora from Once Upon a Screen. Nancy Fowler Archer will remain indelibly in our secret voyeuristic yearnings to grow tall enough to kick the crap out of the finks who dare betray us!

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Old Hollywood Films | Rachel Cooper (Lillian Gish) in Night of the Hunter

Old Hollywood Films does this Anti Damsel Blogathon proud to showcase one of the greatest legends, Lillian Gish brings to life one of the strongest, pure hearted gun totin’ characters Rachel Cooper in Charles Laughton’s Masterpiece Night of the Hunter (1955) And say… this is a gif that just keeps giffing !!! Thanks Old Hollywood Films for sharing this fabulist heroine!

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Moon in Gemini | Vance Jeffords (Barbara Stanwyck) in The Furies

Moon in Gemini has also honored this grand bash with yet another legendary figure of empowered women-ness! We can’t neglect Barbara Stanwyck and this post will make all you Stanny fans happy with…

The Furies: The Anti-Damsel with a Daddy Fixation! I would have liked to taken one of those Dr. Taylor classes. And as Debbie so aptly puts it- “Is there any character that Barbara Stanwyck played that COULDN’T be classified as an anti-damsel?”

I’d say no! it wasn’t possible for her to be non-empowered or in peril. She didn’t have those strong shoulders and that gritty voice for nothing. Even if Bogie was poisoning her milk, or she was bed ridden or stalked by a dream lover or even a witness to murder, she never quite seemed like a weak woman. Just a strong one in the wrong place at the right time. So dive in now to Moon in Gemini’s brilliant perspective on quite an interesting Stanwyck film!

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bnoirdetour | Edie Johnson (Linda Darnell) in No Way Out 1950

BNoirDetour showcases the talent of Linda Darnell in this highly charged film of social criticism that explodes on the screen in No Way Out (1950)! As Edie Johnson caught in the crossfire of racism, she’s got a lot of guts to rise above the chaos and come out kicking!

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CineMaven’s Essays from the Couch | Carol Richman (Ella Raines) in Phantom Lady

When CineMaven’s Essays from the Couch writes that her heart skips a beat because of our Anti Damsel themed Blogathon, I want to return the compliment and say how grateful both Fritzi and I are for the overwhelming response to this tribute to empowered women! And CineMaven, you couldn’t have picked someone better to cause pangs in my heart than the underrated Ella Raines in what I think is one of THE most incredibly intricate psychological film noirs Phantom Lady, with gutsy Carol (Ella) as our heroine!

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Goregirl’s Dungeon | Anna Karina in the films of Jean-Luc Godard

You’ll never get anything but unique and mind expanding insight from Goregirl’s Dungeon. I was sooo thrilled to have her join in and offer her take on an Anti Damsel. Read her fascinating overview of Anna Karina in the films of Jean -Luc Godard…

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Sacred Celluloid | The Vampire Lovers (1970)

Nick Cardillo of Sacred Celluloid gives us a glimpse into Hammer’s heyday and the birth of the Gothic Anti Damsel female vampire archetype, as he covers Ingrid Pitt in The Vampire Lovers (1970)

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Defiant Success | Deborah Kerr in From Here to Eternity 1953

Defiant Success has made this Anti Damsel Blogathon that much better for having covered Deborah Kerr as Karen Holmes a woman who speaks her mind in From Here To Eternity (1953) Kerr is the consummate anti damsel and she always wields that classy composure!

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The Wonderful World of Cinema | Lola Delaney (Shirley Booth) in Come Back Little Sheba 1952

As Virginie from The Wonderful World of Cinema says- “Movie heroines are not always princesses waiting for a prince to rescue them, they are not always victims or damsels in distress. Female movie characters can be strong, they can have guts, determination and many other wonderful qualities” Shirley Booth had a powerful stamina and warmth that couldn’t be extinguished. We’re so happy to have her as a part of our Anti Damsel Blogathon!

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Carole & Co. | Carole Lombard as producer and feminist

Carole & Co. devotes a journal to the groundbreaking versatility, beauty and comedic genius of Carole Lombard. We’re so glad to have her join us for the Anti Damsel Blogathon! Taken away from us too soon, journey through this insightful post and read about Lombard as producer!

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Karavansara | Emma Peel in The Avengers

Karavansara has done the honor of taking up my wish list and paying tribute to one of THE most iconic sexy and strong female role models of the 60s. I am with them. Diana Rigg & Emma Peel both left a huge impression on me growing up. And yes I couldn’t resist having a one of my first crushes either… Read this well written tribute to one of the finest examples of empowerment…! 

“Emma Peel, as portrayed by Dame Diana Rigg, is one of the icons of the 1960s, a sex symbol, and one of the earliest strong, empowered female leads in television entertainment.”

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Mondo Heather | Marni Castle as Big Shim in She Mob 1968

Heather Drain of Mondo Heather explores the Uber mod & deviant world of the Cult & Exploitation 60s paying tribute to a pretty formidable Anti Damsel Big Shim (Marni Castle) sporting a steel bra that could be registered as a lethal weapon. The film includes other divinely demented Anti Damsels’ as Heather writes- “Sweety East (Monique Duval), who is a Texan-fried, butt-crack rocking version of Honey West, things go from nutzoid to putting out fire with gasoline”

PS: You gotta love a reference to Honey West (Anne Francis) that sexy private eye with her groovy house ocelot Bruce!

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wolffian classic movies digest | Joan Crawford as Mildred Pierce 1945

Naturally we couldn’t do this empowering bash without spotlighting the great Joan Crawford. And Wolffian Classic Movies Digest does a wonderful job of reminding us why Crawford the legend and Mildred Pierce the Anti Damsel are so timeless… Here’s a quote from their fabulous piece –“Joan Crawford starting out as the happy housewife breaks free of that mold becoming her own woman as She carries the movie on her Broad shoulders”

Yeah, Joan Crawford just spewed Anti Damsel!

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Smitten Kitten Vintage | Bette Davis as Margo in All About Eve 1950

Smitten Kitten Vintage did one hell of a bang up job covering not only the incomparable Bette Davis but her iconic portrayal of Margo Channing in All About Eve 1950. The film that put her back on track in Hollywood! Read this insightful piece here. Because no Anti Damsel Blogathon would be complete without the legendary Bette ‘hold onto your seatbelts it’s gonna be a bumpy night’ Davis

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Superfluous Film Commentary | Gene Tierney in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

Superfluous Film Commentary shares the sublimely bold Gene Tierney as Lucy Muir, a steadfast widow who is fiercely independent and isn’t afraid of ghosts either! A beautiful film and a wonderful contribution to our Anti Damsel bash! as they so eloquently put it Tierney is “positively radiant Gene Tierney, likewise fits the definition of empowered.”

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I’ll think I’ll go get a banana split until we’re back with Fritzi on Sunday for more Empowered Lady Love!- Your everlovin’ MonsterGirl

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4 Outstanding Actresses: It’s 1964 and there’s cognitive commotion!

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Anne Bancroft as a lady who lunches and listens to gossip in The Pumpkin Eater – being held hostage by the intensely neurotic Yootha Joyce a lonely housewife sitting next to her while trapped under the hair dryer of life…
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Woman at hair dressers-“It’s like I told you, my life is an empty place!” Jo-“Well what do you want me to do about it?”

“The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” – Ayn Rand

Cognition–ˌkägˈniSHən|
(noun)
the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses.
• a result of this; a perception, sensation, notion, or intuition.

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These 4 particular films seem to be part of a trend of films that deal with either women’s brewing emotional turmoil or in the case of Jean Seberg’s Lilith- a creeping organic madness, perhaps from childhood trauma that is not delved into. 

Let’s consider women either in distress or the oft used “hysterical’ trademark that summons every neurotic ill associated with women. With these 4 films it’s the same root problem: Why should society determine what counts as an emotional problem? This is especially true for women, as if she was the engendering source of a specific kind of female mayhem, the creator of the tumult itself… Capable of giving birth, does she also give birth to a certain kind of madness directed inwardly or aimed outward at society and it’s unyielding ethical questions?

It’s not that I think Barbara Barrie is troubled because she falls in love with a black man. It’s that the world is troubled by her decision. Because of her choice -a society inherently cruel punishes her by taking away the one thing she had personal power over, to remove her child from her life. Although, she has a wonderful relationship with Frank both are being judged and condemned.

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The judge who awards custody of her little girl to the biological father even though he is not the better parent. Not too long ago, women could be hospitalized just for being menopausal, based on what their husbands say.

Women were at the mercy of white male society’s judgment. So if a white woman loves and marries a black man in the volatile climate of the civil rights 60s it would absolutely cause turmoil and quite the commotion.

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All these women experience cognitive commotion, but are not necessarily crazy. One Potato Two Potato is about the societal impositions forced upon an inter-racial couple and the strain of a child custody battle forcing her to qualify herself as a good mother. The sentiments of the time, the courts and society in general are dis-empowering Julie through her motherhood.
This inflicts an agonizing torture on Barbara Barrie’s character Julie. Barrie’s performance as well as Bernie Hamilton as a man whose own masculinity is tested, tears me up inside…
A white woman, Julie Cullen falls in love with Frank Richards, a black man, against the will of everyone around them, including his parents who think he should stick with his own kind. Eventually Franks mother and father come around and embrace Julie, and her daughter who considers Martha and William her grandparents.
Julie has a son with Frank…and suddenly is being faced with a white judge deciding on who will gain custody of her little girl from a previous marriage to a man Joe Cullen who abandoned them years ago. Not til he finds out that she is being raised by a black man does he rise to take action and gain custody of his daughter.
This is a courageous story to relate in 1964. Barrie’s anguish is one that is not self inflicted, there is no mental disorder, or neurotic dilemma yet it would challenge anyone who dares to be truthful and follow their heart in a world where many people must hide who they are. A beautiful love story that becomes tainted by the stain of ingrained hatred and ignorance. And causes ruination to a happy family.
Barbara Barrie’s performance as Julie Cullen Richards is nothing short of intuitively astounding.
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Just for funzies I wanted to paint some contrast into the mix, therefore pointing to films that truly deal with women and mental illness. More than cognitive commotion, they’re unstable, non compos mentis, deranged, knife wielding, murderous femmes, traumatized, delusional dames… or all out CRAZY NUTS!!!!!!!!!
And…
I’ll probably write about all these films mentioned–the women on the verge of a nervous breakdown or already on the shoulder of the weary road of life with all four tires flat at some point. I’ll Consider Charles Vidor’s Ladies in Retirement 1941 where Ida Lupino has to take care of her two dotty sisters Elsa Lanchester and Edith Barrett as the Creed sisters… They’re wonderfully Cukoo!!! I did a little piece on this gem a while back…
Robert Siodmak’s The Dark Mirror 1946 with Olivia de Havilland playing twins Terry & Ruth Collins, Gene Tierney gorgeous yet cunningly homicidal in Leave her To Heaven 1945, Laraine Day is totally unhinged in The Locket 1946, Joan Crawford as Louise Howell has a nightmare filled flashback in Curtis Burnhardt’s Possessed 1947.
“she is shown as alienated and stricken with psychological torture”– {source Marlisa Santos The Dark Mirror; Psychiatry and Film Noir 
Then again in Anatole Litvak’s story actually set in a mental institution with Olivia de Havilland stuck in The Snake Pit 1948, Vivien Leigh is the consummate delusional Blanche Dubois in Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire 1951Marilyn Monroe gives a riveting performance as the deranged babysitter–(oh god kid just be quiet for Nell) in Roy Ward Baker’s Don’t Bother to Knock 1952, Joanne Woodward is in emotional conflict with three different personalities all herself…in The Three Faces of Eve 1957.
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Eleanor Parker gives a stunning portrayal of multiple personality disorder in Hugo Haas’ Lizzie 1957, I’ve written about Liz Taylor almost getting her frontal lobe sucked out at the request of her domineering Aunt -(Katherine Hepburn) just to hide her son’s sordid secret life in Suddenly, Last Summer 1959, Jean Simmons tries to find happiness in a loveless marriage that isn’t her fault in the engrossing Home Before Dark 1958, Ingmar Bergman’s Striking minimalist piece about mental turmoil in his beautifully photographed Through a Glass Darkly 1961, William Castle’s groundbreaking gender bending Homicidal 1961.
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Woodward in The Three Faces of Eve 1957
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Joan Marshall is Homicidal 1961 in William Castle’s answer to Psycho
Carroll Baker is a traumatized rape survivor in Something Wild 1961 and what I found to be a misogynist romp wasting several wonderful actresses who were offered these humiliating roles in The Chapman Report. In particular Clare Bloom who deserved better with her talent -as a nymphomaniac struggling with her sexual desires until she ultimately commits suicide in The Chapman Report 1962 and good old William Castle’s once again with his Strait-Jacket 1964 starring one of the ultimate Grande Dames Joan Crawford this time wielding an axe in addition to her nightmarish flashbacks.

Now… none of the 4 women I am covering here are homicidal or dangerous, all these women are experiencing a psychic struggle with issues that speak from their place in the world as women… who are defining somehow in their own way, what their identity means to them… Well, perhaps Lilith is a bit more volatile in terms of how she wields her sexuality and influences men & women both! But she is a divine innocent albeit-nymphomaniac living in a dreamy world of her own –not a homicidal vamp who devours men and spits them out… She is an innocent without malice. The men do the damage to themselves…

“And her eye has become accustomed to obvious ‘truths’ that actually hide what she is seeking. It is the very shadow of her gaze that must be explored”--Luce Irigaray

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Max von Sydow,, Harriet Andersson and Gunnar Bjormstrand in -(1961)-Through the Glass Darkly directed by Ingmar Bergman
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Gene Tierney as the murderously deranged Ellen Berent Harland in Leave Her to Heaven 1945

Seance on a wet afternoon 1964 previous post HERE

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Kim Stanley gives an unnerving performance as a delusional and dangerous woman who plots to kidnap a child so she can claim her psychic powers then located her…

And of course the two titans of Grande Dame Guignol fêtes courtesy of Robert Aldrich…

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? 1962 & Hush… Hush Sweet Charlotte 1964

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Roman Polanski’s very post-modern almost Brechtian/Picassoesque ode to insanity starring Catherine Deneuve in his Repulsion 1965 –
There’s always Hitchcock’s Marnie (1964) showcasing an unstable female in distress brought on by childhood trauma. Considering Hitch’s lavish colors, and overt psychological embellishments that have created a pulpy romanticized landscape, that at times obfuscates the mental turbulence rather than letting it surface on it’s own. I chose to set this film aside and instead include the more off the beaten path of psychological leaning-‘women’s pictures.’ 1964 seemed to be one hell of a  year for Women in Distress by virtue of the female psychological crisis, once again to reiterate -not the ‘hysteria’ kind, mind you.”
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Tippie Hedren and Louise Latham in Hitchcock’s Marnie (1964)
“From the socially conservative 1950s to the permissive 1970s, this project explores the ways in which insanity in women has been linked to their femininity and the expression or repression of their sexuality. An analysis of films from Hollywood’s post-classical period (The Three Faces of Eve (1957), Lizzie (1957), Lilith (1964), Repulsion (1965),Images (1972) and 3 Women (1977)) demonstrates the societal tendency to label a woman’s behavior as mad when it does not fit within the patriarchal mold of how a woman should behave. In addition to discussing the social changes and diagnostic trends in the mental health
profession that define “appropriate” female behavior, each chapter also traces how the decline of the studio system and rise of the individual filmmaker impacted the films’ ideologies with regard to mental illness and femininity.”

— from FRAMING FEMININITY AS INSANITY: RE PRESENTATIONS OF MENTAL ILLNESS IN WOMEN IN POST-CLASSICAL HOLLYWOOD by Kelly Kretschmar

WOMEN ON THE VERGE… OF A BREAKTHROUGH!

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Curt Jurgens carries Samantha Eggar after she has fallen off her horse. There is more going on that Patricia Neal’s blind eye can see

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Patricia Neal and Sammantha Eggar in Psyche 59
Patricia Neal and Samantha Eggar in Psyche 59 (1964)

The Pumpkin Eater 1964

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Ann Bancroft and Peter Finch are a married couple in crisis. Having perpetually popped out a myriad of children she is yet again pregnant. Will this keep him home this time…? The Pumpkin Eater (1964)

One Potato Two Potato 1964

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Barbara Barrie falls in love and marries Bernie Hamilton. Once her ex-husband realizes that his child is being brought up by a black man, times get even tougher for the couple

Lilith 1964

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THE WOMEN!!!

Barbara Barrie

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Patricia Neal

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Anne Bancroft

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Jean Seberg

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LET’S BEGIN WITH…!

Alison Crawford (Patricia Neal)“Love has to stop somewhere along the line otherwise it’s almost like… like committing suicide “

PSYCHE 59 (1964) Alexander Singer (A Cold Wind in August 1961 with Lola Albright and Scott Marlowe) directs the remarkable Patricia Neal as Alison Crawford, a woman struck down with a form of psychosomatic or hysterical blindness. Alison is aware that the affliction is all in her mind since the doctors can’t find anything organically wrong with her sight. Her ‘hysterical blindness’ and memory loss of the events leading up to her accident follows a fall down the stairs while she is pregnant. When she awakens she is unable to see.

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Alison “My Brain won’t accept the images that my eyes make.”

What is happening for Alison is that she is subconsciously blocking out the truth about her husband and her younger, coquettish sister Robin.

She is now living a very quaint life with her husband played by the austere Curd Jürgens (I love him as the devilishly urbane concert pianist Duncan Mowbray Ely in The Mephisto Waltz 1971).

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Aside from her intense husband Eric, Alison’s very sexually charged sister Robin (Samantha Eggar) has now come to live with the couple after a divorce. Robin hovers very close to Eric like a carrion bird waiting to pick the bones of Alison’s troubled marriage. While Alison doesn’t have any cognitive memory of what led up to her fall, it’s obvious to us that she can sense the strong attraction between her husband and younger sister. At one time, her younger sister Robin and Eric and been involved before Alison caught and married him. Robin hasn’t stopped lusting after him. Slowly Alison’s memory comes back as the flashes and images of what she experienced right before she lost her sight literally comes into view.

Singer builds the tension in the air slowly, methodically until it all comes to a head set against the skillfully contained cinematography by Walter Lassally (The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner 1962, Zorba the Greek 1964, To Kill a Clown 1972).

IMDb tidbit-Patricia Neal was offered the lead in The Pumpkin Eater, but it was not 100% confirmed she would get the role. She then opted, to her later regret, to make Psyche 59 (1964) instead, since it was an official offer.

Neal gives a restrained yet powerful performance of a woman who is trapped in self imposed darkness by her fear of the truth…

There is very subtle theme of self-brutality that exists for each of the characters, Alison’s self imposed sightlessness, Eric’s indignant stoicism is palpable as he walks through the story like a trapped stray dog, He is agitated by Robin’s presence, because he can not resist her.

Robin, her younger sister who must have been quite young at the time of her relationship with Eric begs the question of appropriate behavior on his part. Robin is constantly asserting a seductive influence on Eric right in front of the disadvantaged Alison.

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She is both a hyper-sexual narcissist and a bit self-destructive at the same time, either way she gets off on playing the seductress torturing Eric, right in front of her sister, dark sunglasses and delicate pout. Although Alison suffers from blindness, she maintains a certain dignity that although as all three characters seem like she is, one of the trapped animals in a psycho-melodramatic forest, we get a sense that she will one day regain her freedom and spread her wings and fly away from it all truth in hand.

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Alison “We must be near the marshes” Robin “We just passed it … Coming to the old windmill soon…its still turning.. nothing’s changed” Alison “There’s a factory there now, Don’t protect me Robby. Don’t make up windmills.”

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Based on the novel by Françoise des Ligneris, with a screenplay by Julian Zimet (who wrote Horror Express 1972 and one of the best atmospheric little horror obscurities The Death Wheelers 1973 formally called Psychomania about a group of British motor cycle thugs and their pretty birds who dabble in the occult. Beryl Reid and George Sanders being one of their relatives, they learn the secret of immortality. But you have to die first to obtain it.)

Psyche 59 is an interesting psychological mood piece, almost post modernly impressionistic with it’s stark and polished black and white photo work. And Patricia Neal who had just won an Oscar for her role as Alma Brown in Hud 1963 and gave a command performance in 1957 as Marcia Jeffries in A Face in the Crowd is just exceptional as Alison who is trying to navigate the dark world surrounding her.

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The film is strange and at times subtly cruel yet Neal’s character relies on our visual journey which becomes quite painful at times yet beautiful as she begins to emerge. In the film Patricia Neal’s relationship with Curd Jürgens has an eerie parallel to real life marriage to writer/spy Roald Dahl, but I don’t want to get into the sensationalized tidbits of public people’s wreckage.

The Film also stars Ian Bannen as Robin’s poor befuddled boyfriend , Elspeth March and Beatrix Lehmann plays Alison’s staunch and science fiction reading grandmother-wish I had one of those!

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Continue reading “4 Outstanding Actresses: It’s 1964 and there’s cognitive commotion!”

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!

meTV Blogathon

THE ALFRED HITCHCOCK HOUR

Concerto Sinostro- The Alfred Hitchcock Hour- Seven Exceptional Episodes

Alfred Hitchcock the television years: 8 indelible episodes!

There were 93 EPISODES in the series.

Alfred Hitchcock and Crow

“GOOD EVENING…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Norman Lloyd

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“GOOD EVENING…..”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sister Pamela-“Sorry Sister Jem, I have only myself to blame.”

Sister Jem-“You’re not thinking of… what we spoke of the other day?”

Sister Pamela-“I haven’t been thinking of anything Sister. I’ve tried not to think.”

Sister Jem-“Have you prayed?”

Sister Pamela-“Sister… I’ve prayed for humility and obedience. But there was no answer in my heart Sister Jem… only silence!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dean Jagger tries to quiet Jennifer West after he tries to steal more than a kiss from the town hussy Alice.
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Betty Field plays George’s flakey nagging wife.
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Slamming the fridge door and shuffling her feet.Jenny confronts George’s peculiar behavior on the jury Jenny – “Would the star juror care to give me some justification for his behavior. George- “what behavior?”  Jenny-“ What behavior! The behavior that has brought down ridicule and scandal over our heads!” George-“ What you talkin’ bout Jenny? Jenny- “Have you gone deaf and blind?… Unplug your ears… open your eyes! George Davies the most respected highly thought of citizen in this town protecting this infidel, this murderer… No wonder you get indigestion.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE SECOND SEASON!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Directed by Alf Kjellin story and teleplay by Robert Gould

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

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

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

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

Dan Duryea is a gambler and a proud bigamist name Raymond Brown. He truly loves his wife… I mean all four of them. But something is going quite wrong. One by one his wealthy meal tickets are all turning up dead. At first it appears that they are suicides. But the police start to suspect Brown of murder. Marion, (Teresa Wright) has been the long time dutiful wife who has waited and suffered through heart ache to finally have her philandering husband all to herself. Could she be the one who is bumping off all of Ray’s wives? Wright takes a much different approach from the gentle farm wife Stella and shows herself off to be quite resourceful when holding onto a philandering husband!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Michael Blodgett and Tisha Sterling do some mod dancing in Change of Address
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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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“would you like to meet Mingo when she comes? She’s not very big. She’s big enough to live in a bird cage and big enough to have a frog for a horse!”
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“Do you believe me about Mingo?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Symphony of Dark Patches- The Val Lewton Legacy 1943

This post is a feature…As part of the CLASSIC MOVIE HISTORY PROJECT BLOGATHON hosted by the fantastic gang over at- Movies Silently, Silver Screenings & Once Upon a Screen– Visit these wonderful blogs during this historic event and fill your head with a collection of fascinating movie memories.

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From Dreams of Darkness-Fantasy and the films of Val Lewton by J.P. Telotte:
“{The audience} will populate the darkness with more horrors than all the horror writers in Hollywood could think of… if you make the screen dark enough, the mind’s eye will read anything into it you want. We’re great ones for dark patches.” – Val Lewton

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Jane Randolph as Alice Moore in Val Lewton’s Cat People 1942 directed by Jacques Tourneur
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A scene from Bedlam (1946) directed by Mark Robson 

During the 1940s Val Lewton and his ‘Lewton Unit’ used the essential vision of fantastic darkness to recreate a very unique style of horror/fantasy genre, one which challenged Hollywood’s notion of the tangible monsters Universal studios had been manufacturing. Lewton, while working at RKO Studios, produced an exquisite, remarkable and limited collection of films that came face to face with a ‘nightworld.’ Lewton used our most deepest darkest psychological and innate fears that dwell within the lattice of shadows of our dreams and secret wish-fulfillment.

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“Our formula is simple. A love story, three scenes of suggested horror and one of actual violence. Fade out” -Val Lewton

Lewton worked at MGM between 1926 and 1932 and then served eight years under David Selznick. He had published nine novels and a number of short stories. In addition he produced regular radio show versions of MGM films. He also had ties in the industry as his aunt was the the very influential silent actress Alla Nazimova.

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the great stage and silent screen actress Alla Nazimova-Val Lewton’s very influential aunt…

But Lewton had left his mark with Selznick and in 1940 rival company RKO was interested in hiring him..It was actually Selznick who negotiated Lewton’s contract.

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“My task is to initiate a programme of horror pictures to be made at the comparatively low cost of 125,000 each. Which should compete successfully with Universal horror films. Which cost anywhere from 300,000 to a million dollars. I feel I can do this quite easily and the Universal people spend a lot of money on their horror product. But not much on brains or imagination.”-Val Lewton

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Lewton put together a team of collaborators with whom he would work closely. He chose Mark Robson to edit. Robert Wise and Lewton worked together on Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons. DeWitt Bodeen had worked him during his time with David O’ Selznick was to write the first screenplay for Cat People.. His old friend Jacques Tourneur whom he became friends with while working on A Tale of Two Cities. was brought on board to direct. He chose Nicholas Musuraca as his director of photography and Roy Webb to compose the musical scores.They all worked on countless RKO films. It was Lewton’s intention to create quality pictures though he was constrained with a low budget. Jacques Tourneur had said that Lewton was an idealist who had his head up in the clouds who would come up with impossible ideas. However for Tourneur his feet were planted firmly on the ground, yet somehow they complemented each other perfectly, Tourneur claims it was a very happy time in his life, and that Lewton’s gift to him was the filmic poetry that he was able to carry with him forever.

Jacques Tourneur is perhaps one of my favorite directors, with his use of shadow and and all together dreamy lens of the world, he’s responsible for one of THE best classic horror films Curse of the Demon & film noir tour de force Out of the Past. 

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Jacques Tourneur directs Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer in Out of the Past 1947
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Jacques Tourneur’s moody horror with Niall MacGinnis and cat Curse of the Demon 1957
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Part of the Lewton Unit- image from the documentary The Man in the Shadows from top left Roy Webb composer, Val Lewton, Nicholas Musuraca Cinematographer, Mark Robson editing/directing, DeWitt Bodeen writing and Robert Wise-director.

“Horror is created in the mind of the spectator. It’s necessary to suggest things. In all my films you never saw what caused the horror. I saw people screaming in the theater when there was a young girl in a swimming pool, but you never saw the black leopard. The lights blaze up at the end. And there’s Simone Simon. Something has definitely happened. -Jacques Tourneur

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Jacques Tourneur looking over the film sketches
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Jacques Tourneur on location for Berlin Express 1948

“Lewton gave us something quite different than what’s known as Hollywood craftsmanship you can say that he presented us with a parallel world in which everything feels both real and a little unreal-familiar but strange. The characters and the viewer slip into a mysterious, troubling gray zone. Where real life and dream life come face to face. And where beauty and destruction merge. Lewton and Tourneur really created a new kind of cinematic beauty”-from The Man in the Shadows Val Lewton documentary

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the golden boy from Bedlam

Learning from his last employer Selznick he made sure to supervise absolutely every aspect of the film’s production, from casting, set design, costumes, the direction, and editing. He even rewrote every script himself without taking credit or under a pseudonym. In this way he developed his own visual style of storytelling, having prepared each detail before shooting.

“My feelings are generated, however by more than my gratitude for that first opportunity. They come from the warm and highly stimulating creative experience I had working with Val. He taught me so much about directing and filmmaking in general…Val Lewton was one of that fairly rare species, a truly creative producer. As such, he was able to achieve an outstanding reputation for the high quality, unusual and interesting “B” pictures he produced at RKO Studios starting in the early 1940s” – Robert Wise, March 1994

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Robert Wise behind the camera
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Robert Wise, Mark Robson & Val Lewton

“I remember him staying up until all hours of the night working on screenplays. He enjoyed having his hand in the writing. I used to that that he went out of his way to pick inept writers so that he’d have to redo their work. He used to write on a Royal typewriter;he used only two fingers but he was very fast. He’d talk out the different parts as he wrote them and, since my bed was just on the other side of the wall, I’d fall asleep listening.”Nina Lewton Druckman from the Reality of Terror by Joel Siegel

Robert Wise was part of the Lewton Unit, one of my favorite directors who would go onto direct some of the most outstanding films in a variety of genres, from musicals like West Side Story 1961, Sound of Music 1965, to Lewton’s Curse of The Cat People 1944 and The Body Snatcher 1945, noir masterpieces, Born To Kill 1947, The Set Up 1949 and The House of Telegraph Hill 1950, I Want to Live! 1958, Odds Against Tomorrow 1959,to sci fi and Gothic ghost story masterpieces Day the Earth Stood Still 1951, The Haunting 1963 and The Andromeda Strain 1971.

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Michael Rennie and Gort in Robert Wise’s Sci-Fi masterpiece The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
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Robert Wise’s boxing noir The Set-Up 1949

Lewton drove himself very hard trying to achieve something beautiful of quality. He and his team were given a very small budget, a cast of veritable unknowns, and evocative titles that were sensationalist and lurid in nature and did not truly represent an accurate account of the narrative. There were no gruesome fiends nor even evidence of malevolent forces at work in his ordinary everyday environments. Yet RKO’s studio head Charles Koerner  dictated such titles as Cat People 1942, Curse of the Cat People 1944, Bedlam 1946, Isle of the Dead 1946, The Body Snatcher 1945, I Walked With A Zombie, The Ghost Ship and The Leopard Man in 1943 and The Seventh Victim.

“If you want to get out now, Lewton told Bodeen, I won’t hold it against you”

The sensationalistic titles lead viewers to expect corporeal horrors, grotesquery and accustomed chills. As critic Manny Farber points out that while Lewton got nicknamed the “sultan of shudders” or the “Chillmaster” they were missing the point entirely. Lewton’s films were purposefully inhabited by the average, the bland, the pedestrian all, so as to populate his world with normal characters. People you’d see on the streets, or doing menial jobs. And amidst this population of ‘normal’ stirred interesting pulp stories that were unorthodox, otherworldly and often grim. Themes like zoanthropy. a derangement in which someone believes they are an animal as in Cat People or the pervasive fear of the Vorvolakas, an undead creature in Greek folklore that drinks it’s victim’s blood in Isle of the Dead. Even when dealing with dreadful English asylums and the sacrilege of body snatching.

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Boris Karloff and Val Lewton on the set of Bedlam

By the way… Bedlam 1946 is perhaps my favorite of the Lewton series. I’ll be doing a follow up to this piece and with an aim at covering the magnificent piece of filmic art that is Bedlam. I’ll also include the remaining films I love, Isle of the DeadThe Body Snatcher and his first Cat People.

Films with subversive themes like zoanthropy. a derangement in which a person believes himself to be an animal as in Cat People or the pervasive fear of the Vorvolakas is an undead creature in Greek folklore that drinks it’s victim’s blood in Isle of the Dead.

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Karloff and Thimig in Isle of the Dead 1946

One of the things I love about Lewton’s films is that he used many either lesser known actors or those who never quite attained stardom yet lived on the fringe. Wonderful character actors such as Ian Wolfe & Edith Barrett (whom I both adore) actor/director Abner Biberman, Theresa Harris, Edith Atwater Sir Lancelot former calypso singer from Trinidad, the unusual beauty of Elizabeth Russell who was a former fashion model. The portly Billy House who played Lord Mortimer in Bedlam had been a star of vaudeville or Skelton Knaggs (Terror By Night, House of Dracula) British actor worked on the stage. The handsome Richard Dix ,Tom Conway, James Bell, Anna Lee, Evelyn Brent, Helene Thimig, Dewey Robinson and Ben Bard.

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Billy House as Lord Mortimer in Bedlam
Ian Wolfe in Bedlam
The marvelous Ian Wolfe in Bedlam
Knaggs as Finn in The Ghost Ship
Skelton Knaggs as the mute Finn in The Ghost Ship
Leopard Man angry mother
Kate Drain Lawson as Señora Delgado in The Leopard Man
Edith Barret the ghost ship
Edith Barrett and Richard Dix in The Ghost Ship
Anna Lee in Bedlam
Anna Lee in Bedlam
Helene Thimig in Isle of the dead
Helene Thimig in Isle of the Dead
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Julia Dean and old Mrs Farren in The Curse of the Cat People

These characters seems to transcend their positions in the background and add layers of depth and a quiet simplicity or realism that made the storytelling more rich. They possessed a certain unique expressiveness that at times eclipsed the lead actors.

RKO known for their capacity to release films that were of the fantastic and original, initially who hired Lewton to organize and run their ‘B’-Film unit. RKO had a reputation for ingenuity and artistic innovation, paying careful attention to the shaping of the narratives. What he endowed them with was his deep understanding of the subtle patterns and symbols that lie within our dreams, psyche and fantasy world. Lewton satisfied the audience’s desire for horror yet what he delivered was swathed in a strange and poetically beautiful style.

At his disposal he had some of the best writers who knew how to tap into this process. Writers like DeWitt Bodeen, Donald Henderson Clarke, Curt Siodmak and Ardel Wray art director Albert D’Agostino (Notorious 1946, Out of the Past 1947, The Thing from Another World 1951) cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca & J. Roy Hunt (Crossfire 1947, Might Joe Young 1949) and directors Jacques Tourneur (Out of the Past 1947,Curse of the Demon 1957), Mark Robson and Robert Wise all contributed and helped shape the vision that became the Lewton film.

musuraca & tourneur
Nicholas Musuraca and Jacques Tourneur

And while Val Lewton didn’t direct any of the eleven films he produced for RKO, (in two cases only taking screen credit for his contributions as writer), it’s rather irrelevant in terms of authorship -as collaboratively infused with talent of vision these films possess a distinct frame of reference that lead you into the fantasy realm or genre with an artistic unorthodoxy like no other. Director Jacques Tourneur directed the first three Lewton films produced by the Lewton Unit. He gave Lewton the soubriquet “The Dreamer.”

Joel Siegel from his 1973 book Val Lewton tells us, “His production unit would make only horror movies with budgets limited to $150,000 per picture. The films were to be ‘programmers’ slated for placement on double features in less than key theaters, with a running time not to exceed 75 minutes. {Production Chief Charles Koerner’s office was to dictate the titles of these films, based upon a system of market pre-testing.”

Lewton and Robson 2
Mark Robson and Val Lewton

Lewton hid much of the story in his shadow-plays and this allowed his crew to work the landscape by creating symbolism, key sounds (natural ordinary sounds become ominous premonitions and are fatalistic in tone), haunting textures, abstract shadow and a sense of dark absences. Within the more focused frames of the films are incidental point of view shots that fill in the spaces with a rich texture of realism within the fable-like quality, relying on shadow and suggestion to deliver the desired effect.

Lewton himself would usually write a rough draft, an idea adapted from a property to be filmed. Then using his grand ability to visualize a formula, manipulate the structures of conventionality so that he could compose a landscape and narrative that would best articulate his observations. Tourneur emphasized Lewton’s “structure, construction, progression of high points, low points” in the narrative. Director Mark Robson suggested that Lewton had already ‘thought everything out’ in such detail so as not to miss a thing. Jessie Ponitz, Lewton’s secretary relates, “the last draft was always his.”

Lewton and typewriter
Lewton at his typewriter

Lewton’s brilliance and vision are partly due to his understanding of how psychoanalytic symbolism, myth, dreams and archetypes influence our intimate fear of what lies invisible to the eye. The Lewton Unit embraced the collective nightmares of the human experience, bringing our dream-work into the cold light of daily life bounded to the material world. He presents us with irrational unseen forces, in particular those that lurk in our subconsciousness or dream world. His films transport his protagonists by contrasting them from the open, sense of security from daylight- immersing them into the dark regions of shadows, and the black patches of uncertainty. They do not confront conventional monsters, vampires, ghouls and malevolent spirits of the classic Universal plots- but actually come face to face with their own internal nightmares. A mechanism that emerges from the shadows of the mind. We see these images of fantasy and it triggers our most basic and personal need to belong to that which is created, however disturbing those visions are, these fantasy/horror films possess an enigmatic kind of darkness. His characters never ran away from the darkness and dread that was so pervasive they actually ran head on into it, in order to demystify it and lead themselves & us to understand it a little better.

PSYCHE OR SOUL- THE LEGACY OF THE FANTASTICAL

CapturFiles
Jean Brooks as the mysterious Jacqueline in Val Lewton’s The Seventh Victim

Lewton and his associates understood the principles of fantasy, and utilized them in the complex visual structures they created in their series of films. In writing about Lewton’s use of fantasy, J.P. Telotte informs us that these films “are not mere horror stories or exercises in terror, yet ‘redeem’ or reunite us with a repressed side of the human experience.” And this is what makes Lewton’s fantastical work so unique.

As in his book America in the Dark, Thomson implies that unlike the films that consist of vampires, werewolves, and other alien presences “The Fantasy genre {…} draw fundamentally on a realm of darkness and psychic imagery for it’s existence. Such films typically evoke a dreamlike environment or nightworld in which, as if it were our own sleep, we can pleasurably and profitably immerse ourselves. {…} I wish to call attention to their ability to reveal how we also might come ‘to life with the dark’ finding an important, even life enhancing meaning in the fantastic’s dream realm. {…}”

The Body Snatcher
The Body Snatcher 1945
A Palladist The 7th Victim
a Palladist from The Seventh Victim

Lewton’s fantasy reworks our perspective to let us ‘see’ the dark spaces even within the light. As Todorov writes in The Fantastic 1975, fantasy evokes an ‘indirect vision’ that allows us to see what is usually not visible in the ordinary world. Lewton uses this ‘indirect vision’ to transgress and transcend normal perception. Lewton’s works suggest a disparity between the expected and reality. From this disparity, the greatest threats come from the most ordinary occurrences, objects, and the commonplace.  He populates his films with figures of authority who interpret their world incorrectly, harshly or inharmonious. The sudden revelation of the ordinary frightens and disorients the viewer in unexpected ways, forcing them to be more reflexive, to show the menace in the every day. As Carl Jung believed, fantasy precedes our normal sense of reality- “The psyche creates reality everyday. The only expression I can use for this activity is fantasy.”

Drawing on the psychologist James Hillman who specialized in archetypes, Lewton’s films evoke a dream-like nightmarish world in contrast to the realm of truth. The style of these films are often lensed as seductive and mysterious journeys, where the audience can escape the ordinary for a while. They seduce us by taking a path which follows our hidden desires within the psyche.

This is the proper aim at fantasy, as James Hillman explains; it should challenge our normal “literal perspective, its identity with material life,” since that perspective is usually “stuck in coagulations of physical realities. This perspective of reality needs to break down and fall apart, to be skinned live and sensitized, or blackened by melancholic frustration.”

Isle of the Dead-Karloff
Isle of the Dead 1946

This fantasy forces us to look at our own limitations of vision, and how difficult it is to describe the structure of something that has no’ structure’ It’s easy for the grey areas of fantasy to ‘lapse’ into absence and dissolve from a narrative field of a nightworld/dreamscape using the device of voice-over narrative or subjective camera. Lewton’s images make us ask are we seeing what’s really there, or are we merely informed by the dark spaces both inside the film and tapping into our individual and collective psyches. As Telotte cites Rosemary Jackson– 

“Objects are not readily appropriated through the look; things slide away from the powerful eye/I which seeks to possess them, thus becoming distorted, disintegrated, partial and lapsing into invisibility.”

Val Lewton had a special insight and grasp of formulas and mythic structures so that he could envision within the complex narratives, the presence of the most significant archetypal patterns. Lewton said “If you make the screen dark enough, the mind’s eye will read anything into it you want! We’re great ones for dark patches.” What those ‘dark patches’ suggest is something innate in all of us, a dark region within the ‘self’ that gets lost, or hidden away, or even denied as we go about our daily lives doing ordinary things in the guise of normalcy.

DARK PATCHES AND THE ABSENCE OF KNOWING

The Seventh Victim

In a Lewton film there is a sense of ‘Lack’ as an absence in the lives and environments seems to be at the core substance of these films. This play of absence and presence operates as a structural principle in Lewton’s films. For the benefit of this post I will point particularly to I Walked With a Zombie, The Leopard Man  and The Seventh Victim, the prior both directed by the great Jacques Tourneur. In his two films that ‘lack’ translates into a disturbing landscape of openness in the narrative style.

The everyday, whether it be modern urban city streets, islands in the Caribbean or the nineteenth century, there is an attentive eye for detail that weaves a texture of daily life that the Lewton unit worked so hard to achieve. Be it the costumes, the architecture and the general look of the place during it’s particular time period. So much research went into developing the landscape of reality with a distinct verisimilitude. By looking at books, paintings and photographs they would try to capture the perfect light and shadow of the piece.

Although I won’t be covering Bedlam in this piece, the film is a perfect example of how The ‘Lewton Unit’ employed this research approach prior to filming. Several shot compositions were based on William Hogarth’s illustrations. Much emphasis was placed on ‘context’ as Lewton characters can so evidently be characterized by their station in life or occupations living in the seemingly natural world that is commonplace. Writer DeWitt Bodeen notes that Lewton “always insisted that all his characters have special occupations or professions and be shown working their jobs.”

Lewton’s films are populated with a texture of normalcy, people living in a visibly conspicuous and commonplace field of reality so that when the presence of the mysterious, and irrationality poke through it shatters the veil of normalcy and settles down to become abnormal and disturbing for the protagonist and us the viewer. These characters must journey through a field that is rife with coded messages, where they are not believed by the people around them.

Telotte explains, “What results is a subtle dialectic between ‘substance and lack’, presence and absence, replacing that of the more traditional horror films, where in the ‘self’ as the audience’s surrogate, is opposed by a threatening otherness in the shape of a monster or murderous apparition. The tension is no less. Though it’s source is different it is more disturbingly lodged in the individual  and the way in which he perceives and conceives of his world.”

The Body Snatcher Karloff

Like the protagonists, we are laid bare with our vulnerability to the abnormal. The threat comes as an external challenge to our lives, exposing our human weakness and fears and forces us to see life in an unsettling way. Everything falls out of harmony that which is usually so ordinary. And the sense of ‘otherness’ fills the screen and taps into our own psyche as the formidable shadows move about with an anima. The dark patches set themselves outward as props, while strange sounds and eerie low key lighting color the screen’s canvas as dark and mysterious.

Psychoanalyst Hillman refers to a ‘vesperal’ motion that leads us into the darker regions of the self and the human psyche with it’s ‘fantasizing impulse.’ Lewton’s Curse of the Cat People (you can read an earlier feature I did on this film-click on the link) is a more conventional initiation story focusing on the nature of innocence and ‘otherness’ and how it often challenges our rational perspectives of the world because it evokes the ‘unknowing.’

All of Lewton’s films are structured with a careful eye on the sequential narrative. Val Letwon referred to scenes heightened by shadows as signifier of something foreboding he called them “horror spots.” These “horror spots’ were carefully spaced through out his films in sequential scenes, as if each frame were its own visual narrative. Many potent moments though brief partly due to the limited time constraints yet remain with you forever.

I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE

These scenes were preceded by scenes of an alternating tone designated to bring relief to the audience, utilizing some form of imagery that could be very beautiful or lyrical. Joel Siegel talks about this approach as “fragmented, mosaic-like structure” of the films, with their dependence on a “series of tiny, precise vignettes which do not so much tell the story as sketch in its borders and possibilities. For film historian Robin Wood in his “Return to the Repressed,” Lewton’s series of films is distinct for their “often illogical poetic structure.” 

Early Lewton films display a narrative style which recalls Jean-Paul Sartre’s prescription for fantasy storytelling: “In order to achieve the fantastic, it is neither necessary nor sufficient to portray extraordinary things. The strangest event will enter into the order of the universe if it is alone in a world governed by laws.”

Frances Dee, Tom Conway, Edith Barrett in I Walked with a Zombie (1943)

Lewton films do not simply strip the world of the laws which Sartre describes, as many horror films do, rather they manipulate the context within which even the most commonplace actions are perceived. In I Walked With a Zombie, the players are often viewed through a veil of elaborate shadows cast by wooden lattice, brush and thicket, Very sensual images and very flowing. The eye for detail… every frame is so well thought out. And while we as spectators have truly seen nothing tangible, there is that ‘lack’ reinforced by structural repetition. Drawing us in depends on our ability to fantasize and tap into the deep-rooted fears that we unconsciously embrace. This portrayal of Lewton’s mysterious yet mundane environment becomes utterly frightening. Lewton explained how this process reveals the viewer’s participation in that which he sees, establishing that given these kinds of visual narratives man himself “will populate the darkness with more horrors than all the horror writers in Hollywood could think of.”

Robin Wood’s The American Nightmare chapter of Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan.–
It is built on elaborate set of apparently clear cut structural oppositions : Canada-West Indies, white-black, light–darkness, life-death, science-black magic, Christianity -Voodoo, conscious -unconscious, , etc–and it proceeds  systematically to blur all of them. JEssica is both living and dead.; Mrs. Rand mixes medicine, Christianity and voodoo, the figurehead is both St. Sebastian and a black slave, the black-white opposition is poetically undercut in a complex patterning of dresses and voodoo patches; the motivation of all the characters is called into question; the messenger-zombie Carrefour can’t be kept out of the white domain.”

Lewton’s work absolutely inspired and trained Robert Wise to scare the hell out us with his adaption of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting in 1963, when in reality we never see a malevolent presence. Wise’s use of absence and presence, sequential stages of darkness and shadow, odd angles, and the process of what we ‘don’t see’ became one of the greatest ghost stories on film and I would dare to say one of the best films ever made. Wise learned this film philosophy from his time working as part of the Lewton Unit, whose contribution to film rippled outward for decades.

Robert Wise The Haunting Julie Harris
Julie Harris climbs the menacing spiral staircase in Robert Wise’s masterpiece of Gothic ghost storytelling The Haunting 1963

Lewton’s most accomplished manoeuvre was making the audience think much more about his material than it warranted. Some of his devices were the usual ones of hiding information… he hid much more of his story than any other filmmaker and forced his crew to create drama almost abstractly with symbolic sounds, textures and the like which made the audience hyper-conscious of sensitive craftsmanship… He imperiled his characters in situations that didn’t call for outsized melodrama and permitted the use of  journalistic camera. {…}Je would use a spray-shot technique that usually consisted of oozing suggestive shadows across a wall, or watching the heroines’ terror on a lonely walk {…} The shorthand allowed Lewton to ditch the laughable aspect of improbable events and give the remaining bits of material the strange authenticity of a daguerreotype.” Manny Farber criticquoted from 1951 in Jeremy Dyson’s book Bright Darkness

There is an overall unsettling revelatory pattern to each of the Lewton narratives. While I’m only covering the 4 contributions Lewton made during the year 1943, all of his 9 fantasy/horror films isolate the commonplace through the story, the patterns, the symbolism of innocence, and the rigidity of authority. In his films our roots in proven reason and sanity are given a different value. This contrasting shadowplay create the ultimate texture and environment of fantasy/horror.

A SYMPHONY OF DARK PATCHES :

Continue reading “A Symphony of Dark Patches- The Val Lewton Legacy 1943”

the clip joint- Storm Center (1956) ‘Just one book’

“Who really set the town aflame?…”

Storm Center Bette Davis

STORM CENTER (1956)

Bette Davis plays Alicia Hull a librarian who is labeled a Communist by local politicians when she refuses to remove a controversial book from the library’s shelves. Directed by Daniel Taradash who wrote the screenplay for From Here To Eternity 1953, Picnic 1955, Don’t Bother To Knock 1952  and Bell, Book and Candle 1958. Also starring Brian Keith and Kim Hunter.

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stormcenter

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Books are Life – MonsterGirl