Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

SUSPICION VOLUME 1

SUSPICION Volume 1.1957 TV series.

15 of the filmed episodes [apparently half of the show's episodes were taped live] of the mystery/suspense series Suspicion have been collected on three discs in an initial volume. The show was produced by Alfred Hitchcock's TV unit, and the Master directed the first episode, "Four O'Clock," himself. Taken from a Cornell Woolrich story it concerns a jealous husband (E. G. Marshall) who plants a time bomb in his basement to kill his wife and her alleged lover. [Frankly, Hitch seems a little disinterested with the material until the nail-biting final minutes; still this is a good episode.] Other memorable shows include: "Heartbeat," a sad tale in which David Wayne gets a misdiagnosis from a heart specialist and doesn't realize how much he is in danger if he exerts himself [also in this episode is that very weird actress Barbara Turner]; "Protege," an All About Eve variation with an excellent [as always] Agnes Moorehead  as an alcoholic actress on the comeback trail bedeviled by a viper-like, ambitious assistant (Phyllis Love); and "Death Watch" in which witness Janice Rule and protector-cop Edmond O'Brien learn that the former is to be targeted by a dirty cop whose identity is unknown. [The only trouble with this suspenseful episode is the highly illogical wind-up]. The best episodes in this collection are "The Way Up to Heaven," a Roald Dahl concoction in which a wife (the wonderful Marion Lorne), who desperately wants to fly to Paris to see her grandchildren, is continuously stymied by the selfish manipulations of her husband (Sebastian Cabot) until he gets his amusing comeuppance; and especially "Doomsday," which features a knock-out performance by Dan Duryea as a notorious criminal planning a major bank heist -- with major complications. Other guest-stars on the show include Donna Reed, Audie Murphy, Michael Rennie, Rafael Campos, Rod Steiger [excellent in "The Bull Skinner"], John Beal. Joseph Cotten, William Shatner, and Bette Davis in the fairy awful "Fraction of a Second," in which she gives another of her pretty terrible latter-day performances.

Verdict: Good old show with more hits than misses. ***.

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