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

Thursday, September 2, 2010


THE ALFRED HITCHCOCK HOUR [1962 - 1965]. First season.

The half hour Alfred Hitchcock Presents expanded into an hour with a name change to match but with the same droll introductions by the inimitable Alfred Hitchcock. As usual the stories ran the gamut from chillers to crime dramas to suspense stories to murder mysteries. Surprisingly, many of them lacked a final twist or other clever aspect, but were more matter-of-fact, rescued by a good plot or excellent performances.

Most of the episodes of the first season were in the "B" or "C" category -- with a couple of "D's" -- but there were also several outstanding "A" episodes. These include: "Captive Audience," with a superb James Mason as a writer losing his grip on reality over a beautiful woman (Angie Dickinson); "Hangover," with Tony Randall trying to piece together the past few days with the help of Jayne Mansfield [whose appearance and solid non-sex kitten performance are a very pleasant surprise]; "Paragon," a strange story about a completely self-absorbed woman played winningly by Joan Fontaine; the very moving "Lonely Heart," in which Nancy Kelly is convinced that Gena Rowlands was accidentally given her own baby [both actresses are excellent]; and the completely unpredictable "Death and the Joyful Woman," in which Gilbert Roland ferociously plays a monster father and Lorraine Day is equally good as the secretary who is in love with him.

Even the less interesting shows are quite entertaining and well-acted.

Verdict: Good show, Hitch! ***.

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