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

Thursday, September 23, 2010



Although Hitchcock continued to give his usual droll introductions, the opening of the series was different from the first season, and composer Bernard Herrmann did a new arrangement of the theme music, Charles Gounod's Funeral March of a Marionette. [While this made the theme sound a little more sinister, it was vastly inferior to Gounod's own arrangement. Herrmann, however, did do some wonderful scores for individual episodes.]

Highlights of the second season include: "a Nice Touch," with actor George Segal taking advantage of casting agent Anne Baxter in a reverse role from her Eve Harrington in All About Eve; "Nothing Ever Happens in Linvale" with Phyllis Thaxter suspecting her neighbor Gary Merrill of doing away with his wife; "Beyond the Sea of Death," which sort of illustrates Shakespeare's saying of "don't kill the messenger;" "Beast in View," with Joan Hackett pursued by a vengeful Kathleen Nolan [marred by a terribly dragged-out ending]; and "The Body in the Barn" with Lillian Gish in a fascinating, twisting tale of murder and revenge.

Arguably the three best episodes of season two are: "Good-bye George," which has one of the best -- and funniest -- endings of the entire series; "Final Escape," a prison shocker featuring top performances by Edd Byrnes [77 Sunset Strip], William Keith, and Stephen McNally, and which has one of the most horrifying conclusions of any story ever; and the grotesque "Jar," based on a Ray Bradbury story, which resembles a kind of poetically gruesome E.C. comics horror tale. Directed by series producer Norman Lloyd, it features fine performances from Pat Buttram, William Marshall, and Jane Darwell, among others. And a great ending.

Verdict: Despite a few clunkers this remains a great series. ***1/2. NOTE: Click here to read about season 1.

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