NOTE: At the present time the Alfred Hitchcock Presents
discs are only available with the Best of Hitchcock
boxed sets.THE STRAIGHT DOPE:
Even though each of his films is imbued with his quirky
personality, Alfred Hitchcock ultimately made himself a
world-famous face with his mid-fifties anthology TV series
Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Each half-hour episode
featured the filmmaker introducing a short film and then
discussing the "moral" at the end. (He calls himself an
"accessory before and after the fact.") The episodes themselves
range from interesting to disappointing, but those intros are
so entertaining that they make the discs worthwhile all on
their own. Hitchcock even ribs his own sponsors (sadly, the
original commercials are not included, as it would have been
a lot of fun to see who he was shilling for.)
Even though this is the second volume of
Alfred Hitchcock Presents this is the premiere episode. In it Ralph Meeker and Vera Miles (soon to be seen in Psycho) move to a small trailer to escape some unspecified trauma. This is a good example of the twist ending that Hitchcock employs in nearly all of his TV episodes. Even though the pacing is a bit off the kinkiness of the characters and their behavior makes an impression. Aunt Be also has a small role.
Joseph Cotton (who starred in Hitchcock's great Shadow of a Doubt plays a ruthless mogul whose fortunes turn when he gets in a car accident on a deserted road. He spends much of the episode totally paralyzed and, as his terror at being abandoned builds, the voice in his head grows more panicked.
This episode has more of a British flavor as a strange family attempts to cover up a murder within their ranks.
Mr. Blanchard's Secret
Filmed in 1956, this episode clearly draws on Hitchcock's
theatrical hit Rear Window from two years earlier,
although it is nowhere near as effective.
A crime writer starts to notice strange behavior at the neighbors' house and sets out to snoop some answers.
The video varies somewhat but mostly it consists of nice black and white full-frame. It is a little soft and the contrast varies from episode to episode, but overall it holds up well.
The mono audio reveals the series humble technical origins. Simple microphone set-ups and limited post-production have resulted in tracks that are a little muddy. The episodes feature English subtitles.
There are no extras.
Alfred Hitchcock Presents presents is part of a genre of mind-twisting anthology shows like The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits, but somehow it is less rewarding than those shows. Of the episodes on Volume 2, only the first is really interesting and after a while they seem a little repetitive. (Longtime fans of the series surely have their own set of opinions.) Perhaps this is the peril of watching them to close together and maybe they would work much better saved for rainy days, when the wind howls and tree branches tap menacingly on the window panes. That's the atmosphere Hitchcock intended to invoke and, while he doesn't quite achieve it here, moments of creepiness still make Alfred Hitchcock Presents worth a look.
More Alfred Hitchcock Presents:
Alfred Hitchcock Presents Vol. 3
Alfred Hitchcock Presents Vol. 4
Other Hitchcock reviews:
Jamaica Inn / Rich and Strange
The Trouble with Harry
Gil Jawetz is a graphic designer, video director, and t-shirt designer. He lives in Brooklyn.
E-mail Gil at firstname.lastname@example.org