The Best Laid Plans
Peter Gunn

The asking price is one hundred thousand for the whereabouts of an assassin’s rifle trained on the arriving governor.

It makes a diverting racket, this sort of nonsense, while the efficient gang cleans out a bank on the other side of town.


I Can Take Care Of Myself
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

A nightclub in New York called The Grackle, singer and pianist bring in business. A gangster named “Little Dandy” Dorf (“he don’t like bein’ called little”) sees every show, sends muscle with flowers to the dressing room, the singer calls the chef, hands him the flowers to prepare. “He can eat them in a chef’s salad with onions and mayonnaise.”

Another time, she pours a drink over the patron’s head, the pianist steps in, Little Dandy’s knocked down. A man selling “insurance” has a word at the bar with the hero.

Simpson drops by, offers his badge, the pianist feels it under the table, too many eyes. The singer’s been murdered, a photo proves it, the story is told. Protection is offered, a ride home, the insurance man shares the back seat, “my partner”.


The Money
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

The old mazuma, the old business, the Old Country, here in the New it pays off fencing and double-dealing, the shnook’s son plays a mean game of snooker.

Hitchcock behind the 8-ball.


The Man Who Found The Money
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

To go to Vegas, from his salary as a professor, leaving his wife behind, and lost it at roulette.

He is surrealistically presented as finding a huge wad of bills in a glittering horseshoe clip, and returning it a little short, no doing of his.

Or, the Palæontologist in the Pressure Cooker.

Hitchcock hangs his sponsor from the yardarm (cp. “A Secret Life”, dir. Don Weis).


The Gloating Place
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

The Prom Queen strangler, her brief and unhappy fame.

Or, the girl who cried rape.

The Hitchcock Youth Center, a high-calorie affair.


Servant Problem
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

The New York novelist with a new book and a new name and an old wife out of nowhere.

Hitchcock the referee.


The Hatbox
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

That severe professor from Sjöberg’s Torment (scr. Ingmar Bergman) throws it out, two college students investigate the contents. “It’s a hat!”

The surrealist mystery of hats is a feature of Hitchcock’s The Birds, this is a variant of Rear Window, anatomized thoroughly.

Hitchcock’s night school, Phrenology is the subject.


Keep Me Company
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

A husband who criminally neglects his wife.

A perfect episode.

Hitchcock robbed of a sentimental attachment.


Beta Delta Gamma
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Frat house, beach, in the morning one frat brother gone to sea, effaced.

A very poetic image, Love’s Labour’s Lost also figures in, and notably Hitchcock’s Rope.

Hitchcock swings a frat paddle, offends no-one.


The Right Kind Of Medicine
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Cop-killer wounded in the leg gets his prescription filled.

Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life is practically cited verbatim.

With a rare combination, Robert Redford, Russell Collins, Joby Baker.

Hitchcock the village smithy stands, “something attempted, something done”.


The Woman Who Wanted To Live
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

The bane of all malefactors, a woman scornfully used.

Hitchcock on the end of a rope.


The Big Kick
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Beatnikland and all there’s drowsy good times, loafing and shoplifting.

The asst. prof. cuts the cord.

The beauty part is the beat fellow carrying coals to Newcastle, diamonds to Orfitt’s.

I’ve got news for you


You’re not sick you’re dead

and I’m going to bury you

and dance the twist

on your grave!

Hitchcock among the Early Americana.



Night of the Owl
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour

The heroism of this is very closely related to Hitchcock’s I Confess in its willingness to carry a self-enforced silence to the swirling eddy of calumny and let it suffer there, also to Marnie in its psychological MacGuffin.

The performance by Brian Keith gives the very last word in patient endurance and lovingkindness, until dawn after so much of disaster breaks upon the ignorant.

It’s Crosland’s ability to recognize this paradoxical quality in the ferocious Keith that makes the play what it is, but he has a good time with Philip Coolidge’s blackmailer, Mike Kellin’s thug and the girls, too.


House Guest
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour

The proprietors of a school on the California coast are subjected to a highly elaborate swindle. Their boy is rescued from drowning at the seaside by a “fallen angel” from the U.S. Air Force who is looking for an orange grove to settle down in. The days go by, he fails to find one, even with the offer of a loan from the grateful parents. He makes love to their au pair, has an accident with their car on the freeway, assaults the other driver’s wife, and demands compensation for saving the boy in order to pay back a previous loan. Saving lives is his hobby, he says.

The house guest is killed in a scuffle, buried by the other husband, and written to by the creditor, an old sea captain in Santa Monica, who threatens to go to the police. The father pays him, but a freeway is headed for the grave, which must be dug up hastily. And lo, the guest is not dead but the lead actor in a “repertory company” performing “a grisly, macabre melodrama”.


The Parallel
The Twilight Zone

“Who’s John Kennedy?This old world just ain’t the same (cf. Robert Parrish’s Journey to the Far Side of the Sun). “There was some factor up there, something which I had no control over, something which must have—must have taken over for me,” the astronaut in orbital flight. He gets the gate and the bird, a sugary kissoff (cf. Leo McCarey’s Rally ‘Round The Flag, Boys!). A stylistic resemblance to Serling’s Seven Days in May (dir. John Frankenheimer) will be noted, more than that, “simply that there’s a man in my house who—”

“A man in your house who what?”

“The question is, a man in my house who is what? Or better, a man in my house who is who?”

“I think you just overshot me, unless I’m reading you very wrong.A splendid evocation of Capra’s Potterville in a list of historical items that diverge from reality. “Somehow, some way, this world seems to have turned upside down for me.A pertinacious theme, “And When the Sky Was Opened” (dir. Douglas Heyes), “The Arrival” (dir. Boris Sagal), a suite of themes, “Person or Persons Unknown” (dir. John Brahm), “King Nine Will Not Return” (dir. Buzz Kulik), etc. A sort of interregnum.

Serling at the “outer limits” of speculative vision. As a representation of space flight, a basis of “The Different Ones” (dir. John Meredyth Lucas for Night Gallery).


Last Seen Wearing Blue Jeans
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour

An English family touring America stops at the Cates Café in Slawson, Arizona for tea and apple pie and lemonade on a hot night, the daughter sleepily goes outside to nap in the car, enters the wrong one and is transported just across the border to Dos Cucharos by auto thieves who strip cars or sell them in Mexico City. Vince Cates is the ringleader, two of his henchmen quarrel in the Dos Cucharos Garaje, one is killed with a tire iron. From the back seat, the girl sees and slips away, alone with no passport and not speaking the language.

The parents drive around looking for the girl, who unbeknownst to them is in the party of worshipers behind a village priest whom they can’t understand. This temporary refuge is like another with the widow Maria, who speaks no English but makes herself understood with a bowl of hot chili. The ruffians hound her out wherever she goes.

An American boy returning from a campout gives her a lift in his jeep. Back in the U.S., a sheriff on the take escorts them to the café. The parents, alerted by a customs officer, trace the boy to his father’s ranch. The father joins them at the café, where they find an item of the girl’s, and both children under armed guard in the back room.


The Old Man in the Cave
The Twilight Zone

One of the most marvelous examples of concision in Serling’s work, a masterpiece of television writing.

The devastation comes from military rule, the East Coast is reduced to 500 people not lacking in “discipline”, it’s visited upon a small band of people who live by the wits of the title character, a computer.

Its oracles advise them on planting and the consumption of canned goods.

Jason and the Golden Fleece are simply mentioned, because a character’s name is Jason.

The old man is a mystery to the people, his minister is Goldsmith, forced to reveal it by Maj. French of the “local constabulary” in this newly-created “military sector” under “Central States Command”.


The 7th Is Made Up of Phantoms
The Twilight Zone

A prelude is set in 1876. Two troopers of the 7th Cavalry and a scout examine a recent Indian encampment. The scout receives an arrow in the back, the troopers return fire with their rifles. In 1964, the shots are heard by three National Guardsmen with an M-4 tank, forty miles from their appointed position in war games. Step by step, they follow the traces of Gen. Custer’s advance, until they come upon the site of the Last Stand. They take their carbines and charge in.

Their names are found recorded on the Battlefield Monument. “Too bad they couldn’t have brought the tank up,” observes their National Guard commander, “it would have helped.Only wigwams and a horse are seen, with sounds of the battle. A great effect is achieved on location with a sudden wind striking the soldiers, played to most expressively by the actors.


Ring-A-Ding Girl
The Twilight Zone

An intensely satirical work, which combines two irreconcilable viewpoints in a circular narrative or global mystery. Hamner’s writing is so skilful that the essential laboriousness of this is nowhere evident, on the contrary, it becomes a lively paradox.

The film star has a vision of herself descending on her home town as answered prayers, graciously doing her one-woman show direct from Vegas in the high school auditorium. The townsfolk see her raining on their parade, and driving them back to the high school auditorium. Her plane to Rome crashes on their picnic grounds, killing her, but sparing them in the auditorium. The hard, bitter flavor of this is lost in the picture of a trouper in the sticks, and the sticks with a local girl who has made good. “We heard about it,” says the local interviewer on TV, at the mention of her show.


The Night of the Torture Chamber
The Wild Wild West

Professor Horatio Bolt (Alfred Ryder), a sort of connoisseur or critic anxious to further cultivate his Bolt Museum of Fine Arts and gain a major work (La Gioconda) for his private collection, alters an actor’s face and presents him as the Governor’s bust for a switcheroo, the State Treasury is now dedicated to Art. Miss Piecemeal (Sigrid Valdis) is still the Governor’s secretary and still to be watched (“The Night the Wizard Shook the Earth”, dir. Bernard L. Kowalski).

A horde of beggars in the street turn out to be a cadre of assassins. A wine press serves Professor Bolt as an instrument against the Secret Service.


The Night of the Poisonous Posey
The Wild Wild West

Justice, Nev. is “the heartland of America”, Gordon says at first sight. It’s Law and Order Week, a town festival, he and West are accused as road agents and put on a gallows but free themselves and spoil the joke, they’re being feted.

The town has suffered a drastic loss of population (down to 132), the sheriff fires blanks, guns and horses are impounded for the week. All of the world’s top criminals save one or two gather around a coffin full of champagne on ice for a “summit conference”, West says. He and Gordon are on vacation, see the pallbearers from their window at the Justice Is Blind Hotel.

The grandmistress of the outfit is Lucrece Posey in toreador pants and vest with black flat-brimmed hat. The world is divided in six convenient regions to form a cartel. West is briefly imprisoned in an ice house, Gordon as late arrival Ascot Sam divides the board members one against another, until the real Noo Yawker appears. There is a fight and the remnants are jailed, Lucrece with her razor-sharp poisoned ring gratifies West’s desire to see her in a dress before slipping out of the funeral parlor, where a columnar set of organ pipes revolves and each one fires a shot at him. Gordon trails her stagecoach and locks her up after five hours on horseback. He is exhausted, West receives the telegraph message in their private railroad car assigning them to a new case, six saddled hours away.


The Night of the Skulls
The Wild Wild West

A “new order” is proclaimed as necessary to “save the country from its enemies”, by the leader of the Company of Murderers, a death’s-head tribunal of psychopaths that tries each applicant for membership, if innocent, he (or she) is hanged.

West kills Gordon at a fox hunt for this privilege. The leader is a member in good standing of the United States Senate and fourth in line to succeed the president. The membership is winnowed down to three by combat, West is to kill the vice-president, the other two have their jobs, the coup d’état is ready.

Its success is announced by Gordon as Assistant Secretary of State, the leader is taken away protesting, “I am the President of the United States of America!Gordon prepares crêpes Suzette in the agents’ private railroad car for beautiful Lorelei, unhappily pressed into membership. Champagne is served in flutes. West arrives with police to take her away, The Peoria Poisoner is her nom de guerre on their books, alas. Gordon almost drinks his wine, hearing that, but forbears in this instance, disappointed.


The Night of the Assassin
The Wild Wild West

A pair of gringos attempt to assassinate President Juarez, one is captured alive and tortured by Col. Barbossa, who secretly hired him through a wealthy immemorial middleman.

“I could never understand torturing a man,” Gordon says elsewhere (“The Night of Jack O’Diamonds”, dir. Irving J. Moore).


The Night Dr. Loveless Died
The Wild Wild West

Dr. Loveless, dead, has named West as his executor. The will is read extensively in the late doctor’s voice by a mynah bird that his attorney, Arthur Tickle, has coached. The sole heir is an uncle, Dr. Werner Otto Liebknicht, a Swiss neurologist and the very likeness of his nephew in white hair and beard.

This is all a ruse, West has been engaged to dispose of “troublesome” Deuce and his underlings, who break into the funeral parlor after a large brass key affixed to the wrist of the deceased. Gordon fobs off a Sacramento men’s room key on them.

Lovely Triste also wants the key, it opens a safety deposit box at the Pioneer Bank of Mendoza. The key turns, the box whines and explodes, revealing a second key. The second box whines and doesn’t explode, a note inside names Tickle. “Typical Loveless prank,” says Gordon.

The two doctors ran a clinic for nervous diseases on the coast, it’s entered through an old mine. A plush elevator with divan and chess game is operated by striking the keys of an organ. The office is filled with globes and astrolabes large and small, some of the globes are suspended from the ceiling.

The mynah bird has delivered to West a brass disk stamped with the combination to a safe. Dr. Liebknicht opens a secret panel, the will stipulates that files there “of interest to the Department” shall be conveyed by West.

He is drugged and sent to the operating theater. Assembled physicians from around the world hear unmasked Dr. Loveless describe the patient’s “history of violence and irrationality”, an operation to “destroy the frontal nerves” is delayed by Gordon as a Sorbonne doctor who auscultates West. They fight their way out, liberate the screaming patients (each cell is equipped with a mere “talking machine”), and find Dr. Loveless at the desk in his office, with Triste standing beside him. He exits in his chair through the wall behind him (Russell’s Lisztomania), the file in West’s hand and indeed the whole clinic are “rigged for spontaneous combustion”. The clinic burns down. Gordon relates the story of the deputy sheriff to company at the train, where a mysterious package whines and doesn’t explode.