The Long Silence
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour

The teleplay is in three distinct parts. A prelude establishes the sordid family tale of a son who has embezzled at the bank. This reaches a somber blackness and suddenly the stepfather is found to be framing the son, who protests and is quickly murdered then strung up to look like a suicide, but while the murderer types a suicide note the mother enters, and at the truly horrific sight (just a shadow on the background wall) runs from the room and falls down the stairs. She is paralyzed and unable to speak, a nurse attends her while the stepfather anxiously waits for signs of consciousness.

The third part is a variant of “Breakdown”, while the second is like a Greek play. The mournful, distressed prelude is a remarkable feint, with enough confusion to hide the stepfather’s near getaway, and preparing the mother’s later condition with a nervous collapse.

Phyllis Thaxter strains the limit of hysteria as required. Michael Rennie in a villainous part presents a face like the dark side of the moon.


You’ll Be the Death of Me
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour

A sparse, severe telling of “the strange woman” as a war bride from the Pacific brought to the deep South, a very nice, lovely girl.

The one he left behind is a clinging pest of a floozy. He throttles her, the wife finds a button, hears about the murder, the sheriff inquires.

Confronted by his wife’s allegation, the man kills her, too. He’s known as “Driver”, the floozy taunted him about losing the direction of his life.

The graphic ending goes like this. In the presence of the sheriff, the poor man is consoled for the loss of his wife. Preparing to leave, he takes the dog’s chain leash out of his coat pocket. A deaf-mute girl, who saw it earlier that very day, now writes on her blackboard in large block letters, “CHAIN / SHE HAD IT / HE KILLED HER”, underlining “HE” with final emphasis, he who had tripped over Rags and spoken the title.


Behind The Locked Door
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour

The landfall on Lang territory is made with a guffaw. Young husband has a too-young wife, the marriage is annulled by her mother. A mere month later, they remarry upon the occasion of her eighteenth birthday.

Mother-in-law is wealthy, stifles the boy’s job chances. He hits upon a plan. Wife fakes suicide with a mere four sleeping pills, to alarm the mother. Trouble is, the girl has a weak heart, dies.

Mother deeds “the old homestead” to the boy, in remembrance of her daughter. At last he has the key to the locked door. It’s an elevator shaft, he falls in.


The Sign of Satan
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour

Hitchcock in the postscript indicates, by way of a joking reference to The Method, what is meant, namely an obsession about “realism” in the cinema that takes the place of art.

The arch-priest of a devil-cult has made a ritual film for circulation among the members, but two scenes find their way onto a split reel in a Hollywood screening room.

The star is summoned to Hollywood, where he is murdered by the cult. Nonetheless, he appears on the first day of shooting to intone strange syllables and numbers, which turn out to be his address in Topanga Canyon, though none of this is manifest in the printed film.


The Fighter Pilot
12 o’clock High

The main construction of the teleplay is a built-up analysis of the title character, lonely, self-willed, violent” and trained to it, carried as high and far and fast as such a thing can go.

The actual purpose is quite different, an examination of Col. Gallagher’s command showered with replacements in the ongoing war.


The Diamond
Mission: Impossible

A certain type of power is represented in a dictator with a huge diamond. The significance of this is provided by the Impossible Missions Force, who convince the fellow it can be reproduced by machine, and purloin it after all.

The Man Who Would Be King, and “the little that he hath.” There is a good deal of comedy at the end, while Rollin and Dan as entrepreneur and inventor disappear into the machine to make urgent repairs when it appears to break down and near explosion, with their recorded voices still registering alarm as the IM Force drive away, before it really does explode.


Old-Fashioned Murder

The writer of this complicated little masterpiece himself appears as the patsy. The idea is simple enough, and is dropped like a stone in a pond to generate ripple upon ripple of laughter, gently.

Three very hardened performers fill the leads. Joyce Van Patten plays her antitype, a woman of infinite reserve and precisely the sort of thing that is the specialty of Deborah Kerr. Jeannie Berlin plays a slightly recessive sort of tomato, but one without guile. Celeste Holm’s hilarious set-to with a two-tone part (half hysteric, half woman of the world) is a great stagewarmer.

Douglas’s direction might seem cold and careless in largely static shots punctuated by a zoom. Yet rather it is the point of this almost Strindbergian chamber play to tell the most intricate and elaborately extended and wonderfully exhaustive joke about Spring and the antiquarian, with the cool wit of a James Joyce epiphanizing his fellow Dubliners.

The essence of it is the winnowing out of the bare crime from the mass of circumstantial evidence. Looked at more closely, Douglas’s direction is astonishingly devil-may-care in establishing some shots. Never will you see more continuity lapses in the reverse angles of a conversation. Why this should be is a mystery, but it leads to a surprise, the sudden flowering of the niece’s room in bright colors and modern art (amid the must). The very subtle play is on a Byzantine belt buckle mistaken for a dish of some sort, working its way back among the threads of dubious love affairs and rakish travel plans.