Change of Address
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour

An ideally stern little joke is counterbalanced by the beauty and strangeness of Friedkin’s ideal direction. The middle-aged husband and wife take a Malibu beach house she hates unreasonably. He takes a young mistress among the go-go set, kills his wife and buries her in the basement.

The Sheriff’s Department sends out a sergeant to investigate the wife’s claim that the previous owner buried his wife in the basement. After all, there’s no change of address at the post office for her, they divorced and he still gets her mail.

Friedkin, working with Kennedy and Thaxter from his own teleplay co-written by Morton Fine (out of Andrew Benedict’s short story), takes economical views that tell the tale of the mortgage-burning party that burned the place down amid “sand, rocks and sea... the edge of the world.”

The punchline is directed at the notion that historical precedents of floy-floy and Charleston had the grace of innocence about them.


The McGregor Affair
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour

Burke & Hare, Dr. Knox and “a burdened man” who carries corpses to the Medical Museum as “tanbark” for “a little thing” in the form of a gratuity and small wages, that keep his wife in drink until she snores. By and by he resolves to do away with her. The resurrectionists accept the noisy gift outside their door, the heavy load is borne by McGregor, this time without a tip.

Now he has a drop to drink and a bed to loll in, but now the poor man misses his Aggie in a terrible way. His loose lips threaten the enterprise, so that when Dr. Knox opens the latest shipment, his students remark, “he that carried the box is now in the box.”

Elsa Lanchester in a classic foreshortened posture from the foot of the bed achieves an astonishing resemblance to Dylan Thomas in her penultimate scene. Andrew Duggan as McGregor, John Hoyt as Dr. Knox, an adumbration of Jean-Pierre Cassel in Losey’s La Truite ( est Lou?”), and a bit of Robert Burns,

As father Adam first was fool’d,
A case that’s still too common,
Here lies a man a woman rul’d:
The Devil ruled the woman.


Crimson Witness
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour

It was William Friedkin who directed Pinter’s The Birthday Party, here David Friedkin has something related to The Tea Party. An executive at Baldwin Mills, Inc. finds his secretary and mistress suddenly disenchanted, his wife leaves him for his brother, and Mr. Baldwin explains a “great leap forward” by the company needs this same brother as plant manager replacing the executive demoted to the pool of cost estimators, who share a secretary.

It will be noted that Mr. Baldwin’s secretary is Chinese. The subsequent murder of the usurper is solved by the police when a petal from the former executive’s boutonniere, a rose, is found at the scene of the crime.

The extent of the analysis reveals a superficial fascination exerted by the brother over women and Mr. Baldwin, which vanishes upon his death. The executive, in a performance beyond masterly by Peter Lawford (amid a cast of great actors sharply directed), is by contrast merely “nice”.


Thou Still Unravished Bride
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour

The strangeness is partly attributable to an evocation of the English mind, but compare the very same effect at Malibu in “Change of Address”.

An American girl in London takes a walk on her wedding day. The bridegroom is with Scotland Yard, he and his partner retrace her steps, a strangler is after thirtyish women. “Lovely,” he calls her, “from within, she likes poetry, Keats, Shelley, Lord Byron, that sort of thing.”

Her first stop was at a chemist’s to buy some makeup. The chemist’s son followed her to a bookshop but didn’t speak to her, “that would have spoiled it.” The bookseller was prevailed upon to read a bit of Endymion to her, and the “Ode to a Grecian Urn”, which “stirred his old bones,” then she bought a privately-printed limited edition, there was something of the victim about her. He names the pub where she was going with her guidebook (along the way a chippie understood her to be a colleague). The strange young man she met at the pub is still there. “I hunt people,” he says, by talking to them so that he learns “what makes them cripples inside”. He shows the policemen where he threw her into the river.

The bridegroom goes to inform her parents, and finds her alive, all doubts resolved. His partner sees quite another girl brought out of the water.

These are the stages by which poetry is understood, off-putting, admirable, inspiring, maddening and finally comprehensible.


I Spy

Code name, “Frenchman, naturalized, been with us since World War II.”

Quemoy and Matsu.

The schooner Shanghai Belle, Hong Kong (Robinson in straight sets, Scott critical of his net game).

“One of the biggest foul-ups in the annals of espionage. The absolute biggest.” Peckinpah remembers the machine gun in The Wild Bunch, Ritchie in The Island.


Cross Your Heart and Hope to Die

An analysis of Hitchcock primarily centering on Rear Window, taking Norman Bates as the chiefest of sinners, equating the invalid with Marnie, and acquitting the murderess in Blackmail.

The sublime sequence that almost cracks a smile has the ailing mother stumble out of her bedroom, sweep aside her boy’s eavesdropping devices and open the chest supporting them, from which she removes a doctor’s bag expecting to find her medicine, but instead she pulls out a bloody glove and keels over (Rope).

Catatonia at the end suggests The Wrong Man.