Vicious Circle
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

A criminal kingpin prone to eyewash and sunglasses ceaselessly grooms young men into his empire, they begin as assassins and end as victims.

The first job is to eliminate a slipshod colleague, slightly older, posh and very nervous. Next the girlfriend goes, a liability with the police, traded in for a new set of clothes from the boss.

Various capers and mistresses follow after a while, until a slip-up leaves the very nervous posh young man, who is slightly older now, the prey of just such a black-leather hooligan as himself not long since. Meanwhile, the kingpin tends the flowers in his vases.

This is the height of economy in the telling, brutishness is the forte of the scenario. George Macready is the suave and shady boss, Dick York the farm boy turned killer in tweed, Russell Johnson and Paul Lambert his predecessors.


A Little Sleep
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Henreid takes the fast script as a continuous line that begins with a careless heiress rising from the carpet at a record party to dance alone and ditch her date, through her jaunt to the mountains in a T-Bird convertible, ending in her murder at the hands of an idiot.

She’s a creature of easy intelligence and sharp taste. “I made him get out of the car,” she says of her suitor, “he bored me.” Which is just what the idiot’s girl said to him, before he “put her to sleep”.

The mountain diner is packed with men and their rifles, a search party. The counterman is the idiot’s brother, who hates a girl with “a fancy car and no brains”. He was keen on his brother’s late mistress as well, says the idiot, who remembers at first only killing her dog. His arm is bandaged from its bite.

The heiress in her late uncle’s cabin rides the wrong horse, figuring the idiot was framed. “It’s easy,” he says, moving toward an extreme and out-of-focus close-up in three-quarter view, “I’ll show you.”


Silent Witness
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

The three women in an English professor’s life are first his wife, who goes to the gym to keep up with his students, second the student he’s having an affair with, third a baby who cries at the sight of him. The student tries to blackmail him, the baby sees him strangle her. At 14 months, she’ll begin talking soon.

He contemplates the awful squelch, even slips over to the house one night when the baby’s on the back porch, “nice and cool”. Its crying sends him away. He sees the dead girl at his desk, holding an open book to receive an interpretation, no, it’s another student. “I don’t give special help,” he tells her.

In the first scene, he’s reading Richard III, “My conscience hath a thousand several tongues...” The girl wants to know if that’s Freudian. “I’m going to spend all this evening just on your course.”

He turns himself in to the police. The baby’s father comes home from the army in Germany, the baby cries at the sight of him, unused to men.


Enough Rope For Two
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Construction of images, bank job, Joe, Madge and Maxie. Joe hides the money, goes to San Quentin, Maxie takes Madge. 10-year sentence, Joe is released, all drive 100 miles into the Mojave Desert.

Joe buys a pistol en route, Maxie observes this and puts a knife in Madge’s purse. Joe shoots Maxie (a bullet punctures the water can) and climbs down a rope to the money buried in an open mine shaft. Madge pulls the money up and uses the knife to cut Joe’s rope, he falls and breaks a leg. Madge gets in the jeep, the key is not in the ignition, the rope is now too short. She walks away into the roasting desert.


Last Request
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

A sort of analytical variant, so that the point should not be lost, of Hamer’s Kind Hearts and Coronets, set in New York.

The truculent condemned man types a furious note to the newspaper detailing his crimes and the district attorney’s incompetence leading to the present case, in which he is innocent.

Hitchcock in and out of the tribal cooking pot (a beautiful intellectual takes his place).


The Diplomatic Corpse
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

The elderly English aunt wants to see Mexico, expires on the road to Tijuana, and when shipped back is found to be an elderly Mexican gentleman, deceased.

Such are the permutations of the story, bookended by Alfred and Omega Hitchcock.


Guest for Breakfast
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

“You know a lotta fancy words,” says the guest, “and whenever you say ‘em they come out dirty.” He has a pistol and has just killed his philandering wife and her lover, his host is a book publisher and a wag in the Addison DeWitt line, whose wife is a weeper. Husband and wife are by now hardened at the breakfast table. He has a mistress, an authoress.

The guest is tired, hungry and broke. He requires a hostage, the other must be killed. Husband and wife scramble for position. She’s good cover but can’t drive, he has money. It comes down to the husband barricaded in a bedroom, and the wife about to be murdered.

For reasons which he can’t explain, because he doesn’t understand them himself, the wag saves the weeper’s life, the guest is ejected into the arms of the law, and didn’t she push the fellow’s arm when he fired, so that her husband received only a minor injury? She can’t explain it, either.


Death Sentence
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

The scapegrace bachelor dies in the husband who sells real estate, though here the formulation is somewhat different, the murderous man about town goes to jail for life, the salesman is everywhere and nowhere, for the wife’s sake.

Hitchcock in a tub, it’s a “come-as-you-are party”.


The Impromptu Murder
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

A tale of World War I, from Cockrell out of Vickers.

The solicitor pre-empts his client from investing in her brother’s war manufactory, his own sister is a witness.

The murderer’s aversion to looking on the face of death catches him out.

Hitchcock and the Martian fashion models.


The Crooked Road
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

A small-town racket, admirably blown up in Aykroyd’s Nothing But Trouble, goes into the record.

Hitchcock quizzed and gassed by a sponsor reluctant but for popular demand.


A Personal Matter
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

A pure Hitchcockian exercise in the mutability of images.

This is a constant in the work, but there are Shakespearean prestidigitations as well.

The American engineer in Mexico to dig a tunnel gets help from an unexpected source, armed with a pistol.


Out There—Darkness
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

A well-off widow with a poodle she pays a man to walk. He asks for a small loan, she refuses.

When she’s mugged, he goes to jail, his girlfriend dies without that operation. He’s released after a year, the wrong man.

The widow gives him an envelope with cash, he strangles her.

Bette Davis does these honors, with perhaps a touch of Sylvia Sidney.

Hitchcock the elevator man between floors.


The Kind Waitress
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

The dowager announces a legacy to her. The relationship crumbles.

The waitress and her jazzbo boyfriend give her slow poison, their assiduous efforts to do her in keep her alive.

And then she has to be throttled.

Hitchcock at the Automat.


Hitch Hike
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

A very beautiful composition, fully realized by John McIntire in a sort of Brian Aherne makeup with perfect support from Suzanne Pleshette and Robert Morse as the juveniles (and Read Morgan as the cop).

A city councilman picks up his niece at Juvenile Hall, arrested for joyriding in a car stolen by a delinquent. The judge lets her go with a reprimand, her uncle now will take her out of “the finest finishing school in the West” and put her in a business office, though as her legal guardian he is bound by the terms of her father’s will to provide for her education, she points out.

He stops for cigarettes, a kid up the street has his thumb out. Back in the car, the lady in front backs into it and drives away, leaving the horn blaring. The kid fixes it and gets a grudging ride.

They stop at a diner, the kid’s a jailbird, reads Dylan Thomas, had a cellmate good with a knife. The councilman nervously tries to call the police, the kid interrupts.

Back on the road, now at night, the kid rails at the councilman for mistreating his niece, says he’d like to drive the fastest car on the track, touring the circuit, Rome, all that jazz. The councilman, strangely apprehensive, speeds up to attract a policeman. At 80mph, a motorcycle cop gives him a ticket. “He threatened me with a knife,” the councilman explains. The boy is searched, only a comb. He served three months on the honor farm for picking a man’s pocket out of hunger. It was his cellmate, he repeats, who used a knife.

The cop leaves, the councilman is frantic, he’ll be ruined, the judge is giving ten-day sentences to speeders, according to the cop. The kid hands him the ticket book, there’s a police station across the street if he has qualms. They drive away, the kid tears the ticket up and releases the bits out the window.


Letter of Credit
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

To introduce a new arrival in town, with a tale to tell that lacks an ending.

Helen Nielsen has the story, told in flashback with a good deal of economy, the rest as well.

Hitchcock in elected office, unwittingly.


Museum Piece
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

The virtue of a specimen in the collection, a specimen or two.

Hitchcock on the Pharaoh and his many wives.


You Can’t Trust A Man
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

A villainess does all she can to blot a man out from her life, and fails by his cleverness. She robs the till and claims a baby’s due, he takes the rap. She marries an oil man rich in years, and keeps a lover. She takes up singing in a nightclub. He’s paroled after seven years, visits her to taunt and ditch her. She kills him lest their marriage be known.

“Remember when I used to fool around with inventions in the basement?”, he asks her. “No invention can improve on nature,” meaning her.

Self-defense she pleads, the police find he was an ex-convict and dangerous. A load of work attends his death for someone, owing to the contract he has signed for an electronic invention, meaning a search for beneficiaries.

Superb direction by Henreid, opening with a woman in fur admiring her reflection while music plays in a swanky apartment. She takes off the fur, revealing a maid’s uniform, applause is heard, it’s a nightclub dressing room, the singer comes in.


Cop For A Day
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

The old hand never loads his gun for a robbery, he learned in the pen.

His green partner shoots him (the old hand has a police uniform on, to silence a witness).

Such elegance, tea for the sponsor, served by Hitchcock.


The Old Pro
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Killer for hire subdues a blackmailer and the killer for hire who replaced him upon retirement.

Ergo, he’s back in business.

Hitchcock the lifeguard who can’t swim.


Services Rendered
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

The murderer has amnesia and a thousand-dollar bill he can’t cash, like Twain’s million pound note.

The name of a doctor in his pocket leads him to the victim.

It all comes back to him, holding a scalpel.

Three jokes for the price of one (a workman drops a board on him to start the thing).

Hitchcock paints himself into a corner, adds a door.


The Kerry Blue
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

The beloved dog dies, the husband poisons his wife, who resented the bitch.

The dog’s alive, the husband dies in a fall while running to it. The wife recovers, she bought the dog as a surprise, to replace the other.

Hitchcock hosts a lucrative hidden-camera program.


What Frightened You, Fred?
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Recidivism in all its glory, the thrall of crime.

Hitchcock on “the problem of a convict at large in a dance school, and a hound who wants to learn the tango.”


Victim Four
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

The Butcher’s last, first and always.

An exceptional concision and abstraction carry the theme very far, perfectly rendered by Henreid on the backlot.

Frankenheimer picks up the coup in “Maniac at large” for Tales from the Crypt.

The Napoleonic saber and the old man almost suggest the circumstance of Marat/Sade, let analysis do its will.

“Run, tailors, run,” says Hitchcock by the cracker barrel, or nearly.


The Alfred Hitchcock Hour

An hour-length work, not the full-scale forms of a feature-length film, not the terse directness of a half-hour’s compression, but enough to reveal the character of the writing (by Robert Bloch from a novella by Patricia Highsmith) as an element of the composition.

The bare, impudent nudity of the Freudianism is partly the point, and a feature of style. This might be young Norman Bates and how he got that way, or rather a blueprint for Psycho.

Henreid’s direction is a rare usage of Method, objects serve the director’s turn in brief aperçus. A portrait photo in a frame is moved beside a table lamp whose base is a figure that might be a Buddha or a Bodhisattva, expressing itself as a better placement but also as a blessing. The wife takes a peek at the diamond pin she can’t accept, closing the case with a hint of appreciation, she’s human.

Most surprising of all, the boudoir prepared for her in advance with a monogrammed hand-mirror, wardrobe, etc., shows the basis of the work to be Rupert Julian’s The Phantom of the Opera.