Alfred Hitchcock Presents

An actress is married to an agent, she has a new lover and wants a change of management. She frames her accompanist, who’s arranging songs for her new show.

The patsy or decoy is slugged from behind in the agent’s office, not before the agent names his killer to the party on the other end of the line. The accompanist wakes up with the gun in his hand, picks up the phone and hears music playing. A sheet of paper gives him two names.

One is a Japanese dancer performing with her troupe. She’s in kimono and white stage makeup, and is first seen wearing a ferocious mask. She and her husband argue in Japanese, no, she didn’t call her agent that evening.

The second is a disk jockey. He’s in the booth wrapping up his show. A throng of autograph hounds are waiting. He was going to call his agent the following day, but he hums the tune. “It’s an old song, man.”

Lt. Brandt is waiting at the actress’s apartment. He takes the decoy in, hears his story and dares him to repeat it.

The decoy returns to her apartment, finds the record on the turntable. The killer in a back room is brought out to make it look like a suicide. Lt. Brandt and his men enter.


I Am Not Alone
Telephone Time

The Polish government operating underground during the war is summoned to Moscow for a feast, imprisoned, starved, brutalized, obliged to confess, tried as Nazi agents and convicted, all except one.

His faith sustains him during the ordeal, and his son whom the Soviets also want, and the women of his family in Ravensbrück, but so many Poles have died he cannot confess to the falsehood, they release him.

An amazing performance by Victor Jory, with Adam Williams as his military interrogator.

From a first-person account of brainwashing.


The Rack

Zinnemann’s Act of Violence given a polished rendering as a court-martial for the traitor, a complete analysis in the courtroom.

Silver Star with a cluster, son of a bird colonel.

The decisive evidence is one of those “autobiographies” like a mockery of analysis so useful to Communist brainwashing technicians.

His younger brother never knew what hit him over there, they say, and that was the limit of loneliness reached. The charge is made at a movie screening.

“Before the court determines the sentence”, Laven’s film ends.

Bosley Crowther of the New York Times, “dramatically thin.” Leonard Maltin, “slick production”. TV Guide, “haphazard.” Halliwell’s Film Guide, “dullish”.

Cf. Bernard VorhausResisting Enemy Interrogation.


Anna Lucasta

A rigorous analysis of whoredom and exile, moral squeamishness and surcease from sin.

“Come home, Sal,” Rex Ingram almost says (Pinter’s The Room is another angle, of course).

Bosley Crowther of the New York Times was just the one who would say, “incredibly artless”, the very one.

“Lurid” (Catholic News Service Media Review Office).



A parley with the Apaches, from John Ford’s film.

The title character’s “unfinished business”, wrestling a wild horse to the ground with his bare hands and roping it, from John Huston’s The Misfits.

That, precisely, defines the position at the outset. Laven has a singular great feeling for the Indian in his land, the white man is perceptively seen, following on Aldrich’s Apache. Joseph Sargent remembers the ride along the river in Abraham. Laven’s film “combines both legend and fact”.

A war to justify the Apache’s existence before “the people of the United States”.

Critics express themselves of the view that too much nobility or savagery is shown, Variety nevertheless praising Connors (“a decided lift”), when it is the precision of the dilemma that is the main concern. TV Guide “cannot forgive the upbeat ending.”

A wife from the reservation, meat and Revised U.S. Army Regulations 1880, “said rider to reader...”

Halliwell’s Film Guide, “moderate western”.

A dogged pursuit. “You see, the captain has plans for being rich and obscure.”

The complicated and difficult scene in town is a decided step toward Penn (Bonnie and Clyde) and Peckinpah (The Getaway), who remembers General Crook at table in Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid.

Why, in sum, when men leap from the sky to fight the foe on his own land they shout a name.

Geronimo’s wound is perhaps adduced from The Capture (dir. John Sturges). The ferocity of the fighting on the Apaches’ hill suggests Huston’s The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

Ford repays the compliment in Cheyenne Autumn.


Return of Verge Likens
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour

A small town in West Virginia is the scene of a Biblical tale (Leviticus 24 is cited), a version of David and Bathsheba, or possibly The Murder of Gonzago.

Riley McGrath is a very important man, has his office in the McGrath Building, comes back from a political rally in Charleston to be harangued by a farmer whose peach orchard he covets, McGrath has a law up to put a road through those “hundred acres in the bottom”, he shoots the farmer dead on the spot and swallows heart pills while he’s questioned, the sheriff calls it “justifiable homicide”.

The farmer’s son plans to kill him, studies his movements for a month. “It’s not enough to shoot him down like a quail,” McGrath has to know his name.

A bribe to the younger brother, hastily administered in the office before the arrival of a judge by appointment, sends Verge to Charleston. He comes back a barber, terrorizes McGrath at his daily shave (he’s on the way to the Boys’ Club to make a speech about flora and fauna of the region), who dies without “a scratch on him.”


The Glory Guys

Cannon fodder, the stuff of a general’s fame, Peckinpah’s screenplay outfits the “forlorn hope” of Ford’s Fort Apache against the Sioux in what is understood to be a friendly quarrel over a certain lady, a lover’s quarrel, as Robert Frost would say.

James Wong Howe cinematography.

When I was a chicken as big as a hen,

I hit me own mother an’ hit her again!

The influence of Boetticher’s Seminole is discernible in the structure. “Throw him in the garbage pit.” The “wheel” completes the picture.

Ford’s idea of contraries meeting to repel a common foe is signal. “Captain, I think it’s time us pilgrims visited the mission.”

“Best apple pie in all the civilized world!”

Laven’s great work leads to a false cadence at the D Company review, accompanied by Ortolani’s theme, deflated by Peckinpah’s dialogue, a pure grasp of Ford’s technique, and then there is the Officers’ Ball, which ends with the lady and a lamp.

Also from Ford, the studied effect of a trooper falling off his mount at the river crossing. The battle when it comes is fatal and decisive, completing the analysis.

Variety, “entertaining... slightly forced plot”. Time Out, “fatalistic... diverting... hardly a masterpiece.” Hal Erickson (Rovi),” competent but perfunctory”. Halliwell’s Film Guide, “standard big-budget western.”


Rough Night in Jericho

Where majority rule means 51% ownership of everything by one Flood, with summary hangings and dynamite for anyone contrariwise.

A classic Western in widescreen and color.

Critics (Bosley Crowther, Roger Ebert, Leslie Halliwell, Tom Milne) saw no merit in it.



Sam Whiskey

No particular emphasis need be laid on the redoubtable names who have called Poe a poetaster because they didn’t get his jokes, such as “The Raven”. Nor, thirty-five years after its premiere, need we stand on ceremony with Laven’s similar masterpiece Sam Whiskey, which ought to have a reputation in France but may have left the French behind as well.

The elements are simple, it’s a hard tale of conversion. “A touching figure” (Peter Lorre’s description of Gina Lollobrigida in John Huston’s great Beat the Devil) is what the widow Angie Dickinson presents to these opportunists. She wants them to put her late husband’s gold back in the bank he stole it from, there you have it.

Laven goes to the trouble of filming a conversation between Dickinson and Reynolds by borrowing a leaf from Lewis Milestone with a close-up of a squirrel in a tree above the couple, craning down along the trunk to a down angle on them, then tilting up slightly to a munching rabbit just behind them, which raises its head to look at the camera for a time and returns to its luncheon as the shot dissolves.

There is a gilded bust of Washington in the branch of the U.S. Mint where the gold is to be returned. Reynolds contrives to break its nose, take it away and bring it back repaired, or rather recast in solid gold. That is the setup to the robbery in reverse. Reynolds and his fellows have to hoist the George up and up, melt it down and recast it as ingots. Ossie Davis stares rapturously as the bust sinks in its crucible. Reynolds has a hard time remembering the combination of the vault.

And to begin with, the gold is under water and has to be fetched up. They knew what they were doing when they made this film, and so did Burt Kennedy when he paid homage to it with The Train Robbers.

The original inspiration may have been Norman Borisoff’s “To Florence, with Love” (dir. Robert Butler for I Spy).