Alfred Hitchcock Presents: The $2,000,000 Defense

Thanks to a brilliant legal mind, a man is acquitted of murdering his wife’s lover. As agreed in a moment of desperation, his lawyer receives a check for half the man’s fortune. The safety catch was on, the gun went off when knocked to the floor. A ballistics expert is made to try the experiment in court, and refuses. The lawyer wears his arm in a sling, says the same thing happened to him.

He shot himself to make the point, and provided a decoy to the private detective he himself suggested his jealous client hire in the first place, and who is still on the case, revealing the lawyer as the actual lover. He’s killed with his duplicate gun, check in hand.


Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Safety For The Witness

The dangers involved in police laxity with witnesses imperiled by their testimony are dramatically conveyed.

“A Big City, 1927”.


Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Six People, No Music

The proprietor of Poughkeepsie’s finest department store rises from his mortuary slab to pen the title, which is ignored by the funeral director.

Hitchcock on a wall in the Royal Wedding suite.


Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Your Witness

A shyster destroys a witness on the stand, the shyster’s wife has had the limit of infidelity and courtroom iniquity, she kills her husband and there is only the legally discredited witness to give evidence.

Hitchcock in wig and legal gown goes to the beauty salon.


Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Human Interest Story

Reporter takes the job of gingerly interviewing a bar patron who claims to have just arrived from Mars and taken over an Earthling’s body.

In fact, he’s the last of them.

Profoundly directed by Lloyd in constant rhythms.


Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Special Delivery

Amid a brief flurry of interest caused by “Asperger’s Syndrome”, a witty fellow advertised he had “Assburger’s Syndrome”, bidding his readers, “go ahead, take a bite.”

Thus Ray Bradbury’s teleplay.


Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Man From The South

A young gambler and a girl down on their luck meet in a Las Vegas casino one morning, he lights her cigarette, another man leans over the table for a light and quickly proposes a wager on the lighter, his convertible against the gambler’s left little finger it won’t light ten times in succession.

“It’s like I’ve read, the young generation goes soft, the starch is leaving the spine.” A man in a cowboy hat acts as referee. The hand is tied down, a meat cleaver is raised, the lighter is lit. Nearly there, a woman rushes in. “Carlos! Why?”

He’s tried this trick before, the car is hers. Dozens of fingers were lost, nearly a dozen cars, on their island home. He has nothing now, all that’s his is hers the hard way, only a thumb and little finger on her left hand bear witness.


Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Very Moral Theft

Robin Hood, revised version, Hitchcock poring over it.

“The racket” uses a building supply firm as a front, circumstances get a man killed for trifling with it, rich circumstances that include an ex-con running a lumber yard, a spinster living at home with her brother, who’s getting married and always balks her choices, and the lumber yard is failing, and she works at a realty office, and so forth.


Alfred Hitchcock Presents: The Contest For Aaron Gold

Supremacy of the work against vicissitudes of tradition and school and marketplace, the witness of reality.

A tale of summer camp ceramics class, Hitchcock a notable graduate.


Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Incident in a Small Jail

A traveling salesman is ticketed for jaywalking, offers money and is arrested for attempted bribery. A murder suspect is placed in the next cell, pistol-whipped after fleeing officers and resisting arrest. A lynch mob forms, the murder is the worst ever seen in this small town, a girl killed with a knife.

The suspect, wearing overalls, knocks out the sheriff, trades clothes with the salesman and escapes. The mob beat their prisoner and drag him out.

He’s rescued, and drives away next day, stopping to take a knife from his suitcase before picking up a pretty girl on the road.


Alfred Hitchcock Presents: I Spy

Val Guest’s Up the Creek is a remotely similar Cold War analysis, soldierly heroism is out of date, a different kind of courage is called for, hence this seaside romance in the midst of legal battles.

A comic masterpiece, beautifully filmed at Brighton.

Hitchcock the waiter with a prix fixe menu.


Alfred Hitchcock Presents: The Faith of Aaron Menefee

The healer’s daughter and the auto mechanic with an ulcer, the hokey healer and the crippled criminal.

A marriage made in heaven.


The Alfred Hitchcock Hour: Final Vow

A novice in the nunnery travels to the city with an elder sister to receive a donation from a successful criminal (cf. Banacek: No Sign of the Cross) long prayed for since his days at the convent school by Sister Lydia, now taken to her bed. “This will be better than medicine for her,” says the elder sister of the Donatello bronze St. Francis, which fits into a trumpet case.

It’s pilfered at the train station in the manner of Peckinpah’s The Getaway. Sister Pamela, the novice, doubts her calling after this, and goes to get it back.

Lloyd deals out two surprises, a slow zoom into the mirror on Pamela in mufti, and a handheld camera upon her success.


The Alfred Hitchcock Hour: The Jar

A furious spoof of critics and admirers all alike. They stare at the object essentially theorizing what it is. “The boogie man,” says a little girl. Granny has a Sandburgian phrase for it, it’s got everything. Jahdoo sees “a piece of the heart of all life.” Juke remembers a dead kitten, drowned on the porch.

Thedy and her lover ferret out the secret, it’s a showman’s trick bought with the produce money. Her husband, the very proud purchaser, makes her the star attraction.

Hitchcock in a bottle (the ship analogy) leaves at the outset no doubt what is intended, adding afterwards it’s a question of television.


The Alfred Hitchcock Hour: The Life Work of Juan Diaz

It takes place after his death when he becomes a tourist attraction. He was a farmer and failed, a sickly factory worker, and last a seller of sugar skulls for the Day of the Dead. but he died and was buried in a rented grave his wife couldn’t keep up, so the cemetery keeper dug him out and hung his body with the rest of the “mummies” in the catacombs, admission 1 peso. His wife and his son break in and take him home, swearing by the Virgin it is “a life-sized toy of papier-mâché,” call the house The Juan Diaz Museum and charge 10 centavos.

The exceptionally rich teleplay by Ray Bradbury from his story magnifies the details extensively and straightens the arrangement of events so that Juan Diaz has a colloquy with a coffinmaker at the opening, each repulsed by the other’s trade but parting on friendly terms.

The cemetery keeper is such a role for Frank Silvera as he can appreciate at its full value and deliver in full measure, a cagey mixture of canny and uncanny, drunkenly berating his “chaff” and asking, “do you love me?” A lover of tacit obedience is the “landlord of the dead”, with a great sense of his realm as distinct from the living.

“Do you forgive me, Juan,” asks Pina Pellicer as the wife, “do you forgive me for bringing you here?” His dying prayer on the saints was that he might be with his wife and children in death and feed them with his right hand. The shriveled likeness of Alejandro Rey as Juan undergoes a metamorphosis, the open, dull eyes light up.

Valentin de Vargas is the chief of police, the wife’s brother, a man respectful of prerogatives that are not in his domain but who hears the case of theft presented like a Solomon, Juan belongs to God and his wife, in that order, if the cemetery keeper loves him he can pay the rent on the grave, were this toy Juan Diaz.

The opposing walls of the narrow catacombs lined with dessicated bodies fleetingly suggest an idea in Franju’s Les Yeux sans visage (and the original of this figure is in Psycho). Old Gringo avails itself of the image in Gregory Peck’s impersonation of Ambrose Bierce in Mexico.


Columbo: Lady in Waiting

The scene is a mansion. The sister (Susan Clark) is sitting up in bed with a box of chocolates and a revolver. She imagines the murder she’s about to commit, and Lloyd springs the standard technique of wavy dissolves and eerie music in a sustained piece of concentration that succeeds in conveying precisely the effect intended, down to the echoing last word.

Clark’s performance pivots on her cultivated accent. Before the murder she’s a gelid introvert, and afterward a megalomaniac. Countering this is Leslie Nielsen as a remarkably sane fiancé. Jessie Royce Landis and Richard Anderson give telling support.

Lt. Columbo has his hands full with a basket case of a murderess. Psychologically, this is a great study of the worm turned world-beater, and the other point is the various states of mind represented in shocking treatments by Lloyd.


Awake and Sing!

The structural dynamics are a very precise interfacing of the lingo, which Clifford Odets speaks, and the absolute structure of the play. They are so organized as to flex instantly like a finely-trained dancer into expressive attitudes, which in this play means tragic moments, with no time to lose. Whether or not the introduction of a WWI veteran into this 1935 Bronx milieu is the thunderstroke one takes it for, from a comic point of view, it gives Odets the jizz to fizz the thing over. Things go wrong, he says, but that’s just an attitude, a comical one.

About this production, taped in 1972, there is only the cast list to mention, Walter Matthau, Leo Fuchs, Felicia Farr, Ron Rifkin, Milton Selzer and Martin Ritt, and of course Norman Lloyd directing.