The Screaming Skull

The initial layout is Rebecca, streamlined as the husband’s gullwing Mercedes, plush as Ernest Gold’s score. This is given a sharply Freudian turn, the new bride hated her own mother, just such a woman as the late wife. Finally, the crude shocks inflicted on the heroine are a Gaslight trick.

The meaning is stated from a story by Henry James, “The Beast in the Jungle”, described as a tale of ambition unrealized.

Hitchcock’s old beachcomber is played by the director as a young gardener, an invert and almost a cretin. Charles Beaumont may have taken his inspiration for “The Jungle” (The Twilight Zone) from the novella mentioned in John Kneubuhl’s screenplay.


Then There Were Three

Stragglers in Italy, a lieutenant, a sergeant who hates ninety-day wonders, a GI who pushes back when he’s pushed around.

The fourth is a kraut stuck in to catch a partisan leader.

The ringer is likeable, easygoing, kills a Jew in the bunch to free a German prisoner, sleeps with an Italian collaborator ostracized by her family, kills an Ohioan who finds a couple of German-made batteries for the radio transmitter he’s carrying.

The three nail him with the partisan, his story is the Italian was trying to roll him after too much grappa, the Germans shoot him in his American uniform.

Filmed on location with an Italian crew and a droll, accurate manner of conveying realism.


The Night of the Legion of Death
The Wild Wild West

A pleasant-faced administrator runs the territory for his ruthless aide-de-camp, the drive for statehood is abandoned on the untimely death of its nominal leader.

The theme is characterized even more explicitly in “The Legend” (Mission: Impossible).