A Cask of Amontillado

Last day of the war in Italy, a report of murder.

“Why the heck did ya let him? Whydncha poke ‘im one?”

“You Americans are so charming and so simple. I didn’t poke him one, my dear boy, because at his call came storm troopers, and torture chambers.”

Variation on a theme of Poe by Halsted Welles. Stevens’ conception of the live broadcast is correct, a very great actor (with Romney Brent the Count, an unbilled Countess and Frank Marth and Ray Walston GIs) sustains the role, Bela Lugosi as Gen. Fortunato, the stable boy who joined the Party early and “got in on the ground floor.”


Alfred Hitchcock Presents

You have only to compare this with Beyond a Reasonable Doubt to see the concurrence of Lang and Hitchcock as steady as ever, even when Hitchcock is only reading a script. An American student of Advanced Composition at the Sorbonne returns home to find his father dead under mysterious circumstances, all of which are cleared up when it is revealed he is an escaped mental patient who committed the crime himself accidentally, during an argument.

Stevens plays this for real acuity, dollying-in on the drama to catch the anguish and menace of its false premises, and pricking the balloon all of a sudden, without a pop.


The Cheney Vase
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

An elaborate exposition of Valéry’s pithy maxim, “the gods send you the first line of a poem, you have to write a second just as good.”


You Got To Have Luck
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

The farmer’s wife is deaf, she’s given away by the lifer putting words in her mouth on the phone, he’s apprehended coming out the door.

Handily staged, she’s Italian, her shopping list is hard to read.


The Older Sister
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Lizzie Borden hid the axe in a cabinet after the murders of her father and stepmother, her sister Emma killed them both and her own kitten in the basement as well. Stepmother was opposed to the daughters finding husbands.

A lady reporter from the Sacramento Record wants an interview with Lizzie after the acquittal. She claims to know Uncle Morse, a gold nugget provides the memory. The axe is discovered.

Poor mad Emma is packed safely off to Fairhaven, while her older sister sits down with her cat in the Fall River parlor.

A very grand composition by Robert C. Dennis out of Lillian de la Torre, rather like Strindberg.


Shopping For Death
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Ray Bradbury says that 92° is the temperature at which human hatred boils over, two retired insurance men observe this in the laboratory conditions of a New York tenement, with reference to King Vidor’s Street Scene.

Hitchcock sets the stage with squeak-making oil, hard to get off the fingers.


Portrait of Jocelyn
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

An astounding variant of Rebecca no less, that ends with manacles clapped on the murderer by a phony artist (Detective Inspector) and the lady’s brother.

“No Parking” says Hitchcock the dauber in French.


Never Again
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

An advertising executive is engaged to a typist who has gone on the wagon. In a fit of jealousy over his professional contact with a lady executive, she takes off on a bender. He finds her in a Manhattan bar, she cuts his throat with the shards of a broken brandy snifter.

This is told entirely from her point of view as she struggles to remember the events in a hospital bed. A nurse informs her that she has killed a man and is in a jail ward.

Phyllis Thaxter’s performance sounds the range of degradation and horror, from a starting-point of controlled easiness.


The Gentleman From America
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

He is quite mad after all, frighted with false fire.

The trick played upon him is World War II in an English manor house, dusty and debt-ridden. He loses a bet and his mind with the vision of a headless girl home from the Continent, courtesy of Washington Irving.

A wicked trick, but the baronet needs money.

And now the gentleman avenges her in manic attacks.


Alfred Hitchcock Presents

An incomparable satire of the rat race, although Baudelaire’s “La chambre double” comes close, executed in the manner of a film noir with music cues to match.

The boss works his staff in hard times on half-wages and a promise, then sells the company. The protagonist and his wife are strapped for cash, he goes to claim his back pay. This begins the nightmare.

His wife unseen is there before him, receiving money from the smiling maven, as the protagonist watches deferentially from a window. He slips inside to withdraw his $450 from the strongbox in the desk and is surprised by the gent, who dies in a scuffle.

At home, a fearful knock on the door is only the landlord showing the apartment to a man who turns up his nose at it. Another man outside the building isn’t on stakeout but has forgotten his key and is waiting for his wife at the bus stop. Another knock lets in an impetuous cop who actually is from the finance company, they scuffle and the protagonist is wounded.

He makes his getaway to the bus depot, where he and his wife are bound for Mexico (“you’re not going anywhere,” the finance company man had said, spying the suitcase), but the wound proves fatal. The wife’s purse full of cash reveals her earlier involvement to the protagonist, who dies with “rat race” on his lips.

There is a remarkable feint in the murder scene. First a letter opener is used on the strongbox, but it takes a fireplace poker to pry it open, and neither of these is the weapon, but the pistol in the boss’s hand.

This is a tour de force for Skip Homeier, in perfect style and perfectly supported by Joanne Woodward.


De Mortuis
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

This is rather like the Book of Job, in a way. Two chums arrive at Professor Rankin’s house to take him fishing, he’s down in the cellar mixing and pouring concrete, he doesn’t hear them. The chums discuss Mrs. Rankin, a bombshell wont to go off where she oughtn’t. One of the chums knows this by very personal experience, or nearly, the other witnessed a pickup at the diner in town.

Anyway, that’s how it looks to them. The prof makes a noise, they go downstairs and find him next to a newly-laid concrete patch. Mrs. Rankin is nowhere about, they quickly surmise the facts. Weighing the consequences, they offer an alibi to the prof, who has an experiment running in his cellar, three cages full of rats, one a control group, the second fearful, the third ferocious, as a result of “enzyme factors” in their food.

“What are you talking about?”, says the prof. They know all about Mrs. Rankin, he’s told, no wonder. He admits he married a much younger woman. The two go off fishing.

Mrs. Rankin arrives, having missed her train. The prof invites her downstairs to see the repair work he’s done on the seeping floor. It’ll have to be taken up and done over. She adjusts her makeup in the mirror and stands at the top of the cellar stairs, saying, “well, what is it?”

This is taken very fast in quick impressions all along, with two flashbacks. Two great actors (Henry Jones and Philip Coolidge) play the burbling chums, another (Robert Emhardt) crumbles and regroups as Professor Rankin, whose wife is more than the market will bear (Cara Williams).


None Are So Blind
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

The perfect æsthete commits the perfect murder except that what he overlooks any fool can see, a prima facie case.

Hurd Hatfield, Mildred Dunnock, K.T. Stevens the blonde, Rusty Lane the dick.

A virtuoso number, even more than “You Got To Have Luck”.


Alfred Hitchcock Presents

An astonishing cast “below the line” (Robert H. Harris, George Mathews, Mary Wickes, Ellen Corby) as Jessica Tandy enacts a direct prefigurement of Robert Rossen’s Lilith out of A Streetcar Named Desire, and Hitchcock plays Macbeth’s witches over a baby bottle.

Extremely well-directed by Stevens, all the artifice plays into his hands, Hitchcockian echoes abound.


John Brown’s Body
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Very much the same joke as in Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.

Hitchcock, man of avoirdupois.


The Manacled
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

A con man is on his way to San Quentin from Los Angeles in the custody of a detective sergeant from the sheriff’s office. The prisoner wears a forty-pound “Oregon boot” on one leg, and is handcuffed until the train compartment is reached.

A fortune is hidden on the train for the detective, a reader of Sports Cars magazine who has never driven one. The prisoner quotes Abraham Lincoln, “they have closed the heavy iron doors upon him; and now they have him, as it were, bolted in with a lock of a hundred keys...”

William Redfield is the jolly and cunning culprit, Gary Merrill the sober sergeant. It is proposed that the detective be shot with his own pistol during the escape, for verisimilitude. Nothing doing, but in earnest just before arrival the prisoner grabs the gun and fires. The bullet fells the detective, but also mangles the quaint key of the Oregon boot (“only three in L.A.”) beyond use.


Number Twenty-Two
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

A startlingly accurate picture of a city jail, so much so that bewilderment and dismay come to the characters as well. It’s all very mechanical and rote to the officers, but new to the criminal who is caught after a holdup. He smiles at the arresting officer, who tells the booking officer, “we thought it was a .38, but it was only a toy.” He’s led down a row of cells full of dejected or sleeping prisoners, a pacing pimp, etc. His cellmate is a surprisingly strong old drunk, who tells him the routine, when asked. They’re stood in a lineup, assigned numbers for this purpose, the old man is number twenty-one, the young man is number twenty-two. They’re put through their paces in the lineup, a self-possessed man quite pleased with his Navy .45, stolen from the service, the police observe, and what sort of discharge? “Dishonorable,” he admits. The old man quietly says he can’t remember smashing windows with trash cans to remove overcoats. The young man bashed the head of a candy store owner with his toy gun, the man has died, he didn’t mean it, he admits, no longer smiling.


The End of Indian Summer
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

An elaborate joke on fortune hunters in the insurance racket that depends entirely on the clever casting of James Gleason in a subsidiary part not identified in the opening credits.

Hitchcock fishing in a tub.


One for the Road
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

The week is divided by Aristotelian injustice, four days with the wife and three with the mistress. At home, the former nurse he married guards his diet for him. In Lockton, he is “rather indulged”. One constant is his coffee, two spoons of sugar.

The quotidian regime unravels, the fortitude of his wife astonishes him, phlegmatic as he is. “We’ll work this out together,” she says.

Into the mistress’s sugar bowl goes poison, during the interim. But he breaks his routine to see her one last time. A knock at the door, he hides, the wife confesses her crime. “Too late,” says the mistress, and won’t join in the search. She bids him have one more cup for the road.

An elegant miniature superbly filmed by Stevens, later greatly expanded for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour as “Three Wives Too Many”.


The Dangerous People
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

In the waiting room of a rural train depot, two men suspect each other of being the escapee from the Institute for the Criminally Insane currently sought by police. The alarm, a succession of high-pitched rising tones, is heard intermittently throughout.

It very nearly comes to murder as an express train roars past, but a policeman walks in at just that juncture. They haven’t caught him, they never will, he explains, not after killing a policeman and stealing his uniform. That siren only upsets the patients, etc.

A fight is ended by white-coated attendants who subdue the escapee. The two travelers, one with a revolver and the other with a poker from the coal stove, express their relief.

Albert Salmi and Robert H. Harris have this well in hand as a major study guarded by Stevens for full dangerous impact and comic finish.


The Glass Eye
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

The Great Collodi and His Amazing Dummy George win the admiration of a spinster who withdraws her savings and quits her secretarial post to follow their every performance. Her letters persuade the reclusive star to grant her a private meeting at length. She gussies herself up to match as closely as possible the old photograph she sent, and is admitted to his darkened rooms at Blackpool, where he and his dummy are seated at a table. His eyes are sensitive, he thanks her, she reaches forward to touch his arm and he falls sideways onto the floor. She takes Max Collodi’s head in her hands, it comes off at the neck, a glass eye falls out. George leaps onto the table and orders her out with an imperious arm, then removes the mask around his own head, an average-looking man of diminished stature, manipulating a tall deep-voiced Englishman .

The tale is told after her death by a young relative, who holds the treasured eye in its case as he speaks. George was last seen with “a small traveling circus somewhere in the provinces,” no longer a ventriloquist but sporting an eyepatch.


Heart of Gold
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

A terrible drama of rehabilitation and murder about a young parolee who visits a fellow inmate’s family upon release and is invited to stay.

Only a witless driver in the bank holdup, but the money hasn’t been recovered.

Hitchcock in the hobbyist’s workshop, therapy for felons.


The Motive
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

A variant of Rope in which an arbitrary crime is seized upon to test a hobbyist’s theory correlating motiveless and unsolved murders, even after a friend points out the logical fallacy. They loved the same girl, who married the hobbyist (he goes “overboard” in everything, says his friend) and left him for still another man.

The two friends are carousing in a hotel room with a beautiful girl, they go downstairs and, less drunk than the hobbyist, his friend selects a phone book, “New York? Los Angeles? Chicago, I never did like Chicago.” He closes his eyes and picks a name. Next day, he can’t remember. The hobbyist goes to Chicago and calls the hotel desk for a map. But the whole venture has been laid out by his friend, the victim is married to the hobbyist’s ex-wife, she names him to the police as the suspect with an obvious motive.

The hobbyist’s ploy is a TV survey on “emotional factors”, a questionnaire. “Have you ever cried since you were a grown man?” Back at home, increments are added to the hobbyist’s chart of murder statistics.


Miss Bracegirdle Does Her Duty
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

London to “Paris 1907”.

A spinster in her forties (her fiancé finally departed for Africa, she would have waited), “sister to the dean of Easingstoke”, goes to fetch her sister at Bordeaux, recently returned ill from Paraguay.

A mishap at a Paris hotel locks her in a room with the late M. Boieldieu, who cut up a girl and dumped her body in two barrels into the river.

A waiter finds her stocking and gives her a wink.

Hitchcock describes a studio revolution.


The Foghorn
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Miss Clay meets Mister Bliss.

Hitchcock in a new blue Sioux canoe for two.


The Canary Sedan
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

A nice presentiment or forecast of Asquith’s The Yellow Rolls-Royce, set in Hong Kong as it happens, on the theme of feminine intuition.

Hitchcock cleanses the picture tube of perception, a Méliès genie appears.


Man With A Problem
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Out on the ledge of the seventeenth floor, a hotel guest is cajoled by a policeman who doesn’t know the jumper is the husband of the brave and kindly cop’s late mistress, a suicide for love. The panoply of a jumping scene gathers about the event, bets are laid, boys chant, photographers parlay a trajectory, TV needs time to set up, the hotel manager frets, the policeman’s lieutenant deprecates an obvious desire for promotion, a psychiatrist evaluates the man as decided one way or another.

Flashbacks tell the sad tale of the couple broken up by a married man with a predictable line foretold by the husband and verified in the wife’s suicide note. The husband checks in under a pseudonym.

A harness is lowered, the policeman helps the man into it and is pushed over the side with a word in his ear.


Tea Time
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Wife and mistress settle each other’s hash over tea in a restaurant, and then Scotch.

It’s a fiduciary thing. Wife kills moneygrubbing mistress, frames unloved husband, sees the real intended second wife leaving husband’s office, a delectable blonde.

Hitchcock at his most ineffable, demonstrating a hula hoop.


Don’t Interrupt
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

The price of silence is a silver dollar to a talkative boy in a cowboy outfit shooting fellow passengers as Injuns, ten minutes of silence in the club car of a stalled train in a New Mexico blizzard.

It starts again, leaving behind a harmless mental patient wandering in the cold unable to make himself heard but seen by the boy.

Chill Wills provides the entertainment. The boy receives his Liberty head dollar and drops it on the floor of the club car, where a waiter puts his foot on it. “What’s a dollar to a boy like that?”

Hitchcock is tied to tracks, snow falls, he trisects a train.


Design For Loving
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Cold husbands get mechanical replacements.

Ray Bradbury’s “Marionettes, Inc.”, teleplay by himself.

Hitchcock, “Made In England”.


I’ll Take Care Of You
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

The used car dealer can’t make the payments on a country club life, so he kills the free-spending wife, then there’s an accomplice to take care of, then the accomplice’s wife.

Honest Alfred’s Cold War Surplus Store.


The Waxwork
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

A Yank in London loses at cards and writes a bad check and faces prosecution and spends the night in the Murderers’ Den of Marriner’s Waxworks, to write a story that will pay.

NUNC POTES ALTIOR QUAM ILLAM, on the side of a medieval rack, is translated by Hitchcock as raising your stature past hers.

The story is laid specifically in 1954.


The Impossible Dream
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Marrying a movie star, who murders the mother of one such luckless girl, now deceased, and is blackmailed in turn by his long-suffering personal assistant.

An off-camera look at the studio. Hitchcock has one with a shotgun attached (from Foreign Correspondent), to illustrate Cocteau’s “death at work”.


Where Is Everybody?
The Twilight Zone

To inaugurate The Twilight Zone, Serling takes Whitman as the archetype of isolation invoking futurity. The metaphor is a day beginning, “as I have walk’d in Alabama my morning walk”, a line especially noted by his translator Borges. The café, the town, all are empty and silent but for the jukebox and the steaming coffee pot, the clock he breaks, the church bell, the female mannequin and the operator’s recorded voice, the lighted cigar, the shaving gear and running faucet, the movie theater showing Battle Hymn (dir. Douglas Sirk), the bike he stumbles over at night.

Looking at his own reflection, he vaguely remembers the face but not the name, and recites in extenso Ebenezer Scrooge on visions arising from dinner last night. He sees numerous copies of a book, The Last Man on Earth. All this is appurtenance of the past. What is envisioned has not been.

And so, this is the companion piece to “I Sing the Body Electric”, Bradbury’s consideration of Whitman as he comes to us.

The structure of Serling’s teleplay is set up as “a simulated trip to the moon”. The subject is carried off on a stretcher, adjuring the moon not to go away, “next time it’ll be for real.”

Stevens repeats a shot from The Magnificent Ambersons as the camera tracks along shop windows curiously reflecting not the town’s progress (as in Welles’ film) but the hills beyond, and pays homage to the cinematographer, Stanley Cortez, on a signboard in the background of the mannequin/phone booth sequence.


Appointment at Eleven
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

A very important sketch or working study for Marnie, executed by Stevens from a teleplay wrought by Hunter, an exercise in suspense and surprise.

The blue-eyed blonde like father’s mistress in the bar is outlined in reverse shots by the lights of the jukebox like a Madonna in a mandorla, the sailor who smokes cigars like father takes the kid to the penny arcade and gets his own picture took in a photo booth (the kid’s reflected in profile, watching).

The nice fellow at a table in the next bar is Irish like father, who played the piano in such places but isn’t the man there tonight, a man who deserves death for his crimes.


Walking Distance
The Twilight Zone

The Vice-President in Charge of Media returns home, the soda fountain is littered with rock ‘n rollers, it’s an idle fancy, he remembers falling off a merry-go-round years before, his game leg reminds him.

The merry-go-round is gone, he sees it and the town as they were, sees himself as a boy, converses with his father. You can’t go back, he’s counseled, only forward.

Bernard Herrmann has the score, Serling remembers the theme precisely for “They’re Tearing Down Tim Riley’s Bar” (dir. Don Taylor) in the Night Gallery, where the Vice-President’s “laughing ghosts” appear on film, as here “memory has become reality”.

Stevens directs this with astonishing sensitivity and brilliance, with the camera initiating the return of the ad man (Gig Young) by dollying into the mirrored front of a cigarette machine and then dollying out from the mirror behind the soda fountain, each time filling the screen. This may have been written by Serling, but the Wellesian crane-shot from the counter across the store up the stairs to the storeroom and Mr. Wilson is an easy marvel.


Specialty Of The House
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

A private dining club of forty members, “the only club of its kind in the world”. A habitué has two dreams, to become a life member and to see the kitchen where the “miracles” take place. He takes his junior executive to dinner.

The specialty of the house is lamb prepared according to an African recipe, and is seldom served though the membership crave it. One night, not long after the departure of a new life member, the two men sample it. A photo of the man is on the wall of honor.

The habitué is called away to inspect his company’s foreign branches, his junior will fill in. His application for life membership has been “favorably received”, he has obtained a regular membership for his junior. The night of his departure, the specialty is not served. He complains, and is shown the kitchen. The junior arrives late, with a photo of the habitué for the wall.

The proprietress announces the specialty will be served next week.


The Greatest Monster Of Them All
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Cheapo Hollywood producer (Sam Jaffe) and director (Robert H. Harris) dub a cartoon voice onto their Dracula from the glory days, he strikes back.

And thus, John Gilbert is avenged.

A stunning satire of the “front office” and the machinations of the sound stage, all according to the legend, properly speaking.

Deep characterizations by Jaffe and Harris tossed off lightly, script by Robert Bloch, with William Redfield (writer) and Richard Hale (Dracula).

Hitchcock and his Hollywood harem.


I Thank a Fool

The structure must be stated as a joke, in two parts that correspond to a colonial mercy-killing Merseyside and an Irish suicide, or was it inadvertence and murder, and so forth. That basis applied and established, the main focus of the film is the Irish question.

Bosley Crowther of the New York Times found it all pash and blatherskite, of no meaning whatsoever in the wide sweet world except what Susan Hayward’s agent was maneuvering his poor helpless client into so innocently, so sweetly, and he thought John Mortimer wrote the screenplay. Halliwell, as he ever does, subscribes to the Times’ view of the matter.

The Cinemascope and Metrocolor have found their master, Stevens puts Athene Seyler in a Vermeer nook left and Hayward in front of a modern stove right, not even blinking. As a Shamley professional, he is not surprisingly familiar with the Hitchcock territory, this is a fair reach past many identifiable landmarks to a film more obscure than most, Under Capricorn, which is of course an altogether different hemisphere.


Good-Bye, George
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour

The movie star (Patricia Barry) is nominated for an Oscar, she is first seen in a gag also used on Perry Mason, Bernie Kopell is directing her in a scene from her latest picture, she’s a nun at prayer.

Her husband (Stubby Kaye) turns up, not killed in that bank robbery but fresh from prison. What he wants depends on the Oscar.

She gets it, he demands half her community property in a divorce. They used to work a carny act, she shimmied and he shook. They wrestle, she breaks his pate with a Golden Globe.

Her personal manager (Robert Culp) hangs him up in the closet and proposes to her at the press reception. They’re married in Mexico, take a detour at La Rumorosa to throw off pursuers, and head to his lodge north of Calexico.

A surprise party catches them unawares, a photo appears on the front page of the newspapers showing the startled couple side by side, the husband is lugging a body.

“You’ll make a beautiful widow,” he had said, “I’m not even sure you need the lipstick.”

The murder keeps her upstairs at the reception, a photographer complains, “great party, what are we supposed to do, take pictures of each other?”

“I owe you my life,” she says in the car, “I owe you everything.”

“We’re sort of allergic to dead bodies around here,” says a Highway Patrolman who stops them for speeding.


The Magic Shop
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour

Jesus among the doctors, illustrated in a tale of our time that, as a precursor of Bergman’s Fanny and Alexander, is all the more remarkable since it unequivocally takes the position (also in Robbins’ Dragonslayer) of witchcraft for a spiritual agency in a spiritless age, or a bastion of knowledge.

The magic shop on Arkwright Street is a travel agency to the eyes of all but certain children. The boy is taken there on his birthday in a new black leather jacket and disappears in a revolving cabinet operated by the proprietor, after first learning how to stick pins in a stern cop doll.

A police search finds nothing, the parents feel their world has ended, the boy reappears at home imbued with powers. He makes a neighbor’s gift of roses wither in the bowl, bursts the balloons of children playing next door.

His new dog, bought as the therapeutic suggestion of a child psychologist, receives from the boy the same name as the proprietor, whose apothecary ancestor was indicted by Cotton Mather, there on Arkwright Street.

The neighbor’s home bursts into flames, killing him, after he’s attacked by the dog and reduces it to bits with a garden hoe.

Rebuked by his parents, the boy plays with a knife on a photograph of his father, whose cheek sheds blood. Thereafter “parents without power, in fear of their child”, they live “in the hollow of his hand”.


The Ordeal of Mrs. Snow
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour

The punchline comes at the very end of the ordeal. Mrs. Snow’s niece has not yet come into her fortune, but marries anyway. The bridegroom has a horse-racing debt, which Mrs. Snow pays. Further debts meet with her disapproval. The nephew-in-law forges checks in her name, and when caught, locks her in the safe. An overhead shot of Mrs. Snow and one of her two Siamese cats is from Griffith’s Broken Blossoms.

Husband and wife visit friends on Long Island, Mrs. Snow tears out the husband’s name from pieces of paper, letter by letter. The wife becomes suspicious, then finds out about the forgeries. They return to Manhattan, she opens the safe (which disturbs the arrangement of letters on the floor) to find Mrs. Snow unconscious. Fresh air revives the woman, who says, “food.” Both women are lying on a Persian carpet in the large walk-in safe, the husband is smoking a cigarette in the office. “Not for me,” says Mrs. Snow looking balefully at him, “for the cats.”


Consider Her Ways
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour

The two instruments whereby a nightmare future is introduced are Somatrin, a narcotic synthesized from the leaves of a Venezuelan tree, and Mixomatosis, a virus developed to control brown rats.

Dr. Waterleigh, a widowed M.D. at loose ends, volunteers to try Somatrin in an experiment. It gives her a vision of an antlike feminist utopia without men, where Doctors oversee breeding Mothers tended by Servitors and maintained by Workers.

Mixomatosis is the cause, after mutating in the wild and killing every last man on Earth. Its inventor is found to be an actual scientist working on just such a project and the author of “New Aspects of Virology in Pest Control”.

She kills him to save mankind, and bravely faces trial, but his son resumes the work.

A formidably detailed and involved script that begins in media res during the hallucination floats effortlessly by on Stevens’ eerie direction, which removes all elements of human sympathy in a mounting terror. An aged lady historian recounts the end of the opposite sex, who owned women as “pets and parasites” in “a heartless exploitation of the weaker-willed minority.”

“Man was only a means to an end, we needed him to have babies.” World War II was “typical of the male in all his glory”. This is all instantly recognized by Dr. Waterleigh as the stuff of Hitler and Stalin, but in her vision she is grotesquely fat Mother Orchis, threatened with arrest for “reactionism”. Her memories are “alien and hostile to our society.” She wakes on the verge of drug-induced amnesia saying, “I have a terrible feeling that it really happened. Or that it will happen some day.”

The title is quoted by the historian from a book now banned, “go to the ant, thou sluggard, consider her ways.”


The Monkey’s Paw—A Retelling
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour

It grants three wishes, the last for death. The opening scene is a Fellini house party among the rich “down in the islands”, entertained by Spanish gypsies. The insulted seer takes it from around her neck and gives it to a saucy guest for a curse. It’s retrieved from the fire by a desperate businessman who needs $150,000.

His son dies on the racetrack, insured for that sum by the son’s fiancée, who owns the house. The second wish brings the dead man to the door, just as he was in the wreck. The third sends him back.

This is a split-level portrait of a drowning man among the lily pads, a scrupulous performance of terrible authenticity and resourcefulness by Leif Erickson, supported by Jane Wyatt (for Long Day’s Journey into Night) as the wife who seizes the paw a second time, and Collin Wilcox as the wealthy racing fan in love with “the most beautiful face in the world”.