Murder Me Twice
Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Once the husband, while under hypnosis and the influence of a nineteenth-century murderess, and once the hypnotist, while repeating the experiment at a coroner’s inquest.

Hitchcock on the couch.



Swift’s masterpiece is a long and beautiful sermon (“overlong and rather humourless”, says Halliwell’s Film Guide) on Faith, Hope and Charity.

Without Charity there is no Faith, without Charity and Faith there is no Hope.

With Faith there is Charity, with Faith and Charity there is Hope.

This was scarcely well-received by reviewers, Time infamously called it “a Niagara of drivel and a masterpiece of smarm.” Variety spoke of “an uncertain sense of direction”, the Monthly Film Bulletin of a pretext for “child murder” (cited by Halliwell).


The Parent Trap

Boston and Carmel that never meet, except by instigation of the twins.

The purpose is sufficient unto itself, aggravated by New York’s insistence on corralling the West, New York hates the West.

Boston and Carmel tie the knot again.

Erich Kästner, Das doppelte Lottchen.


Love Is A Ball

Côte d’Azur, training a feckless and quite broke Spanish grand duke to pass muster with an American heiress, for the purpose an Oxford linguist and a Wyoming racing car driver are hired out of their penury.

Most critics could not see the film for the scenery, and admitted as much.

The depth, range and skill deployed by Swift here can be understood as virtuosity, he is a king among filmmakers.

Excellent jazz score by Michel Legrand.


Under the Yum Yum Tree

The opening ballet describes a simple course of events, they move somewhat differently in the film, to all appearances.

Marriage pure and simple, a complex affair, viewed in all its stages more or less simultaneously, from courtship to habituation.

That it comes down to Carol Lynley and Dean Jones reciting E.E. Cummings on the night of nights is not unexpected with this director, Imogene Coca and Paul Lynde are the older selves, Jack Lemmon and Edie Adams the preparatory alter egos (it’s a college town, the kids are students), with Robert Lansing the language department chair who bids his class turn Homer into English.

The Sammy Cahn-James Van Heusen title song for the ballet behind the credits is sung by James Darren, whose album is on the end table next to Huckleberry Hound.

“The film’s cardinal error is its lack of restraint,” said Variety, an expert (“dreary sex farce”, said the Catholic News Service, Halliwell could not follow it either).

Bosley Crowther (New York Times) was content to admire Lemmon and forgive the rest, more or less.


Good Neighbor Sam

An O.S.S. man and a Marine back from Okinawa, now an advertising agency art department hack and a lawyer, carry out operations many years later against a book-burning butter-and-egg man named Nurdlinger and the advertising agency, Burke & Hare, that represents him.

There’s an interlocutory decree before the final, and a huge inheritance, and a reward for services rendered.

For a satire of this order, one must look to Michael Winner’s I’ll Never Forget What’s’isname, nevertheless Halliwell was left completely in the dark (“a promising comic idea is here ruined”). A.H. Weiler of the New York Times took it for “comic, breezy entertainment,” Variety for a “situation comedy.”

A defense of art, against the encroachments of mercantile poshlust. A peculiarly strong theme from John Osborne’s play, The World of Paul Slickey, is re-conceived as a Hudson/Day bedroom farce variant, with an ending remarkably similar to that of Jack Clayton’s The Pumpkin Eater.

The basis of Swift’s direction is the clear detail of his deep color compositions. These are so successful that everything can go still or explode across the scene without disturbing the momentum. The very expert comedians carry a technical level of farce to a fine pitch and ultimate expression.

The interesting sculpture is a Rauschenberg animated by Tinguely, apparently. Probably the model for Satyajit Ray’s Company Limited.


How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying

By working one’s way up from the bottom, in a firm so vast they don’t even know what the product is, let alone the factory’s location.

Fosse’s staging represented for the screen under Swift’s supervision, so that the “tang of gin and vermouth” is artfully conveyed from Broadway, a feat remembered by Wilder in The Front Page.

Three geniuses wrote the book from the book, Loesser wrote the songs, it won the Pulitzer Prize, Swift prepared the screenplay and produced (Virgil Partch is credited with “visual gags”).

A perfect masterpiece, an absolute wonder, the whole kit ‘n caboodle taken apart and reassembled in perfect working order, or analyzed from top to bottom like a careful audit that takes no slugs, nohow.

The same thing applies to the White House.