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THE HITCHCOCK FILE - PART 4

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by Peter Bogdanovich
January 25, 2013 12:46 AM
3 Comments
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We continue going through the Hitchcock films in my 1952-1970 card file, and this includes all the pictures he directed for television, not only for his own two series—Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour—but for such popular anthology series as Ford Startime and Suspicion.   

FOUR O’CLOCK (1957; d: Alfred Hitchcock).

1963: (E.G. Marshall, Nancy Kelly in a 52-minute TV film done for the Suspicion series: tight, tense, extremely suspenseful thriller about a watchmaker who constructs a time-bomb to blow up his wife; after it has been set, hoodlums break into his house, surprise him, and tie and gag him; he sits there struggling for two hours watching the minutes tick away; he goes insane. Extremely well built tension, expertly acted, edited; a directorial tour-de-force.)

WET SATURDAY (1956; d: Alfred Hitchcock).

1963: (Cedric Hardwicke, John Williams in a 25-minute TV film done for the Hitchcock Presents series: about a nutty English family, whose daughter murders her lover; her father then fabricates a casual acquaintance’s guilt; funny, slightly macabre, in the “Trouble with Harry” mood; a bit forced, but typically Hitchcockian and rather delightful.)

LAMB TO THE SLAUGHTER (1958; d: Alfred Hitchcock).

1963: Good* (Barbara Bel Geddes is superb in this 25 minute film made for the Alfred Hitchcock Presents television series: a pregnant lady kills her unfaithful policeman-husband with a frozen lamb of lamb and then serves the murder weapon to the police. Macabre, very funny in its Hitchcockian overtones, directed with great economy and ease.)

Added 1966: (Among the most memorable of the television Hitchcocks, along with “Breakdown” and “Revenge” [see Hitchcock Part 3]; a tiny gem.)

INCIDENT AT A CORNER (1960; d: Alfred Hitchcock).

1963: (Vera Miles, George Peppard in a 52-minute color TV film done for the Ford Startime series: an old school policeman is falsely accused of being lecherous to little girls; his daughter and her fiancee set out to prove the accusation a lie; interesting, rather fascinating piece, delving into town hysteria and hypocrisy as well as mass guilt. Well done in every way.)

JUNO AND THE PAYCOCK (1930; d: Alfred Hitchcock).

1963: Good- (Literate, tasteful, quite effective adaptation of the [Sean] O’Casey play, brilliantly acted; not really in the Hitchcock style, but interesting as a departure for the master, showing how well he could do such a thing, though he relies mainly on the stagebound play.)

BLACKMAIL (1929; d: Alfred Hitchcock).

1963: (Hitchcock’s --- and England’s --- first talkie: a fascinating, inventive thriller about a young woman who kills a would-be seducer; typically Hitchcockian, though occasionally bogged down by crude early sound techniques; still, a director’s tour-de-force, personal and often brilliant.)

Added 1968: Very good (All the Hitchcock obsessions are here --- the hatred of police, weight of guilt, eggs, complaisance --- though still in infancy; his conception of the ending is far better than what he was allowed to do, and the bad sound facilities slow down his pace. Nevertheless, it is an extremely talented work, filled with ideas.)

THE PARADINE CASE (1948; d: Alfred Hitchcock).

1963: Very good* (Fascinating, ambiguous, slowly developed Hitchcock murder story about a highly respected London lawyer and the client with whom he falls in love --- the key word is “falls”. Generally well played, written, extremely good photography; less personal and perfect than Hitchcock’s other films of this period, but continually interesting.)

Added 1964: (Most interesting because of Hitchcock’s experiments with moving camera and shifting points of views.)

Added 1968: (Beautifully directed, despite the flaws in casting; one can still learn more from Hitchcock than anyone.)

THE CASE OF MR. PELHAM (1955; d: Alfred Hitchcock).

1963: Fair (Tom Ewell in a 25-minute film made for the Alfred Hitchcock Presents television series: amusing, quietly frightening story of a man who discovers that his personality and habits and life are being taken over by a perfect double.)

Added 1967: (Not one of the most memorable of the television Hitchcocks, but well done and diverting.)

BACK FOR CHRISTMAS (1956; d: Alfred Hitchcock).

1963: (John Williams in a 25-minute TV film done for the Hitchcock Presents series: macabre, amusing story about a proper Englishman who murders his over-efficient wife, but is done in by her posthumous efficiency.)

ONE MORE MILE TO GO (1957; d: Alfred Hitchcock).

1963: (David Wayne and Steve Brodie in a 25-minute TV film done for the Hitchcock Presents series: a man kills his nagging wife, puts her in his car’s trunk, and sets off to dump her in the ocean; he is tripped up by a faulty tail-light and a particularly conscientious cop; tense, nerve-wracking and suspenseful.)

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3 Comments

  • Adam | May 27, 2013 12:15 AMReply

    The hour-long "I Saw the Whole Thing" is also very good.

  • Christopher Denny | January 25, 2013 1:46 AMReply

    Is "Incident at a Corner" currently available ? I would love to see it.

  • Christopher Denny | January 25, 2013 1:39 AMReply

    "Four O'Clock" has to be inspired by "The Tell-Tale Heart". Or am I wrong ?

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