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THE HITCHCOCK FILE - PART 5

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by Peter Bogdanovich
February 7, 2013 12:36 AM
2 Comments
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And on we go through the Hitchcock pictures I saw from 1952 through 1970, keeping a card-file with credits and comments that would sometimes change if I saw the given film again. These include all the movies Hitchcock himself directed for his own popular television series.

THE PERFECT CRIME (1957; d: Alfred Hitchcock).

1963: Good (Vincent Price and James Gregory in a 25-minute film made for the Alfred Hitchcock Presents TV series: an expertly done little period piece about a master detective who prides himself on his infallibility, and the lawyer who shows him the error he once made for which an innocent man was executed --- and for which the lawyer must be eliminated --- by which the detective achieves the perfection he has been seeking. Well written, and directed with breathtaking economy and ease: macabre, chilling, amusing, devilish all at once.)

Added 1967: (A finger exercise, thoroughly delightful in every way.)

DIP IN THE POOL (1958; d: Alfred Hitchcock).

1963: (Keenan Wynn in a 25-minute TV film done for the Hitchcock Presents series: amusing, bizarre story about a man on an ocean voyage who bets on the projected amount of miles the boat will travel in the next twelve hours; to help win he jumps overboard to slow the vessel up; but nobody helps him back up again. Wynn is extremely good and Hitchcock handles it with his usual witty bounce.)

BANQUO’S CHAIR (1959; d: Alfred Hitchcock).

1963: (John Williams, Kenneth Haigh, Max Adrian, Reginald Gardner in a 25-minute TV film done for the Hitchcock Presents series: a police inspector contrives a plot to make a murderer confess but the man is done in by his own conscience; spooky, macabre, superbly directed and very well acted short.)

ARTHUR (1959; d: Alfred Hitchcock).

1963: (Laurence Harvey in a 25-minute TV film done for the Hitchcock Presents series: a chicken farm owner does neatly away with a rather tiresome girl friend; he makes her into chicken feed; macabre, amusing, typically Hitchcockian.)

THE CRYSTAL TRENCH (1959; d: Alfred Hitchcock).

1963: (James Donald and Patricia Owens in a 25-minute TV film done for the Hitchcock Presents series: a sad, slightly bizarre story (period) about a young wife’s devotion to her young husband who is killed climbing a mountain; weird, moving, and gently cynical.)

MRS. BIXBY AND THE COLONEL’S COAT (1960; d: Alfred Hitchcock).

1963: (Audrey Meadows and Les Tremayne in an amusing, ironic story of an unfaithful wife, the mink coat she gets from her lover and her efforts to keep the coat without the husband’s suspecting; she is outsmarted, though: her husband has a mistress. Witty, cynical, and very accurately done.)

THE HORSEPLAYER (1961; d: Alfred Hitchcock).

1963: (Claude Rains and Ed Gardiner in a 25-minute TV film done for the Hitchcock Presents series: amusing, ironic little story about a priest and a gambler, and the way in which they assist each other, though the priest gets more out of it in the end.)

BANG! YOU’RE DEAD (1961; d: Alfred Hitchcock).

1963: (A 25-minute TV film done for the Hitchcock Presents series: a little boy finds a toy guy, loads it up, and runs out to play war --- but the gun is real and so are the bullets: frighteningly tense, nerve-wracking little thriller, brilliantly done by the master at his gutsiest.)

2013: This short masterpiece could serve as a perfect illustration of why our nation needs stricter gun laws: it has terrifying reverberations in today’s climate, and would make an exceptional piece of gun control propaganda.

THE BIRDS (1963; d: Alfred Hitchcock).

1963: Exceptional (One of Hitchcock’s finest films --- a masterpiece of character and terror --- a terrifying vision of Judgment Day, in which thousands of birds attack a small coastal community, driving all its inhabitants away, taking over the world; stunningly directed, edited, photographed, well played and written. A major work.)

Added 1966: (The film’s only failings lie with the script, which does not draw deeply-conceived characters, and in the casting, which has not personable enough players; but it remains a daring and chilling film, beautifully conceived.)

THE FARMER’S WIFE (1928; d: Alfred Hitchcock).

1963: Good (Likeable, if not particularly distinguished, silent Hitchcock: a pastoral comedy, well acted and extremely competent on every level, though in no way inspired like the Master’s “The Lodger”. Interesting mainly from an historical viewpoint, and as an example of Hitchcock’s early slickness and objectivity of approach.)

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2 Comments

  • PB | February 12, 2013 12:17 AMReply

    Jack, I think the best of Hitchcock's TV work includes "Revenge" with Vera Miles and Ralph Meeker, "Breakdown" with Joseph Cotten, "Lamb to the Slaughter" with Barbara Bel Geddes, and "Bang! You're Dead" (above).

  • Jack Stranger | February 11, 2013 5:23 AMReply

    I think this is my favorite installment of the Hitchcock file so far. It's staggering to see how much Hitch was producing for television as well as directing a film or more a year. I'm wondering PB if there's a Hitchcock work for television that stands out for you above all others?

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