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RUNNING TIME: 1003 Minutes
A piece on the history of Alfred Hitchcock’s television show, featuring all-new interviews with:
- Pat Hitchcock (Actress/Daughter)
- Norman Lloyd (Producer/Director/Actor)
- Hilton Green (Assistant Director)
I love Alfred Hitchcock. He’s by far one of my favorite directors out there. He can inject drama and suspense in just about any type of story and in just about any medium, inlcuding television. I grew up watching his television show, Alfred Hitchcock Presents in reruns on the Sci-Fi channel. So when I found this first season set sitting in my queue I wondered if it hold up to what I remembered it as? Well… let’s find out.
For many years we had The Twilight Zone, which then ultimately led to shows like Unsolved Mysteries which kept me up all night as a child. But before all that we had Alfred Hitchcock Presents, a 30-minute television program which spanned from 1955 to 1962 on the CBS television network. The host of the program was none other than the Master of Suspense himself, Alfred Hitchcock. We are told that within these 30 minute episodes are stories and plots containing elements of horror, comedy, suspense, and the supernatural. Does that set the mood for you yet? If it does, good. If not, shape up and join the conga line.
Hitchcock may have been the Master of Suspense but as this shows, he certainly wasn’t the Master of Suicide
With a whopping 39 episodes to chew on in this first season set, there’s just about something for everyone in this first season. I myself enjoy the subtle but humorous note at the end type of episodes. There are then the drawn out concept episodes that are simply a bore to me, the best example being “Triggers in Leash”, an episode revolving around the idea of two cowboys literally sitting at breakfast ready to gun one another down in a western-like duel. There’s entirely way too much talking in that particular episode and the payoff isn’t worth the price of admission. Sure, there are a number of other decent “concept” episodes on the set, but it simply not my cup of tea.
There aren’t too many middle of the road episodes in this set. The episodes are either really intriguing/suspenseful or they’re real stinkers. A number of the fuming episodes are on the first and second discs, particularly where it’s obvious that the producers are just getting their feet wet in terms of getting things working correctly. Even the early episodes that Hitchcock directed himself are a bit rusty on the edges.
As the host of Alfred Hitchcock Presents (later renamed The Alfred Hitchcock Hour), Hitchcock makes for a delightful and interesting beginning and end piece to each episode. He hams it up in his own way and its funny… or at least to me… that I forgot what Hitchcock’s voice sounded like. I guess it’s not as funny as much as it weird to you that I find Hitchcock’s “biting of the tongue” dialect something I pushed from my mind. I don’t know why that is, but I did. I guess I grew up imagining Hitchcock as someone that never talked much, which is ridiculous because I remember watching hordes of episodes from Alfred Hitchcock Presents as a child and young adult.
Getting back on topic, Hitchcock does plenty of talking here; before and after each episode. On this set they’ve managed to cut out the commercials from the episodes, so there’s some weird shifting from Hitchcock’s clever introductions to what should be the commercial(s). The DVDs simply jump right to the beginning of the episode. I found this to be a little jarring at first, but then got used to it after a few episodes. (The title cards and music help with this as well.) There are three discs included in this set and, in Universal fashion; you’ll have to flip each one over to get to the next set of episodes.
What are you bitching about? I’m the one with tube socks wrapped around my neck!
Most of the actors featured in Alfred Hitchcock Presents are pulled from a group of regular players spanning the likes of Harry Tyler and John Williams (no, not that John Williams, this is the one from Dial “M” For Murder). Even Hitchcock’s daughter Patricia makes a number of regular appearances on the show (as different characters of course). You may be surprised how easy it is (or at least it was for me) to look around the fact that an actor that is featured in the episode you are watching just got done playing a completely opposite character on the previous episode. The best way I can describe it is if you lived in a small town that had a local community theater that showcased plays using the same community members every single week. The stories would be different but the people would remain the same. That’s how Alfred Hitchcock Presents tends to play out.
All in all, if you like your Cock with a Hitch to it, this decently priced set is right up your alley. (That’s right. I went there.) Most of the episodes on this set are what I would consider to be “family friendly” (hey, they worked in the 50’s, they can work today) so I say get your family and friends started with a little Hitchcock as early as you can.
They will thank you later for the opportunity.
8.5 out of 10
This is where things get a little puzzling. There are some episodes that look quite immaculate in terms of dust and scratches and then there are some episodes that are quite dirty. I can’t be for sure the reasoning behind this, but I think either some episodes were given the special treatment or they were simply stored better than the others. Either way, all of the prints look pretty good considering their age.
A number of interesting camera tricks are performed throughout the episodes in this season, particularly in the introduction pieces; something I’m sure that Hitchcock himself played a hand in.
8.0 out of 10
Dan was so glad he purchased his new Cadillac with the automotive "pleasure package"
As for the sound, things are at a decent quality again, considering the age of the product. The opening theme is mesmeric; I was humming and whistling it for days on end during my regular routine. The show blasts a mono-stereo track at you, so don’t expect to wow your friends on your setup with this set.
7.0 out of 10
"Where’s my stapler!"
The only special feature included in the set is a new documentary titled Alfred Hitchcock Presents: A Look Back which includes interviews with the people Hitchcock worked with, including his daughter, Pat. (She stars early in the show during the The Lady Vanishes short piece.) For a show that tells its own story every week, this extra gets by with being the only thing offered. I would have liked some episode commentaries somewhere, but I guess I’ll play with what I’ve been dealt here.
7.0 out of 10
The silohette that could sail a thousand geek ships.
The artwork is nice and simple. The outside black, white and purple color scheme is nice and you can’t tell from looking at it, but the front lettering is raised. I was surprised to discover this after I moved my hand across the packaging. I think it’s a rather nice inclusion, actually.
Inside along with a haunting image of Hitchcock holding up a noose is the track listing for each disc. The list definitely came in handy when I wanted to reference some of the episodes on the set.
9.0 out of 10