Alfred Hitchcock is one of my favorite directors and one of my favorite people in general. I recently decided to work my way through the Alfred Hitchcock Presents television series in chronological order, to catch the episodes I’ve never seen and re-watch the ones I’ve loved for years! The following are brief recaps and reviews for the first six episodes of my seemingly never-ending marathon.
SEASON 1, EPISODE 1: “REVENGE”
DIR. ALFRED HITCHCOCK
STARRING: RALPH MEEKER, VERA MILES AND FRANCES BAVIER
ORIGINALLY AIRED OCT. 22, 1955
RECAP: A woman who has suffered an emotional breakdown has temporarily moved to a beachfront mobile park with her husband. All seems to be going much better for the couple at their new temporary home, until the woman allegedly gets assaulted one day by a “traveling salesman” while her husband is at work.
REACTION: This is one of my favorite episodes in the series. It’s equal parts psychological thriller and revenge tale, and Hitchcock (along with writers Francis Cockrell and Samuel Blas) balance the two sides of the story absolutely perfectly. This first episode of the series kicks the viewer with two huge surprises, hooking the audience into this story and ensuring that they’ll be returning for further episodes.
SEASON 1, EPISODE 2: “PREMONITION”
DIR. ROBERT STEVENS
STARRING: JOHN FORSYTHE, WARREN STEVENS AND CLORIS LEACHMAN
ORIGINALLY AIRED OCTOBER 9, 1955
RECAP: A man returns home from Europe to reconnect with his family, only to find that his father passed away four years earlier… and no one has informed him of the death, nor are they willing to give up the truth of how it happened.
REACTION: This episode makes the viewer suspicious of just about everyone except the man returning home from Europe, who seems genuinely shocked by his father’s death and almost gives off an air of innocence. It manages an ending that is both surprising and terribly sad, inducing sympathy for the entire family.
SEASON 1, EPISODE 3: “TRIGGERS IN LEASH”
DIR. DON MEDFORD
STARRING: GENE BARRY, DARREN MCGAVIN AND ELLEN CORBY
ORIGINALLY AIRED OCTOBER 16, 1955
RECAP: “Triggers in Leash” features that trademark Hitchcock-approved suspense with a Western twist. Two men decide to play a dangerous game of waiting to see who will kill the other first after a falling out over a gambling feud. But a local restaurant owner named Maggie is determined to stop these men from taking their lives, with the help of a home-cooked meal and a cuckoo clock!
REACTION: This episode starts out a bit silly but builds fantastic tension near the end. Hitchcock delivers the big surprise in his reflective outro rather than through the action itself. It’s a twist that brings the silliness back to the story without diminishing those few minutes of fear that the viewer experienced.
SEASON 1, EPISODE 4: “DON’T COME BACK ALIVE”
DIR. ROBERT STEVENSON
STARRING: SIDNEY BLACKMER, VIRGINIA GREGG AND ROBERT EMHARDT
ORIGINALLY AIRED OCTOBER 23, 1955
RECAP: A couple schemes to fake the wife’s death in order to collect insurance money. The catch? The wife must leave town and stay in hiding for seven years so she can legally be declared dead, at which point her husband will be able to collect the money. But an overbearing investigator doesn’t quite believe the husband when he says that his wife has disappeared, leading to complications in their plan.
REACTION: This episode has a somewhat slower pace and less suspense than the first three episodes, but there are some very good twists, including an enormous shocker at the end. I also like the character of the wife, who makes an interesting progression throughout the short episode.
SEASON 1, EPISODE 5: “INTO THIN AIR”
DIR. DON MEDFORD
STARRING PAT HITCHCOCK, GEOFFREY TOONE AND ALAN NAPIER
ORIGINALLY AIRED OCTOBER 30, 1955
RECAP: Hitchcock’s daughter stars in this version of the familiar “person disappearing into thin air” premise, which Hitchcock himself explored in his film The Lady Vanishes. Pat Hitchcock plays Diane Winthrop, a young woman who embarks on a frantic search for the truth after her ill mother disappears from their hotel room.
REACTION: Despite the familiarity of the premise, this episode is completely engrossing. Pat Hitchcock’s performance gives off just the right mix of paranoia and frustration as she contends with the hotel workers, who are reluctant to help her search for her mother, and even go to great lengths to stop her from discovering the truth.
SEASON 1, EPISODE 6: “SALVAGE”
DIR. JUSTUS ADDISS
STARRING: GENE BARRY, NANCY GATES AND MAXINE COOPER
ORIGINALLY AIRED NOVEMBER 6, 1955
RECAP: A mafia man named Dan, fresh out of prison, tracks down a woman that he blames for the death of his brother, who was killed by the police. She can run, but she can’t hide from Dan forever! Will he carry out revenge on her for inadvertently causing the death of his brother, or will he have a change of heart?
REACTION: This episode was a bit of a letdown for me. The premise is very intriguing and the big plot points of the episode were satisfactory in general, but there wasn’t nearly as much suspense or drama as I would expect from a charged mob story full of anger and revenge.
Check back in the future for further installments in this series as I continue to work my way through Alfred Hitchcock Presents!