Recap and react: Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Ep. 13 – 18

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SEASON 1, EPISODE 13: “THE CHENEY VASE”
DIR. ROBERT STEVENS
STARRING PATRICIA COLLINGE and DARREN MCGAVIN
ORIGINALLY AIRED DECEMBER 25, 1955
Recap: This episode follows yet another case of man gone bad for money. Fired from his job, Lyle takes up a new position caring for an old, wheelchair-bound woman who he plans to take advantage of for her money.
React: Darren McGavin gives a great performance as Lyle. You can see why the old woman would trust him, but at the same time can also see that he has a sinister edge. Overall, “The Cheney Vase” is a very good episode with a fantastic ending.

SEASON 1, EPISODE 14: “A BULLET FOR BALDWIN”
DIR. JUSTUS ADDISS
STARRING JOHN QUALEN and SEBASTIAN CABOT
ORIGINALLY AIRED JANUARY 1, 1956
Recap: Fired from his job, Benjamin contemplates suicide but ultimately decides to murder his boss instead. But does he really carry out the murder, or was it all in his head?
React: The premise sets this episode up for a bit of humor coming from Benjamin’s confusion and slight case of paranoia. But overall, this episode was not nearly as good as I expected it to be. It’s still a decent episode that packs a few surprises, but the level of suspense is quite low.

SEASON 1, EPISODE 15: “THE BIG SWITCH”
DIR. DON WEIS
STARRING GEORGE MATHEWS, BEVERLY MICHAELS and GEORGE E. STONE
ORIGINALLY AIRED JANUARY 8, 1956
Recap: A Chicago thug who’s been in Miami (and possibly killed a few people there) returns to his home city. Everyone is suspicious – who has he come back for? The truth is, he’s planning to kill his girlfriend and get away with it – but if a sleuthing old buddy and the sneaky lady herself have anything to do with it, he shouldn’t bet on success.
React: This episode features pretty witty characters, who also have a lot of tension between them. George Mathews does a stellar job of coming off as a heartless criminal in his role of Sam Dunleavy (the thug), easily fooling the audience into believing that his plan will succeed without a hitch. Beverly Michaels is also fantastic, in her role of Dunleavy’s potential victim. The character’s conniving edge is a nice twist, and Michaels makes everything she does seem very calculated. “The Big Switch” is yet another wonderful episode, and does offer a true surprise in the end.

SEASON 1, EPISODE 16: “YOU GOT TO HAVE LUCK”
DIR. ROBERT STEVENS
STARRING JOHN CASSAVETES and MARISA PAVAN
ORIGINALLY AIRED JANUARY 15, 1956
Recap: A prison escapee breaks into a farm house, where he intimidates a woman into helping him hide from the cops. Little does he know, in the course of forcing her to put up a “normal” front when neighbors show up and her mother calls the home, he accidentally gives himself away.
React: This is one of my favorite episodes in the entire series. Not only does it play on the viewer’s existing fear of home invasion, but it also does a great job of convincing the viewer that the guy is going to get away with it and take the girl down with him up until the very end. John Cassavetes is extremely convincing as the smarmy, somewhat pervy criminal who terrorizes Mary (portrayed by Marisa Pavan, who is also fantastic). The episode is very high on suspense, and though the end is a bit sudden, it’s a very good wrap-up to the story.

SEASON 1, EPISODE 17: “THE OLDER SISTER”
DIR. ROBERT STEVENS
STARRING JOAN LORRING and CARMEN MATHEWS
ORIGINALLY AIRED JANUARY 22, 1956
Recap: A reporter turns up at the home of Lizzie Borden, who famously went to trial for killing her father and stepmother with an ax. Lizzie and her sister Emma, along with a few people who keep the place running, still live at the scene of the crime. The reporter is looking for an interview with Lizzie, but instead encounters Emma and sends everyone in the house into a bit of a disturbed frenzy.
React: This episode, another favorite of mine, nicely incorporates a long-told story of a famous murder case. The real Lizzie Borden has become a staple of American folklore, and whether or not she actually committed the crime is still a hot topic of conversation among conspiracy theorists. The episode puts a surprising twist on this familiar story, and though it isn’t accurate in terms of what actually happened to the sisters, it’s a great watch. The episode’s beginning is a but humorous due to the pushy nature of the reporter (and the funny dialogue that comes along with such a personality), but it soon loses this edge and becomes full of tension.

SEASON 1, EPISODE 18: “SHOPPING FOR DEATH”
DIR. ROBERT STEVENS
STARRING JO VAN FLEET, ROBERT HARRIS and MICHAEL ANSARA
ORIGINALLY AIRED JANUARY 29, 1956
Recap: This episode, written by Ray Bradbury (!!!) follows two retired salesmen who spend their time investigating and theorizing crimes together. They soon conclude that most murders occur when the temperature hits 92 degrees Fahrenheit. After coming to this realization, the two men try to save a potential victim: an aggressive, nagging woman who is a prime candidate for violent conflict.
React: The two main characters of “Shopping for Death” obviously have entirely too much time on their hands, but they’re a fun pair to watch. The viewer isn’t sure whether to trust their theories since they’re both a bit loopy, but they may be onto something with their latest, heat-based assumption. Like “The Older Sister,” the episode starts out on the silly side but quickly becomes suspenseful.

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