SEASON 1, EPISODE 19: “THE DERELICTS”
DIR. ROBERT STEVENSON
STARRING ROBERT NEWTON AND PHILLIP REED
ORIGINALLY AIRED FEBRUARY 5, 1956
Recap: Ralph Cowell is an invenstor who is in dire financial straits due to his lady-friend’s penchant for spending all of his money on fancy things. When his investor and silent business partner comes looking for his 50% of the profits, Cowell can think of no other solution to his problems than to kill the man.
Reaction: Phillip Reed gives a pretty fantastic performance as Ralph Cowell, especially after the murder takes place. He pulls off the perfect mix of paranoia and optimism, chilling the audience with the prospect that Cowell just might get away with his crime somehow. Equally great is the performance of Robert Newton, whose character I won’t discuss in detail because I don’t want to spoil the episode for anyone who hasn’t seen it!
SEASON 1, EPISODE 20: “AND SO DIED RIABOUCHINSKA”
DIR. ROBERT STEVENSON
STARRING CLAUDE RAINS AND CHARLES BRONSON
ORIGINALLY AIRED FEBRUARY 12, 1956
Recap: When a dead man is found in a theater, Detective Krovitch is assigned to investigate the crime, but his investigation takes on an unusual twist when a ventriloquist’s dummy begins speaking to him.
Reaction: This is one of the few episodes of season 1 that I hadn’t seen before watching it for this series, and I was really excited to watch it because it stars Claude Rains, who I absolutely love. It’s also based on a story by Ray Bradbury, which is an added bonus. The story and Rains’ performance as the puppet master met my expectations exactly, and this episode as a whole is great — a new favorite! This episode is super campy (as is just about any story about a man obsessed with dolls), so I couldn’t help but love it.
SEASON 1, EPISODE 21: “SAFE CONDUCT”
DIR. JUSTUS ADDISS
STARRING CLAIRE TREVOR, JACQUES BERGERAC, WERNER KLEMPERER AND JOHN BANNER
ORIGINALLY AIRED FEBRUARY 19, 1956
Recap: An American journalist is framed as a smuggler while travelling back to America from behind the “Iron Curtain.”
Reaction: This episode is quite low on suspense and didn’t really grab me from the beginning. Things did get moving eventually, and cold war intrigue grows as the episode progresses. It is interesting to watch the journalist attempt to handle being framed by one of the local heroes of the country that’s accusing her.
SEASON 1, EPISODE 22: “PLACE OF SHADOWS”
DIR. ROBERT STEVENS
STARRING EVERETT SLOANE AND SEAN MCCLORY
ORIGINALLY AIRED FEBRUARY 26, 1956
Recap: A young man sneaks his way into a monastery to get revenge on a theif who wronged him.
Reaction: My favorite thing about this episode is the way it’s constructed. I love the set of the monastery and the use of shadow within it. On top of that there’s a really great couple of minutes that completely lack dialogue, instead using music being sung by the monks as the only sound, while one of the characters is clearly tackling an inner struggle. BRILLIANT. The episode as a whole is not a favorite of mine, but man I love that sequence.
SEASON 1, EPISODE 23: “BACK FOR CHRISTMAS”
DIR. ALFRED HITCHCOCK
STARRING JOHN WILLIAMS AND ISABEL ELSOM
ORIGINALLY AIRED MARCH 4, 1956
Recap: A man tells his wife that he’s digging a new wine cellar in the basement, but he’s actually planning to kill her and bury her there.
Reaction: Hitchcock’s intro on this one is hilarious. He has a shrunken head on the table and warns the audience not to fall asleep under the dryer. The episode itself is quite good as well and reminds me a bit of an early episode, “Guilty Witness.” Both episodes start off pleasant enough but soon become morbid when murderous suspicions arise. With direction provided by the Master of Suspense himself, very few faults can be found in this installment of the anthology series.
SEASON 1, EPISODE 24: “THE PERFECT MURDER”
DIR. ROBERT STEVENS
STARRING HURD HATFIELD, PHILIP COOLIDGE AND MILDRED NATWICK
ORIGINALLY AIRED MARCH 11, 1956
Recap: Two brothers plan to murder their aunt in hopes that they’ll receive a huge inheritance.
Reaction: Hitch calls this story a “comedy of bad manners.” I like this episode a lot because the aunt who is supposed to be the murder victim is very sneaky in her own right and outsmarts her two evil nephews.
Reading this makes me want to go on an Alfred Hitchcock Presents marathon. Nice post.
If you’ve got Netflix Instant they have six seasons of it! I’ve been slowly (very slowly) re-watching the series.
I love reading your recaps and seeing the odd combinations of well-known actors: Claude Rains and Charles Bronson…Claire Trevor and Werner Klemperer. I’d watch the series just to see how mismatched pairs such as these interact!
The series is worth watching for that reason alone. It’s just a bonus that most of the episodes are great and you get to watch Hitch’s fun intros/outros, haha.
There are two things I love about that series besides the obviously cool stories: Hitchcock’s intros, and that ominous bit of music that plays over the title card of each episode. For me, it’s always the little things that make the biggest impact!
You already know how much I love that tune from our discussion of Hitchcock cameos, haha. It’s a great series all around but those little touches definitely set it apart from other anthology series of the time.
Yes, I agree, the opening tune is fun…but I should be more specific: what I meant was, that short, ominous bit of music that you hear for about seven seconds over the EPISODE title card! I love it because it sounds so foreboding!
I just went to Netflix and watched the opening credits of the first AHP episode, to make sure I wasn’t confusing that cue with one from The Outer Limits or something (I wasn’t), but seeing Alfred do his great opening bit has me TOTALLY wanting to go back and watch every episode. So thanks, Lindsey, for putting that spur in my side!
Oh! Yes, those bits of music are great too.
If you’re watching on Netflix and are super nerdy like me you should find the chronological episode list online so you can watch them in the correct order. For some reason Netflix seems to list their classic television shows by production code rather than original air date, so I noticed when I started watching it that some of them are mixed up. Not that it matters since it’s an anthology series, but my OCD kicked in when I started rewatching it haha.
Seriously, I’m just like you in that regard, so that’s great information to pass along! When I’m introduced by someone to a series of novels I’ve never read before, with a recurring lead character, I MUST read them in order! So yes, I will figure out the correct AHP episode order before I start!
They may have fixed some of it by now (if I remember correctly all of the episodes I reviewed in this post were in the correct order) but it’s always good to double check. The Dick Van Dyke show is still incredibly mixed up, so I know the site’s not completely free of errors yet!