Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Universal Television

Mystery Drama Crime
English     7.9     1955     USA


A television anthology series hosted by Alfred Hitchcock featuring dramas, thrillers, and mysteries.


Charles Tatum wrote:
**The Best of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Volume 1**: Alfred Hitchcock not only hosted his anthology series, he even directed a few episodes. The three episodes on this video were all directed by the master of suspense, but they do not live up to his better film work. The first episode, written by Roald Dahl, is entitled "Lamb to the Slaughter" (1958). Barbara Bel Geddes is a young, eager-to-please pregnant wife whose cop hubby comes home one night and springs a surprise. He is in love with someone else and wants a divorce. She goes about her wifely duties, trying to ignore the painful situation. He decides to leave, daring his wife to stop him. She does. Tom Ewell stars in "The Case of Mr. Pelham" (1955). He talks to a doctor at lunch, and tells him a peculiar story- it seems Pelham's been in a couple of different places around town. He snubs a local client while out of town. He does work in morning, then comes in to the office in the afternoon, not remembering the work. He leaves instructions with his butler, and does not remember them. Pelham reveals he did not do any of these things, blaming a double. The final story is a weak murder mystery called "Banquo's Chair" (1959). In 1903 England, retired inspector calls in a murder suspect who was never charged. He invites him to dinner on the two year anniversary of the suspect's aunt's murder and plants an actress in the other room to play the aunt's ghost so he can finally get his confession. Bel Geddes is very good in her role. The look on her face when her husband dumps her is heartbreaking. The problem is you know exactly what is going to happen through the finale. The premise really does not make much sense. Tom Ewell is very good in his role as the paranoid man with the double. He is very believable without going over the top. The final story has no real stars, just tried-and-true English character actors doing what they do best. It is not badly done, it is just done, with no challenge to the cast. Hitchcock's direction is nothing special. He does not have all the tricks at his disposal to make this any different than any other television director's work. He tries some stuff with "Banquo's Chair," but even the ghost sequence fails to spark anything. Accept for the second episode, the best sequence is Hitchcock's introduction and conclusions after the third episode. He talks about hunting in Hollywood, and the puns here are actually funny. Hitchcock's work has always been either really great ("Rear Window," "Rope," "Psycho") or very very not good ("Topaz," "Marnie"). This falls in the middle, but since one good episode cannot make up for two bad ones, I cannot recommend this collection.


Matinee Theater is an American anthology series that aired on NBC during the Golden Age of Television, from 1955 to 1958. The series, which ran daily in the afternoon, was frequently live. It was produced by Albert McCleery, Darrell Ross, George Cahan and Frank Price with executive producer George Lowther. McCleery had previously produced the live series Cameo Theatre which introduced to television the concept of theater-in-the-round, TV plays staged with minimal sets. Jim Buckley of the Pewter Plough Playhouse recalled: When Al McCleery got back to the States, he originated a most ambitious theatrical TV series for NBC called Matinee Theater: to televise five different stage plays per week live, airing around noon in order to promote color TV to the American housewife as she labored over her ironing. Al was the producer. He hired five directors and five art directors. Richard Bennett, one of our first early presidents of the Pewter Plough Corporation, was one of the directors and I was one of the art directors and, as soon as we were through televising one play, we had lunch and then met to plan next week’s show. That was over 50 years ago, and I’m trying to think; I believe the TV art director is his own set decorator —yes, of course! It had to be, since one of McCleery’s chief claims to favor with the producers was his elimination of the setting per se and simply decorating the scene with a minimum of props. It took a bit of ingenuity.

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Matinee Theater