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Alfred Hitchcock Presents is an American television anthology series that was hosted and produced by Alfred Hitchcock; the program aired on CBS and NBC between 1955 and 1965. It featured dramas, thrillers, and mysteries. By the time it premiered on October 2, 1955, Hitchcock had been directing films for over three decades. Time magazine named it one of "The 100 Best TV Shows of all time".[1] The Writers Guild of America ranked it #79 on their list of the 101 Best-Written TV Series tying it with Monty Python's Flying Circus, Star Trek: The Next Generation and Upstairs, Downstairs.[2]

Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Alfred-Hitchcock-Presents-Title.jpg
Also known as The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (1962–65)
Genre Anthology
Created by Alfred Hitchcock
Presented by Alfred Hitchcock
Theme music composer Charles Gounod
Opening theme "Funeral March of a Marionette" by Charles Gounod
Composer(s) Stanley Wilson (music supervisor)
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 10
No. of episodes Alfred Hitchcock Presents 267, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour 93 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Alfred Hitchcock
Producer(s) Joan Harrison
Norman Lloyd
Editor(s) Edward W. Williams
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time 25–26 minutes (Seasons 1–7)
49–50 minutes (Seasons 8–10)
Production company(s) Revue Studios
(1955–63)
Universal TV
(1963–65)
Shamley Productions
Distributor Revue Studios (1955–63)
Universal Television
(1963–2004)
NBCUniversal Television Distribution (2004–present)
Release
Original network CBS
(1955–60; 1962–64)
NBC
(1960–62; 1964–65)
Picture format Black-and-white 4:3
Audio format Monaural sound
Original release October 2, 1955 (1955-10-02) – June 26, 1965 (1965-06-26)
Chronology
Related shows Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1985)
Alfred Hitchcock introduces each episode.

A series of literary anthologies with the running title Alfred Hitchcock Presents were issued to capitalize on the success of the television series. One volume, devoted to stories that censors wouldn't allow to be adapted for broadcast, was entitled Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Stories They Wouldn't Let Me Do on TV—though eventually several of the stories collected were adapted.

Contents

HistoryEdit

Alfred Hitchcock Presents is well known for its title sequence.[3] The camera fades in on a simple line-drawing caricature of Hitchcock's rotund profile. As the program's theme music, Charles Gounod's Funeral March of a Marionette, plays, Hitchcock appears in silhouette from the right edge of the screen, and then walks to center screen to eclipse the caricature. He then almost always says "Good evening." (The theme music for the show was suggested by Hitchcock's long-time musical collaborator, Bernard Herrmann.)[4] The caricature drawing, which Hitchcock created, and the use of Gounod's Funeral March of a Marionette as theme music have become indelibly associated with Hitchcock in popular culture.[5][6][7]

Hitchcock appears again after the title sequence, and drolly introduces the story from a mostly empty studio or from the set of the current episode; his monologues were written especially for him by James B. Allardice.[8] At least two versions of the opening were shot for every episode. A version intended for the American audience would often spoof a recent popular commercial or poke fun at the sponsor, leading into the commercial.[9][10] An alternative version for European audiences would instead include jokes at the expense of Americans in general.[citation needed] For later seasons, opening remarks were also filmed with Hitchcock speaking in French and German for the show's international presentations.[citation needed]

Hitchcock closed the show in much the same way as it opened, but mainly to tie up loose ends rather than joke.[8] Frequently, in the filmed story, a leading character would have seemingly gotten away with a criminal activity; in the postscript, Hitchcock would briefly detail how fate (or the authorities) eventually brought the character to justice. Hitchcock told TV Guide that his reassurances that the criminal had been apprehended were "a necessary gesture to morality."[11]

Alfred Hitchcock Presents finished at #6 in the Nielsen ratings for the 1956–57 season, and at #12 in 1957–58, #24 in 1958–59 and #25 in 1959–60.[12]

Originally 25 minutes per episode, the series was expanded to 50 minutes in 1962 and retitled The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. Hitchcock directed 17 of the 267 filmed episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, 4 during the first season, and one or two a season thereafter. Of the 93 50-minute episodes, Hitchcock directed only the fourth installment, "I Saw the Whole Thing" with John Forsythe.[13][better source needed][14] Although the last new episode aired on June 26, 1965, the series has continued to be popular in syndication for decades.[15][16][7]

Guest stars and other actorsEdit

DirectorsEdit

The directors who directed the most episodes included Robert Stevens (44 episodes), Paul Henreid (28 episodes), Herschel Daugherty (24 episodes), Norman Lloyd (19 episodes), Alfred Hitchcock (17 episodes), Arthur Hiller (17 episodes), James Neilson (12 episodea), Jus Addiss (10 episodes), and John Brahm (10 episodes). Other notable directors included Robert Altman, Ida Lupino, Stuart Rosenberg, Robert Stevenson, David Swift and William Friedkin, who ended up directing what would be the last episode.

Broadcast historyEdit

The broadcast history was as follows:[17]

  • Sunday at 9:30–10 p.m. on CBS: October 2, 1955 – September 1960
  • Tuesday at 8:30–9 p.m. on NBC: September 1960 – September 1962
  • Thursday at 10–11 p.m. on CBS: September—December 1962
  • Friday at 9:30–10:30 p.m.on CBS: January— September 1963
  • Friday at 10–11 p.m. on CBS: September 1963 – September 1964
  • Monday at 10–11 p.m. on NBC: October 1964 – September 1965

EpisodesEdit

 
James Congdon and Bette Davis in the episode "Out There - Darkness" (1959)
See List of Alfred Hitchcock Presents episodes and List of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour episodes for more details.

Alfred Hitchcock Presents, 25 minutes long, aired weekly at 9:30 on CBS on Sunday nights from 1955 to 1960, and then at 8:30 on NBC on Tuesday nights from 1960 to 1962.[citation needed] It was followed by The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, which lasted for three seasons, September 1962 to June 1965, adding another 93 episodes to the 268 already produced for Alfred Hitchcock Presents.[citation needed]

Two episodes that were directed by Hitchcock were nominated for Emmy Awards. The first episode was "The Case of Mr. Pelham" in 1955 that starred Tom Ewell while the second was "Lamb to the Slaughter" in 1958 that starred Barbara Bel Geddes and Harold J. Stone. In 2009 TV Guide's list of "100 Greatest Episodes of All Time" ranked "Lamb to the Slaughter" at #59.[18] The third season opener "The Glass Eye" (1957) won an Emmy Award for director Robert Stevens. An episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour titled "An Unlocked Window" (1965) earned an Edgar Award for writer James Bridges in 1966.

Among the most famous episodes remains writer Roald Dahl's "Man from the South" (1960)[19] starring Steve McQueen and Peter Lorre, in which a man bets his finger that he can start his lighter ten times in a row. This episode was ranked #41 on TV Guide's 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time.[20] The episode was later referenced and remade in the film Four Rooms, with Quentin Tarantino directing a segment called "The Man from Hollywood."

The 1962 episode "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" was not broadcast by NBC because the sponsor felt that the ending was too gruesome.[21] The plot has a magician's helper performing a "sawing a woman in half" trick. Not knowing it is a gimmick, the helper cuts the unconscious woman in half. The episode has since[when?] been shown in syndication. It has been parodied by Penn and Teller on their cable show Penn and Teller: Bullshit!

DVD releasesEdit

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has released the first five seasons of Alfred Hitchcock Presents on DVD in Region 1. Season 6 was released on November 12, 2013 via Amazon.com's CreateSpace program. This is a Manufacture-on-Demand (MOD) release on DVD-R, available exclusively through Amazon.com.[22] Season 6 DVD-R discs are expected to play back in DVD Video "play only" devices, and may not play in other DVD devices, including recorders and PC drives.

In Region 2, Universal Pictures UK has released the first three seasons on DVD, and Fabulous Films has released all seven seasons on DVD, including all three seasons of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.[23][24]

In Region 4, Madman Entertainment has released all seven seasons on DVD in Australia. They have also released all three seasons of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.

DVD Title Episodes Release Dates
Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
Season One 39 October 4, 2005 February 20, 2006 July 15, 2009
Season Two 39 October 17, 2006 March 26, 2007 November 17, 2009
Season Three 39 October 9, 2007 April 14, 2008 May 17, 2010
Season Four 36 November 24, 2009 October 26, 2015 September 29, 2010
Season Five 38 January 3, 2012 October 26, 2015 May 18, 2011
Season Six 38 November 12, 2013 (DVD-R) October 26, 2015 November 16, 2011
Season Seven 38 N/A October 26, 2015 February 20, 2013
DVD Title Episodes Region 2 Region 4
Alfred Hitchcock Hour: The Complete First Season 32 January 11, 2016 May 22, 2013
Alfred Hitchcock Hour: The Complete Second Season 32 January 11, 2016 May 22, 2013
Alfred Hitchcock Hour: The Complete Third Season 29 January 11, 2016 May 22, 2013

1985 revivalEdit

In 1985, NBC aired a new TV movie pilot based upon the series, combining four newly filmed stories with colorized footage of Hitchcock from the original series to introduce each segment. The movie was a huge ratings success. The Alfred Hitchcock Presents revival series debuted in the fall of 1985 and retained the same format as the pilot: newly filmed stories (a mixture of original works and updated remakes of original series episodes) with colorized introductions by Hitchcock. The new series lasted only one season before NBC cancelled it, but it was then produced for three more years by USA Network.

In other mediaEdit

 
Cover of Alfred Hitchcock Presents Ghost Stories for Young People (Golden Records, 1962)

In 1962, Golden Records released a record album of six ghost stories for children titled Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Ghost Stories for Young People. The album, which opens with the Charles Gounod Alfred Hitchcock Presents theme music, is hosted by Hitchcock himself, who begins, "How do you do, boys and girls. I’m delighted to find that you believe in ghosts, too. After all, they believe in you, so it is only common courtesy to return the favor."[25] Hitchcock introduces each of the stories, all the while recounting a droll story of his own failed attempts to deal with a leaky faucet (which at the conclusion of the album leads to Hitchcock "drowning" in his flooded home). The ghost stories themselves, accompanied by minimal sound effects and music, are told by actor John Allen, four of which he wrote himself,[25] and two of which are adaptations:

  1. "The Haunted and the Haunters (The Pirate's Curse)"
  2. "The Magician ('til Death Do Us Part)"
  3. "Johnny Takes a Dare (The More the Merrier)"
  4. Saki's "The Open Window" (special adaptation)
  5. "The Helpful Hitchhiker"
  6. Walter R. Brooks' "Jimmy Takes Vanishing Lessons"

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Poniewozik, James (September 6, 2007). "All-Time 100 TV Shows". Time.com. Time Inc. Retrieved December 23, 2012. 
  2. ^ 101 Best Written TV Series List, Writers Guild of America, West website. Accessed Feb. 16, 2015.
  3. ^ "Alfred Hitchcock Presents theme: Charles Gounod". Classic FM Digital Radio 100-102FM. Retrieved 21 November 2017. 
  4. ^ Norman Lloyd in a radio interview on KUSC's "The Evening Program with Jim Svejda", June 22, 2012.
  5. ^ Funeral March Of A Marionette (Alfred Hitchcock Theme). JamesGilbertMusic.com. 26 March 2011. Retrieved 22 November 2017. 
  6. ^ Huizenga, Tom. "Marches Madness: Puppets And A Funeral". NPRMusic. NPR. Retrieved 22 November 2017. 
  7. ^ a b Muir, John Kenneth (2013). Terror Television: American Series, 1970–1999. McFarland. ISBN 9781476604169. 
  8. ^ a b Schwartz, Shelly. "A Closer Look at the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock". ThoughtCo. Retrieved 22 November 2017. 
  9. ^ Henderson, Odie. "And Now a Word from Our Sponsor: Alfred Hitchcock Presents". Slant Magazine.com. Retrieved 21 November 2017. 
  10. ^ "Alfred Hitchcock Presents". xfinitystream. Retrieved 21 November 2017. 
  11. ^ Allen, Richard; Ishii-Gonzales, Sam (2004). Hitchcock: Past and Future. London: Routledge. ISBN 9781134477234. Retrieved 21 November 2017. 
  12. ^ "TV Ratings: Top 30 Shows for each year, from 1950 to 2000!," Classic TV Hits. Accessed Feb. 16, 2015.
  13. ^ Alfred Hitchcock Presents#Directors
  14. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0394051/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1
  15. ^ "8 reasons why 'Alfred Hitchcock Presents' might be the greatest TV show ever". Me-TV Network. Retrieved 22 November 2017. 
  16. ^ Sickels, Robert C. (2013). 100 Entertainers Who Changed America: An Encyclopedia of Pop Culture Luminaries [2 volumes]: An Encyclopedia of Pop Culture Luminaries. ABC-CLIO. p. 264. ISBN 9781598848311. Retrieved 22 November 2017. 
  17. ^ Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle (2003). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Shows (Eighth Edition). Ballantine Books. p. 29. ISBN 0-345-45542-8. 
  18. ^ "TV Guide's Top 100 Episodes". IMDb. Archived from the original on May 20, 2012. Retrieved November 21, 2017. 
  19. ^ Jones, Josh. "Alfred Hitchcock Presents a Chilling Tale by Roald Dahl (1960)". Open Culture. 
  20. ^ "Special Collectors' Issue: 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time". TV Guide (June 28 – July 4). 1997. 
  21. ^ "The Sorcerer's Apprentice". Snopes.com. 16 August 2013. Retrieved 22 November 2017. 
  22. ^ Lambert, David. "Alfred Hitchcock Presents – What's the Release Date for 'Season 6' DVDs? How About...TODAY!," TVShowsOnDVD.com (Nov. 08, 2013).
  23. ^ "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" fabulousfilms.com (Dec. 27, 2016).
  24. ^ "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour" fabulousfilms.com (Dec. 27, 2016).
  25. ^ a b Maltin, Leonard. "Alfred Hitchcock Presents Ghost Stories For Young People/Famous Monsters Speak," IndieWire (December 13, 2009).

Further readingEdit

  • Grams, Martin, Jr. and Patrik Wikstrom, The Alfred Hitchcock Presents Companion. OTR Pub, 2001 (Paperback: ISBN 0-9703310-1-0)

External linksEdit