Subscribe Now!
GannettUSA Today

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


I just finished watching the first season of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" on DVD. The 39 half-hour shows originally aired in 1955 and '56.

It was glorious. Once you got into the rhythm of the series, you felt cozy and warm, even if most of the episodes were about murder.

Hitchcock was a riot in his opening and closing bits -- funny and naughty and adorable and shameless.

I saw Claude Rains cry his eyes out to Charles Bronson; I saw Bronson and Michael Ansara and John Cassavettes and Carolyn Jones and Joanne Woodward and Jerry Paris and Cloris Leachman and Peter Lawford excell in early roles; I saw Barry Fitzgerald play a reluctant Santa Claus; I saw tall, dignified, underappreciated Brit John Williams kill and be killed; I saw two mainstays of the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce "Sherlock Holmes" films of the '40s, Gavin Muir and Gerald Hamer, in the same episode; I saw terrific character roles for Ellen Corby and Thelma Ritter and Estelle Winwood and Mary Wickes and Beulah Bondi and Frances Bavier; I saw Werner Klemperer and John Banner cross paths in the same episode a decade before becoming cohorts in "Hogan's Heroes"; I saw movie stars Raines, Joseph Cotten and Claire Trevor acquiesce to the growing threat that was television; I saw Corby referee a shootout between Gene Barry and Darren McGavin; I saw Jack Mullaney (another overlooked talent, who died tragically young) give amazing performances in three wonky roles, as an alcoholic, a dimwitted stalker and a manic disc jockey.

What I DIDN'T see was many of the twist endings coming. Try as you might to guess how an episode would end, you would inevitably be caught off-guard -- but never have your intelligence insulted.

That was 50 years ago? Those were the days. Today, we have "Dancing With the Stars." Good EEEEvening.


Post a Comment

<< Home