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Alfred Hitchcock Hour on DVD

Tuesday, 19 January 2016 00:00 Written by 

The Alfred Hitchcock Hour - The complete series comes to UK DVDFor the first time, the entire collection of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour is available on DVD in the UK - all 93 stories presented by the ‘Master of Suspense’ himself, thanks to Fabulous Films.  Broadcast in the USA from September 1962 to May 1965 – amidst a golden period for the auteur which included “The Wrong Man”, “Vertigo”, “North by Northwest”, “Psycho” and “The Birds”, this series was voted one of the 100 Best TV Shows of All Time by Time Magazine. Hitchcock’s films had a consistently high degree of profitability, but it was the sale of syndication rights to the TV series Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and then this, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, which made him the third biggest stockholder in MCA (the predecessor to NBC Universal).And we had a complete box set to give away in our prize competition, as well as individual sets of seasons one, two and three.

The series, like its half-hour predecessor, is filled with stars, both those in their twilight of their careers, as well as others on the way up. Leslie Nielsen, he of Police Squad and “Airplane” fame is the star turn in the Season 2 episode 13 classic story “The Magic Shop”. He’s the father of a truly dislikeable child, emphasised by the kid’s desire for a leather biker jacket on his birthday, who has an obsession with going to a magic shop which his parents are adamant does not exist. We also have Martin Landau appear in Season 2 Episode 30 “The Second Verdict” as a lawyer who gets guilty-as-hell Frank Gorshin’s villain off-the-hook in a murder trial. Landau is very much experimenting with the delivery and poise which he will use as John Koenig in Space: 1999, whereas Gorshin is showing the sort of evil he would later crank up several notches as The Riddler in the Adam West Batman series.

Of particular note to Cult TV appreciators is the Season 3 Episode 10 episode “Memo from Purgatory” (first broadcast on 21 December 1964). It was adapted by Harlan Ellison from his autobiographical story “The Gang”, one of the tales found in the “Memos from Purgatory” collection. In it, Jay Shaw - a college graduate and budding writer - moves to early 1950s New York to research a novel about juvenile delinquents. Taking an alias, he sets up in Brooklyn and encounters the ‘Barons’. Passing a triple-task initiation to the gang sees him accepted as well as smitten by one of the gang’s ‘debs’. However, he makes an enemy of the gang's vice leader, which risks his true identity coming out.

The episode features Lynn Loring - famous for playing Sharon, the wife of the Roy Thinnes character, Colonel Glenn Ross, in Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’s “Doppelganger”, aka “Journey to the Far Side of the Sun”. Lynn and Roy were also married in the real world for many years. The episode also features a very early appearance by James Caan, playing the character based on Ellison, as well as Star Trek’s resident Russian, Walter Koening, and Mark Slade (soon to be Billy Blue Cannon in The High Chaparral).

An interesting little episode to look out for is “A Tangled Web” (season 1, episode 18) which features Robert Redford as David Chesterman, an entrenched burglar who falls in love with Marie Petit (played by Zohra Lampert, who found fame in 1961's ’Splendour in the Grass”). He runs off with her, frowned upon as she is his family’s maid. Matters become complicated when Marie realises what he does to get in his cash, and reckons she can change him. The episode is stolen by Barry Morse (The Fugitive, Space: 1999) as Karl Gault, Chesterman’s fence and a jeweller to the elite, who sells on much of the booty from robberies while also suggesting homes to target.

This is one of two episodes which Redford appears in, the other being the first ever story, “A Piece of the Action”, where he played the younger brother of a habitual gambler, who begins to get the same addiction with tragic results. Redford had already worked with Hitchcock on the previous Alfred Hitchcock Presents series, with season 7 episode 11 “The Right Kind of Medicine”, where he played a thief who shot a cop following a robbery, but was in turn injured himself.

The guest appearances are frequent throughout the 93 episodes on offer in this set of releases. In fact, the key ones are listed at the end of this article in alphabetical order, so you can see where you can cherry-pick the particular stars you want to seek out.

Despite his contribution to cinema, Hitchcock never won an Oscar for Best Director, despite being nominated five times. Born in Leytonstone, Hitchcock had always been obese. It served him well during World War One as he was too large to be conscripted - allowing him to start working in the film business. He has received countless Lifetime Awards, but refused a CBE in 1962. He did, however, accept a Knighthood in 1980, the year of his death.

Perhaps most significant for Hitchcock himself was the fact that his patented introductions and sign-offs made him become an internationally recognisable personality. Always droll and frequently outrageous, Hitchcock's comments often included jibes in the direction of his show’s sponsors. As he reflected at the time, “My guess is that my sponsors enjoy my lack of obsequiousness, but in the beginning they had difficulty in getting used to my approach and they took umbrage at my less-worshipful remarks. However, the moment they became aware of the commercial effects of my belittling - they took a look at their sales charts - they stopped questioning the propriety of my cracks.”

Overall, the quality of the transfers of these stories, Hitchcock’s introductions and mid-episode remarks included wherever available, is magnificent – so much so that you readily forget they have been filmed in monochrome. Despite their age, their pacing is deceptively progressive; they do not drag or overstay their welcome. In this world where cinema is prized and television is, in the main, still considered a poor cousin, the sheer quality of scripts and production for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour reminds us that good work can bridge the gap between small budgets and compelling watch-ability.

You had the opportunity to win one of four prizes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour to put on to your mantelpiece, in our competition. The first prize was a set of the three-season Box Set, spread over 24 DVDs, a ‘15’ certificate, a running time of 4,488 mins approx, and with a RRP of £99.99. The second prize was Season One (running time 1,548 mins approx), third prize was Season Two (running time 1,541 mins approx), and the fourth prize Season Three (running time 1,392 mins approx). Each of these single sets contains 8 DVDs, has a RRP of £39.99, with Seasons One and Three having a ‘12’ certificate, and Season Two a ‘15’ certificate.

All you had to do was tell us the answer to the following question: Who wrote the episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour called “Memo from Purgatory”? The answer was HARLAN ELLISON, and the winners were Julia Jewels of Manchester (Three-Season Box Set), Siobhan McDowell of Belfast (Season One), Ian Mullen of Livingston (Season Two) and Phyllis Ellett of Great Yarmouth (Season Three). Well done to those four, and thanks to everyone who took part.

And now, why not go over to the Cult TV Store and get your sets?







Richard Anderson – “Ancient Voices”

Edward Asner – “To Catch a Butterfly”

John Banner – “Murder Case”

Gene Barry – “Dear Uncle George”

Richard Basehart – “The Black Curtain” and “Starring the Defense”

Anne Baxter – “A Nice Touch”

Ed Begley – “Triumph”

James Best – “The Jar”

Whit Bissell – “Behind the Locked Door”

Edd Byrnes – “Final Escape”

James Caan – “Memo from Purgatory”

J D Cannon – “Completely Foolproof”

Roger C Carmel – “Crimson Witness”

David Carradine – “Ten Minutes from Now” and “Thou Still Unravished Bride”

John Carradine – “Death Scene”

John Cassavetes – “Murder Case” and “Water’s Edge”

Jack Cassidy – “The Photographer and the Undertaker”

Dabney Coleman – “Dear Uncle George” and “Isabel”

William Conrad – “The Thirty-first of February”

Gladys Cooper – “What Really Happened” and “Consider Her Ways”

Bob Crane – “The Thirty-first of February”

Robert Culp – “Good-bye, George”

Patricia Cutts – “Body in the Barn”

Richard Dawson – “Anyone for Murder?”

Bruce Dern – “Night Caller” and “Lonely Place”

Colleen Dewhurst – “Night Fever”

Angie Dickinson – “Captive Audience” and “Thanatos Palace Hotel”

Diana Dors – “Run for Doom”

Howard Duff – “The Tender Poisoner”

Andrew Duggan – “The McGregor Affair”

Leif Erikson – “Consider Her Ways” and “The Monkey’s Paw – A Retelling”

Peter Falk – “Bonfire”

James Farentino – “The Black Curtain” and “Death Scene”

Sharon Farrell – “The Second Verdict” and “Final Performance”

Peter Fonda – “Return of Verge Likens”

Joan Fontaine – “The Paragon”

Jon Forsythe – “I Saw the Whole Thing”

Anne Francis – “What Really Happened”, “Blood Bargain” and “The Trap”

Kathleen Freeman – “You’ll Be the Death of Me” and “The World’s Oldest Motive”

Lillian Gish – “Body in the Barn”

Frank Gorshin – “The Second Verdict”

Peter Graves – “I’ll Be Judge – I’ll Be Jury”

James Gregory – “The Dividing Wall”

Ann Morgan Guilbert – “How to Get Rid of your Wife”

Clu Gulager – “Final Vow”

Joan Hackett – “Beast in View”

Bernie Hamilton – “Final Escape”

Steven Hill – “Who Needs an Enemy?” and “Thanatos Palace Hotel”

Jeffrey Hunter – “Don’t Look Behind You”

Kim Hunter – “The Evil of Adelaide Winters”

Dean Jagger – “The Star Juror”

Richard Johnson – “Power of Attorney”

Brian Keith – “Night of the Owl”

Sally Kellerman – “Thou Still Unravished Bride”

George Kennedy – “Misadventure”

Walter Koenig – “Memo from Purgatory”

Bernie Kopell – “Good-bye, George”

Nancy Kovack – “The Second Verdict”

Zohra Lampert – “A Tangled Web”

Elsa Lanchester – “The McGregor Affair”

Martin Landau – “The Second Verdict”

Peter Lawford – “Crimson Witness”

Anna Lee – “Last Seen Wearing Blue Jeans”

Christopher Lee – “The Sign of Satan”

Margaret Leighton – “Where the Woodbine Twineth”

Peggy Lipton – “Night Fever”

June Lockhart – “The Second Wife”

Robert Loggia – “You’ll Be the Death of Me” and “The World’s Oldest Motive”

Julie London – “Crimson Witness”

Lynn Loring – “Behind the Locked Door” and “Memo from Purgatory”

Carol Lynley – “Final Vow”

James MacArthur – “Behind the Locked Door”

Lee Majors – “The Monkey’s Paw – A Retelling”

Jayne Mansfield – “Hangover”

Stuart Margolin – “The Monkey’s Paw – A Retelling”

Don Marshall – “The Cadaver”, “Isabel” and “Night Fever”

James Mason – “Captive Audience”

Don Matheson – “Captive Audience”

Dina Merrill – “Bonfire”

Kevin McCarthy – “Beast in View”

Roddy McDowell – “The Gentleman Caller” and “See the Monkey Dance”

Darren McGavin – “A Matter of Murder”

Ray Milland – “A Home Away From Home”

Greg Morris – “Forecast: Low Clouds and Coastal Fog” and “Final Escape”

Vera Miles – “Don’t Look Behind You” and “Death Scene”

Joanna Moore – “Who Needs an Enemy?” and “Crimson Witness”

Barry Morse – “A Tangled Web”

Bill Mumy – “House Guest”

Alan Napier – “An Out for Oscar” and “Thou Still Unravished Bride”

Barry Nelson – “Anyone for Murder?” and “Misadventure”

Ed Nelson – “Captive Audience” and “I’ll be Judge – I’ll be Jury”

Lois Nettleton – “The Dark Pool”

Bob Newhart – “How to Get Rid of Your Wife”

Leslie Nielsen – “The Magic Shop”

Kathleen Nolan – “Annabel” and “Beast in View”

Hugh O’Brian – “Ride the Nightmare”

Tim O’Connor – “What Really Happened”

Susan Oliver – “Annabel”

Slim Pickens – “The Jar”

Tony Randall – “Hangover”

Robert Redford – “A Piece of the Action” and “A Tangled Web”

Michael Rennie – “The Long Silence”

Madlyn Rhue – “The Dark Pool”

Katharine Ross – “The Dividing Wall”

Gena Rowlands – “Ride The Nightmare”, “The Lonely Hours” and “Murder Case”

Dick Sargent – “Don’t Look Behind You”

Telly Savalas – “A Matter of Murder”

George Segal – “A Nice Touch”

Henry Silva – “An Out for Oscar”

Tom Skerritt – “Run for Doom”

Mark Slade – “Memo from Purgatory”

William Smith – “The McGregor Affair”

Inger Stevens – “Forecast: Low Clouds and Coastal Fog”

Dean Stockwell – “Annabel”

Larry Storch – “An Out for Oscar”

Barry Sullivan – “Day of Reckoning”

Gloria Swanson – “Behind the Locked Door”

Buck Taylor – “Day of Reckoning” and “Death Scene”

Jessica Walter – “The Ordeal of Mrs Snow”

David Wayne – “The Thirty-first of February”

Michael Wilding – “Last Seen Wearing Blue Jeans”

Jane Wyatt – “The Monkey’s Paw – A Retelling”

Dana Wynter – “An Unlocked Window”

Dick York – “Terror at Northfield”

Gig Young – “A Piece of the Action”

Efrem Zimbalist Jr – “See the Monkey Dance”


Last modified on Tuesday, 19 January 2016 07:11