Alfred Hitchcock Presents

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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"
Composer(s) Stanley Wilson (music supervisor)
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 10
No. of episodes 361 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Alfred Hitchcock
Producer(s) Joan Harrison
Editor(s) Edward W. Williams
Location(s) Universal Studios, California
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 NBCUniversal Television Distribution
Broadcast
Original channel CBS
(1955–60; 1962–64)
NBC
(1960–62; 1964–65)
Picture format Black-and-white 4:3
Audio format Monaural sound
Original run October 2, 1955 (1955-10-02) – May 10, 1965 (1965-05-10)
Chronology
Related shows Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1985)

Alfred Hitchcock Presents is an American television anthology series hosted by Alfred Hitchcock. The series featured dramas, thrillers, and mysteries. By the time the show premiered on October 2, 1955, Hitchcock had been directing films for over three decades. Time magazine named Alfred Hitchcock Presents 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]

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 the TV series, was entitled Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Stories They Wouldn't Let Me Do on TV—though eventually several of the stories collected were adapted.

History[edit]

Alfred Hitchcock Presents is well known for its title sequence. 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.)[3]

The caricature drawing, which Hitchcock created himself, and the use of Gounod's Funeral March of a Marionette as theme music have become indelibly associated with Hitchcock in popular culture.

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. 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.[citation needed] 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. He told TV Guide[where?] that his reassurances that the criminal had been apprehended were "a necessary gesture to morality."

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 268 filmed episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and one of the 50-minute episodes, "I Saw the Whole Thing" with John Forsythe.[citation needed] The last new episode aired on June 26, 1965, and the series continued to be popular in syndication for decades.

1985 revival[edit]

In 1985, NBC aired a new TV movie based upon the series, combining newly filmed stories with colorized footage of Hitchcock from the original series to introduce each segment. The movie was a huge ratings success, and sparked a brief revival of the anthology series genre that included a new version of The Twilight Zone amongst others. Alfred Hitchcock Presents revival series debuted in the fall of 1985 and retained the same format as the movie: 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 two more years by USA Network.

Guest stars and other actors[edit]

Actors appearing in the most episodes include Patricia Hitchcock (Alfred Hitchcock's daughter), Dick York, Robert Horton, James Gleason, John Williams, Robert H. Harris, Russell Collins, Claude Rains, Barbara Baxley, Ray Teal, Percy Helton, Phyllis Thaxter, Carmen Mathews, Mildred Dunnock, Alan Napier, and Laurence Harvey.

Many notable actors, like Steve McQueen, Walter Matthau, Robert Vaughn and Barbara Bel Geddes among others, appeared on the series as well.

Broadcast history[edit]

Source:[4]

  • 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

Episodes[edit]

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.

Two episodes, both directed by Hitchcock himself, were nominated for Emmy Awards: "The Case of Mr. Pelham" (1955) with Tom Ewell and "Lamb to the Slaughter" (1958) with Barbara Bel Geddes. 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)[citation needed] 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.[5]

The 1962 episode "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" was not initially broadcast by NBC because the sponsor felt that the ending was too gruesome. 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 been shown in syndication. It has been parodied by Penn and Teller on their cable show Penn and Teller: Bullshit!.

DVD releases[edit]

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, available exclusively through Amazon.com.[6]

In Region 2, Universal Pictures UK has released the first three seasons on DVD.

In Region 4, Madman Entertainment has released all seven seasons on DVD in Australia. They have also released all three seasons of '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 TBA September 29, 2010
Season Five 38 January 3, 2012 TBA May 18, 2011
Season Six 38 November 12, 2013 TBA November 16, 2011
Season Seven 38 TBA TBA February 20, 2013
DVD Title Episodes Region 4
Alfred Hitchcock Hour: The Complete First Season 32 May 22, 2013
Alfred Hitchcock Hour: The Complete Second Season 32 May 22, 2013
Alfred Hitchcock Hour: The Complete Third Season 29 May 22, 2013

References[edit]

  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
  3. ^ As recounted by Norman Lloyd in a radio interview on KUSC's "The Evening Program with Jim Svejda", June 22, 2012.
  4. ^ Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle (2003 (Eighth Edition)). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Shows. Ballantine Books. p. 29. ISBN 0-345-45542-8. 
  5. ^ "Special Collectors' Issue: 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time". TV Guide (June 28-July 4). 1997. 
  6. ^ http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/news/Alfred-Hitchcock-Presents-Season-6/19162

Further reading[edit]

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

External links[edit]