The Sorcerer's Apprentice (Alfred Hitchcock Presents)
|"The Sorcerer's Apprentice"|
|Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode|
|Episode no.||Season 7
|Directed by||Josef Leytes|
|Written by||Robert Bloch
(original story and teleplay)
|Produced by||Joan Harrison
Norman Lloyd (associate producer)
|Featured music||Joseph E. Romero|
|Cinematography by||John L. Russell|
|Editing by||Edward W. Williams|
|Original air date||No network airing|
|Running time||25 minutes, 28 seconds|
"The Sorcerer's Apprentice" is a seventh-season episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents made in the summer of 1961 that has never been broadcast on network television. The episode was scheduled to be episode #39 of the season. The story and teleplay were written by Robert Bloch, the author of Psycho, and the episode was directed by Josef Leytes.
Although once qualified as a lost episode, "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" has since been widely distributed in syndication and – due to its status in the public domain – in numerous Hitchcock home media releases and video on demand.
Exiting from his Keeley's Carnival trailer on a cold windy night for a smoke while playing in Toledo, Ohio, magician Sadini the Great spots an unconscious youth on the ground a short distance away. Sadini and food vendor Milt carry the boy into Sadini's trailer where, a short time later, Sadini's wife Irene enters. Not at all pleased with the youth's presence there, Irene finally succumbs to Sadini's request to go get the lad some food after he regains consciousness and equates her with an angel. The boy also compares Sadini's appearance to that of the devil.
Hugo – as the lad explains he was called at the "home" – regains his strength and becomes infatuated with Irene, following her around the carnival to the point of discovery that she is cheating on Sadini with George Morris, the high-wire artist. Hugo and George watch Sadini's magic act together. Hugo, at first terrified by this, becomes fascinated, especially when Sadini saws Irene in half and then "restores" her. Sadini offers Hugo a job at the carnival assisting with his props.
At that point, Irene comes up with a scheme to murder her husband and have Hugo "take the rap". Hugo cannot differentiate fact from fantasy, so his interpretation of Irene as an angel and Sadini as the devil is in reality reversed. Irene convinces Hugo that, by killing Sadini, he will inherit Sadini's magic wand and will share in the powers the wand possesses.
Late at night in Sadini's trailer, while Irene is with George, Hugo waits for Sadini's arrival and soon stabs him to death with the knife from a nearby table. Hiding the body in a trunk, he leaves George in the trailer passed out drunk with the body after George arrives to warn Hugo of Irene's plot. Hugo arrives outside of George's trailer in Sadini's cape, wand in hand, to convince Irene that they can now run off together and that nothing can interfere with their plans.
Startled by Hugo's demeanor, Irene tries to escape, but she slips and falls, hitting her head and rendering herself unconscious. Still trying to set Irene's mind at ease over the situation, Hugo scoops up Irene and carries her off to the performance tent. There, as a demonstration of his newly acquired magical powers, he attempts to perform Sadini's "sawing a woman in half" trick on Irene, to her horror as she awakens screaming. Hugo shouts, "Smile, Irene! Smile! Smile!," as the picture fades to black.
In his closing monologue, Hitchcock explains: "I don't quite know how to put this, however, I must tell you the truth. The saw worked excellently, but the wand didn't. Hugo was terribly upset, and Irene was beside herself. As for the police, they misunderstood the whole thing and arrested Hugo for murder."
Lost episode and public domain
"The Sorcerer's Apprentice" episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents never aired on the NBC Television network because the finale, by 1960s standards, was deemed "too gruesome" by sponsor Revlon. The following season, Alfred Hitchcock Presents switched to a 1-hour format and a new name (The Alfred Hitchcock Hour), thus rendering the half-hour episode unusable. The episode eventually was released in the program's syndication package to affiliate stations without a word of complaint.
"The Sorcerer's Apprentice", once denied network broadcast, is now the most widely distributed Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode of all those produced. Due to interpretation of the public domain status of the copyright for this episode, it thrives in numerous VHS and DVD releases attached to the Hitchcock name, usually as an addition to a Hitchcock set, often with his silent era pieces that also have lapsed copyrights. "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" can be viewed free on Internet Archive.
- "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" The Sorcerer's Apprentice at the Internet Movie Database
- Watch "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" The Sorcerer's Apprentice at the Internet Archive