Sunday, January 7, 2018

vintage 1950s TV

Alfred Hitchcock Presents

          Alfred Hitchcock Presents is a television anthology series hosted and executive produced by Alfred Hitchcock, which 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 thirty years.

          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 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.
          Hitchcock appears again after the title sequence, and 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.

          Hitchcock closed the show in much the same way as it opened, but mainly to tie up loose ends rather than a joke. 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."

          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.  The last new episode aired on June 26, 1965, and the series continued to be popular in syndication for decades.

          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 and Harold J. Stone.  "The Glass Eye" (1957) won an Emmy Award for director Robert Stevens. "An Unlocked Window" (1965) earned an Edgar Award for writer James Bridges in 1966.

          The most famous episodes remain writer Roald Dahl's "Man from the South" (1960) starring Steve McQueen and.  The episode was later referenced and remade in the film Four Rooms, with Quentin Tarantino directing a segment called "The Man from Hollywood."

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