Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Alfred Hitchcock Presents was a half-hour anthology
series hosted by Alfred Hitchcock. The series featured both mysteries and
melodramas. By the premiere of the show on October 2, 1955, Hitchcock had
been directing films for over three decades.
Each episode would start with Hitchcock's infamous silhouette profile
filling in with black. The camera pans to Hitchcock, who drolly introduces
the story. These famous satires and puns have become synonymous with the
image, voice, and personality of Hitchcock. Each opening took place on a
set from that evening's short film.
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. An alternative version for European audiences would instead
include jokes at the expense of Americans in general.
Hitchcock would close the show in much the same way as it was opened,
but now to tie up loose ends rather than joke. He told TV Guide
that his reassurances that the criminal had been apprehended were "a
necessary gesture to morality..."
For later seasons opening remarks were also filmed with Hitchcock
speaking in French and German for the show's international presentations,
reflecting his real life fluency in both languages.
The episodes were characterized by their suspense and surprise endings.
A list of notable shows and actors follows this article.
Originally running at half an hour, the show was later extended to a
full hour and retitled The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. Despite what the
viewer may be lead to believe, Hitchcock only directed seventeen of the
two hundred and sixty eight filmed episodes. Robert Altman directed a
great number of episodes, giving his career a vital boost to his future
credit as a director.
The last new episode aired on June 26, 1962, but the series continued
to be popular in syndication for decades.
In 1985, the National Broadcasting Company aired a new TV-movie based
upon the series, combining newly-filmed stories with colorized footage of
Hitchcock from the original series introducing 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. A new Alfred Hitchcock Presents
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 two seasons before NBC cancelled it,
but it was then produced for two more years by USA Network.
Notable guest stars
- Alfred himself would occasionally put in a cameo appearance,
although not as often as he did in his movies.
- Barbara Baxley, six appearances
- Barbara Bel Geddes, four appearances
- Pat Collinge, six appearances
- Mildred Dunnock, four appearances
- Robert H. Harris, eight appearances
- Paul Hartman, five appearances
- Robert Horton, five appearances
- Henry Jones, four appearances
- Brian Keith, five appearances
- Cloris Leachman ("Premonition", October 9, 1955)
- Hugh Marlowe, four appearances
Alfred Hitchcock Presents, 30 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 1963. It was followed by The Alfred
Hitchcock Hour, which lasted for three seasons.
Two episodes were nominated for Emmy Awards, ("The Case of Mr.
Pelham", 1955, and "Lamb to the Slaughter", 1958).
One 1963 episode ("The Sorcerer's Apprentice") was not
initially broadcast by NBC because the FCC felt that the ending was too
gruesome. The plot has a magician's assistant performing a sawing a woman
in half trick, not knowing it's a gimmick, and he cuts the unconscious
woman in half. The episode has since been shown in syndication.