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Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Entry updated 6 September 2017. Tagged: TV.

US tv series (1955-1965). Shamley Productions for Revue Studios, Universal Television. Executive producer: Alfred Hitchcock. Producers were Joan Harrison and Norman Lloyd. Directors included Hitchcock, Robert Stevens, Paul Henreid, Herschel Daugherty, Norman Lloyd, Arthur Hiller, Alan Crosland Jr, James Neilson and Jus Addiss. Writers included Ray Bradbury, Robert Bloch, Harlan Ellison, Richard Matheson, Charles Beaumont, John Collier and Stirling Silliphant. 361 episodes; 268 of 25 minutes under the original title and, from September 1962, 93 of 50 minutes as The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. Black and white.

Alfred Hitchcock hosted this anthology series, appearing at the beginning and end of every episode to amuse audiences with deadpan humour, usually aimed at the commercials. Episodes were almost always adapted from published stories and generally featured twist endings; although the vast majority were crime dramas, a good handful fell into the genres of horror, fantasy and sf.

The following instalments are of particular sf interest. In "Design for Loving" (9 November 1958) adapted by Ray Bradbury from his own story "Marionettes, Inc" (March 1949 Startling), people purchase lifelike Android duplicates of themselves to fool their spouses. "Special Delivery" (29 November 1959), with an original screenplay by Bradbury, implies an Alien Invasion by spores from space and became his story "Come into My Cellar" (October 1962 Galaxy; vt "Boys! Raise Giant Mushrooms in Your Cellar!" in The Machineries of Joy coll 1964). "The Blessington Method" (15 November 1959), based on "The Blessington Method" (June 1956 Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine) by Stanley Ellin (1916-1986), is set in a 1980 future when the human lifespan has been extended to 125 years and a company for hire eliminates troublesome relatives who have lived too long; Ellin's most famous story "Specialty of the House" (May 1948 Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine), a disturbing tale about a restaurant's mysterious special dish, was also adapted as "Specialty of the House" (13 December 1959). "The Doubtful Doctor" (4 October 1960), adapted by Jerry Sohl from "The Doubtful Doctor" (2 April 1960 Saturday Evening Post) by Louis Paul, concerns a man transported two and a half years into his own past (see Time Travel). In "Consider Her Ways" (28 December 1964), based on John Wyndham's novella "Consider Her Ways" (in Sometime, Never, anth 1956, ed anon) a woman finds herself transported to an all-female future where men have died out from the side effects of an experimental virus. Further episodes used fantasy and supernatural themes: these included "The Magic Shop" (10 January 1964), based on H G Wells's "The Magic Shop" (June 1903 The Strand).

The series was relaunched by NBC for a single season in 1985-1986, and taken up by USA Network 1987-1989; Hitchcock's iconic introductions were colourized and reused in both these versions. [LW]


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