Alfred Hitchcock Presents Anthology Series - A Close Cousin of The Twilight Zone
After watching the Twilight Zone I was looking for similar series that focused on edge of the seat thrillers, sci-fi, and more. All of this, of course, I wanted in black and white. So here is a trip into the brilliant mind of Alfred Hitchcock.
Who is known as the master of suspense?
Alfred Hitchcock is one of the most well-known directors of all time for his unique style which made the audience an unwilling voyeur to step up the level of anxiety and fear. This style even came to be known as Hitchcockian for the uneasy camera angles that he put his viewers through. You can see this in some of his most popular movies like The Birds, Vertigo, and Psycho.
Just like the current day Russo brothers in the MCU, Hitchcock made notable cameos in his movies. His brilliant career spanned over six decades, entertaining people along the way. Considering his influence of work in the field of cinema, especially in the thriller and mystery genre, Alfred Hitchcock has been anointed as the Master of Suspense, and rightfully so.
Is Alfred Hitchcock Presents Similar to the Twilight Zone?
At first glance, Alfred Hitchcock Presents looks similar to The Twilight Zone in terms of the plotlines and general premise. But close observation will yield several differences. For example, The Twilight Zone is an expansive show that covered various themes from human psychology to the supernatural and extra-terrestrials as well.
Hitchcock's anthology shows mainly dealt with human nature and the situations that result from the same. In all the episodes, you will see a hint of humor and irony and is rarely pure horror and morbidity. You can see that in the way Hitchock took care to introduce each episode in a humorous way to the audience and his comedic contempt for his sponsors and ads.
What is the best Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode?
The five seasons of this wonderful anthology series have various episodes that are highly entertaining. Here are a few episodes that are I thought were worth mentioning.
Not the Running Type.
A person working for an investment company - Milton Potter just ups and disappears after 13 years of keeping his head down and working. With him, he also takes $200,000 to make his life easy. To everybody's surprise, Potter gives himself up to the authorities, sans the money. putting himself in prison for a good 12 years.
After getting out of prison he gives up all the money to the police captain who took on his case the first time over. While traveling on a ship to France, he is seen chatting up a fellow traveler and casually mentioning the interest in investing $200,000 is around $154,000!
Now, the reason why I found this episode particularly interesting is the set of similarities it shared with "The Shawshank Redemption." Both protagonists are mild-mannered people who are mostly innocent (almost). Both cases see the story leads planning years ahead to lead a comfortable life. Hell, both characters are bankers and end up in the prison library. There are a few dialogues that sound really similar too.
And the Desert Shall Bloom.
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Two old-timers in the middle of nowhere are in a pickle when law enforcement shows up to tell them that they will soon be forced out of their property in the Mojave desert in Nevada. The argument that the authorities make is that the land they occupy is too arid to grow anything. The counter-offer is to help the senior citizens to a place closer to civilization, in exchange for their strategically placed land that can be put up for development by others. The test the two men have to pass to retain their settlement is to grow a rose bush to prove the land is fit for a self-sustaining lifestyle at least, if not farming.
The two old men who inhabit an old rickety house are then paid a visit by a hardened criminal in the night, making things worse. After a brief confrontation between the criminal and the old men, the next scene cuts to policemen being shown a healthy rose bush while keeping mum on the disappearance of the criminal without a clue!
Murder Me Twice.
This particular episode employs a heavy dose of dark humor and reflects Hitchcock's signature style of psychological horror infused with strains of comedy. At a dinner party a woman who is presumably unhappy with her marriage volunteers to be hypnotized and kills her husband in front of all the guests. Her defense - she was hypnotized and hence was not in control of her faculties whatsoever.
When the hypnotist is brought to court along with the woman, the incident repeats with the hypnotist himself! The woman goes scot-free at the end of this interesting episode with her retaining a coy smile as she walks away.
Who were the writers on Alfred Hitchcock Presents?
Alfred Hitchcock was an excellent curator of stories and believed that it was best to enact previously published works as opposed to freshly written works. Hitchcock believed that writers would always save the best writings for themselves and not offer it up to him for the anthology show.
The scripts for the series episodes were adapted from short stories that were written by critically acclaimed authors such as Roald Dahl, John Cheever, Ray Bradbury, and H.G Wells. Some of the stories that were adapted were also from the Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine.
The cast of this brilliant show was equally stellar with names such as Steve McQueen, Robert Redford, Gena Rowlands, Leslie Neilson, and Charles Bronson.
What is the difference between The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and Alfred Hitchcock Presents?
A unique anthology series for its time, Alfred Hitchcock Presents was created, hosted, and produced by the master of suspense himself. This show was aired on CBS and NBC networks between 1955 and 1965 and Hitchcock used to refer to these series episodes as "plays." This series was renamed from 1962 to 1965 as The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and therefore both names effectively point to the same TV show.
Where can I watch the new Alfred Hitchcock Presents?
Hitchcock's series is different from the Twilight Zone in that it tends to go lighter on the horror and more on the comedy aspect. While the entire anthology series is available on DVD, you can also stream Season 1 on Netflix and most of the other episodes from Seasons 1-4 on Hulu with the respective subscriptions.
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