Series: Alfred Hitchcock Presents Series 1
Alfred Hitchcock is a legend. Not a legend in today’s terms. He hasn’t pulled off a whacky trick on a skateboard, or uploaded a funny clip to YouTube… No, Alfred Hitchcock is a legend as defined by the Dictionary, not by modern colloquialism.
By the time that Hitchcock began starring as the host of the anthology series ‘ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS’ in 1955, he had already made around fifty movies — including THE 39 STEPS (1935), LIFEBOAT (1944), DIAL M FOR MURDER (1954), and REAR WINDOW (1954). And while still working on the television series he would go on to release other classics like THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (1956), VERTIGO (1958), NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959), and PSYCHO (1960). To say that Hitchcock was at his peak during the time the series was being made, is a vast understatement. In fact, it’s fair to say that the man only started to slow down once the series had been completed. From the age of 23 Hitchcock directed almost a film a year, until his death in 1980 (His last movie, FAMILY PLOT, was released in 1976).
Hopefully, some of the movies I’ve mentioned above will be familiar to movie fans of any age, but even if the names themselves don’t have some resonance with you, then chances are that you’ve actually seen something else — a alternately named remake, or something heavily derivative — such is the influence of HItchcock’s work. The 39 episodes included in the complete first season of Alfred Hitchcock Presents are no exception.
By today’s standards these episodes are extremely dated: The dialogue is clunky, the acting is melodramatic and often distractingly over the top, the soundtracks are often shrill and grate on your nerves, rather than complement the piece they accompany, but lets cut them some slack in regards to these elements. I mean, the show IS over half a century old!
Occasionally, while watching the series, episodes seem obvious. The plot appears to be laid out in front of you in a familiar fashion and the resolution will come as no surprise, but what you’ve got to keep in mind is that, as I mentioned before, Hitchcock’s work has been mimicked and reinterpreted numerous times. If there were some way to do a forensic study on the clichés of modern cinema then chances are that many of those trails would lead us right back to Alfred Hitchcock – Not because his work is cliché, but because it is the origin of those clichés!
Apart from the episode plots, there’s much to enjoy about watching this series. It’s awesome to see actors who are only familiar to us from classic re-runs (One episode features BOTH Col. Klink AND Sgt. Schultz from HOGAN’S HEROES!), and other familiar faces who were just starting out on their careers at the time this series was being made (A young Charles Bronson shows up a couple of times!). Not to mention the droll comedy of Alfred Hitchcock himself, who introduces each and every episode of the series.
While this release is of a television series, it was made by a man who thought in big screen terms and as such is an absolute must own for anyone who considers themselves a fan of classic film… or even if you just want to watch one of the most influential men in cinema history do his thing.
What shouldn’t come as a surprise while watching this six DVD set — although it very much does — is that many of the episodes in this release DO come as a complete surprise! Somehow, even after fifty-four years, there are episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents that are able to catch you off guard. [source]