After one year of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, television had been forever changed. Hitch proved beyond any doubt that film quality production was practical in the fledgling television format. Nothing changed as the show returned for its second season. Hitch had a remarkable eye for good stories, and he often found them in the most unlikely of places. Take two of this season’s episodes. In The Three Dreams Of Mr. Findlater, a man fantasizes about his nagging wife’s death. In A Man greatly Beloved, we find a small tow… embracing none other than the Boston Strangler. Nothing new in the macabre world of Hitchcock, except perhaps that these tales were born in the same brain that brought us Pooh Bear and Piglet. A.A. Milne provided these wickedly sinister tales. Hitch mastered the art of dark wit. In The Indestructible Mr. Weems, a lodge brotherhood tries to cash in on a dying member, but in the world of Hitch we probably already knew how this was going to end. Hitch himself directed One More Mile To Go, which would eventually provide some of his later inspiration for Psycho. We also find the only multi-episode story of the entire series in I Killed The Count, which aired over three weeks.
Hitch was also a good judge of acting talent. A great number of the show’s performers became household names in one acting medium or another. In season 2 look for Dick York, Barbara Baxley, James Gregory, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Ralph Meeker, Rip Torn, Steve Forrest, Claude Rains, Vic Morrow, Jessica Tandy, and many more. Of course, you can count on Hitch himself to continue his tradition of introducing each episode and then wrapping things up, usually with an additional moral epilogue.
Each episode is presented in its original broadcast full frame black and white format. While some effort to restore the footage is evident, there are still many instances of print damage visible. There is a great deal of range here. Some episodes are quite clear, while others display greater numbers of defects. Brightness is often inconsistent, even within a particular episode.
Each episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents is presented in a Dolby Digital 2.0 track which, of course, is basically mono. The sound does provide a bit too much hiss and crackle at times. After all, this is a 50 year old program. The defects are never distracting. You’ll hear each and every word spoken with clarity. Music cues are often distorted.
While there are no bonus features, this is a 39 episode set. I must also thank Universal for their recent trend toward single-sided discs. Now, if we can do something about the overlapping discs in the fold-out case.
One of the most imitated directors of all time, Alfred Hitchcock didn’t believe that television was a step down. He seemed to thrive in a presentation style that was still new and often awkward. That comfortable persona just made the stories that much more accessible. Often out of sorts with the endless parade of murderers and their victims, Hitch was that calming voice to remind us that it was just a teleplay. Until next season: “Good Evening”.