I am forcing myself to write this post, because I haven't written in days and days. I feel terrible about that, but I've been busy living life! Also, I haven't felt inspired to write, but now I'm thinking that I need to just make myself get back into it. So, today I will write about Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
Alfred Hitchcock Presents is a half hour television show that ran from 1955 to 1965. The opening sequence is perhaps my favorite part of the broadcast, as it features Alfred himself engaged in a kind of strange tableau, making jokes with us (the audience) about things that may or may not be related to the short story which follows. Sometimes, these little sketches are perfectly random, having nothing whatsoever to do with the program's content. Other times, Hitchcock will find some funny way of incorporating an element of the story into his little set-up, and we will be made even more anxious for the ultimate reveal. Also, the theme music is Charles Gounod's Funeral March of a Marionette, which I just love and which my mom has in a Halloween music maker.
The story at the heart of each episode of Presents can be atmospheric and unsettling, or it can be silly and overacted. Even the campiest of the stories are vastly entertaining, though. If you are an old movie buff, or if you grew up when this series first came out, you will recognize a ton of older actors. That is half the fun of the show, picking out actors you know and trying to place them in the context of whatever film or show you first saw them in.
I just got the chance to watch the first third of season two this weekend, but so far my favorite episode is about a woman who is deathly afraid to be alone. "Fog Closing In" tells the story of a woman who wishes she still lived with her parents. Mary and her husband live in a big beautiful suburban home, but she doesn't like to be in the house alone, though we aren't quite sure why. When her husband announces that he must leave for a business trip, she is very visibly upset and tries to get him to stay at least until her housekeeper/companion lady gets there. He refuses, saying essentially "Get a grip!", and leaves her to her own devices with the parting instructions that she is not to call her parents until after the night rates kick in at 6 pm.
No sooner has he left, than Mary hears a crash in the kitchen, which is at the back of the house. She looks into the dark kitchen hallway and sees two green eyes glowing back at her. After racing to switch on the light, she discovers that it's only a neighborhood cat who's gotten in and knocked down a vase. As she looks around to discover how the cat could have trespassed, she notices that the back door is open a hint and that the lock is broken, as if someone pried their way in. She turns away from the door, and sees a scared looking man lurking against her kitchen wall.
For some reason she is not afraid of this man, perhaps because he is afraid enough for the both of them. He explains that he is an escapee from the mental institution up the road and that he doesn't want to go back. The woman agrees to cover for him and when the thugs from the asylum show up, she shoos the patient out the back door and shows the orderlies around her house. Once they are satisfied that their patient isn't there, they leave and said patient sneaks back in. Mary confesses that she has the same dream every night. In it, she is in her bedroom and hears heavy footsteps slowly coming up the stairs towards her. She says that she always wakes up right before she sees who it is, but that she knows this is how she will die.
The story ends with the escapee leaving, the woman going up to the bedroom to call her parents, and then heavy footsteps on the stair. Slowly a figure comes around the bend and by the time we can see who it is, the woman has grabbed a gun from her nightstand and fired a fatal shot. We pan down to see it was her husband, having come back presumably to check on her after he heard about the escaped patient. She steps over his body, picks up the phone, and says, "Hello? Daddy? Yes, everything is fine now, Daddy. I can come home now."
I love female madness and this story, while short, summed up the tragedy of a woman who never really wanted to leave home, and who finally found what she thought was a way back.
And with that I will say, "Good night."