The Alfred Hitchcock Hour-Complete Third Season (1964)

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Released 22-May-2013

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category TV Drama Series Isolated Musical Score-Plus FX, on 19 episodes.
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1964
Running Time 1405:30 (Case: 1450)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (96:00)
Multi Disc Set (8)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Alf Kjellin
Joseph M. Newman
William Friedkin
John Brahm
Studio
Distributor
Revue / MCA
Madman Entertainment
Starring Peter Fonda
Phyllis Thaxter
John Cassavetes
Efrem Zimbalist Jr
Teresa Wright
Bruce Dern
Elsa Lanchester
Andrew Duggan
Lola Albright
George Kennedy
Peter Lawford
Vera Miles
Franchot Tone
Case Amaray Variant
RPI $59.95 Music Lyn Murray
Bernard Herrmann
Lalo Schifrin


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (448Kb/s)
Isolated Score & Effects Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles None Smoking Yes, In period (1960s)
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Here is The Complete Third Season of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, completing Madman's local - and exclusive to this date - release of this famous series, included by Time magazine in its list of The 100 Best TV Shows of |All-Time. In Season three there are twenty-nine-rather than thirty-two episodes, but fans will be overjoyed that they can now own the complete series on DVD. Having all three, or even one, of the volumes comprising this series is like having a loved collection of short stories on your library shelf. Escape can be found at any time by selecting just one of these stories, settling back and putting yourself in the hands of possibly the greatest movie storyteller of all time.

     After seven successful seasons of the twenty-five minute series Alfred Hitchcock Presents, in 1962 the famous director hosted a new series which was expanded to fifty minutes under the new title The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. This new series ran for three seasons, maintaining the same extraordinary quality that had cemented the original series in the viewing habits and hearts of millions worldwide. The original executive-producer was Joan Harrison, who started with Hitchcock as a secretary in 1935, but in 1958 she had married novelist/screenwriter Eric Ambler (The Mask of Dimitrios), and mid-Season Two Norman Lloyd took the helm, always under Hitchcock's scrutiny. The twenty-nine episodes, here presented in correct chronological order, were telecast in the USA beginning 5th October 1964, and concluding on 10th May 1965. Madman locally released the original half-hour series, five seasons of which I have reviewed, and happily for fans of "the master of suspense", all three seasons of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour are now available locally. This release should be particularly supported by Hitchcock fans as the series has not been released in the USA. There has been a messy release in Germany, available in the UK, with only ten episodes per set, and not giving the episodes in telecast order. So this Madman release of material from the Universal vaults is very special indeed.

     This was another anthology series, a collection of individual stories without any continuing characters or themes, that each week delivered to its viewers fifty minutes of murder, mystery and intrigue. The format of these longer episodes remained true to the half hour series, beginning with the familiar theme, Charles Guonod's Funeral March of the Marionette. This season drops the famous stock opening using Hitchcock's profile and replaces it with a modestly animated "spooky" opening, first seen on Episode Four of Season One. It is also a different recording of the Guonod theme, taken at a slightly slower tempo. Rest assured that, as was the case for Season Two, the brilliant openings and closes featuring Alfred Hitchcock are all here. Most of the closings include an introduction to scenes from the next week program, but these previews are not included. It's most interesting that for one of his closing comments Hitchcock drops his usual flippant tone and becomes totally serious. This occurs at the end of Episode 10 which concentrates on the 1960's burgeoning problem of juvenile delinquency. Appropriately, considering the subject matter, for Episode 27 the famed director is replaced by robots.

     Once again it is the writing which sets this series above any other anthology I can think of. The variety of settings, characters, situations and themes is astonishing. The importance of the writing is reflected in the fact that the first credit on every episode, even before the stars, is for the writers. Many of the stories first appeared in either Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine or Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, but there are other tales which are original or adapted from another source. Amongst the writers you will recognize are Robert (Psycho) Bloch on four episodes, James Bridges and Ray Bradbury. Noted directors contributing to this season include Norman Lloyd, Joseph Pevney, John Brahm, Harry Morgan, star of M*A*S*H, and, for the final episode, William (The French Connection) Friedkin.

     Season Three's twenty-nine episodes have been spread by Madman over eight discs. The titles and stars are:

Disc One

  • 1. Return of Verge Likens : Peter Fonda
  • 2. Change of Address : Arthur Kennedy, Royal Dano and Phyllis Thaxter
  • 3. Water's Edge : Ann Sothern and John Cassavete
  • 4. The Life Work of Juan Diaz : Alejandro Rey and Frank Silvera
  • Disc Two

  • 5. See the Monkey Dance : Efrem Zimbalist Jr, Patricia Medina and Roddy McDowell
  • 6. Lonely Place :Teresa Wright and Bruce Dern
  • 7. The McGregor Affair : Elsa Lanchester and Andrew Duggan
  • 8. Misadventure : Barry Nelson, Lola Albright and George Kennedy
  • Disc Three

  • 9. Triumph : Ed Begley and Jeanette Nolan
  • 10. Memo from Purgatory : James Caan, Tony Musante and Walter Koenig
  • 11. Consider Her Ways : Barbara Barrie and Gladys Cooper
  • 12. Crimson Witness : Peter Lawford, Martha Hyer and Julie London
  • Disc Four

  • 13. Where the Woodbine Twineth : Margaret Leighton
  • 14. Final Performance : Franchot Tone and Roger Perry
  • 15. Thanatos Palace Hotel : Angie Dickinson and Steven Hill
  • 16. One of the Family : Jeremy Slate and Lilia Skala
  • Disc Five

  • 17. An Unlocked Window : Dana Winter and Louise Latham
  • 18. The Trap : Anne Francis and Robert Strauss
  • 19. Wally the Beard : Larry Blyden and Kathie Brown
  • 20. Death Scene : Vera Miles, John Carradine and James Farentino
  • Disc Six

  • 21. The Photographer and the Undertaker : Jack Cassidy
  • 22. Thou Still Unravished Bride : Ron Randell, David Carradine and Sally Kellerman
  • 23. Completely Foolproof : J.D. Cannon and Patricia Barry
  • 24. Power of Attorney : Richard Johnson
  • Disc Seven

  • 25. The World's Oldest Motive : Henry Jones, Linda Lawson and Robert Loggia
  • 26. The Monkey's Paw - A Retelling : Leif Erickson, Jane Wyatt and Lee Majors
  • 27. The Second Wife : June Lockhart and John Anderson
  • Disc Eight

  • 28. Night Fever : Colleen Dewhurst
  • 29. Off Season : John Gavin and Richard Jaeckel
  •      Once again this is a terrific collection of stars, and you will see other names in episode credits, and faces on screen, that you will recognize. These include John Hoyt, Michael Pate (twice), Lynn Loring, Virginia Gregg (twice), Leif Ericson, Carl Benton Reid, Juanita Moore, Kathryn Hays, Louise Latham, John Kerr, Alan Napier, Kent Smith, Patricia Barry, Geoffrey Horne - remember him in The Bridge on the River Kwai? - Zalman King, Joyce Meadows, Geraldine Fitzgerald, the great Fay Bainter in her very last screen appearance, Kathleen Freeman, Lee Majors, Peggy Lipton and Tom Drake. WOW!

         In the music department we once again see the name of the great Bernard Herrmann scoring eight episodes, with the remainder mainly scored by Lyn Murray (The Paleface / To Catch a Thief), with one episode each from Lalo Schifrin, remembered for his Mission: Impossible theme and his Dirty Harry scores, and jazz great Benny Carter, recipient of a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987.

         This was a series that exuded quality in every department. The sets are excellent, whether interior or exterior - even though there is a definite familiarity to some of the scenes, with the famous street from The Hunchback of Notre Dame receiving an airing once again. This familiarity comes from the fact that the show was "filmed at the Studios of Universal City", as the credits weekly reminded us. There is everything here an audience could wish for. Expertly crafted scripts in the hands of talented directors, with gifted stars delivering tales of murder and mayhem, suspense and intrigue, always peppered with devilish humour and a dash of the bizarre, which may not come until the twist often found late in the plot. Whenever the culprit escaped retribution at the final fadeout, censorship of the times demanded that the director, in his epilogue, reassure us of the ultimate fate that inevitably befell the evildoer. How times have changed! This is an anthology that you can dip into at any time, like a loved volume of short stories waiting to be picked up, dipped into and savoured.

         The third season looks even better than the first two. The black and white images are nigh flawless. I sat many times staring at the blacks watching for the very rare fleck of white. It will give fans considerable pleasure to see how great each one of these black and white episodes looks. We have never seen them in such quality. (The one exception is with the closing credits of Episode 23, which have hopelessly high contrast. But this is ONLY in the credits.) Television in the sixties was not the crisp and clear image we see today and to compensate for the general poor TV quality then available, TV series were often shot in extremely brightly lit sets. Seen as they are presented in this release, some scenes do look over lit and artificial, but most look utterly sensational. There are close-ups that are so searingly sharp that individual eye lashes look sticky with mascara. For moviegoers with some years on the clock there is great pleasure in just looking at the superb close-ups of stars such as Teresa Wright, Lola Albright, Geraldine Fitzgerald, and Peter Lawford, to mention just a few. The images are so close and sharp, with these stars of a long ago yesteryear looking older than in their heyday, but looking fantastic.

         With this third volume safely positioned on the shelf beside the two earlier sets, I now have a magnificent anthology of almost one hundred engrossing tales told with intelligence, style and wit that we will probably never see the like of again. Thank you Madman - but how about a "Complete Series" box set at a reduced price?

         Note : A small amount of the content of this review is repeated from my earlier reviews of Seasons One and Two.

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    Transfer Quality

    Video

         This classic drama anthology is presented at the original ratio of 1.33:1.

         The overall quality of the image is astoundingly good, although this is definitely not a credit to any restoration. It is more due to the quality of the original black and white photography, and the fact that the series was shot on 35 mm film - and remained in the hands of Universal. The stock opening with the "Good evening" welcome from the famous host is in poor condition, but apart from these few seconds virtually every frame of the individual episodes is without exception extremely pleasing, sharp and clear and with very good detail. This also extends to the darker scenes, which are uniformly excellent. Close-ups are at times bizarre in their detail, with beautifully close shots of so many famous faces. The black and white photography is beautifully rendered, with very wide grey scale, deep blacks and without flaring of whites. For this season I noticed no digital processing and film artefacts are almost non-existent. Purchasers of this set will, I feel, be stunned by the quite beautiful fifty year-old black and white images that appear on their screens.

        There are no subtitles.

    Video Ratings Summary
    Sharpness
    Shadow Detail
    Colour
    Grain/Pixelization
    Film-To-Video Artefacts
    Film Artefacts
    Overall

    Audio

         There are two audio streams, both English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono. For most episodes the second stream provides an isolated music score combined with some sound effects. Seven episodes duplicate the first stream on the second track, while Episode 20 has only one audio stream. Eight episodes give us the scores created by the great Bernard Herrmann, and this is surely a major bonus for devotees of film scores. At times there is some slight distortion, but this is a miniscule complaint considering what is being made available to anyone with an interest in film music.

         This is a clean, clear mono soundtrack. Dialogue is the primary concern here, and there is not one syllable ever in doubt. There are no sync problems. There is a hollowness by today's standards, but effects are fine and the music is clear and of good, if limited, aural quality. The quality of the isolated score/effects tracks is surprisingly good, rather like listening to a good quality old mono LP. Throughout there is the occasional crackle and pop, but these are rare and never obtrusive. The subwoofer has a good rest.

         There is nothing in the audio department that will detract from your enjoyment of these classic dramas.

    Audio Ratings Summary
    Dialogue
    Audio Sync
    Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
    Surround Channel Use
    Subwoofer
    Overall

    Extras

         Nothing but the isolated scores on the second audio stream. How nice it would have been to be given as an extra a documentary that concentrates on his TV output.

    Menu

         The menu is the same for each of the eight discs, the only changes being in the episode details. The menu is presented over a monochromatic graphic of the director's profile and the famous Guonod theme.

    Individual Episode Title

         Each episode title is listed with the names of stars appearing. On approximately one episode per disc, episode selection is immediately followed by the voice of Hitchcock giving one of his famous "Good evening" welcomes - then we go to the episode itself.

    Isolated Music/Effects Track

         Nineteen of the twenty-nine episodes have an isolated score/effects track.

    Back of Slick

         Episode titles are listed along with major stars appearing in that episode.

    Censorship

        There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

    R4 vs R1

    NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

        There has been no release of The Alfred Hitchcok Hour in Region 1.

    Summary

          The Alfred Hitchcock Hour : The Complete Third Season completes this major release from Madman. These further twenty-nine episodes bring to a conclusion what is possibly the greatest TV anthology series ever produced. The local Madman release of this three season series gives us the entire ninety-six episodes in correct, telecast order. Dozens of stars, excellent writers and skilled directors created TV drama of the 60s at its very best. The quality, with prints from the Universal vaults, will delight any fan. This third season is almost without physical blemish with transfers that are basically clean, sharp, clear and of outstanding visual quality. Select any one of these tales and you will be transported into a world of TV nostalgia and entertainment, combining murder, mystery, mayhem and delicious wit. Season Three adds another twenty-three and a half hours of brilliant TV entertainment, bringing the three season total to seventy-five hours of first rate entertainment and nostalgia.

    Ratings (out of 5)

    Video
    Audio
    Extras
    Plot
    Overall

    © Garry Armstrong (BioGarry)
    Monday, July 29, 2013
    Review Equipment
    DVDSONY BLU RAY BDP-S350, using HDMI output
    DisplaySamsung LA55A950D1F : 55 inch LCD HD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
    Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
    AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS777
    SpeakersVAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)

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