Series / Alfred Hitchcock Presents

"Good evening..."

Genre Anthology television series presented by famed thriller director Alfred Hitchcock. The original run was from 1955 to 1962 (half-hour episodes) and 1962 to 1965 (hour-long episodes, as The Alfred Hitchcock Hour), bouncing between CBS and NBC and totalling over 200 episodes (of which fewer than two dozen were directed by Hitchcock himself).

Each episode was a self-contained mystery/thriller story, with Hitchcock appearing before and after to make introductory and closing remarks. Writers who either wrote episodes or had stories adapted for the series include Ambrose Bierce, Ray Bradbury, Robert Bloch, Roald Dahl, Avram Davidson, Harlan Ellison, Evan Hunter, Don Marquis, Richard Matheson, A. A. Milne, Ellis Peters, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Cornell Woolrich.

Notably for the time, Hitchcock would openly mock the concept of commercials (as opposed to the actual products themselves) in his remarks with statements such as "Join us next week as we present another fine selection of exciting and informative commercials. Oh, and if there's time, we'll also try to squeeze in a story between them."

A Revival, The New Alfred Hitchcock Presents, ran from 1985 to 1989; it featured new stories (and some newly-filmed remakes of old episodes) introduced by recycled (and colorized) footage of Hitchcock.

Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour provide examples of:

  • Absurdly High-Stakes Game: In "Man From the South" (1950s and 1980s versions), a young gambler accepts a bet that he can't light his cigarette lighter ten times in a row; if he loses the bet, he'll lose a finger.
  • And I Must Scream:
    • In "The Long Silence" a woman is paralyzed, unable to speak.
    • A similar situation occurs in the Hitchcock-directed episode "Breakdown", where a man suffers a car accident and is rendered almost completely paralyzed.
  • Affectionate Parody: Hitchcock parodies his own Rear Window with "Mr Blanchard's Secret".
  • Amoral Attorney: "Your Witness" features one, who gets his comeuppance in the end.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In the episode "Incident in a Small Jail," Leon Gorwald is arrested for jaywalking when it turns out he actually is responsible and not caught for several murders.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Stories often ended this way, but if they did Hitchcock would usually spare the finer feelings of the Moral Guardians and the show's sponsors by telling the audience in his closing remarks that of course the bad guy was brought to justice later on.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment: In the introduction of the episode "A Little Sleep", Hitchcock remarks of a St. Bernard with a keg: "Man's best friend! And a dog!"
  • Ballistic Discount: "Enough Rope for Two"
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: "The Monkey's Paw — A Retelling"
  • Bee People: In "Consider Her Ways", the human race develops into a hive society following a gendercide that kills off all the males.
  • Bodybag Trick: In "Final Escape" (1950s and 1980s versions), a prisoner plans to escape by hiding in the coffin of the next inmate to die, with an accomplice on the prison staff to come and dig it up later. The prisoner succeeds in hiding and being buried, and only then discovers that the other occupant of the coffin is the accomplice...
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: In "Arthur", the title character talks to the audience.
  • Bubble Pipe: Hitchcock introduces "The Perfect Crime" wearing a deerstalker and blowing a bubble pipe.
  • Buried Alive:
    • "Breakdown" has Joseph Cotton paralyzed in a car accident and taken for dead. He is saved at the last minute when an alert coroner notices a tear glimmering in his eye.
    • In "Final Escape" (1950s and 1980s versions), a prisoner plans to escape by hiding in the coffin of the next inmate to die, with an accomplice on the prison staff to come and dig it up later. The prisoner succeeds in hiding and being buried, but then discovers that the other occupant of the coffin is the accomplice...
  • Captain Ersatz: "Diamonds Aren't Forever", an episode of the '80s revival, featured one of James Bond, played by George Lazenby, no less.
  • Carpet-Rolled Corpse: "The Cadaver". Unusual in that the body inside wasn't actually murdered, although the guy who rolled it up inside thought it was.
  • Catch Phrase: "Good evening."
  • Cold Ham: Hitchcock was always this, but he was best at it here, in the opening and closing narrations.
  • Deadly Prank:
    • "Beta Delta Gamma" has a group of frat brothers heavily sedate one of their passed-out-drunk brothers and make the other passed-out-drunk brother think he killed him in an alcoholic blackout. Too bad he decided to bury the "dead guy" on the beach and the high tide washed away footprints and other traces...
    • "The Night the World Ended" has a guy use a fake newspaper to trick a homeless man into think the world will end that night. The homeless guy finds out and kills the prankster at the exact time the world was supposed to end.
    • In the Alfred Hitchcock Hour episode "The Cadaver" a college student arranges for another student to go on a date with a woman and wake up with a similar-looking cadaver, to scare him from drinking so much. And, of course, the prank victim finds out and kills him, putting his body in with the other cadavers.
  • Dead Man's Chest: "Bad Actor" has a guy who kills someone and uses the bathtub and some strong acid to get rid of the body, after dismembering it. He's almost done, with just the head to go, when company comes calling, and he has to hide the head in an ice bucket.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The Master of Suspense is a master of this, too.
  • Death by Irony: In "Your Witness", an Amoral Attorney gets a hit-and-run driver acquitted by introducing misleading medical reports indicating that the sole eyewitness is legally blind and therefore incompetent as a witness. When the attorney is later run down in the courthouse parking lot by his long-suffering wife, the only witness is the same man he had earlier discredited, who gleefully tells the cops, "It's a legal fact that I am incompetent as a witness!"
  • Death by Sex
  • Demonic Dummy:
    • In "The Glass Eye", a woman who has fallen for a charming ventriloquist discovers that he is just a life-size dummy, and his "dummy", played by Billy Barty, is the real ventriloquist.
    • "And So Died Riabouchinska", based on a short story written by Ray Bradbury, features a ventriloquist who acts as if his dummy Riabouchinska is a separate person (and seems more in love with her than with his wife, to the latter's distress). In the end, Riabouchinska rats him out for the murder of a blackmailer, but it remains ambiguous whether she acted on her own volition or was just the conduit for a confession he couldn't face making straight out.
  • Doppelgänger: "The Case of Mr Pelham"
  • Eat the Evidence: In "Lamb to the Slaughter", a woman murders her husband with a frozen leg of lamb, then puts it in the oven to roast, and serves it to the detectives as they discuss the mystery of where the murder weapon might have gone.
  • Edible Bludgeon: The frozen leg of lamb in "Lamb to the Slaughter".
  • Episode Title Card
  • Evil-Detecting Baby: Subverted in "Silent Witness". The baby cries whenever the man who killed her babysitter comes nearby. His guilty feelings make him suspect that the baby will actually get him caught, and it seems like he's deciding whether to do away with the child too. (He doesn't.) At the end we learn that the baby cries whenever any unknown man comes nearby.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Played With in the Black Comedy farce "A Matter of Murder". Car thief Philadelphia Harry and his Mooks steal Upper-Class Twit Sheridan Westcott's Rolls-Royce, only to discover that Westcott had strangled his nagging wife and was hiding her corpse in the trunk until he could get rid of it. Westcott and his equally amoral mistress respond by trying to frame Harry's gang for the murder, but the police aren't fooled; they know that Harry is an "ethical car thief" who would never hurt anyone.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Subverted. In the episode "Bull in a China Shop", Hitchcock apologizes for the fact that the story features neither a bull nor a china shop.
  • Fingore: The protagonist of "Man From the South" is at risk of having one of his fingers chopped off.
  • Fluffy Cloud Heaven: In "Whodunit," a dead mystery writer arrives here — complete with cloud, harp, and little fake wings — before getting the chance to go back in time and solve his own murder.
  • Game Show Appearance:
    • In the host segment teaser for "The Crooked Road", Hitch is placed in The $64,000 Question's sound proof booth and told to identify "What the following person just ate, drank, smoked, used or drove." Hitch pauses, then says, "Ah yes...the answer is..." and the shot fades out to the commercial. Interestingly, that episode aired on October 26, 1958, exactly two weeks before the game show, which was under scandal for rigging, was cancelled on November 9.
    • In the host segment teaser for "The Case of Mr Pelham", Hitch says, "...Following now the Sponsor will tell you the secret word. It's an everyday item you can find around the house. And if you don't have one, I recommend you get get one as soon as possible."
  • Genie in a Bottle: In his intro to "The Canary Sedan", Hitchcock dusts the inside of the tv screen and releases The Genie of the Picture Tube.
  • Great Detective: Charles Courtney (played by Vincent Price) from the episode "The Perfect Crime".
  • Heat Wave: "Shopping for Death" is set during a heatwave, and features a great dealing of crankiness ending in a murder.
  • Horror Host: Hitch's love for droll, macabre humor and props like gallows and guillotines place him square in this trope, despite a higher budget, original material, and a slot on nationwide networks.
  • Improvised Weapon: The frozen leg of lamb in "Lamb to the Slaughter".
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: Alfred Hitchcock presents, but he doesn't actually direct nearly as many episodes as you might assume.
  • Inn of No Return: Spirro's Club in "Specialty of the House" has a famous meat dish that's only served when a life member retires. Funny thing, the retiring member is never around when the dish is served...
  • Instrumental Theme Tune: "Funeral March of a Marionette" (1872) by Charles Gounod.
  • Karma Houdini: The parents in "Don't Interrupt" don't receive any retribution for silencing their son when he was trying to tell them that a man outside the train was dying.
  • The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday: In "The Magic Shop", based on the H. G. Wells story, the shop appears, the owner gets a boy interested, and later the shop and boy disappear, and the boy is returned, different, years later.
  • Lovely Assistant: "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" revolves around a woman who is a stage magician's wife and also his Lovely Assistant.
  • Magic 8 Ball: Possibly not magic, but a giant 8 Ball is Hitch's prop of choice in the intro to "The Money". At the end he walks behind it.
  • The Magic Poker Equation: In "Crack Of Doom" the hero, betting with borrowed money wins the big pot...but was only able to bluff sucessfully because he misread his Jack hold card as a Queen and really thought he had the winning hand.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: In "The Orderly World of Mr Appleby", Laurence Appleby murders his wife and makes it look like she tripped on a rug and fell. This comes back to bite him when his second wife dies in a genuine accident exactly like the one he faked.
  • Moral Guardians: If an episode ended with the killer still at large, Hitchcock was obliged to claim in his closing remarks that of course they were brought to justice soon afterward. For instance, in the episode "Lamb to the Slaughter", the woman tries to kill her second husband using the same method, but is caught when she fails to note the freezer had been unplugged and the meat is as soft as jelly.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Happens in "Annabel," though arguably begins as Death of the Hypotenuse.
  • Mummies at the Dinner Table: "Annabel" again.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • One of the '80s revival episodes was called "South By Southwest", featuring an actor who gets into trouble while auditioning for a remake of Hitch's classic North By Northwest.
    • In "Cheap Is Cheap", Dennis Day plays an extremely cheap man looking for an inexpensive way to kill his spendthrift wife. At one point, after blanching at a hitman's price of $500 to do the job, the hitman suggests Day do the job himself. When Day says he couldn't, the hitman mentions having seen "a story the other night about a woman who offed her husband with a leg of lamb".
  • Never Mess with Granny: Ms Cheney in "The Cheney Vase" may be an invalid old lady who's physically outmatched by the antagonist, but she has the brains to make up for it.
  • Nosy Neighbor: "Mr Blanchard's Secret" featuring a female version of Rear Window's Jimmy Stewart character, whose husband just wants her to Come Back to Bed, Honey.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: In "Don't Interrupt", a boy who's being disruptive on a train trip is offered a silver dollar if he can just keep quiet for ten minutes. Then the boy is the only person to notice that there's someone outside the window begging for help...
  • Offscreen Karma: Hitchcock would dish some out in his closing remarks, for the sake of the Moral Guardians' sensibilities, after any story in which The Bad Guy Wins.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: While fishing during the intro of "The Last Escape", Hitch catches a Mermaid. Unfortunately by the third break she is gone.
    Hitchcock: I suppose you're wondering what happenend to my catch. The Game Warden insisted I through her back in, because her measurements didn't meet requirements. In order to keep them, they must measure at least 36-22-15, and of course it is quite difficult to know where to take the last measurement.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: In "You Got to Have Luck", an escaped convict holds a woman hostage in her house when the telephone rings. He makes her answer it, and, listening into the conversation, tells her exactly how to answer each question from her mother on the other end. Later, after the guy let his guard down, the cops come busting in and arrest him. It turns out the woman was deaf but could speak without an accent and read lips as well. She was able to repeat what the guy said, but the mere fact that she was able to hold up one end of a telephone conversation tipped off her mother that something was going on.
  • Pet Heir: In "Craig's Will", old Mr Craig leaves his fortune to his dog instead of his nephew. The nephew is satisfied to wait until the dog dies and the fortune passes to him, but his girlfriend, who'd been looking forward to a share, decides to take matters into her own hands.
  • Poor Communication Kills: The twist ending of "Momentum."
  • Pretty in Mink: "Mrs. Bixby and the Colonel's Coat" is about an adulterous woman trying to keep the mink coat she got from her lover without raising her husband's suspicions.
  • Product Placement: At the end of "None Are So Blind" as the Theme Music starts up and the camera starts to turn away from him, Hitchcock says "Just a moment....if you would prefer your stories without my comments, might I suggest this new magazine", as he holds up a copy of his Alfred Hitchcock Magazine.
  • Puppet Permutation: Hitch's wrapup to the episode "And So Died Riabouchinska"
    Hitchcock: Tonight's story reminds me of my days in Vaudeville. I did an act called "Dr Speewack and His Puppets". I never did care for Dr Speewack... he always thought he was so much better than the rest of us.
  • Rape and Revenge: In "Revenge", a man sets out to get revenge on the man who raped his wife.
  • Rape Leads to Insanity: "Revenge" played on this idea without using the R word. A woman already recovering from a nervous breakdown is "assaulted" in her trailer. Her husband looks to avenge her by killing her assailant. One day, she points the man out to her husband, and he does the deed. Then she points to another man, and another, and another.
  • Rearrange the Song: The show featured several versions of "Funeral March of a Marionette" throughout its run.
  • Saint-Bernard Rescue: Alfred Hitchcock is rescued by a St. Bernard with a keg in the introduction of the episode "A Little Sleep".
  • Saw a Woman in Half: "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" features a magic act in which the showstopper is a version of this trick with a power saw.
  • Scream Discretion Shot: Used very effectively at the very end of "Never Again", when the protagonist realizes she killed her boyfriend during an alcoholic blackout.
  • The Scrooge: The main character of "Cheap is Cheap" is a penny-pinching miser who read other people's newspapers. In reality, he had quite a bit of money saved up.
  • Secret Test of Character: "Dry Run."
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: If you believe the closing monologue of "Triggers in Leash." The protagonist stops two characters from throwing their lives away over a pointless duel, but according to Hitchcock afterward, they die hours later from food poisoning from a meal she improperly cooked.
  • Shout-Out: Dennis Day, best known for being in the cast of The Jack Benny Program, stars in an episode named "Cheap is Cheap".
  • Take That: Hitchcock's remarks towards the sponsors.
    Hitchcock: And now, a word from the people who make this show possible. That is, when they aren't making it impossible.
  • Thicker Than Water: "Wet Saturday" is about a man who helps cover up a murder committed by his daughter to protect the family name. Hitchcock uses the phrase itself in his closing remarks.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: In "Human Interest Story", a reporter interviews a man who has begun having delusions that he used to be a Martian. It turns out, he is a Martian, and is merely one of thousands of invaders. Fortunately, the reporter is also one, and he's able to silence him before he can blow their cover.
  • Tomato Surprise: At least two episodes use the twist "you thought the protagonist was being stalked by the thief/murderer in the news, but actually that's the protagonist and the person following them is the detective trying to bring them to justice".
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: Literally in the host segment for the episode "Party Line" as Hitch uses a time machine to go from 1960 to 1975.
  • Twist Ending: Practically Once an Episode. Hitchcock refered to them as 'Snapper' endings.
  • Two Aliases, One Character: "Annabel"
  • Un-Person: In "Into Thin Air", based on an old urban legend, a woman runs an errand from the hotel room where she's staying with her mother, and when she returns her mother and even the room have vanished and the hotel staff deny that they were ever there.
  • Very Special Episode:
    • The Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode "Number 22", which was about juvenile delinquency. While the introduction shows Hitchcock in a lineup (his earlier films being listed as prior offenses), in his closing remarks, he says that the subject is too serious to be treated with his usual wry remarks, and leaves it at that.
    • A couple of these were done for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, addressing social concerns within the series' format. They were "Hangover" (dealing with alcoholism) and "Memo from Purgatory" (dealing with teen gang violence). In both cases, Hitchcock refrained from his usual humorous comments.
  • Waking Up at the Morgue: "Breakdown" has Joseph Cotton paralyzed in a car accident and taken for dead.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?:
    • Played for drama in "Hangover", where the binge-drinking protagonist gets an answer that isn't remotely funny.
    • Something similar also happens in "Never Again".
  • Whodunnit to Me?: In "Whodunit", a deceased mystery author talks a recording angel into letting him go back to his last day alive to find out who murdered him.
  • William Telling: Hitchcock uses the trope to introduce the story "Father and Son".
    Hitchcock (after shooting an arrow off stage): Oh, dear me, my eyes aren't what they used to be. I even missed the boy, that time.
  • Your Cheating Heart: The series frequently used adultery, and the crimes stemming from it, as a plot device.
  • Zeerust: For the most part averted. Unlike competing shows The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits (1963), Alfred Hitchcock did not want science fiction or fantasy episodes. However one episode - "The Blessington Method" - takes place on July 13th 1980, and looks about like what someone from the 50s/60s would imagine that far-off date to be like, including an average lifespan that's increased to 125, Grace being started "Our Father, who art in Space....", and just a faint hint of Raygun Gothic. At least they didn't have the characters wear Space Clothes.

Alternative Title(s): The Alfred Hitchcock Hour