Thursday, December 30, 2021

The Hitchcock Project-William D. Gordon Part One: The Lonely Hours [8.23]

by Jack Seabrook

William Douglas Gordon (1918-1991) earned a degree in theatrical arts from UCLA, began writing for radio in 1936, and directed some very early TV shows starting in 1939. He served as an infantry officer in WWII and then joined the Los Angeles Repertory Company after the war. He began acting in TV shows in 1958 and continued acting until 1986; he was seen in 13 episodes of Riverboat in 1959 and he also appeared in two episodes of The Twilight Zone and one episode of Thriller.

In addition to acting, Gordon began writing for TV in 1960, scripting numerous shows until 1981, including Thriller, The Fugitive, and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. He also served as story editor or story consultant for several series, including The Fugitive. Gordon directed a couple of TV shows and produced 32 episodes of The Fugitive and 47 episodes of Twelve O'Clock High.

Gordon wrote or co-wrote six teleplays for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour; the first was "Bonfire," which is credited to him and Alfred Hayes. That episode is discussed here. His second teleplay was "The Lonely Hours," based on a novel called The Hours Before Dawn.

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Celia Fremlin's novel, The Hours Before Dawn, tells the story of Louise Henderson, a young mother with three children: eight-year-old Margery, seven-year-old Harriet, and Michael, a baby boy who cries incessantly every night and keeps her from sleeping. Louise and her husband Mark rent an upstairs room to a new tenant, a fortyish schoolteacher named Vera Brandon. After she moves in, she takes an interest in the baby and engages Mark in conversation about the Greek myth of Medea; Mark feels like he's met her somewhere before.

One afternoon, Louise's mother visits and wants to collect some books that had been left in Vera's room. Thinking that Vera is out for the day, Louise enters her room only to find the tenant sitting quietly by the window. Late one evening, Louise hears Michael crying for his feeding. She also hears someone walking upstairs and thinks one of her daughters is out of bed, but when she goes upstairs they are fast asleep. Later that night, Vera awakens to Michael crying again. She takes him to the scullery to feed and quiet him so that Mark and Vera will not be disturbed. Her exhaustion continues to mount and she oversleeps in the morning; she has to rush the girls to school and her neighbors complain about her baby's crying.

Mark comes home unexpectedly for lunch and suggests going to the movies. Louise balks at his suggestion that they ask Vera to babysit, so they ask Mrs. Hooper, who brings her son Tony along. At the movies, Mark and Louise run into Beatrice and Humphrey; Beatrice asks if Vera Brandon got in touch with them, since she had asked Humphrey for Louise's address when they met at a work function. Louise wonders why Vera asked about them before answering their ad for a boarder. She returns home to find Mrs. Hooper gone and Tony watching the baby. He tells her that Vera is a spy and says that he saw her looking through papers in Louise and Mark's desk. He recalls that she once came to his house and looked through the desk there as well.

Nancy Kelly as Vera Brandon
Louise decides to make inquiries about Vera, who says that she is going to Oxford for the day to give a talk. Vera departs loudly but Louise later begins to suspect that she never left the house and is once again sitting quietly in her room. Hoping to enlist Beatrice's aid in investigating Vera, Louise invites her and Humphrey to dinner. Humphrey can't recall if Vera had asked him for Louise or Mark's address; Vera returns home and denies it. Louise feels confused and exhausted. Waking again at two a.m. to feed the baby, she puts him in his pram and walks the streets until she sits down on a park bench. She falls asleep and awakens near dawn to find baby and pram gone.

Louise goes to the police station, only to discover that baby and pram are safe at home. Later that day, Louise finds out that her daughters have been copying passages from Vera's diary, which they call a Spy Book; Vera keeps it hidden in a cupboard but the girls can reach it from the attic through a hole in the ceiling. Louise reads the passages that the girls have copied and finds two addresses. She telephones one and speaks to Frances Palmer, who says she did know Vera and agrees to meet.

Gena Rowlands as Louise Henderson
Mrs. Palmer's house is immaculate and she displays none of the signs of exhaustion that have become so familiar to Louise. She recalls Vera turning up one day last fall, claiming to be answering an ad for a housekeeper although none had been placed. That evening, Frances thought she glimpsed Vera standing in the shadows of her bedroom. Frances ran for her husband, but when they returned to the room, it was empty. Frances suspects that Vera is a criminal. Louise visits the other address from the diary and meets a poor woman with five children; the woman can't recall if she ever met Vera. Louise returns home to find that Mark is upstairs talking with the tenant. Beatrice telephones to tell Louise that she has learned that there was some sort of scandal involving Vera at school the prior summer.

One evening, Louise and Mark take the children to the fair. Mark disappears into the crowd and Louise goes on a ride with the girls, leaving Michael sitting alone in his pram. When the ride ends, Michael and his pram have again disappeared. After frantically searching for the child, Louise goes home, certain that Mark has him. However, Mark is home without the baby, who is soon located at the Lost Children tent at the fair.

After the excitement dies down, Louie looks up the myth of Medea, who murdered her children in a fit of jealousy. Louise resolves to read Vera's diary, so she crawls into the attic and retrieves it from its hiding place in the cupboard. Louise reads that Vera became pregnant by a fellow teacher, whose negative reaction caused Vera to become consumed with her secret pregnancy. Tragedy struck when the baby was born prematurely and died. Vera refused to accept what had happened to her son, whom she named Michael, and soon she became convinced that the baby had been stolen by another mother. In the months that followed, Vera tracked down the babies of other women in the same hospital ward, finally settling on Louise's son as her own stolen child. Vera hates Louise and plans to take the baby soon.

Joyce van Patten as Grace Thorpe
Time gets away from Louise, who suddenly senses that Vera is in the room below her. Louise rushes downstairs to her baby's room and finds him safe. She goes to bed and awakens at two a.m. to hear him crying. She takes the baby to the scullery to feed him and falls asleep, awakening with a start to realize that someone has left the gas on at the stove. Vera confronts her; she has drugged Mark and intends to hold Louise down until she perishes from gas poisoning. Suddenly, there is an explosion--the pilot light ignited the gas. Louise and Mark rescue the children and make their way outside to safety; Vera appears in the attic window, struggling with a bundle of bedclothes before falling backward into the flames.

The truth comes out about Vera and life returns to normal for Louise, who has a faint hope that her baby may begin to sleep through the night.

The Hours Before Dawn was published in 1958 and deservedly won the Edgar Award for best mystery novel of the year. It is a cleverly-plotted, well-written story that is told from the perspective of an exhausted young mother. Louise is the story's detective, gradually piecing together the mystery of Vera Brandon. Vera is both villain and tragic figure, a woman whose despair at losing her baby drives her to obsession and attempted murder. The novel is filled with characters who offer opinions and make judgments about the right and wrong ways to raise a child. Louise is a detailed portrait of a woman nearly driven mad by fatigue, a condition seemingly invisible to those around her. Clues are planted throughout the novel as to Vera's motives and goal; the fiery conclusion recalls the end of Mrs. Danvers in Hitchcock's Rebecca.

The novel is available to read online here.

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Alice Backes as the policewoman
Celia Fremlin Goller (1914-2009) was born in England and educated at Oxford. She worked as a researcher for the Mass Observation Project, a group of observers and voluntary writers who studied the lives of ordinary people in Britain beginning in 1937. Fremlin's first book, published in 1939, was The Seven Chars of Chelsea, about the lives of charwomen in London. The Hours Before Dawn was her first novel, published in 1958, and she said that she wrote the book at night after pushing her own baby around London and losing sleep. The experience led her to imagine a book about parental sleeplessness and The Hours Before Dawn was the result.

Fremlin went on to write more than a dozen novels in the ensuing decades and she had over two dozen short stories published in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine between 1967 and 1999; some of her stories were collected in two books. Several of her works were adapted for television, including five German TV films made between 1986 and 1997.

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The Hours Before Dawn was first adapted for TV as a live broadcast on the U.S. Steel Hour. The show aired on September 23, 1959, and starred Colleen Dewhurst as Vera, Mark Richman as Mark, Teresa Wright as Louise, and Jack Carter as another character. Philip Lewis wrote the teleplay. This live broadcast appears to be lost.

The second TV adaptation of Fremlin's novel was titled "The Lonely Hours" and aired on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour on CBS on Friday, March 8, 1963. William D. Gordon wrote the teleplay.

The third TV adaptation of The Hours Before Dawn aired on German TV on March 24, 1997, with a teleplay by Wolf Gremm. The German title, "Die Stunden vor dem Morgengraun," translates into English as "The Hours Before Dawn."

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Baby Lonnie is the
only male cast member.
The first thing that becomes apparent when watching "The Lonely Hours" is that the central concern of the novel, parental sleeplessness, has been jettisoned. Louise Henderson may be at home with her children, but she looks perfect: in the first scene, she is fixing something in the kitchen and wears a sleeveless dress and high heels. Her hair is flawless. The second surprise comes when the telephone rings and it's her husband calling long distance. He is away on a business trip and will be gone for another week, which means that Mark, a major character in the novel, is absent from the TV show. In fact, as the show unfolds, there are no male characters at all, other than the uncredited little boy who plays Louise's son and a couple of men who pass by on the street. In crafting a show with an all-female cast, Gordon makes an interesting choice that serves to set the events of the story completely in the world of women. According to The Alfred Hitchcock Presents Companion, the idea of telling the story with an all-female cast originated with Joan Harrison.

Vera appears at the door and the children admit her while Louise is still on the phone; the visitor walks in and immediately begins to rearrange the environment by turning off a record player before she sees Lonnie, the baby boy who will be the object of her obsession. Louise greets her and asks if they've met before; Vera denies it and says she is there about renting a room. Louise remarks that they had been thinking about taking on a boarder and Vera explains that someone at the university must have mentioned it. After a quick look at the room, Vera agrees to rent it for $30 a month.

Willa Pearl Curtis as Katie
In the scene that follows, Vera pulls up in front of a different house and carries a bassinet wrapped in blankets into an apartment that she is renting under the name of Mrs. J.A. Williams. (We may only see women in "The Lonely Hours," but they are still known by their husbands' names!) It seems clear that the bassinet does not contain a real baby and, when the landlady, Miss McGuinness, knocks on the door, Vera seems apprehensive. She pretends that the baby, whom she calls Michael, is sleeping, and she accepts a toy that the landlady brings that came in the mail. Miss McGuiness is surprised to learn that Vera plans to stay at least another month, and Vera lies and says that she and the baby will be staying with a friend from college for a few days. Vera puts the toy next to the bassinet and the baby is revealed to be a doll.

In contrast to the novel, the early scenes of "The Lonely Hours" make it clear to the viewer that Vera is, at the very least, deranged, and perhaps dangerous. She lies to Louise about how she learned that a room was for rent, she lies to the landlady about her plans, and she carries around a doll to make it look like she has a baby. In the novel, Louise only begins to suspect that there is something wrong with Vera gradually, and for much of the book the reader is uncertain as to just what is going on. This is not the case in the TV show.

Juanita Moore as Mrs. McFarland
Back at the Henderson house, Louise chats with her friend Grace, who takes the place of the novel's Beatrice. Vera arrives, suitcase in hand and, in a telling moment, explains the topic of her doctoral dissertation to Grace, who looks on blankly and then turns and invites Louise to a "'fashion tea.'" Vera is portrayed as a slightly older, educated woman, who does not fit in among the vapid suburban housewives. Vera happily agrees to babysit Lonnie and goes upstairs alone but, instead of going into her own room, she enters the baby's room, calls the baby "'Michael,'" and tells him, "'It's all right... I'm here now... I'll never leave you.'"

In the morning, at breakfast, Louise's daughters discuss their belief that Vera is "'a spy... a secret, atomic spy,'" but this remark is passed off as childish fun because Vera is standing next to the table and gives the girls a knowing look. Louise leaves to take the girls to school and attend the fashion tea, and Vera is left alone with baby Lonnie, whom she immediately picks up and calls Michael. Vera drives the baby to her other home and this time there is no need to cover him with blankets, since he has transformed from doll to human. Miss McGuinness remarks that the baby is "'just the image of you,'" to Vera's delight. Inside her apartment, Vera takes the baby into the nursery that she has prepared for him. She is gentle and loving with the boy, making her actions all the more pathetic and frightening.

Jackie Russell as Sandra Mathews
That afternoon, Louise returns to a quiet house, and the camera looks up at her from below to increase the unease she feels as she calls for her children. The viewer suspects that Vera has taken Lonnie away for good, but this is not the case--Louise runs upstairs and finds her son resting quietly under Vera's supervision. Louise is slightly uncomfortable when she finds a new toy in Lonnie's crib and Vera admits that she bought it for him. At night, Louise is reading in bed when she hears Lonnie crying. She goes to his room to find Vera holding him and walking back and forth, trying to comfort him. Louise gives Vera a quick lesson in parenting and Vera is not happy.

Eventually, Louise begins to suspect Vera after the girls again insist that she's a spy and reveal that she has a little book in her room with men's names in it, including that of Louise's husband. Louise now has Katie, a black woman, watching the baby, presumably because she no longer trusts Vera, and Vera overhears that Mark will be home in a couple of days. However, after going out for several hours, Louise returns home to find that Katie has allowed Vera to take Lonnie out shopping with her. Vera is upset, explaining that she hired Katie because she did not trust Vera alone with the baby, but when Vera returns with the baby and a gift for Louise, Louise appears to reconsider her distrust of her boarder.

Mary Adams

Louise sneaks into Vera's room and looks at her little black book, tearing out a page that has the addresses of three men, including Mark. This takes the place of the novel's scenes where the children copy passages from Vera's diary and Louise begins to grow concerned when she suspects Vera is writing about Mark. Louise visits Sandra Mathews, a gum-chewing young mother who recalls that Vera came when her baby was three months old to try to sign him to a modeling contract. Coincidentally, both baby boys are seven months old, but Robbie--Sandra's child--is blond. Louise visits the wife of the second man on the list, but this mother--whose son is also seven months old--is black. This woman remarks that she had her son at St. Dominic's Hospital, which is where Louise gave birth.

Louise visits the hospital, where she asks a nun if she remembers Vera Brandon, but the nun recalls that Vera's  name was Williams (the name she uses at her other residence). The nun looks up Vera's file and recalls that "'Her husband had deserted her and her baby died. Poor little thing was premature.'" At home that evening, Louise speaks to Mark on the phone and explains that she wants Vera to leave. Vera surprises Louise by telling her that she has decided to move out the next day and, when Louise goes into the kitchen to fix Vera a cup of coffee, Vera drugs Louise's cup. Instead of the violent climax of the novel, where Vera tries to murder Louise with gas, in the TV version she merely drugs Louise so that she can take the baby and leave. What follows is an extended monologue by Vera, as Louise lies on the couch in a drugged stupor.

Jesslyn Fax as Miss McGuinness
Louise explains that she thinks the baby is really hers and tells Louise all of the details that Louise reads in Vera's diary in the novel. The effect of having Vera explain everything to a groggy Louise is less suspenseful and dramatically awkward. It is also less of a surprise, since by this point in the TV show the viewer has figured out most of what happened. Unlike the novel, where events happen very fast from the revelation of the diary to the attempted murder and the fire, the TV version has Louise awaken the next morning. She rushes to her baby's room and finds him gone.

Louise calls the police to report the kidnapping and Grace comes over to calm her friend. Louise's daughter puts on a coat that Vera left behind and the girls find a piece of paper in the pocket that is the rent receipt given to Vera by her landlady in an earlier scene--a piece of paper that has Vera's real name and address. Louise calls the police with the information and goes to Vera's apartment, where Vera patiently explains that "'Michael is not your baby.'" The two women civilly argue about who is the baby's real mother until a policewoman arrives and convinces Vera that she needs to go to the hospital to confirm that the baby is really hers.

Sally Smith as Marjorie Henderson
The commotion wakes the baby and, when Vera picks him up, he is fussy and she is unable to quiet him. The scene suggests that, since Vera is not really the baby's mother, she is incapable of taking care of him. She loses her temper and yells at the child, at which point the policewoman takes him and hands him to Louise. Vera blames the baby's discomfort on the fact that he has been with Louise since birth and, while Louise comforts Lonnie, there is a shot of the creepy baby doll sitting in a playpen.

Louise emerges from the nursery holding the doll wrapped in a blanket and tells Vera that "'He's quiet now,'" at which point Vera confidently takes the doll in her arms, certain that she is able to care for it properly. Fantasy has replaced reality for this tragic figure, who is better able to act as parent to an inanimate object than to a human baby. Vera walks toward the door of her apartment, accompanied by the policewoman, and Louise returns to the nursery, where she picks up her son and holds him in her arms as the screen fades to black.

Jennifer Gillespie
as Celia Thorpe
William D. Gordon's adaptation of The Hours Before Dawn is disturbing because of the portrait it paints of women and mothers in 1963. Unlike Celia Fremlin's book, which is a mystery with a violent ending, "The Lonely Hours" is much more sedate and, in the end, troubling. Vera Brandon is never violent and always seems to have the best interests of the baby at heart. Louise Henderson goes back and forth between being suspicious of Vera and patient with her, but her final act of handing Vera the doll in place of the baby is unsettling. Has Vera snapped? Does she now think the doll is a real child? There is no way of knowing. What is certain, however, is that the final scenes of "The Lonely Hours" take the story in a different direction than the novel's conclusion and make Vera's fate less certain.

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"The Lonely Hours"" is directed by Jack Smight (1925-2003), who directed for television from 1949 to 1986 and for film from 1964 to 1989. Among his many films were Harper (1966) and Midway (1976); he also directed four episodes of The Twilight Zone and four of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, including "What Really Happened." He won an Emmy for directing in 1959.

Annette Ferra as Harriett Henderson
Top billing goes to Nancy Kelly (1921-1995), who plays Vera. A child actress and model from the age of one, she appeared in films as a girl from 1926 to 1929 and then as a teenager and adult from 1938 to 1956. She worked in television from 1950 to 1963 and then again from 1974 to 1977. Kelly starred on Broadway in The Bad Seed, for which she won a Tony Award. She reprised the role in the 1956 film of the same name and was nominated for an Academy Award.  The actress appeared in one episode of Thriller (with a teleplay by William D. Gordon); "The Lonely Hours" is the only episode of the Hitchcock show in which she appeared.

Gena Rowlands (1930- ) plays Louise and gives her usual strong performance. Rowlands was on screen from 1954 to 2017, often working with her husband, John Cassavetes, and she was given an honorary Academy Award in 2015. She also won three Emmy Awards and appeared in four episodes of the Hitchcock series, including "Murder Case" with Cassavetes.

In supporting roles:
  • Joyce van Patten (1934- ) as Louise's friend, Grace; she was a busy actress on TV from 1946 to 2018 and she also appeared in many films. Her TV roles included parts on The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, and The Odd Couple.
  • Alice Backes (1923-2007) as the policewoman; after serving as a WAVE during WWII, she worked in radio and then in film from 1948 to 1978. Her busy TV career lasted from 1952 to 1997 and included roles on Thriller, The Night Stalker, and six episodes of the Hitchcock series, including "The Jar."
  • Willa Pearl Curtis (1896-1970) as Katie, who lets Vera take the baby shopping while Louise is out; her screen career lasted from 1938 to 1964 and this was the only episode of the Hitchcock show on which she appeared.
  • Juanita Moore (1914-2014) as Mrs. McFarland, the second woman whom Louise visits after seeing her husband's name and number in Vera's little black book; she had a six-decade career on screen from 1939 to 2001 and is best remembered for co-starring in Douglas Sirk's remake of Imitation of Life (1959). She was also in four episodes of the Hitchcock series, including "Where the Woodbine Twineth."
  • Jackie Russell as Sandra Mathews, the blonde, gum-chewing young mother whom Louise visits first; her screen career lasted from 1951 to 1987 and included many TV appearances, including episodes of Thriller and The Night Stalker, as well as "Run for Doom" on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.
  • Mary Adams (1910-1973) as the nun at St. Dominic's Hospital; she was on screen from 1948 to 1971 and also appeared on The Twilight Zone.
  • Jesslyn Fax (1893-1975) as Miss McGuinness, Vera's landlady; she was on screen from 1950 to 1969 and had small parts in Hitchcock's Rear Window (1954) and North By Northwest (1959), as well as on five episodes of the Hitchcock TV show, including "Coming. Mama" She was also on Batman.
  • Sally Smith (1954- ) as Marjorie, Louise's older daughter; her screen career consisted of appearances on six TV episodes between 1961 and 1966, including the Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode, "A Crime for Mothers."
  • Jennifer Gillespie (1954- ) as Celia, Grace's daughter; she appeared in 19 TV episodes between 1961 and 1964 and this was her only role on the Hitchcock show.
  • Annette Ferra (1955- ) as Harriett, Louise's younger daughter; this was her first screen role in an acting career that lasted until 1975; she now works as a casting director under the name Chris Gilmore.
Watch "The Lonely Hours" online here.


"Celia Fremlin Goller." Gale Literature: Contemporary Authors, 2009,

"Celia Fremlin Saw the Impoverished Disappointment in 1950s London." The Oldie,


Fremlin, Celia. The Hours Before Dawn. Dover, 2017.

Grams, Martin, and Patrik Wikstrom. The Alfred Hitchcock Presents Companion. OTR Pub., 2001.

"History of Mass Observation." Home,

"The Hours before Dawn." Goodreads, Goodreads,


"The Lonely Hours." The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, season 8, episode 23, CBS, 8 Mar. 1963.

Price, Leah. "B-Sides: Celia Fremlin's 'The Hours before Dawn.'" Public Books, 21 July 2020,

Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 3 Feb. 2021,

"William D. Gordon (1918-1991) - Find a Grave..." Find a Grave,

In two weeks: Our coverage of William Gordon continues with "The Dark Pool," starring Lois Nettleton!

Listen to Al Sjoerdsma and Jack Seabrook discuss the first season of Alfred Hitchcock Presents here!

Listen to Annie and Kathryn discuss "Sybilla" here!

Monday, December 20, 2021

Batman in the 1980s Issue 43: July 1983


The Dark Knight in the 1980s
by Jack Seabrook &
Peter Enfantino


The Brave and the Bold #200

"Smell of Brimstone, Stench of Death!"
Story by Mike W. Barr
Art by Dave Gibbons & Gary Martin

Nicholas Lucien grew up on Earth-One as a respectable businessman, but on Earth-Two he grew up as a villain! In 1955, on Earth-Two, Lucien is a very mature-looking 22-year-old who seeks to rule the underworld of Gotham City. Defeated once before by Batman and Robin, Lucien (known as Brimstone) sends Batman a taunting clue and attempts to rob the gate receipts at an archery competition at Gotham Arena. After an appearance by the Dynamic Duo, Brimstone and his gang escape but fail to make off with the loot.

Brimstone's next crime involves robbing the payroll at the Gotham Municipal Waste Disposal plant; again, Batman and Robin make an appearance and again Brimstone and his gang get away empty-handed. Finally, Brimstone lures the Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder to the Gotham Bait Co., where he captures them and returns to his hideout. Robin is forced to watch, powerless, as Batman is trapped at the bottom of a pit that begins to fill with hot lava! Fortunately, Batman escapes and he and Robin march Brimstone off to jail.

Fast forward to 1983, where Lucien has been in a coma and in jail since hitting his head fighting Batman decades before. A doctor's injection brings back the villain's consciousness, but he finds himself trapped in an aged, atrophied body. Lucien concentrates hard and...

In 1983, the bombings of three houses of worship in Gotham City lead to riots and looting amid demands to catch the bomber. Batman follows a clue to the Lucien Chemical Co., where he fights off street toughs and meets a villain who calls himself Brimstone and who refers to having met Batman in the past, though Batman has no memory of this meeting. Batman tracks down Brimstone and stops him from setting off a bomb that would have killed three civic leaders and led to more violence in the streets. After being knocked unconscious, Lucien's mind is free of the evil influence of the other Brimstone, who is once again paralyzed but alive in his decrepit body.

Peter: This is a bit of a cheat since there's no real team-up, is there? But, heck, this is a lot of fun anyway and the art is fabulous; I love that Gibbons drew in the 1950s style in the first half and in the contemporary style in the second. The script is a bit complicated, but I appreciate what Barr was trying to accomplish. I was completely lost when we got to the "Batman Dead!" headline. Was this a ruse on the part of the Joker to get Brimstone riled up? Despite some really boring installments (Karate Kid, take a bow), I think I may just miss Brave and the Bold. It had a wonky, go-for-it attitude missing from the other two regular Bat-titles.

Jack: I've always enjoyed Earth-Two stories and I was happy to see this story have roots in both worlds. I really liked the first half of the story, which is a loving tribute to Batman comics of the 1950s, including retro art and plenty of corny quips and perilous cliffhangers. The second half of the story, set in the 1980s, was less successful. Still, as Peter notes, I'll miss The Brave and the Bold, especially for stories like this one that we don't see in the other Bat-comics.

As for the headline about Batman being dead, remember that Batman was dead on Earth-Two. That's why Brimstone got so riled up and took over his counterpart on Earth-One--he wanted to go after Batman and that was the only way to do it.

"Introducing: Batman and the Outsiders"
Story by Mike W. Barr
Art by Jim Aparo

A terrorist named Miklos is being held in chains at Gotham General Hospital, but his devoted followers will do anything to set him free! When one attacks the hospital, he encounters a new heroine named Halo, who is aided by the sudden appearance of Metamorpho. In another part of the hospital, Miklos's followers try to take hostages but must reckon with another new heroine named Katana; Black Lighting pitches in to help her. Outside the building, Batman realizes that something is wrong and summons this new team of heroes, calling them the Outsiders. A terrorist gets close to Miklos and sets off a bomb, alerting the last member of the team, Geo-Force, to the danger inside the building. Happily, Metamorpho protected everyone, and Batman tells Commissioner Gordon that he has joined a new super-team.

Peter: Reading this dreary, meandering mess, it occurs to me that I owe a debt of gratitude to Jack for agreeing to skip Batman and the Outsiders on this journey. I read the first couple issues back in the day when I was buying up all the monthly Bat-titles and I remember it being as sleep-inducing as JSA and JLA (the latter being a title I really liked in the late 90s but couldn't stand up to that point). There's no real reason for the powers-that-be to introduce another Bat-title (especially one populated by a bunch of sixth-tier heroes) other than to put an "Issue One" out there for collectors. Evidently, the comic-buying public agreed with me, since Batman and the Outsiders lasted only 32 issues.

Jack: I agree that this debut of the Outsiders is a bit stiff, but the team survives to this day. Just today, I was reading their latest exploits in the most recent issue of Batman:Urban Legends. I've discovered, to my surprise, that new DC comics can be excellent! I read some other Outsiders a year or two ago in the big Wal-Mart 100-pagers and they were great.

Hannigan & Giordano
Batman #361

"The Most Successful Species!"
Story by Doug Moench
Art by Don Newton & Pablo Marcos

Man-Bat has flown off with Jason Bard in his claws and Batman vows to find and rescue his new ward. The Dark Knight visits Man-Bat's wife Francine for help while Man-Bat explains to Jason why bats are "The Most Successful Species!" Now that he has taken Jason to replace the daughter he thinks is dead, Man-Bat plans to inject the boy with bat-serum and turn him into a boy-bat.

Man-Bat flies to the Batcave to get some serum from real bats, while Batman hatches a plan with the help of Vicki Vale. Just as Man-Bat is about to inject serum into Jason, he sees his wife and daughter in the nearby shadows, asking him to leave Jason alone. Batman manages to fight off Man-Bat with a little help from Jason and ends up injecting antidote into the creature, who turns back into Kirk Langstrom.

Bruce Wayne and Jason Bard plan to take in a movie and Commissioner Gordon is disgusted to learn that his new assistant is Harvey Bullock, a bad cop whom he suspended ten years ago.

Peter: I've always had as fond a spot in my heart for Man-Bat as I have for Marvel's Morbius. In fact, I love supernatural characters. Only problem is, based on "The Most Successful Species!" and the last several times the "villain" has been featured in a Bat-adventure, Man-Bat comes off as nothing but a clone of the Lizard. Isn't there anything original these writers could do with one of their most uniquely-designed critters? I like the fact that M-B got a little bit crazy and decided adopting Jason as his own was a great idea (we all know he would have sent the moppet back to Wayne Manor after just a few days), but the whole thing ends on a cliche. A pity.

Jack: There is a sameness to the recent Man-Bat stories, isn't there? He never seems particularly villainous and we know how it's going to end. I was puzzled at Batman's big plan to distract Man-Bat. If I understand it right, he took photos of Francine Langstrom and her daughter, then had Vicki Vale create life-sized cardboard cutouts that Batman placed in the shadows to trick Man-Bat into thinking his wife and child were there. Not only that, but Batman recorded Francine's voice and played it on a loop. He did all of this while Jason was on the verge of getting an injection that would have turned him into a bat. Wouldn't it have been better to grab Francine and the little tyke and head to the museum basement right away? It takes time to make those blow-ups!

Colan & Giordano

Detective Comics #528

"Requiem for Skulls"
Story by Doug Moench
Art by Gene Colan &Klaus Janson

Police are still searching the docks for any sign of the Savage Skull, who seemingly disappeared into the harbor last month. To make matters worse, the mayor has rehired eternal screw-up cop Harvey Bullock to take charge of the case and keep Gordon in line. A stray cop comes across the Skull below the pier and is murdered; Batman soon comes across the corpse and his suspicions are confirmed: the Savage Skull lives!

Meanwhile, Gordon's nerves are frayed and when he discovers the next morning that Harvey Bullock was notified about the dead cop before him, he hits the roof and takes his frustration and exhaustion out on his best friend and ally, the Dark Knight. Batman tells Gordon to take a chill pill and insists he's on the Commish's side. He knows Bullock is a bad cop and they need to team up to bring the goon down. But first they need to find the Skull!

Meanwhile, at Wayne Manor, Jason Todd gets a visit from a creepy clown he once knew at the circus. Stay tuned for more developments on that front. Bullock acts on a hunch and tracks the Skull to an abandoned boxing gym where Jack Crane used to hang out before he became the Savage Skull. Sure enough, the three-quarters-insane Crane is sitting at ringside, dressed in his boxing shorts. Quite a sight. Bullock tells the Skull he has to take him in and the villain's response is predictable. As the Skull's knife begins its descent, James Gordon busts in and saves Bullock, leaving himself open for assault. 

Batman enters none too soon and Crane challenges him to a boxing match. Being a good sport, Bats agrees and the two go toe-to-toe before the Caped Crusader lays the Skull out on the mat. As the count reaches ten and the bell sounds, Bullock thanks Gordon for saving his life and admits he thinks the Commish is an okay dude. Next day, at the press conference, Harvey takes credit for the collar and accuses Gordon of meddling. Bullock announces that Gordon should be fired.

Though there's really not much meat on the bone this time out, "Requiem for Skulls" does its job and entertains. The Skull becomes almost an afterthought here, with the Harvey Bullock situation taking center stage. The boxing scene is ludicrous. I can't help but wonder what would happen if Batman laid a right cross directly into the Skull's face. The guy's got no eyelids. How do those eyeballs stay in their sockets? He's got no lips, so those teeth would be scattered to the four corners of the ring!

I always liked Klaus Janson as Frank Miller's inker (and off-topic nostalgia note--Miller's Ronin series is hyped in this issue's letter column), but he does Gentleman Gene no favors here. It's all got an almost unfinished look to it, doesn't it? It's not awful, though; just a bit off. These Bat-books still have a powerhouse of talent in the art bullpen. It's odd that the Skull story line, begun in Batman, concludes in 'tec a month later.

Jack: Funny, I think Janson is Colan's best inker. He makes the pages look just like 1970s-era Tomb of Dracula. We all knew the Savage Skull was alive when he fell in the water; I'm glad he returned before I forgot about him. The new subplots look promising, both Harvey Bullock and the creepy clown, Waldo.

"Getting Up II: Poisoned Art"
Story by Joey Cavalieri
Art by Paris Cullins & Pablo Marcos

The Green Arrow has been blasted out of a thirty-story window by a strong, propulsive aerosol can created by a super-tagger with the moniker of Ozone. Using the thinking part of his brain, Ollie utilizes the spray can to blast himself back up to that thirtieth-story window. When he re-enters the building, he finds Ozone being manhandled by a gun-toting creep. Ollie uses his arrows to free the kid, but Ozone escapes out the window and our hero turns his attention to the overcoat-clad gunman. 

The man explains to Ollie that he's been sent by a government agency called Z.Z.Z to retrieve a canister that Ozone unwittingly stole. The can contains a deadly toxin that could kill the kid and infect the entire city. Rather than call the FBI, Ollie keeps the info close to the vest and goes back to work, joshing with the office tech kid (who seems to be wearing the world's most abysmal scarf). Ollie gets the bright idea to stage an Ozone gallery showing to bring the goofy felon out of hiding. The ruse works, but Ozone gets the better of the Arrow (and several gallery guests) by spraying their feet with a super-glue formula. The kid steals all of their wallets and thanks his fans for showing up.

Peter: I'm not sure where this arc is going, but so far it's filled to the brim with (enjoyable) poppycock. How could an aerosol spray can have enough power for its spray to reach the street and send Ollie back up to the top of the building? Yeah, I know, it's a comic book. Ollie's nonchalance about Ozone carrying around a disease that could kill thousands is, frankly, baffling. Guy barely breaks a sweat! The arc concludes next issue and Cavalieri will have to pack a boatload of expository into that eight pages, but if it's as goofy as this installment, it might be fun.

Jack: I thought the art was better this time out, but the story is still strictly from hunger and the villain is awful. Green Arrow could be such a cool character, but not here. And how does he think anyone doesn't recognize him with that pointy blond beard?


We read 43 issues of The Brave and the Bold, from #158 (January 1980) through #200 (July 1983). These are the best stories from those issues!


1- "The Autobiography of Bruce Wayne" (197)
2- "The Crystal Armageddon" (159)
3- "One of Us is Not One of Us" (173)
4- "Smell of Brimstone, Stench of Death" (200)
5- "Interlude on Earth-Two" (182)


1-"Interlude on Earth-Two"
2-"The Batman's Last Christmas!" (184)
3-"Whatever Happened to What's'ername?" (187)
4-"Those Who Live By the Sword...!"(193)
5-"The Autobiography of Bruce Wayne!"

Next Week...
Jack and Peter will try their darndest
to understand the demons of Jeremiah Cold!

Thursday, December 16, 2021

The Hitchcock Project-Joel Murcott Part Nine: The Dividing Wall [9.9] and Wrapup

by Jack Seabrook

"The Dividing Wall" opens with a shot that pans along a glass case displaying Halloween masks until the camera comes to rest on the face of a pretty shop girl named Carol Brandt, who looks out from behind the case as she waits for two children to choose a mask; the gag is an old one, going back at least as far as the films of Abbott and Costello, and it suggests that the story that follows will be comic, which it definitely is not. The boy chooses a mask and chases the girl out of the candy store and down the sidewalk. Carol follows them outside and glances at an auto repair garage next door.

There is a cut to inside the garage, where three mechanics work on a car. Terry, the youngest of the trio, climbs down into a repair pit and has an attack of claustrophobia; he sweats profusely as the camera zooms in on each of the walls to make it look as if they are closing in on him. A car pulls over the top of the pit to complete his terror and he scrambles out of the pit to safety. It seems that Terry has been out of prison for only a month and the two other mechanics, Fred Kruger and Al Norman, discuss his condition. Terry escapes the dark garage out onto the sidewalk, where he encounters Carol, also outside and enjoying the sun.

James Gregory as Fred Kruger

Terry and Carol shyly converse and it is clear that they know each other; her father Otto runs the candy store. They make plans to go to the park that afternoon and there is a dissolve to a shot of them walking into the park later that day. Terry explains that he was raised in an orphanage and his claustrophobia prevents him from taking the subway back to the candy shop and the garage. He admits that he was in prison and she admits that she has not dated since high school. They spend time talking together and he tells her about his time at the orphanage. The only time he was allowed outside was for an occasional bus trip; eventually, he stole a bus and was sent to a reformatory. Unable to get a job on release, Terry stole more cars and went to prison.

Carol dreams of getting a job so that her father can close the candy store; she only keeps working there because she is all he has. The duo walk back to the store together and, once they are inside, Terry grabs Carol and kisses her. She resists; he reacts badly and walks out.

Act one of "The Dividing Wall" is lovely, as two lonely young people tentatively come together and we learn about Terry's troubled past. Details of Carol's past will have to wait until later in the show, but she has a secret of her own.

Chris Robinson as Terry
The second act begins at the garage, as Fred lays out his plans to rob a safe, despite Al's misgivings. Fred is impatient and hot-headed, insisting that his plan is flawless. The trio then carry out the robbery late at night, with Terry as the driver. To conceal their identities, they wear Halloween masks similar to those seen in the show's first shot; the effect is to transform their faces into those of eerie creatures in the nighttime shadows. When they reach the safe, they find that it is unexpectedly heavy and difficult to move, requiring the use of a forklift to load it onto the back of their truck. A suspension spring breaks due to the weight and the truck is chased by a police car; they barely make it over railroad tracks just ahead of an onrushing train.

Once they cross the tracks, there is a sudden cut to the inside of the garage, where Al uses a welding torch to open the safe. Inside they find a payroll, totaling $112,000, and an unexpectedly heavy object--a small cylinder that Al opens and then probes inside with his fingers, trying to determine what it contains. They notice a warning label and realize that the cylinder houses Cobalt 60, a dangerous, radioactive material. Terry, Fred, and Al quickly vacate the garage, with Al terrified at having touched the radioactive material.

Katherine Ross as Carol Brandt

The second act of "The Dividing Wall" is thrilling and very different in tone from the first act. The contrast of the two acts sets up the second half of the show as one where the viewer wonders how the two storylines will converge. Terry is likeable and vulnerable when he is with Carol, yet he drives the truck in the robbery, despite his earlier protestations of having been pushed into a life of crime as a young man. How will his claustrophobia figure into the denouement and what will happen to Al as a result of radiation exposure?

Unfortunately, Act three adds a third group to the increasingly complex narrative, as agents of the Atomic Energy Commission, including Frank Ludden, investigate the robbery of Cobalt 60. They identify the location of the events as Long Island City, a section of Queens on New York's Long Island that is represented by a nondescript street on a Hollywood soundstage. There is nothing in "The Dividing Wall" that looks remotely like a New York location; the only way viewers know where the events take place is this one offhand remark and a sign on a door near the end of this act. 

There is then a cut to the robbers, who are hiding out in what appears to be a basement apartment, watching a television news report about the robbery and the Cobalt 60. Now that they understand the danger of their situation, Al wants to see a doctor, but Fred resists, promising that they will fly to Mexico City, where Al can seek treatment for his radiation burn. Fred downplays the injury and the danger and finally punches Al in the stomach when Al insists on seeing a doctor. Fred is an amoral criminal who has no concern for anyone or anything other than himself and his desire for financial gain. In contrast, Terry expresses concern about Carol and her father having been exposed to radiation by being in the candy shop on the other side of the titular "Dividing Wall," yet Fred brushes off Terry's concerns.

Norman Fell as Al Norman
Ignoring Fred's wishes, Terry visits the candy store on his own to borrow a hammer and tacks from Carol in order to put a sign on the door to the garage to tell the public that it is closed. Terry lies and tells Carol that he has landed a new job in Mexico and will not return to New York. Carol reveals that she went to the garage around midnight to look for him; of course, this is precisely when he and his co-workers were out committing the robbery. There is a bit of business with another customer, Mrs. Collucci, who enters the store to use the telephone; Terry hangs the sign on the front door of the garage and a cut to the interior demonstrates that the Cobalt 60 remains inside, silently emitting dangerous radiation.

Terry returns to the candy store and, after Mrs. Collucci leaves, he and Carol embrace and kiss; he tells her that he loves her for the first time. Their moment of bliss is interrupted when Carol notices that a bird in a cage inside the store is dead. Otto emerges from the back room and Terry suddenly begs Carol to come with him to Mexico City, where they can get married. Otto cryptically tells her to be sure this time, and Carol confesses to Terry that she, too, has a secret in her past: she met a boy when she was 15 years old and ran away with him to get married. They were divorced three months later, but she went on to have a baby boy who was given up for adoption right after he was born. Seeing his own unhappy childhood reflected in the situation, Terry gets angry at Carol and rushes out of the store.

Simon Scott as Durrell
That night, Fred follows Al to the emergency room (whose front door bears a sign identifying the location as Long Island City), shooting him dead as he enters the hospital. Act three of "The Dividing Wall" is not as tight as the first two acts, with dull staging of the opening scene at the Atomic Energy Commission and the unbelievable shooting of Al adding an unexpected jolt right before the commercial break. The two shots fired don't seem to go anywhere near him and no one in the hospital seems concerned by his murder at the ER door.

The final act begins as an Army truck rolls into the neighborhood. In the back are two of the three agents seen earlier in the office at the Atomic Energy Commission; they are desperately trying to locate the Cobalt 60. The third agent, Larry, calls from the ER to say that Al died of a gunshot wound and his hand displayed evidence of radiation exposure. Meanwhile, Terry sits at home watching TV when Fred returns. Once again displaying empathy that Fred lacks, Terry remarks that the next day is Saturday and neighborhood kids will be home from school and outside playing near the garage, where they will be exposed to radiation. Fred reassures him, lying that Al is okay, but soon Terry hears the truth from a TV news bulletin that reveals that, while Al was shot and killed, he also had radiation burns. The news report also reveals that a manhunt is on for Terry and Fred.

Robert Kelljan as Frank Ludden

The two men argue and Fred locks Terry in a closet, where his claustrophobia again surfaces. Terry will agree to anything in order to be let out. Elsewhere, the federal agents locate the Cobalt 60. Later that evening, Fred returns to the apartment to find Terry gone. Carol is tending to Otto, who suffers from the effects of radiation poisoning, and when Terry arrives and tries to get her to leave with him, she resists. She says that she also has been sick and Otto emerges from the rooms behind the store to order Terry to leave.

Terry goes outside and chases away kids who were playing in front of the garage. He then goes inside and tries to lift the heavy canister without touching it so he can load it into the back of a van and remove it from the area. Fred surprises him, insisting that Terry, an expert driver, come outside and drive Fred to safety. Terry says that he will call the police, so Fred knocks him back into the grease pit, where another attack of claustrophobia cripples the conflicted hero. Fred drives a vehicle over the top of the pit, sealing Terry in before leaving the garage just as Army trucks and a police car cordon off the neighborhood. Fred tries to walk away but is ordered to stop; he whirls and tries to shoot it out with one of the agents but is shot and killed.

Rusty Lane as
Otto Brandt
Carol runs into the garage and Terry calls out from the pit, warning her and telling her to leave and call the police. Terry is later brought out onto the sidewalk, where Carol asks the agent to show mercy on the troubled young man. She sits down on the curb next to Terry, who apologizes, and the show ends as they silently contemplate their uncertain future together.

Act four of "The Dividing Wall" is unsatisfying because there is too much happening and the story is wrapped up too quickly. The eruptions of gunfire at the end of Acts three and four are unnecessary and feel tacked on. Terry and Carol's story is intriguing, but Fred is a one-dimensional character and Terry's claustrophobia is overplayed. Perhaps the two times that Terry descends into the grease pit represent his own personal descent into Hell; each time, he has a terrifying experience and each time he emerges and goes out into the sunlight, where he is met by Carol, who seems to represent a potentially good future for him.

The credits for "The Dividing Wall" state that the teleplay by Joel Murcott is based on a story by George Bellak, but it must have been either an unpublished story or (more likely) a teleplay that Murcott was hired to revise. George Bellak (1919-2002) wrote a handful of plays beginning in the late 1940s but was most prolific as a TV scriptwriter from 1951 to 1982. He wrote two films, in 1958 and 1966, but most of his writing was for episodic television, including an episode of Thriller and the pilot for Space: 1999. Bellak also wrote two novels in the 1980s. "The Dividing Wall" is his only credit on the Hitchcock series.

Director Bernard Girard (1918-1997) was born Bernard Goldstein and worked as both a writer and a director of movies and TV from the late 1940s to the mid-1970s. He directed a Twilight Zone as well as four half-hour Hitchcock episodes and eight hour-length Hitchcock episodes, including the Robert Bloch classic, "Water's Edge."

James Gregory (1911-2002) receives top billing as the murderous, amoral Fred Kruger. He started on Broadway in 1939 and served in the Navy during WWII. Gregory appeared in films from 1948 to 1979, including Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970), and was very busy on television from 1950 to 1986, including roles on The Twilight Zone, Thriller, Star Trek, Night Gallery, The Night Stalker, and Barney Miller, where he was a semi-regular from 1975 to 1982. He was also on Alfred Hitchcock Presents three times, including "The Cream of the Jest."

The real star of "The Dividing Wall" is Chris Robinson (1938- ), as Terry. He started out on Broadway in 1954, then began acting in films in 1957, including a role as the title monster in Beast from Haunted Cave (1959). He appeared frequently on episodic TV during the 1960s, including two episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. He wrote the screenplays for three films in the mid-1970s and also directed movies and TV shows during that period. As an actor, he had long-running roles on two soap operas: General Hospital, from 1978 to 2002, and The Bold and the Beautiful, from 1992 to 2005. Robinson is still acting today, in his 80s.

Norman Fell, Chris Robinson, and James Gregory (L to R)

Not surprisingly, Bernard Girard's camera lingers on beautiful Katherine Ross (1940- ) (as Carol Brandt), who was born in Hollywood and who was just beginning an acting career that would last from 1957 until 2019. Although this was the only episode of the Hitchcock show in which she appeared, she would become a big star just a few years later with her role in The Graduate (1967), followed by such notable films as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and The Stepford Wives (1975). She was also a regular on a TV series, The Colbys, from 1985 to 1987.

The unfortunate Al Norman is played by Norman Fell (1924-1988), who was born Norman Feld and who served in the Air Force in WWII. He later joined the Actors Studio before embarking on a career on the big and small screens that ran from 1954 until his death. Fell was Juror Number One in the original Studio One TV broadcast of Twelve Angry Men (1954) and he was a regular on the TV version of Ed McBain's 87th Precinct (1961-1962). This was the only episode of the Hitchcock show in which he appeared. He later was seen with Katherine Ross in The Graduate and he was a regular on the TV series Dan August (1970-1971) and Needles and Pins (1973-1974). However, Fell is best-remembered as the leering Mr. Roper on Three's Company (1976-1981) and its spinoff, The Ropers (1979-1980).

In smaller roles:
  • Simon Scott (1920-1991) as Durrell, the federal agent who shoots Fred at the end; he was on screen from 1952 to 1985, appeared in three episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and one episode of The Twilight Zone, and was a regular on the TV series, Trapper John, M.D. (1979-1985).
  • Robert Kelljan (1930-1982) as Agent Frank Ludden, who takes the first telephone call about the robbery of Cobalt 60; he acted on screen from 1960 to 1969 and directed for film and TV from 1969 to 1982. Kelljan also appeared in "Forty Detectives Later" on Alfred Hitchcock Presents and was seen on The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits. In addition, he wrote and direct the horror classic, Count Yorga, Vampire (1970), and its sequel, Return of Count Yorga (1971).
  • Rusty Lane (1899-1986) as Carol's father, Otto Brandt; born James Russell Lane, he was in nine episodes of the Hitchcock series, including "The Manacled."
Watch "The Dividing Wall" for free online here.

"The Dividing Wall." The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, season 9, episode 9, CBS, 6 Dec. 1963. 
Grams, Martin, and Patrik Wikstrom. The Alfred HITCHCOCK Presents Companion. OTR Pub., 2001. 
Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 

*  *  *  *  *

Joel Murcott on Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour: An Overview and Episode Guide

Joel Murcott began writing teleplays for Alfred Hitchcock Presents midway through the second season with "Number Twenty-Two," an outstanding adaptation of a short story by Evan Hunter. The show features great acting and direction.

Murcott contributed four scripts to the show's third season. In "Enough Rope for Two," he made some changes to Clark Howard's story that lessened its effectiveness. However, he improved "Last Request," expanding a very short tale and examining a pathological misogynist. In "Flight to the East," Murcott made major changes when adapting a very short story, but events come at the viewer so fast toward the end of the show that it's hard to keep up. "Death Sentence" adds scenes and themes to the short story but is, in the end, an unsatisfying adaptation.

For season four, Murcott wrote the teleplay for "Man with a Problem," one of the most memorable half-hours of the entire series, bolstered by superb acting and effective direction. His other script for this season, "A Personal Matter," is less successful and does not work as well as the story on which it is based.

Murcott wrote nothing for season five, but in season six he wrote the teleplay for "Ambition," an episode where the changes to the story don't improve upon it. His single script for season seven is "What Frightened You, Fred?" where a good story becomes an excellent episode in large part due to the changes and additions made by Murcott.

For The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Joel Murcott wrote two teleplays and co-wrote a third. In season eight, "The Black Curtain" does a poor job of adapting a flawed novel by Cornell Woolrich, while the ninth-season episode, "The Dividing Wall," starts well but goes off track in its second half. Finally, Murcott is credited as co-writer of the teleplay for "Behind the Locked Door," with Henry Slesar. A terrific performance by Gloria Swanson and a haunting score by Bernard Herrmann help make this a classic hour-long episode, and a brilliant change to the end of the story makes the show unforgettable.


Episode title-"Number Twenty-Two" [2.21]

Broadcast date-17 February 1957
Teleplay by-Joel Murcott
Based on "First Offense" by Evan Hunter
First print appearance-Manhunt, December 1955
Watch episode-here
Available on DVD?-yes

Episode title-"Enough Rope for Two" [3.7]
Broadcast date-17 November 1957
Teleplay by-Joel Murcott
Based on "Enough Rope for Two" by Clark Howard
First print appearance-Manhunt, February 1957
Watch episode-here
Available on DVD?-yes

Episode title-"Last Request" [3.8]
Broadcast date-24 November 1957
Teleplay by-Joel Murcott
Based on "Last Request" by Helen Fislar Brooks
First print appearance-Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, January 1957
Watch episode-here
Available on DVD?-yes

Episode title-"Flight to the East" [3.25]
Broadcast date-23 March 1958
Teleplay by-Joel Murcott
Based on "Night Flight" by Bevil Charles
First print appearance-The Creasey Mystery Magazine, August 1957
Watch episode-here
Available on DVD?-yes

Episode title-"Death Sentence" [3.30]
Broadcast date-27 April 1958
Teleplay by-Joel Murcott
Based on "Death Sentence" by Miriam Allen de Ford
First print appearance-Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, May 1948
Watch episode-here
Available on DVD?-yes

Episode title-"Man with a Problem" [4.7]
Broadcast date-16 Nov. 1958
Teleplay by-Joel Murcott
Based on "Man with a Problem" by Donald Honig
First print appearance-Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, July 1958
Watch episode-here
Available on DVD?-yes

Episode title-"A Personal Matter" [4.15]
Broadcast date-18 Jan. 1959
Teleplay by-Joel Murcott
Based on "Human Interest Stuff" by Davis Dressler
First print appearance-Adventure, Sept. 1938
Watch episode-here
Available on DVD?-yes

Episode title-"Ambition" [6.38]
Broadcast date-4 July 1961
Teleplay by-Joel Murcott
Based on "Ambition" by Charles Boeckman
First print appearance-Keyhole Mystery Magazine, Aug. 1960
Watch episode-here
Available on DVD?-no

Episode title-"What Frightened You, Fred?" [7.30]
Broadcast date-1 May 1962
Teleplay by-Joel Murcott
Based on "What Frightened You, Fred?" by Jack Ritchie
First print appearance-Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, May 1958
Watch episode-here
Available on DVD?-no

Episode title-"The Black Curtain" [8.9]
Broadcast date-15 Nov. 1962
Teleplay by-Joel Murcott
Based on The Black Curtain by Cornell Woolrich
First print appearance-1941 novel
Watch episode-here
Available on DVD?-no

Episode title-"The Dividing Wall" [9.9]
Broadcast date-6 Dec. 1963
Teleplay by-Joel Murcott
Based on an unpublished story by George Bellak
First print appearance-none
Watch episode-here
Available on DVD?-no

Episode title-"Behind the Locked Door" [9.22]
Broadcast date-27 March 1964
Teleplay by-Henry Slesar and Joel Murcott
Based on "Behind the Locked Door" by Henry Slesar
First print appearance-Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, January 1961
Watch episode-here
Available on DVD?-no

In two weeks: Our coverage of William Gordon begins with "The Lonely Hours," starring Nancy Kelly and Gena Rowlands!

Listen to Al Sjoerdsma discuss "Momentum" here!

Listen to Annie and Kathryn discuss "Sybilla" here!