Thursday, March 30, 2023

Journey Into Strange Tales Issue 83: Atlas/ Marvel Horror


The Marvel/Atlas 
Horror Comics
Part 68
June 1954 Part II
by Peter Enfantino

Mystic 31

“The Last Look!” (a: Robert Q. Sale) ★★★

“Clarence” (a: Pablo Ferro) ★

“The Insult!” ★★

“How Deep is Death?” (a: Jack Katz) ★★

“The Werewolf’s Victims” (a: Sid Check) ★1/2

Dennis De Grigny prides himself on his museum of curios and objets d'art and isn’t above murder to add rare pieces to his collection. While rummaging through a little shop in Madrid, De Grigny stumbles across the famed “Rose Colored Glasses” and tries them on. Everything around him immediately takes on a beautiful coat of paint, derelicts appear as gentlemen, old hags as gorgeous gals. He murders the shop owner and swears never to take the spectacles off. One day, De Grigny is invited to a party given by occult dabblers and is astounded by the grand estate. One of the partygoers swipes De Grigney’s glasses from his face, and the curio collector gets “The Last Look!” at life as it really is when the undead corpses of all his victims move in for their revenge. Some superb Sale work here, especially that grim climax, and a snappy, well-paced script.

“Clarence” is a hen-pecked man with a shrewish wife and an uncle worth millions. If you guessed that halfway through the story, the wife eggs Clarence on to kill his uncle, well you’re absolutely correct. You can probably guess the rest as well. The art by Pablo Ferro is uniquely awful, his faces are contorted and (what looks to be) half-finished. This was the artist’s third and final contribution to the Atlas horror titles.

Some striking artwork (the GCD guesses Harry Anderson is responsible) highlights the otherwise predictable “The Insult!” When Andre inadvertently insults Paris’s greatest swordsman, Jacques Fournier, and is challenged to a duel, he knows he has to head Fournier off at the pass and murder him before the duel can get underway. Andre ambushes Fournier outside a tavern one night but, alas, the duel goes as planned when Fournier’s corpse shows up at his murderer’s door the next day.

“How Deep is Death?” is an oddball yarn about Hal Burke, a deep sea diver who’s attempting to break the world record for depth. He makes it to 1000 feet but then blacks out and his body falls to the bottom of the ocean. In a weird twist, the accident turns out to be part of his wife’s nightmare but, when she wakes up, she discovers that Hal has hired a pair of thugs to rob and murder her. The next day, after the deed has been done, Burke goes on that record-breaking dive, only to recreate his wife’s dream. Turns out, Burke is actually in his own bed but trapped within his dead wife’s nightmare. “How Deep is Death” is imaginative but not wholly successful. The dream/reality sequences are contrived and confusing and require a second reading just to get it.

In “The Werewolf’s Victims,” a lycanthrope has stocked his mountain cave with hostages and feeds off them, one a day. One of the smarter prisoners talks the werewolf into letting him go out as a decoy to lure more human meals to the monster’s cave. The man is released and flees, coming across a group of hunters and relating his story. The men follow him back to the cave and shoot the werewolf dead. They then reveal themselves to be vampires and feast on the prisoners. Oh no, not that one again.

Spellbound 23 

“The Day of the Vampire” (a: Bill Benulis) ★★★1/2

“The Idiot Walks” (a: Art Peddy) ★

“Schweck’s Bad Boy” (a: Chuck Winter) ★★

“First Prize” (a: Chuck Miller) ★★1/2

“The Ape Man” (a: Paul Hodge) ★★★

With the world’s most vicious vampire closing in on his village, gutless coward Jan Rajeck must opt between fleeing with his friends or standing by the bedside of his dying wife. His friends nudge him towards the road but Rajeck finally decides the choice of a brave man would be to stay. Well, it’s not long before Rajeck’s blood pressure hits the red mark and he kisses his wife goodbye and exits stage right. Unfortunately, Rajeck’s thoughtful friends have converted his front yard into a vampire death trap and Jan bleeds out on his doorstep, four stakes through his chest.

“The Day of the Vampire” is that most rarest of things: a monster story without the monster. Aside from a brief profile shot of the bloodsucker from atop a hill overlooking Jan’s farm, the vampire is always an upcoming threat. Ironically, poor Jan dies because of his cowardice rather than two teeth marks in his neck. Ostensibly, his helpless wife will be served up instead. I’ve mentioned this before but Bill Benulis always seems to take even the most mundane of plots and enriches them a thousandfold with his unique style. Here, he’s given a smart and clever story to work with and the results are a near-classic Atlas tale.

“The Idiot Walks” is EC done the low-budget Atlas fashion, nonsensical and unreadable junk about a deaf and dumb youth who is despised and picked on by the rest of the town. The angry mob finally kills him and his little dog but then watch in horror as the young man rises and walks into the sea. Turns out the kid is the emissary of a race of sea creatures, sent to determine if mankind should be spared in the upcoming invasion of the surface world. Guess what the verdict will be. As i mentioned, this script reads as if Stan handed a batch of Shock SuspenStories comic books to a new writer, told him to study them, and told him he wanted something just like that

“Shweck’s Bad Boy” at least provides some sharp Chuck Winter graphics to go with its simple plot. After stabbing a man to death in a robbery, bad boy Johann flees to Sweden where his papa will surely hide him. Alas, papa has just been made the 36th Baron Shweck of Vienna and he’s leaving in the morning. Deciding that Vienna should skip a generation and promote Johann to Baron, he murders his father and travels to his new castle home, only to discover it’s inhabited by vampires.

Juan Giorna faithfully plays the lottery in the tiny country of El Mazidor, investing his pennies in a dream rather than food and clothing for his poor family. Juan insists one day he will win the “First Prize,” a lavish country estate and, indeed, his dream comes true. Unfortunately, the country’s president, Paolo La Fama has rigged the contest so that there is no winner. To claim his prize, Juan must first pay a tax of one million pesos. If the tax is not paid, the house becomes the property of La Fama. 

Outraged, the peasant takes to the street where he riles both his neighbors and el presidente. La Fama is not one to take insults lying down; he ventures to Juan’s shack and slits the man’s throat, then happily travels to his new country estate. When he opens the door, he is shocked to see the spirit of Juan Giorna and a large stack of TNT. Boom! “First Prize” ends literally with a bang and a whimper after such a solid build-up. Juan is not the most sympathetic of characters (he’s crass and impatient with his wife) but his demise is unflinching and violent, so the “twist” delivered is a massive letdown.

An important gathering of scientists, discussing evolution, is interrupted by a crackpot who claims that apes evolved from man, The stranger goes on to relate the tale of Org, a caveman tribe leader who notices one day that his hair is falling out. Realizing that no Neanderthal in his village will follow orders from a balding chief, Org visits an old witch living in a nearby cave, who promises a full head of hair in exchange for Org’s eternal service to her master. 

Org agrees, receives the required powder for follicle replenishing, and shoves a dagger into the old woman’s heart. Immediately, Satan arrives and bestows hair all over Org’s body, kicking off the gorilla species. Story finished, the orator is summarily dismissed as a nut and tossed out in the street on his ass, where he discards his human costume and takes to the trees. “The Ape Man” is a hoot, a comedy dressed in a science fiction wardrobe but never taking its eye off the power of drollery to entertain. The panel of Org looking into a stream and noticing his receding hairline is worthy of Mad Magazine.

Spellbound #23 would become the final issue published during the pre-code era. The title would resurface in October 1955 for a further 11 issues until its cancellation in June 1957. Looking back at the 23-issue run as a collective whole, Spellbound was firmly in the middle of the pack of titles as far as quality goes. The title’s best story, “The City,” appeared in #18.

Strange Tales 29

“Witchcraft!” (a: Robert Q. Sale) ★★★★

“Dead Beat!” (a: Bob Correa) ★★

“One Must Die” (a: Bill Savage) ★★★

“The Man in the Mask!” (a: Al Eadeh) ★★1/2

“We Saw It Happen” (a: Mort Lawrence) ★★★★

Medieval executioner Verlan is pert near out of a job since no heretics have been spotted in his village of Pau in quite some time. Not wanting any part of an unemployment line, Verlan accuses the old hag, Mother Grau, who lives on the outskirts of Pau, of consorting with the devil and brewing poisons. Placed under arrest, the old woman refuses to admit to satanism and Verlan has to take his plan up a notch. He dresses as Satan and visits Mother Grau in her cell, telling her to admit to her captors that she's seen him. 

As Verlan is exiting the prison, he's spotted by guards and attempts to doff his hooves and horns, only to find the costume has grafted itself onto his skin. Verlan is stoned by the guards who believe him to be the devil and just misses Mother Grau, on her broomstick, escaping from her prison cell. Artist Robert G. Sale obviously learned his best licks from Ghastly Graham Ingels but, if you've gotta swipe, swipe from the best and do a good job of it. Sale does a great job with “Witchcraft!” There's a really sleazy panel of Mother Grau kissing the costumed Verlan's hoofed foot that would have been censored only a few months later. Kiddie fare this ain’t.

In the extremely predictable “Dead Beat!,” Benny Troy is a thinking man’s hood. He hires goons to do the labor and pockets 90% of the haul. But then Benny meets a doll named Betty and decides to settle down. He wants one more big score before retiring though, so he puts out word that the next big thing is Uranium stocks. He prints up thousands of phony stock certificates and sells 25 grand worth of the stuff. He sends all the money to Betty, who he’s put up in a fancy place in the city, and then joins her a few months later. But when he gets there, he discovers the money’s all gone; Betty’s invested every penny in Uranium stocks! 

In the future, two men are sent into the Earth’s core in a digging machine on a fact-finding mission. Neither has been introduced to the other for precautionary purposes but we do know that the head man on this dig is “Harry,” a renowned “genius.” One day in, Harry discovers his bosses made a mistake and only packed enough food for the two men to survive half the trip. Immediately, Harry plans his partner’s death by accident. After braining his partner with a winch, Harry hears the radio squawk and discovers his bosses only packed enough food for one man to survive because his partner was a robot. And, to make matters worse, that robot had return instructions implanted in his metal brain. Harry is in deep, deep doo-doo. Clever twists and some very Heath-ian art by Bill Savage make “One Must Die!” entertaining reading. Harry’s battle with his own conscience when he decides to kill his comrade is handled particularly well; we can almost feel the angst going through this poor guy.

In this month’s “Red Scare” tale, “The Man in the Mask!,” a hooded figure stands up for the USSR at the United Nations, only to repudiate the country’s claim of kindness and good. The man narrates a tale of torture, murder, imprisonment, and families turning on each other before taking off his hood and robe, explaining that he is a casualty of Russia and he has come back from the dead to testify. The final panel of “The Man in the Mask!,” revealing the silhouette of the skeletal narrator, is pretty creepy, as is most of Al Eadah’s work here. Though the preach is in abundance, this is still one of the better “Atlas Commie” tales in recent months.

In India, Kordu falls to his death from a tall mountain and three people stand in court before Judge Krishlal to tell what they saw. All three tell different stories and it comes to light that all three have motives behind their lies. When the judge questions how the truth will come out if all three are liars, the ghost of the slain man appears in court to tell his side. As the judge rules that the dead man must know the truth, the sky cracks open and the multi-armed Hindu God of Truth reaches down to snap up the three witnesses as well as the spirit, explaining that all four lied to "injure innocent people they hated." “We Saw It Happen” is an unusually deep and religious horror story with a potent moral in its finale. Like "The Slums” (back in ST #28), I'm fascinated by the fact that such a think-piece made it into the pages of an Atlas horror comic and would love to know what, if any, the response was to the tale.

Uncanny Tales 21

“When Walks the Zombie” (a: Bill Benulis & Jack Abel) ★★

“The Torturer” (a: Tony DiPreta) ★★

“Tomb for Two!” (a: John Tartaglione) ★★★

“Fair Exchange!” (a: Tony Mortellaro) ★★

“Bored to Death” (a: Doug Wildey) ★1/2

Every night, the zombie digs his way out of his grave and stalks the night, looking for a victim to bring back to his home to “keep him company.” Enter Walter, con man/vagrant, who witnesses the rising and immediately goes to work on a plan to make himself millions. He strikes a bargain with the undead shambler and receives the victim’s valuables for his silence. All goes good until Walter becomes a millionaire, marries a gorgeous wife, and then watches as the zombie brings darling Doris back to the grave. All I could think about while reading “When Walks the Zombie” was that it must be a hell of a lot of work every night digging yourself out and then covering up all that dirt. And wouldn’t Mr. Zombie run out of room in that coffin pretty soon if he was bringing a fresh corpse down with him every 24 hours?

Conquistador Don Pedro, aka “The Torturer” cuts a bloody path through Mexico, searching for a rumored cache of gold. Every village he stops in, the tortured native cries “North!” and north he goes. Finally, he arrives at the village beneath the twin mountains where all the gold is stashed and, after all the flesh reddened and blood spilled, Don Pedro gets his gold. 

In “Tomb for Two!,” your typical fortune hunters, Terrell and Larson, stomp through the jungles of Yucatan, searching for a mythological temple filled with gold and jewels. The duo stumble upon the structure, dig their way in, and are awestruck by the mountain of booty within its walls. The academic of the pair, Larson, finds a tablet with warnings but his portly partner only wants to take stock of what they find. Terrell spots what may be the crown jewel of the temple, embedded in a wall. As he digs the idol out, Larson shouts out too late that the idol is the only thing holding up the temple. Greedy explorers are a dime a dozen in the Atlas horror universe but “Tomb for Two!” has a bit more going for it in that hilarious climax and the detailed, gorgeous art of John Tartaglione, who must have spent weeks filling in the backgrounds of the jungle and temple.

“Fair Exchange!” is the maudlin melodrama of an old man whose grandson is dying. He looks to the heavens and wishes he could exchange himself for the boy. He dies, the kid lives. We’re not told who exactly was in charge of the decision-making. The finale, “Bored to Death!” is the inane and confusing account of a man who sits on a subway car and contemplates his meaningless, boring life. He falls asleep and awakens in a ghost-filled carriage but he realizes it’s just a dream when he wakes up. But, then he discovers he’s still in that dream world. Leave him there. Even the usually reliable Doug Wildey looks bored with this one.

In Two Weeks...
Werewolves Aplenty!

Monday, March 27, 2023

Batman in the 1980s Issue 75: July/August 1988


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

Jerry Bingham
Batman #421

"Elmore's Lady"
Story by Jim Starlin
Art by Dick Giordano & Joe Rubinstein

Ten women in Gotham City have been murdered by the Dumpster Slasher. Batman visits Commissioner Gordon and wonders why there has not been an eleventh body since the slasher has followed a pattern and kills on a schedule. A bum named Elmore is dumpster diving for scraps of food when he's attacked by a couple of punks; fortunately, Batman shows up and puts a stop to their mayhem.

Elmore mentions to the Caped Crusader that he has a new wife whom he met at a nearby dumpster; Batman follows Elmore into an abandoned railroad tunnel and finds the body of the eleventh victim. Elmore reveals that the body was dumped by men driving a van that Batman recognizes as bearing the logo of the Iron Dragons, a Chinatown street gang, so the Dark Knight pays the gang a visit. After some martial arts fighting, Batman is able to examine the van. He finds dried blood and learns that the van was in police impound when the last murder occurred.

A quick search on the Bat computer tells Batman that Officer Victor Giambattista was on duty at the impound on the nights of the killings; by the time Batman gets to the crooked cop's apartment building, it is in flames and Victor is dead of a stab wound in the back. Before he died, Victor wrote a clue in blood on the floor and Batman tracks down his cousin, Vito Procaccini. Vito comes after Batman with a knife but misses; as Batman interrogates the crook, a big man named Branneck enters and tells Batman that he called the cops. Before Batman leaves, he confronts Branneck about the murders but gets nowhere; after Batman leaves, Branneck tells Vito that they need to kill another girl to make it an even dozen. Batman ponders how to corral the baddies and prevent another killing.

Jack: "Elmore's Lady" is a fairly complex story with a lot to recommend it. There's plenty going on and the section where Elmore leads Batman to his "home" and we see the dead girl whom he calls his wife is spooky and sad. It's unusual to see Dick Giordano doing the pencils and they're not great, though Joe Rubinstein does his best with what he's given. Mike Bright takes over as artist next month, so Giordano must have had to fill in at the last minute.

Peter: I liked "Elmore's Lady" as well, much better than Starlin's "Ten Days of the Beast." It's gritty and grimy and closer to the old days of O'Neil and Adams than to the James Bond or LeCarre vibe we had to endure in "Beast." I didn't mind the graphics; they're gritty and grimy as well. The intro of Branneck as a partner in the serial killing ups the edgy atmosphere. Weirdly, while I was reading this, I was thinking that this is the kind of material Max Allan Collins should have been writing for this title during his tenure. It's definitely up his alley.

Detective Comics #588

"Night People Part 2: The Corrosive Man"
Story by John Wagner & Alan Grant
Art by Norm Breyfogle

Mitchel rises from the ashes of the hazardous waste fire, transformed into a burning, killing machine, and calling himself the Corrosive Man. He unwittingly kills responding firefighters and police, burning them to the bone. Batman arrives and is able to keep the creature at bay with a firehose but, eventually, the Corrosive Man slips away. 

Meanwhile, Webley returns to the home of eccentric (if a little insane) Mr. Kadaver, having murdered for his boss only hours before. Kadaver informs his henchman that he killed the wrong guy and that he needs to go back to the docks and find the right vagrant to slice up. 

Corrosive Man hijacks a big rig but his touch means disintegration and, unfortunately, he's reminded of that fact when his hands go through the steering wheel and his flaming rear melts the seat. The truck crashes and he sets off on foot to the home of the aforementioned Mr. Kadaver. Batman, following the unmistakable trail of his new foe, is swinging over the harbor just as Webley is slicing up another vagrant, ostensibly the right one this time.

There's a lot to unpack here, two stories that are heading to a convergence at some point, but I like the script a lot. The Corrosive Man is a great new baddie, one of those Lennie-like characters who didn't ask for their lot in life and thus elicits sympathy while doing bumbling and fatal deeds. We still have no idea why Kadaver needs hobo Dalton Walls dead (or why he sleeps in a coffin and makes himself up like a vampire), but I assume we'll get the skinny in the conclusion next issue. This is a very fun story. Can't ask for more. Well... The art is another story altogether. It's slapdash and amateurish at times but, I'll admit, it does convey quite a bit of excitement. Oh, and the DJ interludes are still eye-rolling.

Jack: Wagner and Grant write a powerful story but I don't think Breyfogle is the right guy to illustrate it. His limited art skills definitely remove some of the power from the first scene with the Corrosive Man and Mr. Kadaver also suffers from the way Norm draws him. One question: why don't the Corrosive Man's feet burn through the pavement? These issues of Detective exhibit some adult themes and more violence than we used to see, but the art just isn't there for me.

Jerry Bingham
Batman #422

"Just Deserts" [sic]
Story by Jim Starlin
Art by Mark Bright, Joe Rubinstein, & Steve Mitchell

Vito worries because Batman knows that he and Karl are the Dumpster Slashers, but Karl reassures him by telling him that one more killing will get the Caped Crusader off their backs. Karl hates women and wants to put them in their place. Batman tells Commissioner Gordon that he will find the killers and earns a warning about taking the law into his own hands.

Everywhere Karl goes, he sees a pretty blonde watching him. He manages to lose Batman, who has been following him, and meets Vito in a subway tunnel, where he fatally stabs his partner and leaves him on the tracks to be run over by a train. Karl cleans his knife and hides it under the floorboards of his apartment, but Batman finds it and tells Karl that Vito rolled off the tracks before he died. Karl lunges at Batman, who knocks him out.

Karl wakes up in jail. Three months later, at his trial, he's freed on a technicality. Karl knows the Dynamic Duo are watching him and so is the blonde, so he packs to leave town but plans one last murder before he goes. Meanwhile, Robin beats up a pimp who was abusing a prostitute and Batman has to stop the Boy Wonder before he goes too far. That night, Karl finds the blonde and drags her toward his van but she pulls out a razor and fatally cuts his throat before he can have his way with her. Karl dies in an alley, surrounded by the ghosts of his victims.

The blonde, Linda Koslosky, gives herself up and reveals that she is the sister of Karl and Vito's second victim. She is charged with manslaughter but suggests that no jury will convict her, since she "'put down a mad dog.'" Batman reminds Robin that no one is above the law.

Jack: After a surprisingly obvious typo in the story's title (shades of Warren!), "Just Desserts" (or "Just Deserts") features mediocre art from new penciller Mike Bright and a run of the mill story that takes a surprising turn when Linda kills Karl. The thoughtful conclusion elevates the story.

Peter: For once, I completely disagree with my compadre. "Just Deserts" (without a Gobi or Sahara in sight) is dy-no-mite! Easing into Death Wish/Dirty Harry territory and questioning just how far Bats can take it without becoming a Linda Koslosky. Though I've (justifiably) criticized the handling of Robin in the past, I think Starlin handles the kid's rebellion just right. Jason is steadily becoming more of a loose cannon, but there's no two-page moralizing here (just two panels)--it's the most human this throwaway character has been since being introduced. The art... yep, it's shaky when it comes to the "human" characters, but the Bright/Rubinstein/Mitchell trio does aces work on the dynamic duo's scenes. When Jack gets an eyeful of the Cockrum/DeCarlo "artwork" in the following issue, he'll wish he could have this team back in a heartbeat. "Just Deserts (No Forest For Miles)" is the best Bats work Starlin has done yet. 

Detective Comics #589

"Night People Part 3: The Burning Pit"
Story by John Wagner & Alan Grant
Art by Norm Breyfogle

Batman nabs Mr. Kadaver's hitman, Webley, and escorts him out of Cardboard City before the locals tear him to shreds with an eye to eliciting directions to the boss's house. Across town, the Corrosive Man heads for the same address. 

Meanwhile, at Kadaver's dungeon residence, the reason for vagrant Dalton Walls is finally revealed when Walls's nephew, Hobart, comes calling to pay Kadaver his money for the hit. Seems Walls is an eccentric millionaire who decided to chuck it all and live on the streets. Walls's fortune is inherited by Hobart with the old man's death. Kadaver discovers the connection and trusses up Hobart, hanging the man over a lime pit until he agrees to pay Kadaver twenty mill.

Batman arrives with Webley and engages in fisticuffs with the mentally deranged Kadaver, who slips and falls toward the lime pit, saved only by the neck of Hobart. The two swing over "The Burning Pit" just as Corrosive Man melts his way through the ceiling. Unfortunately, he lands squarely on the Batman and our hero is knocked unconscious. Corro reaches out and melts Kadaver's face. Batman comes to and carefully battles with Corrosive Man, who (just like Kadaver) loses his footing and falls to his death in the lime pit. Heading back to Wayne Manor to grab some grub and shuteye, Batman comes across a wreck on the highway. DJ Dark, nose full of blow, has accidentally run a man over. Ironically, the stiff is the dope dealer Batman had been chasing before he was sidetracked by Deke Mitchel and Kadaver. "Poetic justice," snorts (pun intended) the Dark Knight.

Peter: A fabulous conclusion to the three-part Corro/Kadaver arc but, for once, I'd have loved a bit more background on Mr. Kadaver, a wonderfully loony villain who just happened to own a dungeon and a very large makeup kit. The expository behind the target on Walls's back was handled well. Corrosive Man reminds me of Ghost Rider without his leather and bike. I'm not sure but my source, who asks to remain anonymous, informs me that Deke Mitchel will return.

It's funny how monikers for these bad guys get around. Last issue, Deke Mitchel dubbed himself "The Corrosive Man" while out wandering by himself. This issue, Batman suddenly starts referring to Deke by the same alias. Not Meltdown or Captain Radiation or the Hazardous Waste Man; he gets it right on the money! Breyfogle's pencils remain sketchy (literally); the continued low angle shot of Batman's exaggerated chin is getting to be annoying.

Jack: I'm surprised you liked this story. I thought it was a disappointment. I was shocked to see the DJ snorting a line of coke in a DC comic! Breyfogle draws some good layouts and can handle action sequences, but the human faces remain a big problem and his drawing of Batman is sometimes just too goofy for me. Overall, I thought it was an unfocused story with mediocre art.

"For the Love of Ivy"
Story by Lewis Klahr & Steve Piersall
Art by Dean Haspiel & Denis Rodier

Poison Ivy is dying, poisoned by the toxins within her own bloodstream. She's also highly contagious. Batman sets out to capture Ivy and talk her into taking an antidote. Ivy is not easily persuaded.

Peter: An experiment by DC editors, the "Bonus Book" gave a chance to artists, writers, and letterers who fancied a career in graphic arts. Thankfully, consumers who plunked down their hard-earned quarters for Detective #589 didn't have to shell out one penny more for the extra 16 pages. The writing is crude and some of the dialogue between characters is as if two conversations are going on at the same time. The art is stiff and the choreography non-existent. In short, "For the Love of Ivy" does what it sets out to do in putting new names out there but doesn't sell the argument that these individuals should be in the biz. Of the quartet, only penciler Haspiel went on to some success.

Jack: Even though we don't put ratings on these comics in our posts, I keep them in my notebook, and this one gets a single star across the board (out of a possible four). It's not a professional-quality story in any department and I don't think DC should have published it in Detective. And I really like Poison Ivy!

Batman Annual #12

"Slade's Demon"
Story by Mike Baron
Art by Ross Andru, Pablo Marcos & Denis Rodier

Bruce Wayne travels to the Slade Estate in Upstate New York to attend a murder mystery weekend. It's rumored that Monica Slade's late father, Deacon Slade, was a Satanist and that "Slade's Demon" haunts the modernist structure. Bruce meets macho man Jake Sweeney, who compliments Wayne on the "'bitchin' tower'" at his estate, and Monica assigns roles to each of the guests; ironically, Bruce is cast as the detective. His date, sexy blonde Ruby Smith, is cast as a famous actress. Of course, a Black couple are cast as a gangster and a hooker; other parts are handed out to the rest of the guests.

The lights go out in a thunderstorm and Bruce sees that Monica has fallen to her death through a high window. After Batman confirms that she's dead, Ruby tells Bruce that a ghost is rumored to stalk the rooms. Another guest is attacked by what she thinks is the Slade Monster and Batman questions the rest of the guests. As he looks for the killer, the Dark Knight is suddenly attacked by Jake, a trained martial artist and the secret son of the late Monica Slade. Batman dispatches the bodybuilder but is hit from behind by Jake's father, Rene Cesar, who is the son of Deacon Slade and a woman he raped. Cesar killed Monica as part of a planned sacrifice to Satan.

Batman is thrown out of a high window and caught by Slade's Monster, who happens to be climbing up the side of the cliff below the house. The monster used to be Swanson's assistant and is now just a really big guy with a furry vest and green trousers who holds up the house on his shoulders so that everyone can get out safely before it slides into the gorge. As the house crashes below, a giant demon appears in the sky and disappears at last. Later, Bruce drives off with Ruby and we see that the monster lives on.

Peter: This is one big slice of Limburger cheese, truly one-of-a-kind awful in both script and art. With so many glaring holes in this plot (and so much cringe-worthy expository in its dopey howmanydunnit climax), I'd have to point to the fact that not one of these party guest ding-a-lings asks how the Batman managed to show up! You'd think someone would scratch their chin and say "Hmmmm!" Or how about freaky Hamish Stewart holding up an entire house on his back? The art is the pits. Ross Andru and Pablo Marcos: a team made in heaven. Ironic that the worst Batman strip of the year is delivered in the same month as the best.

Jack: A weird cover by Mike Kaluta starts things off and appears to depict a very angry Batman weeding a garden at night by lamplight. The 38-page debacle that is titled "Slade's Demon" makes little sense and features art that would be wretched if we hadn't just seen the terrible illustrations in the bonus story in Detective #589. Oddly, the story and art are definitely DC-PG, with "bitchin'," "damn," and a shot of a dead woman's panties! The art looks like very weak Ross Andru work to me and I don't see much evidence of Pablo Marcos. The inker is the same Dennis Rodier who inked the terrible Poison Ivy story in Detective.

"The Back-Up"
Story by Robert Greenberger
Art by Norm Breyfogle

Jason Todd doesn't have many friends in the seventh grade, so when a trio of nerds known as the H.I.T. (High School Independent Technical) Squad show him how they have figured out how to access all of the school's locked supplies and change their grades on the school's computers, he finds a way to ensure that they're caught without anyone knowing he was involved.

Peter: Though not quite as egregious as "Slade's Demon," the "Back-Up" story that supposedly features Robin (but does nothing of the sort) is pretty dumb as well. I'm trying to wrap my head around Jason's attitude towards his friends' behavior: "Well, yeah sure, they're doing something really awful but it's not my place to tell them it's wrong and, anyway, they're my friends and they're really good guys!" The art by Breyfogle here is even worse than his work in Detective.

Jack: It's all in what you compare it to! The story isn't great, but it's better than this issue's lead story, and the same is true for the art. I didn't mind an off the wall tale like this one, though I was surprised to see that Jason is only in the seventh grade. Breyfogle's art reminds me of the work of Ramona Fradon here, though without her humor or inventiveness. Maybe he'll improve with time.

Batman: The Killing Joke
Story by Alan Moore
Art by Brian Bolland

Batman visits Joker in Arkham Asylum. Our hero tries to get a message across to his number one enemy that he wants their never-ending game of violence toward each other to end, since the result can only be death to one of them. Joker ignores him, continuing to play a game of solitaire, and Batman finally reaches the end of his patience and grabs the fiend's hand. Greasepaint comes off on the Dark Knight's gloves and he realizes this is not the real deal.

Joker, meanwhile, is miles away, finalizing a deal to buy a rundown, abandoned carnival. Of course, since this is the world's most insane criminal, the deal ends with the ghastly death of the businessman. Joker is the proud owner of a carnival.

As these events unfold, the Clown Prince of Crime flashes back to his origin story. He is an unnamed comedian trying to make ends meet, living with his pregnant wife, who agrees to participate in a crime with a shady pair of characters. The target is a playing card company (and since this is Alan Moore, the reasoning is never really made clear), but the building must be accessed through a chemical plant and Mr. Pre-Joker used to work at said plant. Since our innocent-but-desperate comedian needs the dough, he agrees to join the crime circle and also (as per his cohorts) to wear a red hood while performing the crime.

Commissioner and Barbara Gordon are enjoying a night at home, each putting their crime-fighting to the side for a short while, when there's a knock at the door. Babs answers and finds a certain clown standing in the doorway. Before she can react, Joker pulls a handgun and shoots her. He and his henchmen enter and kidnap the Commish. Before exiting, Joker strips the wounded Babs and takes some Polaroids of her naked, bleeding body. Later, Batman visits the woman in the hospital and Barbara reveals that her dad has been taken prisoner. 

Gordon comes to, naked and chained in a cage at the carnival, where he is brought by strange little men to the throne of Joker. Joker places the cop in a fun-ride car and subjects Gordon to a freak show display, culminating in a huge screen showing pics of Babs, lying in a pool of her own blood. Gordon screams like a man on the edge of sanity. Joker is pleased.

The Dark Knight is scouring the city for traces of the lunatic but salvation comes, ironically, in the form of an invitation to the carnival from the nut himself. Meanwhile, the Joker has removed Gordon from the funhouse and tells him to reflect on "life and all its injustices." This triggers a memory within the villain himself, of the events from years before. As he agrees to participate in a card company heist, the Man-Who-Would-Be-Joker learns his wife has died in a freak electrical accident and attempts to pull out of the criminal activity. His partners threaten death and he's forced to go through with it, despite his grief. The job goes south when security guards arrive and open fire. His two compadres dead, the red-hooded and panicked comedian races towards the exit, only to be confronted by the novice caped crime-fighter known as the "Human Bat." The poor dope takes a dive into toxic waters and emerges as Joker!

Meanwhile, back in the present, Batman arrives at the carnival and rescues Gordon. He turns his attention to his number one fan, who pulls a gun and points it in the hero's face. A sign emerges from the barrel, signaling that the weapon is empty, and Joker shrugs, telling his foe to just get it over with. Batman delivers his monologue again (this time to the genuine article), telling Joker that they should stop their endless, pointless game, that they don't have to "kill each other." The Maniac of Mirth smiles and tells the Caped Crusader that the situation reminds him of a joke...

Peter: In the prologue to the 2008 reprint of The Killing Joke, Tim Sale reminds us of what a fertile time the mid-1980s was for certain funny book writers, in particular Frank Miller and Alan Moore. I'm obviously not the first person to state that these two guys revolutionized the way comics were written (following in the footsteps, for the most part, of the two best writers of the 1970s, Englehart and O'Neil) and drawn. Stepping back and looking at it as a whole, there's nothing startlingly original about The Killing Joke. Joker escapes from prison, does some damage, and is rounded up again by the guy whose name is on the cover. But the devil, as the cliche goes, is in the details.

It took some big ones for the powers-that-be to allow Moore to completely change the course of one of their prime characters (granted, Batgirl had not been used to her potential in years) and in such a shocking way. Villains in funny books are kinda dangerous but the damage they do is temporary. Right? Barbara Gordon has a look on her face that mirrors that of the reader. Bad guys tie you up and hang you over giant snow cones; they don't shoot you with a handgun while dressed in a Hawaiian shirt. The naked snapshots are the icing on the cake. Moore's origin flashbacks are delivered in a crafty way; we're not sure if this comedian is Joker's Pop or the villain himself until the wife is killed off. We see the gradual erosion of the character from then on, with his toxic swim to safety adding an extra layer of insanity. But was Joker a loon before his corrosive bath? Ah, that's the question. Alan Moore doesn't seem to see it that way. He's just a bad stand-up comedian stuck in unenviable situations. Fascinating.

The Bolland art is flawless, to me easily the best art delivered in a Batman title of the 1980s. His Joker would become THE Joker from that point forward. There are so many iconic panels and scenes here. The shot of Batman approaching the card-dealing faux Joker at Arkham; Joker smiling at the realtor at the carnival (those gums looking eerily realistic); Babs opening the door, astonishment on her face; and, number one, the Joker emerging from the chemical bath. Would Batman titles ever reach the peak of the mid-to-late 1980s again? I doubt it.

Since I've never read much of the Batman's pre-1970s adventures, I had no idea what the Red Hood gang was all about until I did some internet research and went down that fabulous rabbit hole. I'm definitely going to visit some of these Golden Age Bat stories at some future date.

Jack: The wordless opening sequence is superb and the art throughout is fantastic; I thought I saw a bit of Eisner influence at times. We're reading the deluxe edition, which was recolored by Bolland, so I don't know how the original looked, but I loved this. The shooting of Barbara Gordon is in line with the trend of the late '80s and early '90s to injure or kill iconic heroes; Supergirl and Flash had been killed not long before in Crisis on Infinite Earths and Superman's death was only a few years away. Years later, Marvel would get into the act, but DC was the front runner with this type of event. I think that having the Joker shoot Batgirl made the kidnap and torture of Commissioner Gordon seem much more dangerous; if they could kill off Barbara, then why not Jim? I recall the Red Hood story from a 25 cent DC Giant when I was a kid, so I was familiar with the Joker's origin; I love when the modern writers find something from the old days and bring it back. This is one of the best Batman stories I've read.

Next Week...
You know things are bad when 
we hype the ads instead of the stories!

Thursday, March 23, 2023

The Hitchcock Project-Lou Rambeau Part One-Hangover [8.12]

by Jack Seabrook

Lou Rambeau is credited with writing the teleplays for two episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, "Hangover" and "Last Seen Wearing Blue Jeans." But who was Lou Rambeau? He or she has no other writing credits anywhere and I have been unable to find any biographical information, yet it seems unlikely that the producers of the TV show would assign a writer with no track record to adapt two short stories and a novel for TV. Is the name a pseudonym?

*   *   *   *   *

"Hangover" is based on two short stories of that title, one by John D. MacDonald and the other by Charles Runyon. MacDonald's story came first, having been published in the July 1956 issue of Cosmopolitan. It begins as the main character, Hadley Purvis, awakens with a bad hangover. He is a 39-year-old ad executive whose wife, Sarah, worries that he may be an alcoholic. Trying to reconstruct the prior evening's events in his mind, he recalls his colleague, Bill Hunter, telling him that Driscoll, their boss, was concerned that Hadley would be unable to behave himself at an important event that evening to preview new car models.

MacDonald's story was
first published here
As the evening wore on, he got progressively more drunk and embarrassed himself in front of an important client before insulting the man. Driscoll fired him and sent him home. On his way home he bought a necktie and he recalls little after that besides a quarrel with his wife. He gets dressed but can't find his new necktie. Deciding to face his wife, he searches their apartment and locates the tie, which is tightly wrapped around his dead wife's neck.

Runyon's story was published in the December 1960 issue of Manhunt and is similar to MacDonald's tale. This time, Greg Maxwell wakes up with a hangover and calls out to his wife Marian before recalling that she's been gone for almost two weeks. He discovers another woman in his bed; her name is Sandy and he is repelled by her. She tells him that she works as a bar hostess and they have been together since Wednesday night; it's Tuesday and he has lost the memory of the last five days.

Runyon's story was
first published here
Greg recalls hiring a detective, who caught Marian cheating on him. He wonders why his suit is wet and muddy and Sandy explains that his boss came to his house on Friday night and fired him, so Greg followed the man out onto the lawn, yelling at him as he drove away. Greg tells Sandy to leave before his wife comes home and calls the hotel where Marian was staying, only to learn that she checked out yesterday; Sandy tells him that Marian came home last night and he shoved Sandy into the bathroom. Much later, he told her that Marian would not get in their way again.

All at once, Greg recalls the argument that ended with him murdering his wife by hitting her with stones from the patio. As Sandy suggests that they get drunk together, he hears dogs fighting over something out on the patio and realizes that it's his wife's corpse.

The stories are remarkably similar. In both, a man has a bad hangover and gradually remembers being fired from his job and killing his wife. In MacDonald's story, which is told in the third person, the man finds his dead wife but does not recall the act of murder, while in Runyon's story, the man recalls the act of murder but does not seek out the corpse. The main difference is the addition of Sandy, the other woman in Runyon's story; she serves to remind Greg of what happened while he was drunk and she is contrasted with his wife. In both stories, excessive drinking ruins the lives of a married couple.

Tony Randall as Hadley Purvis
The stories were purchased for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and teleplay writer Lou Rambeau wove them together into a harrowing episode that features a strong performance by Tony Randall as Hadley Purvis.

The show opens with an establishing shot of the suburban Purvis home. Inside, the camera pans over the mess that Hadley left the night before, while jazzy music plays on the soundtrack. We see twin beds, of course, this being a 1962 TV show; one is empty but has been slept in, while the other still contains Hadley, who awakens with a yell. The camera pans rapidly around the room in circles to convey his dizziness and there is a three-note sting of music that suggests an "I told you so."

An extreme close up of Hadley's face shows him to be unshaven and in pain. In voiceover, he says that he blacked out and doesn't know what happened; the use of voiceover at various points in the episode gives the viewer Hadley's first-person narration, as in the Runyon story, while the rest of the events are shown to the viewer, like MacDonald's third-person narration. The first of five flashbacks follows, establishing a piece of what happened to Hadley the day before. He is at breakfast, hung over, talking to his wife, Sandy (the women's names have been swapped from the Runyon story); he sneaks a drink when he thinks he's alone but she sees him and is not surprised. There is tension between them and when she tells him that he is an alcoholic who is ruining his life and his career, he denies it. Sandy reminds him that today may represent his last chance at work and adds that she'll leave him for good the next time he goes on a binge.

Jayne Mansfield as Marian
The flashback ends and we return to the present, the jazzy score resuming on the soundtrack. Hadley searches for Sandy but instead finds Marian, wearing Sandy's bathrobe. There is a carefully-placed statute of a woman's torso in the background that reminds the viewer of the famous body of Jayne Mansfield, the actress who pays Marian. The second flashback follows, as Hadley recalls an incident from the prior night when he staggered into a bar, drunk, and met Marian, a B-girl who he picks up after accidentally calling her Sandra. The flashbacks in "Hangover" are not sequential in time; they are connected to events in the present that spur Hadley's memory.

Back in the present, he asks Marian what happened and she tells him that Sandy was not there when they got home last night. Soon, Hadley is dressed for work but Marian is still in her bathrobe, eating breakfast and comfortable in his home. There are establishing shots of Manhattan's busy streets and a high-rise office building, followed by a shot of Hadley arriving at the ad agency where he works, looking exhausted. A young man named Albert tells him that Driscoll, the boss, said that he didn't want to talk to Hadley, and Bill Hunter, Hadley's colleague, emerges from Hadley's office and invites him in. Bill tells Hadley that he was fired the night before and it was all his own fault. Hadley is rude to Bill, even though the man is gentle and tries to let him down easy. This episode takes place in the time and milieu of Mad Men and Hadley is not unlike Don Draper, another brilliant ad man who has a hard time curbing his desires for alcohol and women.

Robert Lieb as Bill Hunter
Hadley tells Bill that he does not remember anything and the third flashback begins, in which Hadley arrives late at a meeting with clients where he was to unveil a new ad campaign for the Colton Cosmic, a futuristic car. Hadley goes to the bar outside the conference room where the meeting is taking place and is again arrogant, having drinks and peeking in to see the ad executives awaiting his arrival. Hadley confirms that the presentation is not going well; he is the star of the show and everyone is waiting for him, but instead of being contrite he makes them wait. Finally, Bill Hunter comes out to get Hadley and reminds him that everything depends on him. After Bill goes back into the room, Hadley fills a water pitcher with clear alcohol, grabs a glass, and enters.

Hadley depends on alcohol to get him through every situation he encounters and mistakenly thinks that he can hide it from others. He takes the stage with arrogance, smoking a cigarette and placing pitcher and glass on the table before him. His presentation is embarrassing, marked by side remarks that he thinks are funny but that fall flat with the audience. He repeatedly starts to cough so that he can take drinks of "water" and the musical stings continue on the soundtrack with each misstep. The audience grows increasingly disgusted with Hadley's behavior as he self-destructs in front of his colleagues; Tony Randall, as Hadley, is particularly good in this extended scene, even managing to find moments of cringe-inducing humor.

Myron Healey as Bob Blake
Finally, the meeting breaks up, the audience leaves, and Driscoll fires Hadley on the spot, yet Hadley remains arrogant. The scene fades out with Hadley alone onstage. The flashback ends and we are back in the present, with Hadley in the office telling Bill that he now remembers what happened. He leaves, saying that he needs a drink, and there are more exterior shots of busy Manhattan streets. We next see Hadley sitting in a bar where Albert, the young man from the office, approaches him and asks him to repay money that Albert spent on his behalf when Hadley sent him out for a bottle of alcohol. Albert is kind, apologetic, and sincere, but Hadley is again rude and curt.

Hadley gets up to leave but Albert stops him and hands him a piece of paper that fell out of Hadley's wallet. It is a receipt from a store on Broadway near 47th Street called The Sweaterama that advertises that it is Open Till Midnight; Hadley bought a scarf there the night before but does not remember doing so. He visits the store and the saleswoman remembers him, which leads to the fourth flashback. This time, it's late in the evening, after Hadley's meltdown at the meeting, and he walks into the store very drunk. He buys the scarf and insists that his ability to select and purchase it for his wife proves that he's not inebriated. Back in the present, Hadley realizes that he's filled in another piece of the puzzle and leaves the store.

He goes home and finds Marian still there; Jayne Mansfield is shown wrapped in a bath towel, once again playing off her image as a sex symbol. As with the shot of the empty bed at the beginning of the episode, nudity and sex are implied but never shown, except for the bust on the table in Hadley's living room, which represents everything that the viewer is not allowed to see in regard to the character of Marian. Hadley calls Bill Hunter at home and confirms that no one called Sandy the night before to tell her that Hadley had been fired. Marian walks seductively into the living room wearing Sandy's pajamas, but Hadley is uninterested, filled with self-pity and desperate to find his wife.

Hadley rudely orders Marian to leave and she responds in kind, calling him a creep and a drunk. They struggle and he begins to strangle her before pulling away, horrified at his own capacity for violence. We next see Marian, applying makeup and dressed to kill. Hadley apologies to her for losing his temper and gives her money, as if paying a prostitute for services rendered. She tells him that the money is to keep her mouth shut so that she won't tell the police that he attacked her, which would result in his wife learning of their night together. Marian departs and Hadley is left alone.

He immediately starts searching for a bottle of booze, frantically pulling clothes out of drawers. His forehead bathed in sweat, Hadley has already forgotten his bad acts and his missing wife. He goes down to the basement and we hear more voiceover as he sees the corner of a scarf sticking out from a closed closet door. He recalls bringing it home and the fifth and final flashback begins, showing what happened when Hadley came home last night. Sandy realizes right away that he is drunk and says she will pack and leave in the morning. Hadley insists that he isn't drunk, pulls out the scarf, and argues that it is proof of his sobriety. He loses his temper, yells at his wife, wraps the scarf around her neck, and tightens it, the camera looking up at him from his dying wife's perspective as he strangles her, telling her it's "'just for you.'"

Dody Heath as Sandy
Hadley does not intend to kill Sandy but he can't control his behavior when he's drunk. Back in the present for the last time, Hadley remembers what happened, opens the closet door, and sees Sandy, dead, with the scarf wrapped around her throat. The show ends with a closeup of his face as he realizes what he's done.

Everyone in "Hangover" is a victim. Sandy is murdered, Marian is physically and verbally abused and discarded, Hadley's colleagues lose a business opportunity, and Hadley loses his job, his wife, and his freedom. He will surely be caught and he'll probably confess. The only people who seem satisfied in the entire show are the bartenders!

Lou Rambeau's teleplay does a wonderful job of merging the two short stories together and using the visual medium to tell the story. Hadley is like a detective, who pieces together forgotten memories of the events of the day before until he solves the mystery of his missing wife. Rambeau and director Bernard Girard use classic film noir elements such as voiceover and flashbacks to lead the viewer through Hadley's investigation of what happened, making him not only the detective but also the killer and, in a sense, one of the victims. The episode is riveting from start to finish and does not deserve John D. MacDonald's characterization of it as "cluttered nonsense."

Hadley views Sandy's corpse.

An interesting aspect of the show that has nothing to do with alcoholism is the futuristic car that is displayed on stage at the client meeting where Hadley self-destructs. Referred to as "The New Colton Cosmic, a Revolution in Transportation," it resembles a single-seat spaceship on wheels, with space-age antennas, looking nothing like any real car from 1962!

Hadley is left alone with the Colton Cosmic.

A closer look at the space age car.

Bernard Girard (1918-1977) keeps the story moving quickly and chooses interesting shots and transitions between the present and the past. He was born Bernard Goldstein and he worked as both a writer and 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."

Tyler McVey as David Driscoll
John D. MacDonald (1916-1986), who wrote one of the short stories upon which the show was based, served in the Army and the OSS during WWII and wrote short stories, novels, and non-fiction from 1946 until his death. He is best remembered for the series of books featuring Travis McGee and he was named an MWA Grand Master. Among the many movies and TV shows adapted from his work were an episode of Thriller and the film Cape Fear (1962); there is a website devoted to him here.

Charles Runyon (1928-2015), who wrote the other short story, wrote stories and novels from 1958 until his death, although he began to use the pen name Mark West in 1999. He wrote three novels as Ellery Queen and "Hangover" is the only screen adaptation of any of his works. There is an interesting article about him here.

James Maloney as Cushman
Giving a tremendous performance as Hadley Purvis is Tony Randall (1920-2004), who was born Aryeh Rosenberg and who served in the Army in WWII. He was a busy actor on Old Time Radio starting in the early 1940s; he began appearing in films in 1942; he began a long stage career in 1947; and his TV career started in 1950. He founded the National Actors Theatre and he was featured in several TV series, including Mr. Peepers (1952-1955), The Odd Couple (1970-1975), The Tony Randall Show (1976-1978), and Love, Sidney (1981-1983). He won an Emmy for The Odd Couple. Among his films were 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964) and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957), where he played an ad man and co-starred with Jayne Mansfield.

June Levant as the saleswoman
Sex symbol Jayne Mansfield was only 29 when she co-starred as Marian in "Hangover," but her years as a star were behind her. Born Vera Jane Palmer, she won beauty contests in college and appeared on stage from 1951 to 1953 before starting to appear on TV in 1954 and on film in 1955. She was seen several times in Playboy and her films include The Burglar (1957), adapted from the novel by David Goodis. There is a website devoted to her here.

Dody Heath (1926- ) plays Sandy, Hadley's wife. Born Rowena Delores Heath, she was on screen from 1953 to 1973 and appeared on The Twilight Zone, as well as in three episodes of the Hitchcock series, including "Touche."

In smaller roles:
  • Robert Lieb (1914-2002) as Bill Hunter, Hadley's colleague; on screen from 1946 to 1999, he was in three episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour but is most familiar as Officer Flaherty in the Twilight Zone episode, "Night of the Meek."
  • Myron Healey (1923-2005) as Bob Blake, the unhappy client at the ad meeting; he has countless credits on film and TV from 1943 to 1994 and appeared in five episodes of the Hitchcock show, including "Incident in a Small Jail."
  • Tyler McVey (1912-2005) as David Driscoll, Hadley's boss; his long career began in the 1930s on the radio and he was on screen from 1950 to 1986. He can be seen in eight episodes of the Hitchcock series, including "Human Interest Story," and he was the president of AFTRA from 1965 to 1967.
  • James Maloney (1915-1978) as Cushman, the boring speaker at the client meeting who precedes Hadley on stage; he had a bit part in Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? and was mostly seen on TV from 1950 to 1964. He was also in "Body in the Barn."
  • June Levant (1911-1996) as the saleswoman at The Sweaterama; born June Gilmartin, she also acted under the name June Gale and started out as a dancer before acting in films from 1932 to 1948. She was married to Oscar Levant and she hosted a TV talk show in the 1950s. "Hangover" was her last credit.
  • William Phipps (1922-2018) as the bartender outside the client meeting; he served in the Navy in WWII and had numerous screen credits from 1947 to 2000. He was on The Twilight Zone and Thriller and he was the voice of Prince Charming in Disney's Cinderella (1950).
William Phipps
  • Chris Roman, who plays Cliff, the bartender at the bar where Hadley picks up Marian, has only three TV credits, all in 1962 or 1963.
Chris Roman
  • Richard Franchot (1933- ) as Albert, the young secretary at Hadley's office, has a handful of TV credits from 1952 to 1963, directed many episodes of a TV soap opera called Bright Promise between 1969 and 1972, and was also in "Ride the Nightmare."
Richard Franchot
Watch "Hangover" online here.


Charles Runyon: Interview and Bibliography, 


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

"Hangover." The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, season 8, episode 12, CBS, 6 Dec. 1962. 



MacDonald, John D. "Hangover." Hitchcock in Prime Time, Avon, New York, 1985, pp. 225–237. 

Runyon, Charles. "Hangover." Hitchcock in Prime Time, Avon, pp. 238–253. 

Scott, Steve. "The Trap of Solid Gold." The Trap of Solid Gold, 

Stark House Press, 

Stephensen-Payne, Phil. Galactic Central,

Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation,

Listen to Al Sjoerdsma discuss "Mr. Blanchard's Secret" here!

In two weeks: Our brief series on the mysterious Lou Rambeau concludes with a look at "Last Seen Wearing Blue Jeans," starring Michael Wilding!