Thursday, June 27, 2024

The Hitchcock Project-The Trap by Lee Kalcheim [10.18]

by Jack Seabrook

"The Trap" is based on a short story of the same name by Stanley Abbott that was published in the November 1964 issue of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine. In the story, all is not well in the marriage of wealthy Emory Sinclair and his lovely wife, Helen; they have a home in Manhattan and another in Palm Beach, but his pursuit of more money leaves her feeling neglected and bored. Emory hires handsome Paul Fenton as his new secretary, and soon a passionate affair between Helen and Paul is underway. Since divorce would leave her penniless, Helen's thoughts turn to murder, and she devises a plan.

On the day that they are closing their New York house for the winter and she is flying to Florida, while Emory is to fly to Chicago for a three-week stay, Helen carries out her scheme. She hears Emory enter the elevator and, knowing no one else is home and that the house will be empty for months, she removes the fuse from the fuse box and replaces it with one that is burnt out. Helen hears the elevator stop and frantic pounding at the door. She leaves the house and flies to Florida, where she is troubled by dreams and thoughts of her husband slowly dying, alone, trapped in the elevator.

After three weeks, her conscience is clear. The Hendersons are giving her a birthday party that night, and they think that Emory will be there. To Helen's shock, when she goes downstairs to leave for the party, she comes face to face with her husband. He explains that he went shopping for a birthday gift for her on the morning when she left for Florida, and he left Paul at home to finish things up. Emory explains that he returned home to find Paul still there, and the secretary was still there when he left.

"The Trap" is a clever short story, only six pages long in the digest, which depends on keeping from the reader the knowledge that Paul, not Emory, was trapped in the elevator. To translate this to TV, the secret would need to be kept from the viewer until the very end. The story's author, Stanley Abbott (1906-1976), wrote a handful of short stories in the 1950s and early 1960s (The FictionMags Index lists a total of eight), and three were adapted for television: one on General Electric Theater in 1959 and two on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour in 1965 (his other episode, "Wally the Beard," aired the week after "The Trap").

"The Trap" was first published here
The TV version of "The Trap" is greatly expanded from the short story. It begins as John Cochran (Paul Fenton in the short story) arrives at the home of the Beales (as the Sinclairs have been renamed); he is welcomed by a butler, looks around at the beautiful surroundings, including the private elevator, and sees Peg Beale embracing a man other than her husband behind a partly open door. John takes the lift to the second floor, where another servant sends a handwritten message by toy train into Ted Beale's office to announce Cochran's arrival.

Cochran is ushered in to meet Beale, a middle-aged man in a smoking jacket who is loud and loquacious. The initial scene quickly establishes that the Beales are rich, they have a private elevator, and Mrs. Beale is unfaithful. Unlike the short story, Ted Beale is a major character in the TV show; he makes and sells toys and likes practical jokes. In contrast, Cochran is serious and tells Beale that he graduated from Princeton and is a shorthand champion. Peg Beale enters and she and Cochran exchange looks, each aware that he saw her with another man. She asks her husband not to hire him but Ted does not listen to her, demonstrating that he is in charge and that he is able to resist her attempts to manipulate him with soft words and kisses.

Soon, John is established as Ted's employee and is living in an apartment on the top floor of the Beale home. Peg again tries to get her husband to fire his new secretary but he continues to resist her entreaties. The elevator is used repeatedly so that the viewer is familiar with it; there is a tense scene between John and Peg as well as scenes at a birthday party for Ted where the conduct of the wealthy guests is contrasted with that of John, who does not drink. Once again, John sees Peg with another man and this time he prevents Ted from discovering his wife's betrayal.

Anne Francis as Peg Beale
The next morning, John and Peg begin their affair in the elevator with a kiss after he assures her that he will not tell her husband about her dalliances. The elevator stops partway down and Ted then shows John (and the viewer) how to replace the fuse. John and Peg spend more time together and she suggests killing Ted so that she can inherit his money and marry John. Her seduction works much better on the younger man than it does on her husband and he agrees to try to think of a way to murder Ted.

The first sign of tension between employer and employee comes when Ted challenges John to a game of tether ball in his office; the younger man beats the older man, and Ted is a sore loser. A girlfriend of Peg's tells her that Ted has made plans to take her on a vacation in the country, and Peg confides in John, concerned that her husband suspects that they are planning something. Ted tells John that he's being promoted and sent to Europe for six months to scout for new business. As with every decision Ted makes, there is no discussion allowed: he is the boss of his company and his marriage. Peg begs John to hurry and kill Ted, but he counsels patience. As in the story, Peg thinks that John leaves and Ted remains. In the TV show, she is shown looking out a window as a man gets into a car to be driven away. The viewer does not see who the man is and assumes it's John; Peg helpfully says, "'Bye, John.'"

She takes the elevator downstairs and, when it goes back up and someone gets on and starts to descend, she pulls out the fuse, just as in the story. Peg rushes out, ignoring the alarm bell that is being pressed by the elevator's inhabitant (the bell had been demonstrated earlier), takes a taxi and a plane and ends up at a vacation spot in the country. Her friend's young daughter shows her a teddy bear that had been shown earlier in the episode; Ted had recorded his own voice saying "'I love you'" over and over and hearing him causes her to get upset.

Unlike the story, where husband surprises wife in Florida and relates what happened in New York, the TV version shows Peg rushing back home by plane and taxi. She enters the house and observes that the elevator remains stuck between floors. She changes the fuse and Ted appears, to her shock. He gives her a pearl necklace and she realizes that John is in the elevator. Ted remarks that three weeks have passed, pushes the button, and the elevator comes down. The door opens to reveal John's corpse and the show ends as Ted gives Peg a knowing look.

Donnelly Rhodes as John Cochran
While the short story of "The Trap" is mostly narrative and features little dialogue, the TV version is essentially a three-character play that is dominated by the character of Ted Beale, the cuckolded husband who seems jovial but who ends up manipulating his wife and her lover. Beale proudly tells John that he has an eighth-grade education, in contrast to John's degree from Princeton; the older man is rich, successful in business, and married to a young, beautiful woman. Yet he is not as transparent as he seems, since he realizes that his wife is unfaithful to him and springs "The Trap" of the title on her so that she unwittingly eliminates his biggest rival.

John Cochran is serious throughout the episode; his character is easily led by both Peg Beale and her husband. The wife's beauty and charm work on John to an extent, though she is never quite able to get him to settle on a concrete plan to murder her husband and thus must take matters into her own hands. Peg is an unhappy wife who serially cheats with men younger than her husband; her character changes little throughout the episode, though her apparent sense of remorse near the end, when she hears her husband's voice coming from the teddy bear, suggests that she might have some small amount of conscience.

"The Trap" is expanded from the short story with numerous scenes involving Ted Beale and his outsized personality but, in the end, the main plot of the short story remains: John is hired as Ted's secretary, becomes Peg's lover, and she inadvertently kills him instead of her husband. The show's writer and director alter the ending to make it more visually shocking, and the final shot, with Ted looking at Peg as if he knew what she was doing all along, adds more depth to his character.

Lee Kalcheim (1938- ) wrote the teleplay, his only contribution to the Hitchcock series. He had written a teleplay for a comedy series that aired in 1961, but "The Trap" was his first TV drama. He would go on to write for TV (and a couple of movies) until 1995; he wrote one episode of The Odd Couple and won an Emmy in 1973 for an episode of All in the Family.

Robert Strauss as Ted Beale
The show is directed by John Brahm (1893-1982) and it was the last of the fifteen episodes he directed for the Hitchcock series, including "The Hero." The German-born director began making films in 1936 and moved to TV in 1952.

Starring as Peg Beale is Anne Francis (1930-2011), who was born Ann Marvak in upstate New York. She began modeling at age five and was on Broadway by age eleven. Her first movie came out in 1947 and she was on the scene at the dawn of television in 1949. She worked both in movies and TV until 1969; after that, most of her roles were on episodic TV. She is best known for Forbidden Planet (1956), as the star of the Honey West series (1965-1966), and for a couple of roles on The Twilight Zone. She appeared on the Hitchcock show five times, including "What Really Happened."

Donnelly Rhodes (1937-2018) plays John Cochran. He was born in Canada as Donnelly Rhodes Henry and had a long career onscreen from 1956 to 2016, appearing more often on TV than in film. This was one of his two appearances on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour; the other was "Ten Minutes from Now."

Robert Strauss (1913-1975) steals the show as Ted Beale. He started out on Broadway in 1930, began appearing on film in 1942, and was first seen on TV in 1950. He had a busy career on stage and screen until his death, but this was his only role on the Hitchcock TV show.

The rest of the cast is unremarkable.

Read "The Trap" online here or watch the TV show online here. Thanks to Peter Enfantino for providing a copy of the short story!


Abbott, Stanley. "The Trap." Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Nov. 1964, pp. 58–64.


Galactic Central,

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



"The Trap." The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, season 3, episode 18, NBC, 22 February 1965.


Listen to Al Sjoerdsma discuss "I Killed the Count, part three" here!

In two weeks: "Completely Foolproof," starring J.D. Cannon and Patricia Barry!

Monday, June 24, 2024

Batman in the 1960s Issue 25: January/ February 1964


The Caped Crusader in the 1960s
by Jack Seabrook
& Peter Enfantino

Detective Comics #323

"The Zodiac Master!"
Story by Dave Wood
Art by Sheldon Moldoff & Charles Paris

"The Zodiac Master" has been predicting disasters around Gotham (airplanes and ships), attempting to save lives, but is there something sinister up his spandex sleeve? Batman certainly thinks so. He and Robin investigate the case of the Good Samaritan who happens to be in the right place at the right time and discover that he's actually Gotham's new underworld figure, Mr. Z!

Z has been charging other gangs to predict the outcome of their heists and banking pretty good coin at that. Of course, the World's Greatest Detective is on to Z so he digs into his fabulously large bag of make-up tricks and goes undercover to infiltrate the looney's hideout.

The Zodiac Master has a costume that features all the signs of the zodiac and each one of the illustrations can transform into a deadly weapon. ZM throws all his tricks at the Caped Crusaders but, in the end, Batman is able to use the props against the evil genius. Peace is restored to the streets of Gotham.

The idea that a super-villain can use pieces of his uniform as deadly weapons has been used before (see the Polka-Dot Man in 'tec #300 for just one ridiculous example), but Zodiac Master certainly takes the prize for most unique. We're never told how all the little deelybobs hanging from his suit acquire deadly power once detached and thrown. Nor are we told how he manages to flee when those things are jangling around like a fully-ornamented Christmas tree in the back of a pick-up truck. And if he's so powerful, why is he hiring out to other mobs rather than pulling off heists on his own? Imagine the rubber factories this guy could knock off with a giant scorpion at his bidding! These dopey, short-sighted villains need a smart guy like me to organize 'em.-Peter

Jack-Dave Wood's recent stories all seem by the numbers. The Zodiac Master doesn't appear to have returned after this issue, and it's no wonder. There's nothing special about him as a villain. I continue to be amazed that, whenever Batman puts on a disguise, he wears his cape and cowl underneath it. Don't you think it would cause bulges?

Batman #161

"The New Crimes of the Mad Hatter"
Story by Dave Wood
Art by Sheldon Moldoff & Charles Paris

"The Bat-Mite Hero"
Story by Dave Wood
Art by Sheldon Moldoff & Charles Paris

Ha ha! Ho ho ho! Jervis Tetch, the Mad Hatter, is back after escaping from Gotham City's infamous maximum security prison. His first act is to disguise himself as a fire chief and rob a bank; the Dynamic Duo come to the rescue and save the bags of cash. Next, the Mad Hatter dresses up as an archer to steal a $10K prize from an archery contest. That night, Tetch masquerades as a chef and robs a queen's bejeweled crown at a banquet.

Batman deduces that the "The New Crimes of the Mad Hatter" are following a pattern; each of the jurors who convicted him had the jobs he's using as disguises for his robberies, and juror number four was a bowling alley owner! Tetch robs a bowling alley and manages to avoid capture by Batman and Robin yet again. Juror number five had three jobs, which presents a puzzle to the Caped Crusader. Which career will Tetch use for his next crime? Batman figures it out and tries to stop the Mad Hatter from stealing a bank vault in the guise of a magician. Only a well-thrown hat pin stops the villain from escaping by means of a giant balloon.

Only a Bat-villain would go to so much trouble!

The Mad Hatter is a fun adversary for the Dynamic Duo, and writer Dave Wood comes up with a clever way to build a story by having the crimes follow a pattern guided by the occupations of the jury that put Tetch away.

Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson attend a baseball game, unaware that Bat-Mite is also in attendance but invisible. When crooks rob the gate receipts, the Dynamic Duo spring into action and Bat-Mite adds to the silliness. Afterwards, Batman chastises Bat-Mite and tells him to find another hero, so Bat-Mite decides to create one of his own, "The Bat-Mite Hero."

His first choice is jug-eared Jerome Withers, who nearly falls to his death from a tall building the first time he comes face to face with crooks. Next comes musclebound wrestler the Blond Bombshell, but he's too dense to avoid interfering with Batman's plans to trail some hoods to their hideout. Finally, a reporter named Collins tips Bat-Mite off to the perfect subject, a brainy body builder, but this hero turns out to be working with the crooks he catches. Batman and Robin save the day and Bat-Mite realizes there's only one hero for him.

Bat-Mite's attempts to replace Batman are amusing, but that's about it. The stories featuring the imp from another dimension all follow a pattern, and it's wearing thin.-Jack

Peter-I enjoyed the Mad Hatter yarn if for no other reason than it features one of the lesser-used Rogues. Hatter was one of the handful of Bat-villains whose value (IMHO) increased substantially thanks to the 1966 TV show. It's in this adventure that the Hatter deviates from his MO of stealing hats to utilizing them in his heists. As for "The Bat-Mite Hero," it continues an unbroken string of lousy adventures starring the inter-dimensional imp. I have no problem pausing my skepticism concerning two guys who run around in tights and jump from bridges onto speeding fire trucks, but this midget from Dimension-X is truly unbearable. To paraphrase the Batman: "Read a Bat-Mite story? You need a psychiatrist!"

Detective Comics #324

"Menace of the Robot Brain!"
Story by Dave Wood
Art by Sheldon Moldoff & Charles Paris

One of Bruce Wayne's best buddies, Daniel Williams, is arrested for the theft of diamonds from the Cravat Jewelry Co., the firm he worked for. Williams claims he blacked out and has no memory of the theft but, since he was the only one who held a key to the safe, he must be responsible! Since no friend of Bruce Wayne could be a thief, the millionaire playboy posts Williams's bail and promises to get to the bottom of the mystery.

The very next day, an armored car driver overpowers his partner and commandeers the vehicle filled with cash. Batman and Robin, on the way to Daniel Williams's house to question him, catch the call and give chase to the tank. A raised bridge proves to be a bit of an obstacle to the Dynamic Duo (and the death-knell to Batmobile #238) and the truck gets away but, fortunately, the pair of men who raised the bridge are taken into custody and questioned at Gordon's precinct.

One of the nattily-dressed thugs claims a "guy with a waxed mustache and horn-rimmed glasses" hired them to raise the bridge after the truck crossed. At that moment, Batman is informed that the armored car guard is idly wandering the streets of Gotham, perhaps looking for pedestrians in the empty panels. The guard is picked up and echoes the "man with a waxed mustache" claims already put forth, adding that the man had a camera and offered to take his picture just outside the company office. Bats and Robin finally head to Daniel Williams's place to question him and Williams confirms the description of the man, adding that he too was photographed. Using his lightning-fast brain muscle, Robin synopsizes that both men were photographed and both men blacked out and committed felonies! Brilliant!

Using a police artist named Moldoff, Batman gets a better portrait of the man responsible for hypnotizing the men. Ignoring the fact that the pencil drawing looks like Alfred with a goofy mustache, the World's Greatest Detective proclaims that all they have to do is wait for another picture to be taken in Gotham and they'll have their man! Meanwhile, the wizard behind the curtain, Ernst Larue, stands outside the Gotham Rare Coin Store and snaps a photo of a shop clerk. It's only a matter of time before the information makes its way to the Batman!

The Dynamic Duo stake out the coin shop and observe the clerk exiting the store with a couple of heavy bags. They follow the man into a remote wooded area outside Gotham and come across... well, the most inconspicuous villain hideout ever built: the lair of the Robot Brain! The boys follow the clerk into the structure and stumble into several deadly booby-traps until ace sidekick Robin uses Larue's incredible inventions against him in a thrilling climax.

"Menace of the Robot Brain!" might possess an insipid script and barely-professional "artwork," but it does entertain and finally answers the question of why these evil geniuses must turn to a life of crime. Larue's Robot Brain hideout, complete with giant robot brain second story and harmful booby-traps, carries a 2.5 million dollar mortgage. On 4% monthly compound interest (1964 rates), with 10% down payment, that would add up to a $7500 bank payment, each month for thirty years. The Cravat Jewelry heist barely garnered enough to pay two installments! But, on the positive side, you've got a refuge no one can find, right?-Peter

Jack-Gosh (I say, smacking gloved fist into other gloved hand), you must be right! I never thought of the amounts of money it must have taken Gotham villains to put their plans into action. No wonder they spend their days and nights trying to rob bowling alleys and shoe stores! "Menace of the Robot Brain!" didn't make a whole lot of sense, but it was certainly fun and action-packed, even if Batman was pretty cavalier about losing yet another Batmobile in a useless stunt.

Batman Annual #6

"Murder at Mystery Castle"
Story by Bill Finger
Art by Sheldon Moldoff & Charles Paris
(Reprinted from Detective Comics #246, August 1957)

"The Gotham City Safari"
Story by Bill Finger
Art by Sheldon Moldoff & Charles Paris
(Reprinted from Batman #111, October 1957)

"Mystery of the Sky Museum!"
Story by Edmond Hamilton
Art by Sheldon Moldoff & Charles Paris
(Reprinted from Batman #94, September 1955)

"The Mystery of the Four Batmen!"
Story by Edmond Hamilton
Art by Dick Sprang & Charles Paris
(Reprinted from Batman #88, December 1954)

"The Creature from the Green Lagoon"
Story by Dave Wood
Art by Sheldon Moldoff & Charles Paris
(Reprinted from Detective Comics #252, February 1958)

"The Map of Mystery!"
Story by Edmond Hamilton
Art by Dick Sprang & Charles Paris
(Reprinted from Batman #91, April, 1955)

"The Danger Club"
Story by Edmond Hamilton
Art by Bob Kane & Charles Paris
(Reprinted from Batman #76, May 1953)

"Doom in Dinosaur Hall!"
Story by Bill Finger
Art by Sheldon Moldoff & Charles Paris
(Reprinted from Detective Comics #255, May 1958)

Peter-Reading 80 pages of Bat-material in one sitting can become a chore; we're lucky that, for the most part, these quarterly Batman Annuals feature some entertaining trips down nostalgia lane. "Murder at Mystery Castle," for instance, is a good example of the Bat-whodunits that were so popular in the '50s (before aliens took over). What amazes me the most is that Moldoff was equally mediocre in both the '50s and '60s, but at least in the 50s he seemed to pay a little more attention to backgrounds. His characters not so much... James Barham is the spitting image of Gordon. 

"The Gotham City Safari" begs the question: "just how big is Gotham?" We have cliffside European castles in "Mystery Castle," and in "Safari" we're introduced to Alec Judson's sprawling big game reserve, all within Gotham city limits. Most of these mysteries are pretty humdrum. The most fun I had was with "The Creature From the Green Lagoon," a rip-off of King Kong rather than Black Lagoon. I felt almost cheated by the cop-out "it was a robot all the time" reveal, but there's still enough goofiness to put a big smile on this old man's face.

Jack-I find Moldoff's art better in the mid-1950s than in the early 1960s. My favorite stories in this issue are the ones drawn by Dick Sprang. "The Danger Club," from 1953, is credited to Bob Kane, but to me it looks like early Moldoff ghosting. I continue to be amazed by inker Charles Paris--he's the only person who worked on all eight stories! The cover is pretty neat, too.

Next Week...
Krigstein Keeps the
Pages Turning!

Monday, June 17, 2024

Journey Into Strange Tales Issue 114: Atlas/ Marvel Horror & Science Fiction Comics!


The Marvel/Atlas 
Horror Comics
Part 99
March 1956 Part I
by Peter Enfantino
and Jack Seabrook

Astonishing #47
Cover by Bill Everett

"Spaceship in My Barn" (a: Bill Everett) 
(r: Tomb of Darkness #23)
"The Man Who Looked for Death!" (a: Joe Orlando) ★1/2
"The Fat Man!" (a: Larry Woromay) 
"Eve of Halloween!" (a: Ed Winiarski) ★1/2
(r: Tomb of Darkness #18)
"The Hypnotist!" (a: Bernie Krigstein) ★1/2
(r: Weird Wonder Tales #19)

Caught in a vicious storm, a reporter takes shelter in a farmhouse and is told by the kindly old couple who host him that they've been visited by aliens from another planet. "Where's the proof?" asks the newsman. "There's a Spaceship in My Barn!" exclaims the old man. And so there is. The reporter is still dubious (commenting that the ship, while a very good construction, is obviously a fake) until he meets the crew, the very friendly couple, Luml and Xrtyl, from the planet Aldebaran (which sounds suspiciously close to one of George Lucas's planets).

The reporter asks if he can take a few pics but the BEMs hop in their tin can and grab a hunk of the highway. Now how will he write the greatest story of the century? He won't. And neither did the uncredited scripter of "Spaceship in My Barn" (which CGC guesses might be Bill Everett), who didn't seem to know how to finish off his sf yarn. This one merely sputters but Bill's talents as a draftsman save the day. Everett could do it all; really eerie horror and then cute fantasy like smiling aliens and adorable farmers.

Reporter Al Benton has been tasked with the job of finding elusive best-selling author Norman Hale and interviewing him. No other paper has been able to find the writer but Benton is convinced he can track the recluse down and bring home the "big story." Indeed, Benton is able to dig up enough clues to put him in the same forest as hunter Hale and, during a vicious rainstorm, he spends a bit of time in a cave with the author. When a landslide traps both men in the cave and they await death from suffocation, Hale spills the beans: he's thousands of years old, which is why his historical novels seem so real. Now, finally, he can rest.  

A rush of water washes away the rocks blocking the cave entrance and the men emerge unhurt. Benton asks Hale if he can still tell the story and "The Man Who Looked for Death!" smiles and tells him to go ahead. No one will believe it. Like "Spaceship in My Barn," the Joe Orlando-illustrated "The Man Who Looked for Death!" just stops rather abruptly without a satisfying conclusion. We never find out how this guy has managed to stay alive for so long and, if he's so miserable and simple asphyxiation can kill him, why has he been hanging on? 

"The Fat Man" is ridiculous nonsense about a reporter who observes the odd eating habits of an obese man and wants to get to the bottom of the mystery. Seems the man has to keep a minimum body weight of 250 pounds because Saturn has a "stronger gravitational pull" and he'll float away if he doesn't gorge himself on strawberry shortcake and rack of lamb. Yep, he's an alien! "Eve of Halloween" isn't so much bad as it is predictable. Precocious little Emily can't seem to stay out of trouble (playing in the mud, breaking fine china), even when her mom threatens to ground her from "riding" on Halloween Eve. That "riding" bit is repeated a few times so we know something's up and our patience is rewarded with the final panel when Emily's mom forgives her all her sins and the two go broom riding in the sky on Halloween Eve. Again, not awful (and Winiarski's pencils didn't make me want to run far away this time out) but the yarn would be more effective as a three-panel newspaper strip.

Irwin Botts is so timid, he's afraid of his own shadow. Help comes in the form of "The Hypnotist!" who assures Irwin he can cure him of all his phobias. Sure enough, after a hypnosis session, Irwin peels back the skin of the 'fraidy cat and becomes a lion, decking a very rude man in a restaurant. Seeing dollar signs flash before his eyes, the hypnotist talks Irwin into prize-fighting. The mouse that roared cannot lose and soon Irwin is contending for the Heavyweight Championship. Smelling stacks of green, the evil hypnotist bets against Irwin in the bout and then refuses to put his patient under. Regardless, Irwin KOs Rogan and becomes the champ. In the end, he tells the conniving hypocrite that he had the strength down deep inside himself the whole time. Inspirational? Maybe. Maudlin? Certainly. Well-illustrated by master Krigstein? Bingo. No one brought over their EC style quite as effectively as Krigstein.-Peter

Journey Into Mystery #32
Cover by Carl Burgos

"Elevator in the Sky!" (a: Bob Powell) 
"The Two of Me!" (a: Al Hartley) 
"The Skin-Diver!" (a: Paul Reinman) 
"Someone Out There is Calling!" (a: John Forte) ★1/2
"The Town That Lived Again!" (a: Joe Orlando) ★1/2

Tod Perry put all his money into a piece of desert where a meteorite had landed and buried itself in the sand. On that spot he built the Meteorite Hotel and watched as it became an overnight sensation. Then, one day, as he's giving a tour of the place to a buddy, he notices an elevator that shouldn't be there! Dazed riders exit when the doors open and Perry demands to know what's going on. The elevator operator tells Tod that the people who got off are the ones who "wanted to stay." 

Demanding to know what the hell is going on, Perry steps into the elevator and tells the operator to take him up. Carter, the hotel manager watches in awe as the elevator blasts off through the roof and disappears into space. Later, he and a crew of workers dig down below the shaft and discover an abandoned spaceship. It wasn't a meteorite that crashed after all! "Elevator in the Sky!" is one heck of a confusing story. None of it makes sense. Why would the aliens bother building an elevator through the hotel to escape their underground prison? How does the blast resulting from the take-off not destroy the hotel? Why would the alien pilot bother wearing a hotel uniform? Not even fave artist Bob Powell can save this one.

Businessman Don Macy discovers an alien from "another world in a parallel time" (whatever that means) has taken his identity and intends to kill him in order to pave the way for an invasion. But Don's smarter than your average office worker and finds a way to put an end to the identity theft once and for all. "The Two of Me!" is uninspired filler and Al Hartley's work is just about as straightforward and lifeless as it gets. A tiny bit better is "The Skin-Diver," wherein the titular sportsman heads out with some buddies for his first serious dive and gets separated from the bunch. He ends up surfacing in a world of fish-men. The reveal is handled awkwardly but the Reinman art is pleasing.

The North Star,
commanded by Captain Shea, is receiving odd S.O.S. messages from a mysterious ship that keeps changing its position. Every time Shea orders the change in direction, his ship narrowly avoids disaster. Who is this phantom bodyguard and why is it radioing The North Star? Turns out, thanks to a last-panel exposition, that the ship belongs to a Martian freighter taking on water in one of the red planet's seas. Why is the communication being picked up by a freighter on Earth and why are the Martian coordinates making it possible for the ship to avoid sinking? Don't ask me. I've got a feeling the uncredited writer of "Someone Out There is Calling!" had no idea either!

Paul Blake wanders through the mountains of Europe, gets lost, and has to find shelter from a snowstorm. Luckily, he stumbles upon the cabin of Clyde Buchler, late of Switzerland. Oddly enough, Clyde has an entire village erected in his front yard, based on his home town of Zern, tragically buried under an avalanche a half-century before. Clyde asks Paul if he'd like to visit Zern and, before the younger man can answer, they are both walking the miniature town. "The Town That Lived Again" is a fantasy that observes no rules; well, to be fair, it doesn't give us rules to follow in the first place. The climax, where Paul and Clyde must flee the village before a new avalanche strikes, is totally bonkers. Joe Orlando still seems to be finding that oomph he'll hit us in the head with a decade later. Overall, this is truly a dreadful issue of Journey Into Mystery.-Peter

Journey Into Unknown Worlds #43
Cover by Sol Brodsky

"The Man Who Couldn't Be Reached!" (a: Bernie Krigstein) 
"The Terrible Treasure!" (a: Werner Roth) 
"The Sea Waits For Me!" (a: Dick Ayers) ★1/2
"Forever is Too Long" (a: Dave Berg) ★1/2
"No Sign of Life!" (a: Doug Wildey) 

On an unknown world, a soldier named Rex Valance is determined to destroy the Supreme Coordinator, "The Man Who Couldn't Be Reached!" Rex and his rebel band are stopped by guards and Rex is rehabilitated and returned to society, but his determination to outwit the Coordinator is undimmed. Deciding to fight alone, Rex zooms his rocket ship to the control tower where the S.C lives. He makes his way past a robot guard and reaches the inner chamber, only to find that the S.C. is an old man who has been testing people to find a successor. Rex has proved worthy and will be the new Supreme Commander.

At least it wasn't a big computer or an alien at the end! Bernie Krigstein's style of using lots of narrow panels must have worn him out. It can't have been easy or quick to draw so many individual rectangles. His art is fine but the story is unimaginative.

Maybe he'll run for president.
Martin Trump Fuller is a loudmouthed salesman who browbeats his wife. His favorite book is Rip Van Winkle and he imagines selling modern conveniences to mountain dwarves, if they really existed. Driving through the mountains one day in a storm, he meets a dwarf who takes him to a village of wee folk who agree to pay him treasure in exchange for modern appliances and housing supplies. Back at the office, Fuller orders tons of radios, TVs, etc., secretly cheating the dwarves by buying junk and planning to pocket the profits. The dwarves realize that the material is worthless and, when Fuller gets home and opens the treasure chests he was given, they're empty.

"The Terrible Treasure!" follows a pattern of more than a few Atlas post-code stories, where the writer manages, in only five pages, to tell portions of a few different stories that don't really fit together. On the splash page, we're told that Fuller has prestige, a family, and success in business, but on page two his wife complains that they don't have enough money and he acts like a jerk. The business about Rip Van Winkle comes out of left field and, when Martin meets the dwarf, it seems like it might go somewhere interesting, but it doesn't. As is so often the case, the conclusion just flops.

Night after night, Joan wheels herself in her wheelchair down to the water, certain that "The Sea Waits for Me!" She can't explain why she's drawn to the ocean and apologizes to her parents for being so much trouble. They decide that they had better move inland. Before they can, she wheels herself right into the water and out of their reach. A lifeguard says he'll rescue her but they tell him not to bother--she's a mermaid who's always been drawn back to her home.

A dumb story with by-the-numbers art by Dick Ayers. Was anyone not thinking Joan was a mermaid? I figured it out right away. I was mightily impressed by her ability to wheel a wheelchair over sand, something that would take incredible upper body strength if it were even possible. In reality, her parents would find her stuck in the sand about a foot from the edge of the grass. The final panel demonstrates the incredible ability of comic book mermaids' hair to always float right over their chest.

An old inventor named Irwin Harwell goes from place to place, trying to interest someone in his perpetual motion machine, but everyone insists that it'll stop eventually. Suddenly, everything and everyone starts to fly as if gravity has lost its hold. Irwin makes his way home and climbs down a long ladder to the center of the Earth, where he pulls a lever to restart the perpetual motion machine that's been keeping the Earth turning for billions of years.

It seems all the naysayers were right not to buy Irwin's machine! Even the giant version at the Earth's core stops now and then. I always liked Dave Berg's art in Mad and it's a little odd to see him drawing a regular comic book story like "Forever is Too Long."

Prof. Armand Kastel gets ready to read a paper on his theory of time. Meanwhile, Earth pilot Con Macklin is about to land on Mars and Martian pilot Ulm is about to land on Earth. Prof. Kastel explains to the audience gathered before him that it's possible that different worlds may experience time at different rates and be unable to see objects not moving at the same rate. Both spacemen land on their target worlds and see nothing but mist before heading home to report "No Sign of Life!" Kastel is ridiculed and walks home alone, tearing up his papers, unaware that he was right.

Doug Wildey is an artist whose work I'm starting to like, mainly for his clean lines and detailed panels. This story is fairly interesting in the way it presents the theory, but five pages is too short to develop more than just an idea.-Jack

Marvel Tales #144
Cover by Carl Burgos

"The City That Time Forgot!" (a: Al Williamson) ★1/2
"Nine Days Wonder" (a: Joe Sinnott) 
"The Unseen World!" (a: John Forte) ★1/2
"It Is Written in the Stars" (a: Mac L. Pakula) 
"Make a Wish..." (a: Bernard Bailey) 
"The Missing Ingredient" (a: Bob Forgione & Jack Abel) ★1/2

On a fishing trip, Joe and Andy stumble upon "The City That Time Forgot!" It's built of marble and alabaster and it's dazzling white. Days pass and the city seems to do what it can to please the duo, but they realize that they must return to their families. A plaque reveals that the city was built by an ancient race that was forced to abandon it; when Joe and Andy depart, the city crumbles to dust.

It's nice to see a story by Williamson and Krenkel, even if it's only three pages long and not their best work.

Danny likes to read books about outer space, but his father is a doctor who thinks Danny is wasting his time. When a comet lands nearby, Danny and several others come down with a mysterious virus. At Danny's suggestion, Dad examines the comet and finds that it's the source of the virus. It turns out that its purpose is to open up new areas of the human mind to prepare us to head for the stars. Chastised, Dad sits down to read some of Danny's outer space books before bedtime.

"Nine Days Wonder" contains no surprises and the usual solid but unexciting art by Joe Sinnott.

Ada Roberts is miserable! She's reached the advanced age of 18 and sits home every night watching TV, while the other girls at the office all have boyfriends and go on dates. Several days later, Ada is delighted to receive an invitation to a party. Her Mom drops her off at the Friendly Club that evening, and Ada is the belle of the ball, dancing with all the young men and having a wonderful time.

When Mom arrives at midnight to pick up Ada, she witnesses the young woman all alone in the club insisting that she's at a great party. Mom calls Dr. Nelson, who rushes over (at 12:30 a.m.!) and  tells Ada that there was no party. Ada shows him a rose she was given and displays the invitation she received. A "helpful" caption above the last panel tells the befuddled reader that "Ada was one of the privileged few to be invited into an invisible dimension of happiness, where only the very lonely may enter!"

"The Unseen World!" is going along fine, as so many Atlas stories do, until it comes to a screeching halt with the incomprehensible ending. I'm getting to like John Forte's art, though it can be a bit stiff, but I wonder what he made of this story when he was handed it to illustrate.

Joe Taylor is a real jerk. He reads cards from a penny fortune-telling machine that warn him, but he doesn't listen and his misfortunes mount. Finally, he fails to read his horoscope and goes on the run! Had be but known that he was destined to spend a year roaming the earth, he might have made better choices.

Another dopey story with below average art, "It is Written in the Stars" meets the definition of filler. Were the Atlas editors just clearing out the drawers at this point before the inevitable axe fell?

Adam and Mary Finley buy an inexpensive house because that's all they can afford. They start to fix it up and discover an old well on the property. Mary imagines that it's a wishing well and, after she goes inside, Adam wishes that he had all the things he ever wanted--money, a mansion, and sexy Corrine. Lightning strikes and Adam discovers that the life he imagined isn't all it's cracked up to be.

He goes into his lab and is catapulted back to caveman times (still in white shirt and tie), where he has to run from hungry cave wolves. Finally, he awakens back at the side of the well and realizes that his life with Mary isn't so bad after all.

"Make a Wish..." is another story scraped from the bottom of the barrel, featuring scratchy art by Bernard Baily and a storytelling left turn back to the days of the cavemen.

A hobo named Walter Marley finds a bottle bobbing in the water and uncorks it to release a sprite who grants any wish! Money, a big house, friends--Walter gets them all but remains unsatisfied. What is "The Missing Ingredient" that Walter can't identify? He wishes the sprite back into the bottle and, penniless again, realizes that it's...wait for it...happiness--the one thing money can't buy.

And with that, a truly dreadful issue of Marvel Tales comes to an end.-Jack

Next Week...
The Return of
The Mad Hatter!

Thursday, June 13, 2024

The Hitchcock Project-Lonely Place by Francis Irby Gwaltney [10.6]

by Jack Seabrook

"Lonely Place" was based on the short story of the same name by C.B. Gilford that was published in the February 1960 issue of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine. It was credited to Douglas Farr, one of Gilford's pen names, because Gilford had another story in the same issue under his real name.

Standing at the front door one hot July day, Stella Cousins sees a man walking along the back road that passes by her house, "ten miles from nowhere." The man sees her and stops. He walks down the "dusty dirt drive" toward the house, observing the peach trees in the orchard to the left and then staring at Stella, causing her to feel fear. She speaks to Emery, her husband, who ignores her request not to hire the man and who is more interested in getting help picking the peaches that are ripening on the trees.

"Lonely Place" was
first published here
While Stella and Emery argue, the stranger walks in through the kitchen door and asks Emery if he needs help. Emery chides the man for walking in uninvited, but Stella realizes that he may be afraid of the stranger. The stranger apologizes and Emery agrees to hire him. Stella feeds the man, whose name is Jesse, and he and Emery start to pick. Alone, Stella looks in the dresser mirror and thinks of how Emery married her to get "a cheap hired hand." She wonders why Jesse chose their home and, at dinner that evening, Jesse takes out a switchblade and carves up three peaches to eat.

After Jesse goes to bed, Stella asks Emery to take her to the hotel in town, but he resists and she relents. Emery arises early the next morning to take the peaches to the cannery, leaving Stella alone with Jesse. He asks why she is so afraid of him and reveals that he stopped at her home because he could see that she was scared of him. He admits that women don't want him around and says that he made one of them "'real sorry.'" Emery returns, boasting about having sold his peaches, and Stella finds herself unable to tell her husband about her troubling conversation with Jesse.

Clouds begin to gather and the radio announcer warns of a cool front moving in. Emery and Jesse spend the day picking peaches and, that evening, Emery settles into the easy chair to listen for news of the weather. Stella slips into the bedroom, packs a suitcase, and climbs out the window. Before she can escape, Jesse corners her in the darkness. She can hear the radio from inside the house and she screams loudly before Jesse's hand covers her mouth. Jesse tells Stella that her husband is a "'slave-driver'" and that Jesse wants Emery to come outside, pulling out his switchblade and threatening to carve the man into "'little chunks the size of his peaches.'"

Emery does not emerge and Stella decides not to scream again; she hears a warning of hail on the radio and assumes that her husband is asleep and did not hear her cry. When Jesse hears the dire forecast, he begins to giggle like someone in an asylum; he climbs in Emery's truck and drives away. Stella goes back inside and wakes her husband, telling him that Jesse has stolen the truck. She offers to call the police, but Emery yells, "'there's going to be hail and the peaches are going to be ruined.'" Lightning flashes outside as Stella realizes that Emery heard her scream and did not come to her aid. She understands that "all her years of sacrifice had been wasted years."

Later, Stella calls the sheriff to report that Jesse stole the truck and stabbed her husband "'with that kitchen knife a dozen times at least...'" She hears hail on the roof and smiles.

"Lonely Place" paints a tragic picture of a woman whose love for her husband is tested one time too many, leading her to murder him and pin the blame on a lunatic stranger.

C(harles) B(ernard) Gilford (1920-2010), the author, was born in Kansas City, MO, and had early success as a writer when his novelette "The Liquid Man" was published as the cover story in the September 1941 issue of Fantastic Adventures (read the story here). After this auspicious beginning, Gilford's name disappears from the lists of story credits until 1953; he graduated from college in 1942 and served in the Air Force from 1942 to 1945. He began work as a college teacher in 1947 and would continue teaching speech, English, drama, theatre, and creative writing for the rest of his career. He married and had four children.

After earning an M.A. in 1947 and a Ph.D. in 1952, he became a prolific writer of short stories, with one source claiming that he wrote over 200 of them; publication dates for the short stories seem to have been concentrated in the years between 1953 and 1961. In addition to his own name, C.B. Gilford used pseudonyms such as Donald Campbell, Elizabeth Gregory, and Douglas Farr. He also wrote at least 11 short plays between 1957 and 1969, and at least four novels between 1961 and 1969. A handful of his works were adapted for television, including four episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and "Lonely Place" for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. His short stories often have been anthologized. He told Contemporary Authors that play writing was his first love and that, while he enjoyed writing short stories and novels, "they seem to be harder work, more words have to be gotten on paper. I have no great messages to communicate; just believe in a well-plotted story."

Francis Irby Gwaltney
The producers of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour chose novelist Francis Irby Gwaltney (1921-1981) to adapt Gilford's story for TV. He grew up in Arkansas and served in the Army in WWII, befriending Norman Mailer. Gwaltney wrote eight novels that were published between 1954 and 1974; the most well-known was The Day the Century Ended (1955), which was adapted for film as Between Heaven and Hell (1956); Rod Serling wrote a screenplay that was rejected as too long. "Lonely Place" was one of two teleplays that Gwaltney wrote that were filmed; the other was an episode of The Fugitive in 1965. Gwaltney's papers at the University of Arkansas also contain a teleplay for "The Letter of the Law," an episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour that appears not to have been filmed.

"Lonely Place" aired on Monday, November 16, 1964, on NBC. For the TV version Gwaltney made some significant alterations to Gilford's story while maintaining much of the plot. A new opening scene is added, where Emery sits at the kitchen table eating heartily while Stella serves him. A squirrel suddenly climbs up the outside of the kitchen screen door and Stella goes outside and treats it like a pet, holding it, feeding it, and talking to it; her face lights up and it seems like the pet is a substitute for the child she never had. This scene establishes Stella as a kind, gentle woman. While she is outside feeding the squirrel, she first sees Jesse and, unlike the story where she wants nothing to do with him from first sight, she suggests to her husband that he could use some help. "'Not at six dollars a day,'" he replies, adding a discussion of wages that is also absent from the story. Stella replies, "'Maybe you could get him cheaper'" and suggests five dollars a day. This exchange suggests that, at least in the beginning, Stella and Emery are used to working as a team.

Teresa Wright as Stella
Emery goes out and meets Jesse halfway before the two men enter the kitchen together. Emery introduces Jesse to Stella and, as soon as she sees him close up, she is afraid. Emery offers the rock-bottom wage of three dollars a day and Jesse accepts it; even a viewer unfamiliar with wages paid to itinerant peach pickers in the early 1960s understands that Emery is a cheapskate who is taking advantage of his power over a desperate man. In the story, Jesse pays little attention to Stella while he eats, but in the TV show, he stares at her chest and hips and almost leers before he pulls out a large knife (not a switchblade) to slice tomatoes.

This scene is extended in the TV show. Jesse eats while Stella does the dishes. She tries to question him but he reveals little about himself. He asks if the knife makes her nervous and she says yes. Outside, in the orchard, Stella asks Emery to get rid of Jesse; this conversation has been moved to a later point than where it occurs in the story in order to develop more justification for her fear. In the story, Stella is 32 years old; the actress playing her on TV, Teresa Wright, was 45 when the show was filmed, making her a more mature character. Stella comes back into the kitchen from the orchard to find Jesse still eating. He asks her if she told Emery about the knife and she says no. This is the first sign that the husband-and-wife relationship is starting to fray.

Pat Butttram as Emery
Jesse sees Stella's pet squirrel and suggests, "'Maybe I oughta kill him and you could make Emery and me a stew for supper.'" The drifter stands at the screen door and smiles broadly when he sees Stella feeding the squirrel, but right before Emery returns, Jesse rushes back to the table and sits down. The men begin to bond when Emery remarks that Stella feeds the squirrel better than she does him; Jesse's laugh in response seems insane. Outside, Jesse is cruel to the squirrel, kicking dirt on it, an action that is both a reflection of how he treats Stella and an indication of a mental disturbance that is likely to extend to violence toward people.

Alone in her bedroom, Stella hears the squirrel making noise and Jesse laughing. She rushes outside and finds the squirrel dead, at which point she screams and begins to sob. Emery rushes to her side and asks Jesse why he killed the squirrel; Jesse lies and claims that the animal attacked him. At this point he shows Emery his knife and the implication is that Emery now sees Jesse as a danger. Emery accepts what has happened and tells Jesse to get back to work; husband and wife are no longer a team and it is clear that picking peaches is more important to Emery than standing up for Stella. The addition of the squirrel to the TV show allows Gwaltney to show the viewer more about each of the human characters; it also makes Emery more pathetic and sets him up for his later death at Stella's hands.

After dinner, Jesse brandishes his knife and stands uncomfortably close to Stella. As he does in the story, Emery defends Jesse to Stella when she says she wants to go to a hotel. The subsequent scene in the kitchen between Jesse and Stella follows the corresponding scene in the story closely at first, but in the TV show, Jesse begins to give her orders, telling her to get molasses from the icebox for his flapjacks before grabbing her hands and telling her that he once hurt another woman. He insists that she call him Jesse, standing right behind her and giggling like a madman.

In the orchard, Jesse and Emery pick peaches while Stella stands below, packing the fruit in crates. She hears them talking about her as the men bond; Jesse admits that he killed the squirrel because he doesn't like animals and Emery thanks him and says that he married Stella so she would feed him. Gradually, scene by scene, Stella's trust in Emery erodes; this is different than the story, where Emery is not as unlikeable.

At dinner, Emery complains about the food and Stella goes to their bedroom and lies on the bed, distraught; the camera shot makes it look like she is in prison, her face trapped behind the bars of the bed frame. A scene is added where Emery questions her about Jesse but, when she confronts her husband about his remark in the orchard about having married her because she would feed him, she adds, "'Is that why we never had any children?'" This is not in the story and goes along with the scenes where she plays with the squirrel like it's a stand in for a child. Emery tells her that it was "'just man talk'" and that she will have to get used to Jesse.

As in the story, Emery settles down in the chair and Stella escapes out the window, where Jesse grabs her. As he holds her, he makes her tell him that he scared her and he caresses her hair, laughing like a maniac. The threat of rape is always below the surface in the TV show in the scenes where Jesse and Stella are alone together, and never more so than at this point. Jesse reveals that he knows that other peach farmers pay six dollars a day, while Emery pays three; he laughs manically and the scene is extended from the one in the story, as Jesse tortures Stella, holding her and encouraging her to scream. As lightning flashes, Jesse guesses, correctly, that Emery heard Stella scream but is a coward. Jesse puts his knife to Stella's throat but she refuses to scream, protecting her unworthy husband. This long scene is frightening and it is a credit to the actors that Jesse is so unpredictable and Stella so strong. Adding the death of the squirrel earlier in the show, followed by Stella's scream and Emery's rush to her side, shows the contrast in this later scene, when she screams and he does not respond.

Finally, Jesse seems to go off the deep end and Stella breaks away, running from him. He chases her, holding his knife and sticking it in his belt when he catches her, but she grabs the knife and now has the upper hand, menacing him. None of this happens in the story, where Jesse climbs in the truck and drives away after he hears the dire weather forecast on the radio. In the show, once Stella has the knife and is menacing Jesse, he turns and runs, stealing the truck and driving off. In the story, Stella does not have Jesse's knife, but in the TV show she does. She goes back into the house and puts the knife down on the kitchen table.

Once the realization dawns on her that Emery was awake and heard her scream but did nothing, he admits it all, explaining that he thought Jesse wouldn't kill her but would kill him and that she could take it until he settled down. Besides that, Emery would still have a cheap worker. At this point, Stella walks to the kitchen and picks up Jesse's knife. There is a dissolve to the final scene, where she telephones the sheriff. In the TV show, she says that she pulled the knife out of Emery's body after Jesse left, in an effort to help her husband, but when she hangs up the phone, she goes to her dead husband and removes the knife from his back, clearly doing it to explain why her fingerprints are on the handle. Having Stella kill Emery with Jesse's knife makes more sense than in the story, where she uses a kitchen knife; this way, it supports her story that Jesse was the killer. The final shot in the show is of Stella at the kitchen sink, washing her hands as the storm rages. Unlike the story, she does not smile.

"Lonely Place" is a superb episode in which Francis Irby Gwaltney improves on C.B. Gilford's short story by adding the pet squirrel, making Emery a more unlikeable character, and expanding the final confrontation between Stella and Jesse, having her take his knife and later use it to kill her husband. The acting is outstanding.

Harvey Hart (1928-1989), the show's director, was born in Canada and worked for the Canadian Broadcasting Company from 1952 to 1963 before moving to the U.S. and working in Hollywood. He directed, mostly for TV, from 1949 to 1989 and this was one of five episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour where he was behind the camera. Another was the classic episode, "Death Scene."

Starring as Stella is Teresa Wright (1918-2005), who began on stage in Life with Father (1939) and whose long career on film and television spanned the years from 1941 to 1997. She won an Academy Award for her role in Mrs. Miniver (1942) and starred in Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt (1943). "Lonely Place" was one of two episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour in which she appeared; the other was "Three Wives Too Many." Donald Spoto published a biography of Wright in 2016 called A Girl's Got to Breathe. He calls "Lonely Place" "one of the most violent and harrowing dramas broadcast standards permitted in the 1960s" and adds that Wright gave "one of the memorable performances in television history."

Pat Buttram (1915-1994) plays her husband Emery; he started on radio in 1933 and was on screen from 1944 to 1994, acting as Gene Autry's sidekick in films and on TV and as Mr. Haney on Green Acres from 1965 to 1971. Buttram has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and also starred in the classic episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, "The Jar."

Bruce Dern as Jesse
Finally, Bruce Dern (1936- ) gives a chilling performance as Jesse. Dern trained with the Actors Studio and appeared on Broadway in 1958 and 1959 before starting his long screen career in 1960. His many roles include appearances on Thriller and The Outer Limits, another episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, an episode of The Fugitive (the one co-written by Francis Irby Gwaltney), and roles in Hitchcock's Marnie (1964) and Family Plot (1976), in which he starred. Marnie was filmed in late 1963 and early 1964 and that may have led to Dern's role in "Lonely Place," which was probably filmed in summer or early fall 1964. In his memoir, Dern recalled that "Lonely Place" was "probably the one single show that I ever did that turned the tide, film wise."

Watch "Lonely Place" online here. It has not been released in the U.S. on DVD.

Thanks to Peter Enfantino for providing a copy of the short story!


"Between Heaven and Hell." Encyclopedia of Arkansas, 26 Feb. 2024, 

Dern, Bruce. Bruce Dern: A Memoir. The University Press of Kentucky, 2014. p. 52.

Farr, Douglas. [C.B. Gilford.] "Lonely Place." Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Feb. 1960, pp. 50–64. 

"Francis Irby Gwaltney (1921–1981)." Encyclopedia of Arkansas, 16 June 2023, 

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



"Lonely Place." The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, season 3, episode 6, NBC, 16 November 1964.

Spoto, Donald. A Girl’s Got to Breathe: The Life of Teresa Wright. University Press of Mississippi, 2016. pp. 155-6.


Listen to Al Sjoerdsma discuss "I Killed the Count, part three" here!

In two weeks: "The Trap," starring Anne Francis!