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Made possible by the John H. Mitchell Television Programming Endowment

“Good Evening”: Alfred Hitchcock on Television

Alfred Hitchcock holding a noose to his face.
January 20, 2024 - 7:30 pm

Admission is free. No advance reservations. Your seat will be assigned to you when you pick up your ticket at the box office. Seats are assigned on a first come, first served basis. The box office opens one hour before the event.

A seminal figure in cinema history, master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock (1889-1980) enjoyed a prolific secondary career as a producer, director and instantly recognizable host on television. Three years before the theatrical release of his widescreen VistaVision masterwork Vertigo (1958), Hitchcock debuted his eponymous anthology series Alfred Hitchcock Presents in primetime on the small screen. For the next 10 seasons (1955-65), Hitchcock brought his trademark macabre sensibilities, dry wit and auteur’s eye to TV with a discerning level of writing, directing, acting and production values seldom seen on the still-emerging medium. 

Over the course of 361 episodes, Hitchcock traded on his popular feature film cameos by appearing in front of the TV camera to introduce Alfred Hitchcock Presents (and the expanded Alfred Hitchcock Hour), starting each episode with a droll “good evening.”  As executive producer, Hitchcock primarily left directing duties to others, personally helming only 17 half-hour episodes and a single, hour-long installment (“I Saw the Whole Thing”). For Hitchock’s Shamley Productions company, the running of the successful series fell to the talents of his long-time collaborators, pioneering writer-producer Joan Harrison (Rebecca) and actor-producer-director Norman Lloyd (Saboteur). In 1957, Harrison and Lloyd would also work on Shamley’s brief foray into the production of another TV series, Suspicion (1957-58), for which Hitchcock served as executive producer (for filmed episodes) and director of an exceptional single entry (“Four O'Clock”).  

Hitchcock’s cathode-ray tube experience ultimately left a lasting imprint on his motion picture legacy with the maestro expertly deploying his Alfred Hitchcock Presents TV crew (and the show’s Universal backlot) to make his landmark low-budget feature, Psycho (1960).

Join us for this exploration of Alfred Hitchcock’s television career as director and host. Featuring episodes of Suspicion, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Alfred Hitchcock Hour with contributions from Roald Dahl, Steve McQueen, Peter Lorre and more. 

Program notes by Mark Quigley, John H. Mitchell Television Curator.

Suspicion: “Four O’Clock”

U.S., 9/30/1957

In this tense episode of the short-lived NBC series Suspicion, actor E.G. Marshall (Twelve Angry Men) stars as a meek clock repairman-turned-bombmaker who plots the murder of his wife. With an explosive in place and a timer set to detonate, executive producer and director Alfred Hitchcock employs his signature cross-cutting techniques to build suspense towards a psychological breaking point — with a twist.

DCP, b&w, 60 min. NBC. Production: Shamley Productions. Executive Producer: Alfred Hitchcock. Associate Producer: Joan Harrison. Director: Alfred Hitchcock. Writers: Francis M. Cockrell, Cornell Woolrich. With: E.G. Marshall, Nancy Kelly, Richard Long. Use of Suspicion courtesy of NBCUniversal; special thanks to Mark Halperin.

Alfred Hitchcock Presents: “Man from the South” 

U.S., 1/3/1960

Alfred Hitchcock serves only as host for this notable episode (one of the most memorable of the entire series) directed by his gifted protege, multi-hyphenate industry legend Norman Lloyd (St. Elsewhere). Based on the short story by Roald Dahl, the macabre teleplay stars movie icon Steve McQueen and his then-partner Neile Adams as a couple that becomes entangled in a horrific bet with an unusual stranger, played by incomparable superstar Peter Lorre. 

DCP, b&w, 25 min. CBS. Production: Shamley Productions. Producer: Joan Harrison. Associate Producer: Norman Lloyd. Director: Norman Lloyd. Writers: William Fay, Roald Dahl. With: Alfred Hitchcock, Steve McQueen, Peter Lorre, Neile Adams. Use of Alfred Hitchcock Presents courtesy of NBCUniversal; special thanks to Mark Halperin.

The Alfred Hitchcock Hour: “I Saw the Whole Thing”  

U.S., 10/11/1962

Golden Globe winner John Forsythe (Dynasty) stars as a writer facing several eyewitnesses who identify him as responsible for a hit-and-run vehicular homicide. Revisiting the dark fears of wrongful persecution explored in his noir feature The Wrong Man (1956), this Rashomon-structured drama was the only hour-long episode Hitchcock directed of his eponymous series and the final work he would helm for television.

DCP, b&w, 50 min. CBS. Production: Shamley Productions. Producer: Joan Harrison. Director: Alfred Hitchcock. Writers: Henry Slesar, Henry Cecil. With: Alfred Hitchcock (host), John Forsythe, Evans Evans. Use of Alfred Hitchcock Hour courtesy of NBCUniversal; special thanks to Mark Halperin.