If you don’t know what to watch next, CBS and NBC’s Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955-1965) is available to stream on Hulu.
It aired on CBS from 1955 to 1960, NBC from 1960 to 1962 (when it was retitled The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and its runtime extended from twenty-five to fifty minutes), CBS again from 1962 to 1964, and NBC once more in 1965.
The Writers Guild of America named the anthology series on their list of best-written television shows, and Time ranked it as one of the greatest series ever.
Each episode is a short story adaptation, some of which Sir Alfred Hitchcock himself directed. The genres encompass everything from thriller to drama to mystery to horror to crime. A constellation of guest stars appears, and the Master of Suspense hosts every installment.
As showrunner and executive producer, Hitchcock’s economical genius for cultivating talented collaborators immortalizes the anthology’s classic legacy (overextended writer-director-producer-actors like M. Night Shyamalan would do well to limit themselves).
James B. Allardice wrote Hitch’s monologues for him, shading in the Master’s iconic profile with black comedy as sharp as a knife’s edge.
In many ways, the series constructs the more signature characteristics of Hitchcock’s pop cultural persona, which allowed him to market himself as a dependable brand that audiences could count on for transcendent entertainment.
One can’t help but feel, however, that Hitchcock was constrained by the puritanical broadcasting standards of the day.
Most episodes end with the criminal seemingly getting away with it, until Hitchcock fades in to tell us how they get caught – if he wanted that to be the way the short films end, wouldn’t that be the way they’re written?
Be that as it may, Hitchcock’s dark fantasies are at their least exploitative when such restrictions are in place, and thus at their most artful; this is a flawed filmmaking ego whose cinematic violence is an aestheticized wish fulfillment for his own abusive, impotent megalomania.
When his bad guys get what they deserve, he does, too.