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A CAST OF CHARACTERS
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A CALENDAR OF MOVIES: Christmas - "The King of Kings" (1927)
A CHRISTMAS CAROL
ABBOTT & COSTELLO
AMERICAN CLASSIC MOVIES INTRODUCTIONS
ANIMALS AND THE MOVIES
ARCHITECTURE IN HOLLYWOOD
ARCHITECTURE IN HOLLYWOOD: Sets
ARCITECTURE: Ancient Egypt
ARCHITECTURE IN HOLLYWOOD: Bernheimer Residence
ARCHITECTURE IN HOLLYWOOD: The Ennis-Brown House
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ARCHITECTURE IN HOLLYWOOD: The Hearst Castle
ARCHITECTURE IN HOLLYWOOD: The Hollywood Sign
ARCHITECTURE IN HOLLYWOOD: Homes of the Stars
ARCHITECTURE IN HOLLYWOOD: Jean Harlow
ARCHITECTURE IN HOLLYWOOD: Maps and Floor Plans
ARCHITECTURE IN HOLLYWOOD: Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch
ARCHITECTURE IN HOLLYWOOD: Pickfair
ARCHITECTURE IN HOLLYWOOD: The Rispin Mansion
ARCHITECTURE IN HOLLYWOOD: Royal Hawaiian Hotel
ARCHITECTURE IN HOLLYWOOD: Scotty's Castle
ARCHITECTURE IN HOLLYWOOD: Shelby House
ARCHITECTURE IN HOLLYWOOD: West Hollywood Historical Association
ARCHITECTURE IN HOLLYWOOD: Whimsy
ARCHIVES: VOLUME 1
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ARCHIVES: VOLUME 3
ASSORTED SHORT CLIPS
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B - MOVIES: Television Series
THE BARRYMORE FAMILY
BIOGRAPHIES
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CHARLIE CHAN: Asian Actors in Hollywood
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CHARLIE CHAN: Chemicals
CHARLIE CHAN: Chronology
CHARLIE CHAN: Criminal?!?!*
CHARLIE CHAN: Extras
CHARLIE CHAN: Gilbert Martines and Chang Apana
CHARLIE CHAN: Hawaii Steve
CHARLIE CHAN: Maps
CHARLIE CHAN: Maven and Rush Glick's Interview in . . . "Monster Bash"!
CHARLIE CHAN: Movie Eras
CHARLIE CHAN: Movie Notes
CHARLIE CHAN: Murder Rate
CHARLIE CHAN: On The Town
CHARLIE CHAN: Puzzles and Quizzes
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CHILDREN'S CORNER
CHILDREN'S CORNER: Holiday Crafts
CHILDREN'S CORNER: Boats and Planes and More
CHILDREN'S CORNER: Paper Dolls
CHILDREN'S CORNER: Fun Stuff to Read
CHILDREN'S CORNER: Boys' Town
CHILDREN'S CORNER: Colleen Moore's Castle
CHILDREN'S CORNER: Judy Bolton
CHILDREN'S CORNER: Nancy Drew
CHILDREN'S CORNER: Nancy Drew (For Older Fans!)
CHILDREN'S CORNER: Shirley Temple
COMEDIANS
COPPER CAPERS: FBI's and CIA's!
COSTUME DESIGNERS
DASHIELL HAMMETT
ETTA KIT
FASHIONS IN FILM
FILM NOIR
FOOD CENTRAL
FOREIGN FILMS
GENRES
GINGER ROGERS
HALLOWEEN FUN!
HALLOWEEN 2011: Movies to Watch
HALLOWEEN RECIPES
HAROLD LLOYD
HAUNTS: Hollywood and Elsewhere
HAUNTS: Winchester House
HISTORY: Hollywood and Elsewhere
HOLLYWOOD'S SCANDALS AND CRIMES
HOLLYWOOD'S . . . CRIME: Greystone Mansion Murder
HOLLYWOOD'S . . . Crime: Jean Harlow and Paul Bern's Muder?
HOLLYWOOD'S . . . CRIME: Tate/LaBianca Murders
HOLLYWOOD'S . . .CRIME: William Desmond Taylor Murder
HOLLYWOOD'S MARRY-GO-ROUNDS
HORROR - SCIENCE FICTION
HORROR - SCI FI: Annex
HORROR - SCI FI: The Atomic Submarine (1959)
HORROR - SCI FI: Bela Lugosi
HORROR - SCI FI: Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi
HORROR - SCI FI: Boris Karloff
HORROR - SCI FI: Dracula (1931)
HORROR - SCI FI: Frankenstein (1931)
HORROR - SCI FI: Gojira (1954) & Godzilla (1957)
HORROR - SCI FI: Invaders from Mars (1954)
HORROR - SCI FI: King Kong
HORROR - SCI FI: Lon Chaney
HORROR - SCI FI: Nifty Fifty's Creature Features
HORROR - SCI FI: Nightmare Theatre with Gorgon
HORROR - SCI FI: Ray Harryhausen
HORROR - SCI FI: Stephen King
HORROR - SCI FI: Universal Studios
HORROR - SCI FI: Universal Monster Genealogy
HORROR - SCI FI: Wes Davis
HORROR - SCI FI: The Witch's Dungeon
HOLLYWOOD SQUARES
HUSTON FAMILY
I LOVE LUCY
INTERVIEWS
JOHN WAYNE
JONATHAN GEFFNER
JOSEPHINE BAKER
KAY LINAKER
LEI MAKING
LOCATIONS
MDs - RNs - RNBs - OH MY!
M.D.S . . . - The Crime Doctor Series
MAGIC IN MOVIES
MAKEUP ARTISTS
MAKEUP ARTISTS: The Westmore Family
MARX BROTHERS
MARY ASTOR
MARY PICKFORD AND DOUGLAS FAIRBANKS
MAVEN'S LIBRARY
MAVEN'S WEBSITES TO CHECK OUT
MUSIC
MUSIC: Dancers
MUSIC: The Lyrics
MYSTERIES
MYSTERIES: A Warning For Those Who Give Away The Endings!
MYSTERIES: Alfred Hitchcock
MYSTERIES: The Bat
MYSTERIES: D. W. Griffith vs. Mary Roberts Rinehart
MYSTERIES: Gum Shoes
MYSTERIES: Old Dark Houses
MYSTERIES: S.S. Van Dine
MYSTERIES: S.S. Van Dine - The Kidnap Murder Case
ORSON WELLES
PERRY MASON
QUIZZES AND PUZZLES
QUIZ ANSWERS
QUOTES From Hollywood
QUOTES From Hollywood Movies
QUOTES From Dorothy Parker
QUOTES Dorothy Parkers' "The Waltz"
RADIO SHOWS: Vintage Series
RECIPES OF THE WEEK
RECIPES OF THE WEEK: More about the Recipes
RECIPES OF THE WEEK: A Rejuvenating Diet
REVIEWS
REVIEWS - Mini Mavens
RONALD REAGAN
RUDOLPH VALENTINO
SEX IN THE CINEMA
SHIRLEY TEMPLE
SILENT MOVIES
TAYLOR SCHULTZ: Hollywood Sculptor
TRANSPORTATION IN THE MOVIES: Aviation
VINCENT PRICE
VINCENT PRICE: Connoisseur
WHAT'S MY LINE?
THE WHISTLER
THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939)

     Alfred Hitchcock was a master of suspense by anybody's standards!  Maven will be adding to this page as she can . . . so lock the doors and windows, turn down the lights . . . hmm . . . you did check and make sure that there isn't anybody here who shouldn't be . . . never mind.  Maybe it's just Maven's imagination . . . .
    Maven won't be reading her HORROR - SCI FI: Stephen King page again so late at night either!

Alfred Hitchcock wasn't the only talent on his sets . . . even if it seemed like it sometimes!

Alfred Hitchcock, Grace Kelly and Anthony Haws
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In "Dial 'M' for Murder"

    This picture was taken on Alfred Hitchock's Dial M for Murder (1954) with Grace Kelly and Anthony Daws who wrote a remeniscence about it . . . .

"Dial 'M' for Murder" by Anthony Douglas Dillon Dawson

I have also written a review about this great movie:

Dial M for Murder (1954)

Alfred Hitchcock and Edith Head

John Williams (the actor) and Friend
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In Hitchcock's "Banquo's Chair"

Alfred Hitchcock Presents:  Banquo's Chair (1959) - This is an episode of Hitchcock's television series that ran from 1955 to 1962.  This episode scared Maven even into adulthood.  Combine being a right good corker AND Hitchock's originality in regards to his sponsors makes this episode still a goodie . . . especially late alone on a rainy night . . . :-O!:

http://www.imdb.com/video/hulu/vi3552772889/

Senses of Cinema

Latest Issue

Issue 58

Filed under Cinémathèque Annotations on Film in Issue 25

Banquo’s Chair (episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents)[1]

by Ken Mogg

Ken Mogg, in Melbourne, Australia, is a life-long admirer and proponent of Hitchcock’s films. His book, The Alfred Hitchcock Story (Titan Books, London, 1999), was recently re-issued internationally. His email address is muffin@labyrinth.net.au.

Banquo’s Chair (episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents) (1959 USA 25mins)

Source: ACMI/NLA Prod Co: Shamley Productions Filmed at: Revue Studios Prod: Joan Harrison Dir: Alfred Hitchcock Scr: Francis Cockrell, from story by Rupert Croft-Cooke Phot: John L. Russell, ASC

Cast: John Williams, Kenneth Haigh, Reginald Gardiner, Max Adrian, Tom P. Dillon

Referring to Hitchcock’s priceless performances as host, with which he bookended his TV shows – Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour – Stephen Ronan speaks of their surrealism. Hitchcock’s “lessons,” he notes, “were negation, revolt, and liberty.” (1) That’s one of the best appreciations of the director that I’ve read. Commentators often point out that Hitchcock could, when he wanted, have his TV murderers go scot-free simply by ‘tidying up’ afterwards with a tongue-in-cheek disclaimer. (2) But only Stephen Ronan has noted the additional liberties that Hitchcock might take at the end of a show. Once, Hitchcock came back posing as a conquering alien, and announced: “Although I usually mention that the murderer was caught and punished, the society that loves to catch and punish has been abolished.”(3)

Now consider another of Ronan’s observations. Apparently many members of the audience at Lincoln Center were genuinely shocked when Hitchcock told them:

With the help of television, murder should be brought into the home where it rightly belongs. After all, I’m sure that you will agree that murder can be so much more charming and enjoyable, even for the victim, if the surroundings are pleasant and the people involved are ladies and gentlemen like yourselves.

According to Ronan, Hitchcock was “quite serious.” (4) Perhaps, though, the director wasn’t really talking about murder. More likely, he had in mind such a matter as homosexuality – a perennial subtext in Hitchcock (5) – and was merely echoing the broad-minded Englishman who allegedly said, “Just so long as they don’t do it in the streets and frighten the horses!”

Which may bring us to the episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents called Banquo’s Chair, directed by Hitchcock himself from the story by Rupert Croft-Cooke (1903-79). (6) The episode aired on the 3rd of May 1959. Six years earlier, Croft-Cooke and his secretary-companion, Joseph Alexander, had stood trial in England on charges of committing gross indecency with two other male persons. At the trial Compton Mackenzie (the author, whose novels included Sylvia Scarlett and Whisky Galore) and Patrick (Lord) Kinross appeared as character witnesses for Croft-Cooke. Notwithstanding this, the latter was sentenced to nine months imprisonment, and Alexander to three months. In fact Croft-Cooke served six months in Wormwood Scrubs Prison and Brixton Prison from October 1953 to April 1954. Afterwards he wrote his courageous account of his experiences, The Verdict of You All (1955), in which he claimed that he did not regret what had happened because he had learnt a great deal about the best and worst of human nature: “It has been the most immensely worthwhile experience of my life.”(7) In terms of Croft-Cooke’s career, this was almost certainly true. It is said that nearly 60 of his books were published over the next two decades. (8)

Though Hitchcock may have first encountered Banquo’s Chair in a stage version some time around 1930, he would undoubtedly (as an avid reader of The Times most of his life) have known of Croft-Cooke’s trial, and subsequent events. And though there was evident commercial reason to acquire the TV rights to the story (previously filmed in 1945 as The Fatal Witness, when it was directed by Lesley Selander), I suspect that Hitchcock was happy to give Croft-Cooke a helping hand. He was that sort of a person. For instance, he never forgot the actors he had worked with, and often re-employed them decades after they had first appeared in one of his films. In the case of the Alfred Hitchcock Presents production of Banquo’s Chair, actor John Williams had already appeared in three Hitchcock films and three other Alfred Hitchcock Presents episodes. (His playing of Inspector Brent is a virtual reprise of his role as Inspector Hubbard in Dial M For Murder [1954].) But also in the cast was Hilda Plowright playing May Thorpe, an elderly actress whom Brent for reasons of his own has asked to impersonate a ghost for the occasion. Hilda Plowright had previously worked with Hitchcock on Foreign Correspondent (1940), when she played the sniffy receptionist Miss Pimm (rhymes with ‘prim’!) at the Cambridge Arms inn. (9)

Banquo’s Chair is arguably the best of all the Alfred Hitchcock Presents episodes that Hitchcock directed. (10) Certainly it gave him plenty of ‘meat’ with which to indulge his droll appreciation of all things English, starting with the evocation of Edwardian London in the opening street scene. In the story’s central ploy to trap a murderer, reminiscent of Hamlet’s use of “The Mousetrap,” there are echoes of Murder! (1930) and Stage Fright (1950). (Given the story’s allusion to Macbeth, it’s a nice touch to have made one of the guests at the dinner a Shakespearean actor who clearly inhabits an adulatory world which he wears like a protective cloak. A related touch is the host’s broken arm. In such company, the deft and worldly-wise Inspector Brent seems a masterful figure – until the final scene.) And with a whiff of the supernatural in the air, there’s a harking forward to Family Plot (1976) – the film for which Hitchcock had originally hoped to obtain Margaret Rutherford to reprise her role as the medium Madame Arcati in Blithe Spirit (David Lean, 1945). (11)

Nonetheless, it’s in the prologue and the epilogue of each Alfred Hitchcock Presents production (the dialogue invariably scripted by young James Allardyce, following broad guidelines provided by Hitchcock) that Hitchcock’s genius most shows itself on TV. Banquo’s Chair is no exception. The detachment that was always Hitchcock’s great asset – it’s what “pure cinema” is all about, putting the director in touch with the amoral life-force itself – makes him a surreal satirist of the first order. Of course, he looks harmless enough. I mean that literally. He introduces Banquo’s Chair wearing his customary dinner jacket – and a safari hat. The idea is that “darkest Hollywood” is actually tropical and steamy compared with the gloom and hint of fog of nocturnal London in 1903, which is where the story now begins. The device of contrast is identical to that which opens the 1956 version of The Man Who Knew Too Much (first Marrakesh, then London) or, for that matter, Charles Dickens’s Little Dorrit (1857) which moves from a sweltering Marseilles to “a Sunday evening in London, gloomy, close, and stale.” Then, at the end, Hitchcock returns, and now the full intent of the bookend sequences is allowed to suggest itself. Hitchcock refers to “flushing out” the big game from its hiding places, by which he means the Hollywood stars in their mansions trying to avoid the prying eyes of the curious – much as the story’s villain has just tried to defeat the crafty wiles of Inspector Brent. Next follows a sight-gag with a witch-doctor (keeping the ‘safari’ idea going) that reminds us of Hitchcock’s disdain for all forms of mumbo-jumbo, such as psychoanalysis or perhaps the sycophantic outpourings of “half-witted intellectuals and just plain dopes” whom we’ve heard the story’s Shakespearean actor number among his fans!

Finally, Hitchcock brings everything to a neat, wholly non-abstract conclusion. Clicking his fingers at his three “native porters” – in fact, three busty young women in shorts – he tells them it’s time to be going. Carrying unlikely-looking, gift-wrapped parcels on their heads, the “porters” file past us – their bustiness shown off to perfection. We’ve just seen Inspector Brent baffled by something he can’t explain. Now perhaps we’re reminded of what that “something” consists. It’s simply the life-force having its day – again. (12)

Endnotes

  1. Stephen Ronan, “Video Noir: Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” Free Spirits: Annals of the Insurgent Imagination, ed. Buhle, et al. (San Francisco: City Light Books, 1982) 222.
  2. Not only his TV murderers, of course. To all intents and purposes, Gavin Elster goes scot-free at the end of Vertigo (1958). That’s to say, I understand that the film’s ‘alternative ending,’ though filmed, in which a radio broadcast announces Elster’s arrest in Europe, was never intended by Hitchcock to be used except in the contingency that some European country objected to a wife-murderer staying at large.
  3. Ronan, 222.
  4. Ronan, 221.
  5. See Theodore Price, Hitchcock and Homosexuality: His 50-Year Obsession with Jack the Ripper and the Superbitch Prostitute – A Psychoanalytic View (Metuchen, N.J. and London: Scarecrow Press, 1992) passim.
  6. Although the episode’s credits refer only to Croft-Cooke’s ‘story,’ I recall once seeing reference to a stage adaptation that looked as if it were something of a staple of small repertory companies.
  7. Quoted in a biographical article on Croft-Cooke at the following Web URL (maintained, I gather, by the South Bank University World Wide Web Server): http://www.sbu.ac.uk/stafflag/rupertcroftcooke.html.
  8. South Bank University website, as above.
  9. A further notable instance of Hitchcock’s generosity in a good cause – especially where he knew the person(s) concerned – is how he did his level-best to obtain work for his old friend Angus MacPhail, the screenwriter, in the 1950s. Though MacPhail was not in the best of health, Hitchcock hired him to work on the treatment of The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956). The evidence shows that MacPhail did some brilliant work. (But when John Michael Hayes, who wrote the final screenplay, refused to share screenplay credit with MacPhail, H saw fit not to employ Hayes again.) On The Wrong Man (1957), MacPhail’s contribution was substantial. This time he received screenplay credit with Maxwell Anderson. Also, I understand that MacPhail was slated for Vertigo, but by now his ill health had caught up with him.
  10. Jack Edmund Nolan wrote what is perhaps the first published survey of Hitchcock’s work for television. His article, “Hitchcock’s TV Films,” appeared in Film Fan Monthly 84 (June 1968): 3-6. He calls Banquo’s Chair “[m]y personal favourite among Hitch’s TV films.” (5)
  11. I read this somewhere. Margaret Rutherford died in 1972. In the event, Barbara Harris gave us her appealing version of Madame Blanche Tyler in Family Plot.
Earlier, Brent had confessed to taking up “bird-watching” in his retirement. Questioned about this, he asserted that he meant it quite literally. But he had let drop that an attractive widow lived next door to him…

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Want to watch Alfred Hitchcock in action?!  Not to mention having fun?!  Here he is on What's My Line?

This is an interesting website that includes the Master's cameos in his movies among lots of stuff!:  http://hitchcock.tv/

ALFRED HITCHCOCK AND HIS McGUFFIN
 
There is a McGuffin Page at http://www.labyrinth.net.au/~muffin/ 
but a more interesting link is at
. . . and, finally, just what IS a McGuffin?! . . .

KIM NOVAK'S "ATTACK" OF VERTIGO!
 
     Maven has come across a 2004 interview with the "McGuffin" website where she talks about Alfred Hitchcock and his classic movie of 1958, her co-star Jimmy Stewart, designer Edith Head and her teaming with Stewart earlier in 1958 in Bell, Book and Candle:  http://www.labyrinth.net.au/~muffin/kim_novak_c.html

Psycho  (1960)
 
     Alfred Hitchcock's classic Psycho (1960) was based on Robert Bloch's novel which in turn was based on a real-life case near where Bloch lived in Wisconsin.  Janet Leigh wrote about it in her autobiography:

"PSYCHO"

Ed Gein
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     Who's Your Daddy?
 
     Ed Gein was the inspiration for both Robert Bloch and Hitchcock's story?  For more information on him, check out these links: