Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hitchcock's Birthday Bash: Guest Blogger DKoren on "Malice Domestic"

As you may know, I have declared the month of August to be Hitchcock's Birthday Bash. To help me celebrate I have called out to all movie bloggers to write guest posts for my blog about anything Alfred Hitchcock.

My first guest post comes from the amazing DKoren of Sidewalk Crossings. I was really delighted when I saw this in my e-mail inbox. It's original, extremely well-written, and just all-around entertaining! She decided to write a review (the first real review my poor, little blog has ever seen) on a favorite episode of the television series: Alfred Hitchcock's Presents.
Here are DKoren's thoughts on Malice Domestic:


I've always loved Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955-1962), especially the
half-hour eps. They're the perfect length to provide plenty of
entertainment but not take up the whole evening. The opener and closers
with Alfred Hitchcock himself introducing the episode are often quite
wacky, macabre, and sometimes, they're better than the actual episode.
He tends to mock the sponsors quite a bit, wonder how he got away with
that? Just by being Hitch? LOL! There should be a DVD of just his
bookends, only his wrap-up usually gives away the ep's twist, so I
suppose that wouldn't work without spoiling many episodes. There's a
prime example with an ep called "The Crystal Trench." The episode is
okay, but not fabulous. The bookends, particularly the closing one,
make me laugh out loud.

This series tends to suck me right in. They're usually well-written,
usually have a twist or two, and usually star more than one well-known
actor from the era. One of my most-watched episodes features one of my
favorite actors, Ralph Meeker. He's probably most famous for staring as
Mike Hammer in Kiss Me Deadly, and as the ill-fated Corporal Paris in
Paths of Glory, though when I throw his name out, even among fans of old
movies, I often get blank looks. I find him a thoroughly intriguing
actor: good-looking, sexy, smirky, subtle, shifty, and smart. He's
scarily good at playing characters who are simultaneously sincere and
yet untrustworthy, and that makes him the perfect guest star in a show
like Alfred Hitchcock Presents, where nothing is ever quite what it
seems.

He guest starred in four episodes and has the distinction of being in
the premiere episode "Revenge." My personal favorite of his four
outings is "Malice Domestic." It's both a well-written ep, and also the
kind of episode that lets Ralph do what he does best. I know I'm a bit
biased, but I never tire of watching this ep.

There's a lot of threads woven into the tapestry of this ep. It's one
of the reasons this is one of my favorites. It's robust, packs a lot of
set up and motives into a short time. A look, a few words... these
suffice to supply the viewer with reams of background on the characters.
Ralph plays Carl, a writer stalled out on his book. His wife, Annette
(played perfectly by Phyllis Thaxter), rides him about it. She's
successful making pottery not having any trouble producing beautiful
pieces -- and distracting him from his book to have him look at what
she's made. They've just adopted a lovely Great Dane named Cassandra,
who Carl loves but Annette doesn't. Carl is a rather cheerful fellow,
his wife is a bit cold and inscrutable. She also has a minor thing
going on with another man. The tension between this married couple is
palpable, and yet they also have their tender, affectionate moments, and
it makes them real to me. There's also a doctor who takes care of Carl
when he starts suffering from terrible stomach pains, and who, after
seeing the wife out with the other man, discovers Carl is afflicted by
more than a mere virus or nervous stomach, that his problems are
actually caused by a bit of arsenic lacing his food...

I won't spoil the ending, but it's satisfying. My favorite scene is
where the doctor has just informed Carl he's been poisoned, and right
when Carl finds a container of arsenic among his wife's pottery supplies
-- she brings him a big tall glass of orange juice with a big smile on
her face. I just love his reaction. "Malice Domestic" is just one of
many entertaining episodes produced during the run of this series.

Watch Malice Domestic on Hulu

Thanks again, DKoren for this fabulous post!

And everyone else: I still want guest bloggers! Please don't feel intimidated by DKoren's amazingness! I would love anything and everything (and believe me my little blog welcomes the chance to see better writing than I've been giving it...and anything is better writing! ;-D)

4 comments:

Juliette. said...

Ooh, this is sort of a "Millie Presents," isn't it? ;)

Neat post, DKoren! What a cool topic-- I'd certainly not heard of this episode before. Seems I have some watching to do. And thanks for not spoiling anything. Much appreciated. :)

DKoren said...

Thanks, Juliette, and thanks to Millie for the opportunity!

You know what I find interesting. Back when shows like this and Twilight Zone were first on the air, I wonder if the twists in the eps were new and still caught people off guard? Nowadays, it's hard to watch these old shows and not guess where the plot's going, what twist is coming. It's like I really wonder how the first audiences saw Psycho, without knowing what was coming at all, thinking it's about Marion Crane and her stolen money, and then... wham! Hello Norman! What was that like when it was fresh new and unexpected? Oh to go back in time and sit in the audience!

As I go of on a whole 'nother topic...

Juliette. said...

Ah, that's exactly what I think happened with Psycho (though it'd be hard not to notice the creepiness emanating from Anthony Perkins).

Kate Gabrielle said...

This was definitely one of my favorite episodes! And you are SO right -- they should definitely have a DVD with just Hithcock's monologues. He's so funny!!

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