Saturday, August 4, 2012

Alfred Hitchcock Presents : Lamb to the Slaughter (1958)

Alfred Hitchcock Presents is an American television anthology series hosted by Alfred Hitchcock. The series featured dramas, thrillers, and mysteries. By the premiere of the show on October 2, 1955, Hitchcock had been directing films for over three decades. Time magazine named Alfred Hitchcock Presents one of "The 100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME".

HistoryAlfred Hitchcock Presents is well known for its title sequence. The camera fades in on a simple line-drawing caricature of Hitchcock's rotund profile. As the program's theme music, Charles Gounod's "Funeral March for a Marionette", plays, Hitchcock appears in silhouette from the right edge of the screen, and then walks to center screen to eclipse the caricature. He then almost always says "Good evening." (The theme music for the show was suggested by Hitchcock’s long-time musical collaborator, Bernard Herrmann.)

The caricature drawing — composed of just nine strokes — was the work of Hitchcock himself. The sequence has been parodied countless times in films and on television. The caricature and the use of Gounod's "Funeral March of a Marionette" as theme music have become indelibly associated with Hitchcock in popular culture. Hitchcock appears again after the title sequence, and drolly introduces the story from a mostly empty studio or from the set of the current episode; his monologues were written especially for him by James B. Allardice. At least two versions of the opening were shot for every episode. A version intended for the American audience would often spoof a recent popular commercial or poke fun at the sponsor, leading into the commercial. An alternative version for European audiences would instead include jokes at the expense of Americans in general. For later seasons, opening remarks were also filmed with Hitchcock speaking in French and German for the show's international presentations, reflecting his real-life fluency in both languages. Hitchcock closed the show in much the same way as it opened, but mainly to tie up loose ends rather than joke. He told TV Guide that his reassurances that the criminal had been apprehended were "a necessary gesture to morality." Originally 25 minutes per episode, the series was expanded to 50 minutes in 1962 and retitled The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. Hitchcock only directed 17 of the 268 filmed episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and only one of the 50 minutes episodes, "I Saw the Whole Thing" with John Forsythe. The last new episode aired on June 26, 1965, and the series continued to be popular in syndication for decades.
From Wikipedia

Lamb to the Slaughter : Season 3 : Episode 28 : Original broadcast April 18 1958
"Lamb to the Slaughter" (1953) is a short story by Roald Dahl. It was initially rejected, along with four other stories, by The New Yorker, but was ultimately published in Harper's Magazine in September 1953. It was adapted for an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and starred Barbara Bel Geddes. Originally broadcast on April 13, 1958, it was one of only 17 AHP episodes directed by Hitchcock himself. The story was subsequently adapted for Dahl's British TV series Tales of the Unexpected. Dahl included it in his short story compilation Someone like You.

"Lamb to the Slaughter" demonstrates Dahl's fascination with horror (with elements of black comedy), a theme that would influence both his adult fiction as well as his children stories
Mary Maloney, a devoted housewife, expects her husband Patrick to return home from his job as a local police detective. When he returns, Mary notices that he is strangely aloof and assumes that he was tired from work. Patrick finally reveals to Mary what is making him act strangely. It is not explicitly said, but it is insinuated that he is leaving her. Seemingly in a trance, Mary fetches a large leg of lamb from the deep-freezer in the cellar to cook for their dinner. Patrick angrily tells Mary not to make him any dinner, as he is going out. She strikes Patrick in the back of the head with the frozen lamb leg, killing him. Mary realizes that she has killed Patrick and has to create a story to tell the detectives. She prepares the leg of lamb that she has killed her husband with and places it in the oven to somewhat destroy the evidence. After practicing a cheerful routine, she visits the grocer to establish an alibi. Upon returning, she enters the room with her dead husband lying on the floor and calls the police. When the police (who are all friends of her husband) arrive, they ask Mary questions and look at the scene. Considering Mary above suspicion the police conclude that Patrick was killed with a large blunt object, likely made of metal. After a fruitless search around the house and surrounding area, Mary is reminded the leg is cooking, and offers it to the policemen, which after hesitating they accept. During the meal they discuss the murder weapon's possible location. One officer says it is "Probably right under our very noses". Mary overhears the last line and giggles, knowing it's true.

26 MIN

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