Alfred Hitchcock Presents (TV-Series): “Revenge” (1955, Season 1, Episode 1)

Synopsis:

In this pilot episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Vera Miles (Psycho) and Ralph Meeker (Kiss Me Deadly) play a young married couple who has recently moved into a trailer park. The young wife, an ex-dancer, is brutally raped while the husband is at work. There are no witnesses and the victim can’t provide the police with any solid clues. However, the enraged husband can’t let it go so he takes it upon himself to find the perpetrator.

Reaction & Thoughts:

Hitchcock himself directed Revenge and in a characteristically economical manner, he’s able to establish the style and tone for the highly successful series which lasted ten seasons, first as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, later as The Alfred Hitchcock Hour — the TV show was remade in the eighties.

Hitchcock always had an uncanny ability to turn a serious situation into a cruel joke and this episode is no exception. The story, written by Francis M. Cockrell, is simple yet filled with the edgy black humor that characterized the master’s oeuvre. In that respect, the episode, and the series for that matter, gave TV viewers something new; an unsettling experience in the comfort of their homes.

Miles, whom Hitch discovered and put under an exclusive contract, does a fantastic job as the unbalanced young bride. It’s hard to create a complex characterization in such little time, but she pulls it off remarkably well. Miles does a really good job projecting the gradual mental deterioration and emotional breakdown of the character.

Meeker is good too as the man bent on revenge. He has great chemistry with Miles. The cast also includes Frances Bavier (Aunt Bee in TV’s The Andy Griffith Show), who plays a sympathetic neighbor.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Revenge sets off the series on a deliciously dark path and therefore recommended to fans of slow burn thrillers. Superbly shot by Oscar-nominated cameraman John L. Russell (Psycho). B&W, 25 minutes, Not Rated.

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