Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Premonition (S01-E02)

Synopsis

An American musician (John Forsythe, TV’s Dynasty) living in France decides to return to his hometown after he has a premonition that something is terribly wrong. After discovering that family members had lied to him about the supposedly accidental death of his father, the musician is determined to find out the truth.

Reaction & Thoughts:

“You won’t stop me now. I’ve got to know!”

While not as gripping and riveting as the first episode, the show’s second episode, the aptly titled Premonition, is an absorbing, creepy and entertaining program — the twisty ending will force viewers to reevaluate all that came before.

The teleplay was written by Harold Swanton (Appointment with Murder and The Ballad of Josie). The episode’s engaging mixture of suspense and fantasy anticipates Rod Serling’s classic anthology series The Twilight Zone (1959-1964) and Leslie Stevens’s short-lived but acclaimed sci-fi opus The Outer Limits (1963-1965).

John Forsythe, who went on to star in two Alfred Hitchcock features (The Trouble With Harry and Topaz), is terrific as the distraught musician searching for answers. His heart-felt performance keeps you glued to the screen. It’s an unusually rabid performance by the usually urbane and affable Forsythe. We’re forced to see everything through the actor’s eyes and that’s the main reason we’re so easily manipulated.

The episode has a small but strong supporting cast. Cloris Leachman (Young Frankenstein) excels as Forsythe’s sister-in-law. Though best remembered today as a comedienne par excellence, Leachman gives a highly effective dramatic performance (she would later co-star in Mel Brooks’s wonderful Hitch spoof High Anxiety).

The cast also includes popular character actors George Macready (Gilda and Stanley Kubrick’s  Paths of Glory), Warren Stevens (Forbidden Planet and No Name On the Bullet) and the inimitable Percy Helton (original Miracle on 34th Street and Robert Aldrich’s Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte) as a funeral director.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Extremely well directed by Robert Stevens (In the Cool of the Day), Premonition has all the elements of a good mystery. The tiny cast is great, and the ending is pure perfection. It’s one of the season’s strongest episodes — a nicely done mystery with good actors and, as I said before, a nifty ending ala M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense and The village). Recommended. B&W, 25 minutes, Not Rated.

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