ALFRED HITCHCOCK HOUR was a followup to the far more well known ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS, except true to this revival’s name it offered hour long tales of mystery and suspense.
Rarely seen, or referenced, this series tends to languish in obscurity in comparison to its far more popular and well remembered sibling, AHP. Which is unfortunate because, for the most part I am finding the hour long time-frame (that could easily feel padded) being effectively used by the host of talented writers, directors and stars involved. Not in all cases of course, some episodes do fail or feel overlong, but so far the majority of the ones I have seen, are satisfying and compelling additions to the output of the great Alfred Hitchcock.
While few of these are directed by Alfred Hitchcock, the best of them live up to the high bar of cinematic mystery and suspense that Alfred Hitchcock helped set.
Case in point, RIDE THE NIGHTMARE.
Directed by Bernard Girard (an unknown to me Director, who seemingly spent the bulk of his career directing various Television shows, the movies that are credited to him at the end of his directing career, seem poorly received critic wise, but all sound intriguing to me, and worth a look, especially based on how impressed I am with the visuals in RIDE THE NIGHTMARE) and with a screenplay by the great Richard Matheson, that he adapted form his own novel, RIDE THE NIGHTMARE is a gripping, exciting, amazingly directed episode of television.
Beautifully lensed by cinematographer William Marguiles (a relatively prolific DP in late 50s thru the early 70s, primarily in television) , from the first shot I was asking myself, “who the heck directed this? It looks stunning!”
From evocative low angle shots, that make the ceilings loom above us like the hand of doom, to 270degree close-up pan around an embracing couple, to a series of doorways the character walk through as they quietly discuss their relationship’s immolation (the doorways at dutch angles to represent a world no longer reliable and steadfast, but rather menacing and predatory)… the episode enthralls.
And for an unknown tv episode from 1962, to invoke those impressions on someone watching it for the first time, 60 years later in 2022… I think says much about the visual language of the episode. It also says much about its star, Gena Rowlands.
Known for her later lauded pairings with her husband and paramour (their relationship had that type of oxymoronic duality, and iconoclastic fire, both on and off screen, that he could at once be her husband, and at once be the seducer who swept her away) John Cassavetes; Gena Rowlands, who at the time of this writing is still with us, in this episode (the first of three yearly episodes she would do for ALFRED HITHCHCOCK HOUR) commands the screen with her beauty and her presence. In RIDE THE NIGHTMARE she offers a beguiling performance, that well foreshadows, while giving us a less damaged version, of those later legendary pairings with Cassavetes.
Also with great performances by genre stalwarts Hugh O’Brian and John Anderson — this is a brutal little bit of unheralded television noir, that builds to a [mild spoiler, skip to next paragraph to avoid it] surprisingly near apocalyptic ending.[end spoiler]
The plot has in the 60 years from there to here, been reused countless times, even in 1962 was slightly formulaic, but what was not and is not formulaic… is the craft that it is told with. That had, and still has, the power to rivet.
These shows can be viewed via streaming. Either free if you can deal with the criminal # of commercials (I can not), or via purchase on (typically) an episode by episode basis. I chose neither of those routes and purchased the entire series on DVD to watch at my leisure.
To get your copies go here:
Thanks for looking, and click the image above to purchase. you get a great item, and this blog earns a few appreciated pennies to keep the proverbial lights on.
a win, win!
that’s it for this segment. Oh, and for those of you staying for my rant… read on. The rest of you come back next time, and be well!!
“What did he say “DVD”? HaHa!! What a geezer!! Wake up Grand-pa! There’s this thing called streaming!! Ha! Ha!”
Yes, thank You.
Very enlightening. I happen to be a big fan of digital and streaming… In its place.
I like streaming for discovering things I want to revisit or own (if ownership by individuals is not a forbidden word in this new age of solely corporate ownership and corporate freedoms), however for revisiting these things, or owning these things, or enjoying these things, I want it in a format where I can enjoy it whether or not I have an internet collection, whether of not a corporate site is down, whether or not that corporate gatekeeper has decided to stop serving that particular show or episode or album or video game.
As the whole world races to embrace ever more gatekeepers on everything the individual touches, it increasingly becomes clear that you can not buy, or sell, or read, or watch, or listen to something whether in your house or your car, without a log of what you have consumed and when you consumed it being stored somewhere, approved somewhere. Something about that does not agree with me.
Something about not being able to buy or sell without having the mark, whether the mark digital or the mark proverbial, something biblically off-putting about that :).
I tend to like being off grid for my entertainment when I can, when I choose. It is the iconoclast in me. I resist the religion of hegemony and the glory of social media in all things.
I, in the last 48 hours, have decided to jump into 3D TV. I’ve had a 3D capable Blu-ray player for several months. and just this week ‘engaged the engines'(yeah that’s going to catch on) on getting a 3D projector that does native 1080p. Should be here next week.
And along with that, I have begun compiling a list of recommendations of must own Blu-Ray titles.(ie I jumped on Youtube, via Roku, and found a bunch of recommendations)
And a word on that region free Blu-ray player, I picked up.
I purposely sought out a Blu-ray player that, in addition to being region free, also does 3D; as I knew eventually I wanted to cross that bridge. In fact, being I have been a life long 3D fan, from stereoscopic comic books and Art-books, to the old Anaglyph 3D presentations that would come on tv, every blue-moon, when I was a kid (Invariably the 3D over the tv, never worked great; using those funky red and blue glasses) it is funny that it has taken me this long to jump into 3D.
Part of it is, even though I was in the theaters, with everyone else that snowy winter, when AVATAR made its way onto our screens and became a world wide phenomenon, kicking off this latest 3D craze; I didn’t hop aboard the 3D train. While a fan of AVATAR, and thought its 3D was ground breaking; I was never sold on the idea of everything needing to be in 3D. I am still not. However I am far more compelled by the idea of being able to also do 3D in the home. Not all the time, but occasionally.
In the 10 years since AVATAR’s success, while hundreds of films have been foisted on us at increased ticket prices, I probably went to see easily less than 2 dozen films in the theaters. 3D is great for 45 minute IMAX films (in real IMAX theaters that are in science centers, not the retrofitted baby Imaxes that are in your local multiplex) but for (closing in on 2 hour) blockbusters, it has to be done well; and not everything lends itself to 3D.
3D when done brilliantly needs to be in the movie theaters, not in our homes, and needs to be done sporadically. At least that was my feeling for the past 10 years since AVATAR, and in the theaters I have seen some good uses of 3D since then.
However these days while I still believe a real theater is the best place for 3D, and that viewing should be sporadic, what supercedes that… is me being a collector. And no, I refuse to use supersede, I am going with supercede. It was good enough in the 17th century, it is good enough now. :).
Being a collector (which I have been since my grade-school days of comics and books and vhs tapes and records), I like having the ability to not rely on gatekeepers. if I do choose to revisit an especially impressively made 3D film on my Blu-ray player, in my home, I don’t want to have to vet that choice through anyone else; or wait on licensing agreements for movies to become available.
I do not like having to rely on gatekeepers for anything, not my entertainment, not my news, not my liberty. 3D tvs have in the US gone the way of the Dodo, and the older models that you can get are prohibitively expensive. Manufacturers of Blu-ray players, are closing up shop. Big business has obviously passed around a memo, “let’s phase out this physical media nonsense, and make them come to us for everything; where we can monitor, we can control, we can edit material, as necessary.”
A noble memo. But I don’t think they got my memo.
So job one, was to pick up a multi-region Blu-ray that could also do 3D. I saved up and got that done a few months ago. ‘What about 4K?’ I hear someone asking.
4K? I don’t really care about 4K.
“What?? Oh no he didn’t??!!! Get me a knife, I’m gonna cut this fool!!!”
Wait. Bear with me Trumpian mob.
Let me explain,
I do not care about 4K, as it is really negligible improvement over a well mastered Blu-ray.
Shhh. Adults are talking.
There is a difference between a well mastered 4K and a well mastered Blu-ray, viewed on the median residential monitor display size of 55″ to 65″, at a viewing distance of 8 to 10 feet; but that difference is not pixel density, is not screen real estate. That difference is not 4k pixel count, vs 1K pixel count. With 20/20 vision viewing any modern display of the size I listed, from the distance I listed, if you can see a difference at all… it will be negligible at best.
You have to remember you don’t actually see very well, even with 20/20 vision. That’s why the illusion of movies even works. Because our brains are very good at taking the upside down nonsense our eyes sends them, and crafting a world view that makes sense.
That is the reason 24 static images, moved at speed (a movie), can fool us into believing there is motion going on. If our eyes were really any good, we could never fall for the lie of motion, we would register movies for what they are, 24 static images , flipped one after another.
We would be, how Alan Moore, that mad scribe, describes the Flash.
One of the most beautiful, and horrible lines I have ever read, I read at a time when we read most of the horrible things that form us. I had read Flash comics as a kid, and thought them and the character way cool. And with scant lines, Alan Moore taught the young tike I was, the meaning of existential dread.
‘There is a man who moves so fast that his life is an endless gallery of statues.’
I understood then, a concept I had not thought of till that moment, the horrible constraints of perfection.
However we, perhaps thankfully, do not perceive the world clearly, we as a species, even the best of us, see relatively poorly.
However, our brains are fantastic for compensating for our deficiencies. Making a truth, out of the lie of our eyes. And with television and the difference between pixel count between 1080p and 4K that occurs at speed in real time, our brain is just as adept in that situation, at lying to us. You are unlikely to see any difference in pixel count.
“But I’m telling you I see a clear difference between 1080p and 4K when I watch BOO BOO GOES TO HOLLYWOOD!!!!!”
Yes, I know. But that difference (using the parameters previously stated) is not pixel density. The difference you are seeing is color grading and picture processing applied by technologies such as HDR. That is why HDR is there, to give you the difference that 4K by itself cannot.
But here is the thing, they could have just as easily applied HDR to work with Blu-ray, made HDR an evolution of Blu-ray, solidify Blu-ray as a format, and help it finally supercede Dvd, as the most popular format. But then they could not sell you new tvs, and new incompatible 4K media, which requires all new players.
4K is a cash grab. And it is a road of diminishing returns.
While concepts like 2k and 4k and even now 8k, have a useful and needed place in production and mastering and editing, and real theatrical showings. On the residential/consumer side it is simply superfluous. And companies harangued into tying up limited resources re-releasing the same 10 titles in yet another format, just take money and resources away from titles that are still awaiting… their first Blu-ray release.
So that is why 4K is not a priority for me. I don’t hate it, I’d just rather solidify the formats we have, than further fragment an already fragmented market. However if studios can make 4k work for them, and make money off it, a niche of a niche, good for them.
I don’t care if 4k, 8k, 16k players exits, there will always be people putting the stupidest things in their homes (“So let me understand this. Every device inside my house will now have a microphone built in, that can not be hardware disabled? And a camera? And be able to call out back to it home servers? And all data is potentially saved? Is this a Bob Newhart skit? A Bill Cosby skit? I’m sorry son, no one is going to believe that science fiction story. 1984 is one thing, but that story you are talking about would have required an entire generation to not have the common sense that God gave a rock. Next thing you are going to tell me is they let a reality tv star steal the election and run the country into the ground!!! Ha! Ha! What an imagination!”).
Leave me the ability to watch what I want, when I want. Without having to vet my viewing through gatekeepers and their servers; and the rest of the world— can keep spinning.
Yeah give me region-free Blu-ray any day. And yeah, I’ll even take a side of 3D. :).
If that is not the longest digression in the history of the world, it has to be in the top 3. But finally, you made it to what you really came for. The tits— oh wait, I meant the list. There are no Mammary glands below. I repeat, there are no Mammary glands below. Go ahead and unsubscribe, see if i care!!!
Yes, yes. It has been a long week.
Oh ps, the items in bold in the lists below, are titles that in my research I think are the ones to start with, and they just so happen to be ones that I have ordered and are on the way. So if you can’t find em, I bought the last ones. HA! HAAHA! HA! HA! HHAHA! HA! HA! HEE! HO! HA— hmm this is surprisingly difficult to keep going. You get the picture, maniacal laughing. Sheesh!
Humor, look it up.
HUGO, JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF EARTH, KONG:SKULL ISLAND,JUNGLE BOOK,STAR WARS THE FORCE AWAKENS,PACIFIC RIM “Could have been one of the number one 3D movies of all time”,JURASSIC PARK, POLAR EXPRESS, LIFE OF PI, AVATAR -2020 LIST
THE FAILED JOURNALIST
TRON LEGACY, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, HOBBIT BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES, AVATAR, HUGO, POLAR EXPRESS, GRAVITY, HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, THE WALK, LIFE OF PI
3D BLU-RAY BUNKER
NEED FOR SPEED, INFERNO(1953), THE WALK, HERCULES(2014), THE LEGEND OF HERCULES (2014), AVATAR, STAR WARS THE FORCE AWAKENS, XXX RETURN OF XANDER CAGE, UNIVERSAL SOLDIER DAY OF RECKONING – his 2020 selections
A quick caveat about BT. You think I’m offensive, I’ve never known anyone use the term b*tch as often as he does. 🙂 Seriously, his early videos I left thinking, “Did they delete the other words from the dictionary?”. Joking. But seriously, stick with this show, they are informative and fun. His BLACK PANTHER3D Blu-ray review is hilarious, and he rates it as superior to the 4K. He hasn’t done a 3D review in 11 months, but I hope new ones are on the way.
THE LAST JEDI, FORCE AWAKENS, BLADE RUNNER 2049, BLACK PANTHER, THOR RAGNAROK, AVENGERS ENDGAME, KONG SKULL ISLAND, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, XXX THE RETURN OF XANDER CAGE, THE GREAT WALL, GHOST IN THE SHELL, DOCTOR STRANGE, TRANSFORMERS THE LAST KNIGHT
All humor aside, there are a lot of great selections, and great videos to peruse . Do me a favor, if moved to, and not offended by my whimsy… like, subscribe, and support using the links below. Further go subscribe to all four of the channels listed above. They possess just a monumental amount of info on 3D Blurays. I am subscribed to all these channels and consider them, essential. I’m first in line to like their new 3D related videos.
DEAL OF THE DAY 2!Like I said I don’t find 4k a necessity, however I found this player that includes necessities like region free, and 3D, but it also includes 4K at an affordable price. At this price it is a bit of a no-brainer.
This one has steadily increased in price. The model 700 is cheaper, but what I like about the specs on this one (the 706) is it is a short throw, which just means placement is easier as you can place it right near the screen or wall to be projected on.
My God, i don’t believe it. You’re missing the good old days.
Kemmer, The Father:
Humans weren’t designed to observe, we were built to do.
So yeah… I miss ’em.
Let me tell you something.
Soft lives make soft men.
Soft men… make soft choices.
That beautiful exchange 10 minutes in to SPACE COMMAND tells you everything you need to know about why this may be your must watch and must support show of the day. A 3 year in the making pilot, having seen it, it has charm and wit, and has proved itself worthy of the time and effort that went into its forging. With stars such as the great Mira Furlan, Bill Mumy, McClure, Robert Picardo, Bruce Boxleiter and Doug Jones, alongside new faces, such as Ethan McDowell.
With any project, especially one done for love, on virtually no-budget, and no corporate backing, there will be limitations. Generally the younger actors don’t have the comfort or gravitas, the subtlety of the older actors, and with the exception of Ethan McDowell, that disparity comes across. Ethan McDowell however, manages to hold his own alongside actors who were forged in the fires of many years of theater, and television and movies.
But that disparity with most of the younger actors, is to be expected given the budget limitations, but those limitations aside, I was completely captivated by the one hour pilot. In the age of streaming where content is the new gold rush, if I was a Netflix, or Apple, or Disney, or At&t I would be attempting to acquire content and production teams like this, that have a built in passionate fan-base.
All in all SPACE COMMAND is a worthy addition to the dreams of men named Roddenberry and Straczynski.
I personally find very little need for 4K, as I do not have a 70″ or larger screen and I’m not sitting 2 feet away from it inspecting pixels. And the difference between 4K and 1080p, while substantial in pixels (ie inreal estate), in real world picture quality is minuscule. It is not the kind of quality jump that you got from DVD to Blu-Ray.
I have 20/20 vision, and see better than most people I know, ie I don’t need glasses or contacts, so at 1080p on a 60″ or less screen, from a recommended 8 feet or more viewing distance you are talking the threshold of what the human eye can differentiate in regards to pixel count/real estate.
That is where other considerations such as how well the source is mastered ( a huge consideration, I have some DVDs that provide a better picture than Blu-ray simply because they were well mastered and the Blu-rays were not) , and contrast and dynamic range and brightness, and frame rates all come in to play to provide you a superior picture.
But as far as chasing real estate, resolution, HD to 4K to 6K to 8K to 16K, that is a meaningless numbers game in a consumer setting. Unless you are projecting on a movie theater sized screen this chasing of resolution/real estate it just so manufacturers can continue to sell you the new hotness. The new player, the new tv, the new discs.
However if you are somone who has the disposable cash, and want the latest and greatest, so a 4K player to go with your 4K tv, well then the following is the one to get.
All these videos are great. Quick word on this last one. CRITERION, I guess bouyed by the competition from other labels such as ARROW and INDICATOR is really starting to step their game up. I think they are aware that while Criterion has made its name by providing quality curated, feature packed releases of significant titles; today some of these newer labels are really, not just on Criterion’s heels, but have surpassed Criterion in some areas. ARROW has better regular releases, with tons of features, and great books (as opposed to Criterion’s booklets in some cases), INDICATOR has absolutely jaw dropping boxsets. And then you have Shoutfactory and MillCreek and Universal killing it with their line of Steelbooks. There is just a lot of great competition out there in 2020, which is surprising considering how everyone keeps shouting the sky is falling for physical media. I have to tell you, I’ve been in this game quite a while, the physical releases we are getting today, are absolute works of art. Here in 2020 this is the golden age of Blurays/Physical media.
And CRITERION is appropriately stepping up their game. Because this RED RIVER 2018 Blu-ray reissue, of a 2014 release, that Cinema Dave introduces us to… is a must own. Though even here, you can argue that, they shortcut in that none of the special feature are new or original to this release. They use several year old interviews and commentaries, as opposed to ‘new for this release’ features that you do get with companies like ARROW and INDICATOR. Still I do see CRITERION putting out ever more impressive releases to maintain their position, as the most august name in Physical media.
The 1st season of THE TERROR, the 1st season of Amazon’s BAD BOYS, and the 1st and only season of BBC’s BODYGUARD on Netflix were my favorite television shows of 2019.
4 episodes in and I am absolutely loving Netflix’s South African action/thriller series SHADOW.
Part EQUALIZER meets WALLENDER meets STRIKEBACK, the other part is its own unique texture and vibe; this series is hitting all the right notes… the actors are fantastic, plots Baroque and strange and compelling, the action riveting. Took a while for me to actually give this series a try, however now it (along with Netflix/BBCs DRACULA) is an early contender for one of my favorite tv shows of 2020.
I really hope both these shows eventually get a Blu-Ray release, complete with special features/director’s commentary. The best of any year deserves the permanence of DVD/Blu-Ray. That said I’m still waiting on season 2 of Luke Cage to make it to Blu-Ray… looking at you Netflix. 🙂 .
There are a few shows I hold in very high reverence, as television at its finest. Stuff that stands and will stand the test of time. The 1980s SPENSER FOR HIRE is one of those shows.
Starring the great Robert Urich and Avery Brooks (as two very different, but equally imposing 6’1 guys, running around Boston putting people thru windows 🙂 ) and based on a long running series of novels by the prolific Robert B. Parker. The highest acclaim you can give the TV show, is the author himself acclaimed Avery Brooks Hawk as superior to the character in the novels. So I loved that 3 season Boston based series.
Now, it is clear this Mark Wahlberg Netflix movie will have virtually nothing in common with that great 80s series; however it puts that series back in the limelight, and I call that a good thing. And even though the new Netflix movie seems… not very ‘Spenser’ like; despite that… the trailer looked fun and enjoyable. I’m a huge fan of Winston Duke from his work in PERSON OF INTEREST and BLACK PANTHER, so looking forward to checking out this new take on Spenser and Hawk.
It of course will not be the slightly elegiac brilliance of the 1980s series, but it doesn’t have to be. That series thankfully is now available on Dvd. If you have never seen it, it comes with the highest recommendation. It is an unjustly overlooked, often bittersweet and equally haunted and hopeful series, that stands as television at its finest.