The Alfred Hitchcock Hour: Season 2, Episode 17

The Jar (14 Feb. 1964)

TV Episode  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery
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A carnival barker sells a jar containing a mysterious, hairy, octopus-like mass to Charlie Hill of Wilder's Hollow for $12.25. He shows it to his wife Thedy, who hates it. Soon everyone ... See full summary »



(short story), (teleplay)
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Episode cast overview:
Himself - Host
Charlie Hill
Thedy Sue Hill (as Collin Wilcox)
Granny Carnation
Carl Benton Reid ...
Emma Jane
Clem Carter
Alice Backes ...
Mrs. Tridden
Sam Reese ...
Milt Marshall
Marlene De Lamater ...
Eva Ann (as Marlene DeLamater)
The Barker


A carnival barker sells a jar containing a mysterious, hairy, octopus-like mass to Charlie Hill of Wilder's Hollow for $12.25. He shows it to his wife Thedy, who hates it. Soon everyone from miles around comes to look at the jar and wonder what is inside. Trudy and her paramour, Tom Carmody, conspire with Jahdoo, paying him $1 to steal the jar and shatter it at Heron Swamp. Charlie hurries to the swamp, but gets trapped in quicksand. Jahdoo speculates on the contents of the jar before rescuing Charlie and returning the jar. When Charlie gets home, Thedy tries to break the jar with a spoon. Charlie grabs the spoon and nearly attacks Thedy with it, so she runs away. When she comes back, she says that she visited the carnival, and the carny boss told her the jar is full of junk--wire, clay, paper, cotton, yarn, inner tube, doll's eyes, and silk. Thedy says she will tell everyone, but Charlie likes his new popularity. Written by Lewis O. Amack

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Release Date:

14 February 1964 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The carnival side show sign reads: "The Magic Jar... What Is It?" See more »


Version of Alfred Hitchcock Presents: The Jar (1986) See more »

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User Reviews

It Didn't Come from Walmart
4 January 2007 | by (Claremont,USA) – See all my reviews

One of the most offbeat episodes of any anthology series of the time. What the heck is in The Jar that country rube Pat Buttram buys from a traveling carnival act, and for the princely sum of $12, no less. It looks like a deformed creature of some sort floating in formaldehyde. There even appears to be a dangling eye staring back at those country folk who assemble nightly in Buttram's front parlor, each offering an opinion on the hypnotic contents.

Buttram himself only cares about his new found status as owner of the mysterious contents, sitting next to it like some proud hayseed Buddha and keeper of the secret. At last, his once dismissive neighbors envy him. Life would be perfect if it weren't for slutty wife, Collin Wilcox, who sneaks around with James Best, humiliating Buttram in the process. The ending itself turns out to be a horror masterpiece.

As good as the episode is, I can't help thinking it would have worked better in a half-hour format, since there is noticeable padding, especially the quicksand sequence which does add action to a talky story-line, but does little to advance the plot. Then too, the acting is uneven. Buttram surprises with an effectively understated performance-- you just know he's building a head of steam even if he doesn't show it. And George Lindsey delivers an absolutely riveting performance as a slow-witted, but sensitive neighbor. For those of us used to seeing both actors in buffoonish roles, their turn here comes as a pleasant surprise.

However, Wilcox parades her 'baby doll' wantonness so relentlessly, it almost reaches the point of cartoonish exaggeration. I was about ready to write her and the episode off, until she went into the 'purring kitten' routine so abruptly and unnervingly that I was chilled to the bone. This brilliantly perverse stroke also suggests a creepy sexual aspect to her relationship with Buttram, and frankly grabbed me more than than the celebrated climax. Anyway, I've seen nothing quite like it before or since.

Although The Jar contains more flaws than The Unlocked Window, together they remain the only two episodes from the hour-long Hitchcock really worth seeing, and I'm glad the Internet gives viewers a chance to salute such classic episodes, which otherwise-- because of relentless scheduling-- would pass into TV oblivion.

15 of 19 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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