A group of studio executives and a leading lady (Gia Scala) view a screening of a black mass, and are impressed by the performance of Karl Jorla. They want him for the lead in their next ... See full summary »

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(short story), (teleplay)
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Episode cast overview:
...
Himself - Host
...
...
Kitty Frazier
Gilbert Green ...
Max Rubini
...
Ed Walsh
...
Dave Connor
Byron Keith ...
Capt. Hartzell
Nicki Brick ...
The Script Girl
Sol Gorss ...
The Studio Policeman (as Saul Gorss)
Horst Ebersberg ...
The 1st Acolyte (as Horst Ebers)
Dieter Jacoby ...
The 2nd Acolyte
Eric Forst ...
The 3rd Acolyte
Walter Friedel ...
The 4th Acolyte
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Storyline

A group of studio executives and a leading lady (Gia Scala) view a screening of a black mass, and are impressed by the performance of Karl Jorla. They want him for the lead in their next horror picture, so they fly him into Hollywood from France. They need to arrange for publicity but Jorla refuses, saying that the film they observed was of him as the real-life arch-priest of a group of devil worshipers who will track him down and kill him. The studio tries to protect him, but he trusts no one. He disappears, then suddenly emerges three days later in a scene with the leading lady, cryptically mumbling the address in Topanga Canyon where he may be located. The police find his murdered corpse, but an autopsy reveals that he has been dead for at least three days. Written by Lew Amack

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8 May 1964 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Christopher Lee later admitted coming to Hollywood with the wrong impression that he would be directed by Alfred Hitchcock himself. Though he was never even properly introduced to Hitchcock during the filming of this episode, he felt very satisfied by the experience. See more »

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THE ALFRED HITCHCOCK HOUR: THE SIGN OF Satan {TV} (Robert Douglas, 1964) **1/2
17 June 2015 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

Hollywood's legendary "Master Of Suspense" on celluloid – then at the peak of his powers – made the competing small-screen medium his own and turned himself into a household word in the process with his long-running (1955-61) half-hour TV series ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS; the format was subsequently elongated into feature-length becoming, appropriately enough, THE ALFRED HITCHCOK HOUR and running between 1962 to 1965. While I am familiar with several episodes of the former, more popular show, this Christopher Lee-starring vehicle is the first of the latter that I have watch.

Based on a short story written by Robert Bloch – best-known for having penned the original source novel for Hitchcock's own biggest box-office success, PSYCHO (1960) – it tells of a Hollywood troupe (including Gia Scala and Adam Roarke) who come across some snuff-like footage of a black mass and decide to make a film on the subject and hire the High Priest therein himself – French actor Karl Jorla (played by Lee, of course) – for the lead. What they did not know at the time, however, is that Jorla has since severed his ties with the Satanic cult and is now in fear of his life from their proverbial retribution...

Although the narrative regrettably tends to concentrate far more on the bland Hollywood people, this makes for an interesting look at the workings of a TV-film set – not to mention act as a precursor of sorts to Roman Polanski's ROSEMARY'S BABY (1968); best of all, however, is that it provides a (by this time) rare opportunity to watch the usually villainous Lee portraying the victim for once. Still, apart from his involvement in the initial would-be documentary footage of the aforementioned diabolical ceremony, the rather absurdly-coiffeured Lee does get to elicit a frisson from the audience when "he" (ostensibly A.W.O.L. at the time) makes an unheralded eerie appearance on the set following Scala's silly bidding and mumbles his true fateful location in the process!

Interestingly, when Lee accepted the role of Jorla, he did so under the incorrect assumption that Hitchcock himself would be directing the episode; however, although it was British actor Robert Douglas – best-known for his villainous turn in Errol Flynn's last great starring vehicle, ADVENTURES OF DON JUAN (1948) – who handled the task, Lee seems to have enjoyed the experience overall. It would not be the last time that the British horror icon would play a Satanist, most notably in Hammer Films' last genre effort, TO THE DEVIL...A DAUGHTER (1976). Needless to say, the genial rotund host appears in the opening and closing framework bits while presumably stranded on the planet Mars!


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