Reviews & Ratings for
"The Alfred Hitchcock Hour" To Catch a Butterfly (1963)

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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Shades of the "Bad Seed"

Author: CCsito from United States
18 October 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The title of this Alfred Hitchcock episode seems oddly named. I just viewed this episode this evening and didn't see any reference to a butterfly. The story involves a married couple (Bradford Dillman and Diana Hyland) who move into a new home after the husband gets a new job. The main plot involves a neighbor who has a young son who appears to harbor sadistic tendencies. The son spies on his neighbors and starts to torment them by first killing the neighbor's dog and then attempting to use a power drill on the neighbor's wife (after injuring her). The husband finally confronts his neighbor's father after his wife is injured and nearly killed by the boy. The boy's father (played by Edward Asner) also appears to be a somewhat ruthless stern parent to the boy. The boy apparently is copying the ruthless behavior of his father. After the boy attempts to torch his father's car, Bradford realizes how the boy got to be the way he is and believes that he does need therapy to help to change his behavior. Initially, Bradford had thought that the boy was born evil and beyond help. This episode reminded me of the movie "The Bad Seed" involving a sadistic and homicidal young girl.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

It Ain't The Brady Bunch

Author: dougdoepke from Claremont, USA
10 March 2015

I'll bet this was a 'water cooler' entry back in '63, the kind of Hitch that gets talked about the next day. Seems nice young couple, the Nelsons, move in next door to a kid with criminal-cum-homicidal tendencies. The kid's transgressions move up the ladder from lying to stealing to endangering lives, while new neighbor Nelson (Dillman) reacts by trying to befriend the kid, but to no avail. The kid's problem relates to his overbearing dad (Asner), who's mistreated him and now tries to cover up by arguing that the kid never lies to him. So when Nelson tells Dad what the kid's done, Dad refuses to believe him. So, what's Nelson to do since Dad's uncooperative and the kid's apparently incorrigible.

There's a subplot here concerning Nelson's being ineffectual. He blames himself for not being able to take charge of situations, especially with the dangers coming from next door. So we're concerned too with how his self-doubt will play out.

Subject matter like this is really tricky and perhaps even ominous. The Bad Seed (1956) solved the problem of a murderous little girl with a bolt of lightning. Resolution here, however, is much more conventional and perhaps too facile for what's gone before. Nonetheless, there are genuinely disturbing moments not like anything else on screen of the time. Watching the kid move toward a trapped Mrs. Nelson with a whirling drill is galaxies away from The Brady Bunch.

Anyway, the acting is first-rate, especially Mickey Sholdar who's completely convincing as the pathological kid. It's really that performance on which the intense drama turns. But I wouldn't watch unless you're prepared to be not just frightened, but more chillingly, to be disturbed.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

extremely good episode, fast paced, dramatic, disturbing

Author: HEFILM from French Polynesia
22 November 2013

Aside from being about a disturbed kid, and the show is really about Dillman's character, is the only element that is like BAD SEED. Credit to Producer Director David Lowell Rich and DP Lionel Lindon for starters. This may be Rich at his very best and the rest of his career seems as long as it is undistinguished.

This show would never be made today for a variety of reasons. What the child does to others and what is done to him just wouldn't be done on TV or in most films. This show isn't graphic, it's just the ideas are too much for our polite society now. They were then, too, that's the whole power of it. It's really better and more realistic than THE BAD SEED--not to take anything away from what's good about that movie.

This show is good on all levels, it moves very well, has an excellent score by Lyn Murray, and has a drill scene that Brian Depalma saw before he made BODY DOUBLE.

It's extremely well written and the bad kid's dad and the good guy next door possible clichés don't exist, there is both surprise and depth to the characters, and there is a powerhouse unexpected moment that Ed Asner has that is award worthy. Dillman is good too and in interesting contrast to his bad-guy performance in his other Hitchcock hour appearance.

You might try to say that the ending of it is a bit, twee. But on a character level it's the way it should be.

Hithcock starts the show between two trees saying "Welcome to the forest primeval" Which is funny and even in an obtuse way works with the episode.

A must see episode and I'd say one of the best "disturbed" kid stories ever done on film.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Butterflies Are Free

Author: telegonus from brighton, ma
22 November 2013

To Catch a Butterfly had all the makings of something top notch, one of the best of the series Hitchcock hours; and even as it is it's a well above average episode. There is a brief reference to a butterfly on but the episode isn't about flying insects at all. It's about a disturbed child and how his bad, often very bad behavior affects the young couple that just moved next door in the suburban community he and his no-nonsense, plain speaking father reside in.

As a study of a troubled child, the episode doesn't delve as deeply as it might have; and the script presents the young couple next door with almost too many issues of their own. Nor is the family of the boy presented with much insight. There's a disappointingly routine quality to the script that continually drags down what might have been either a gripping psychological thriller or an ahead of its time presentation of dysfunctional suburban family life circa 1962.

For all it's flaws, most of them minor, the episode has some powerful moments; and that the boy himself clearly shows the makings of a psychopath holds the viewer's interest. It's the grownups who are plain, with the rather prosaic problems of the sort middle class suburbanites faced back in the pre-JFK assassination (fifty years ago this day, as I write,--and it was a Friday also) early 1960s. The acting of the adult players is decent but unexceptional, with Bradford Dillman a tad too Ivy League seeming for the character he portrays.

It's young Mickey Sholdar's performance as the bad boy that shines. He was a gifted child actor, excellent at playing troubled kids, and To Catch a Butterfly was a good showcase for him. Somewhat ironically, a few months earlier, he played the son of troubled alcoholic father in a Route 66 episode, Hey Moth, Come Eat the Flame, in which he gave an exceptional performance, far better than the one he gives here. Young Sholdar went from a TV episode with a moth in the title to one that used a butterfly. Coincidence? Probably.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:


Author: ctomvelu1 from United States
23 December 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The recent tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, a small northern Fairfield County town I grew up 10 minutes away from and still live reasonably close to, makes this 1963 episode about a deranged teen even scarier today. A young couple moves into a new house, only to find a young Jeffrey Dahmer type living next door. He starts out by stealing from them and then moves on to bigger things. Bradford Dillman and Diana Hyland are the young couple, and Ed Asner is the teen's abusive and loudmouth dad. A very good episode obviously inspired by "The Bad Seed." Not always as realistic as it might have been, which is understandable considering its target audience of the period, it still packs a hell of a punch. Highly recommended.

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6 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Great, unsettling episode

Author: cmontyburns99 from USA
27 December 2012

Ever wonder what it was like when Lou Grant got home after he finished up at the TV station? This episode may have the answer because a young Ed Asner plays the neighbor here, and his kid has some problems.

This one has so much packed into 50 minutes, first and foremost a strange and apparently mean little boy next door (the aforementioned child of Asner's character). A young married couple moves to a great new house, while trying to figure out where they fit in the world. The husband specifically has trouble deciding what it is means to be a man. What is most important, job, husband, dad.....

Each of the characters here is wrestling with demons that are hidden, sometimes not so well, beneath the surface of a quaint, suburban baby boom household. The Hitchcockian thriller of a story blends all the elements together for a very entertaining entry to this series. Highly recommended even casual fans of this show.

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Iron Butterfly

Author: kapelusznik18 from United States
3 July 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

***SPOILERS*** Newlyweds Bill & Janet Nelson, Bradford Dillman & Diana Hyland, didn't know what they were in for when they moved into this typical suburban town to start their married and blissful new lives. It's the next door neighbor the stocky and ape like Jack Stander's, Edward Asner, 13 year old boy Edward or better known as "Crazy Eddie", Mickey Sholder, to his neighbors who was to become the couples biggest suburban nightmare. It was Popa Jack who after his son Eddie lied to him about sticking his hand into the cookie jar where he was four years old had beat the living hell out of him to the point where he had to get emergency medical treatment that he felt he knocked some sense into his head. Never wanting to be worked over like that again Eddie's never lied to his pop but saved his uncontrollable hatred and resentment to those, like the Nealson's, who showed kindness and compassion towards him.

Bill Neson sensed that Eddie had a problem after he broke into his car and later killed the family dog Charlie and tried to help him get over it by getting psychiatric help. It was Papa Stander who was steadfast against Eddie getting any help since he felt that he straitened him out years ago, with a near fatal beating, and thus didn't need it. Knowing that Bill and his wife Diana were both pushovers Eddie directed his aggressions towards them with frightening and near fatal results!

***SPOILERS*** Popa Stander finally realized that his, in his confused head, obedient boy was really a soon to become, after getting his skills in killing helpless dogs & cats, a future Ted Bundy or John Wayne Gasey like serial murder in the making. That's when "Crazy Eddie" completely lost it and, when confronted by Bill in his attempted murder of his wife Diana, tried to burn the Stander family house down together with Popa Jack's prized sports car! It's then when the by now scared and confused, in finally realizing just how sick he is, Eddie gave himself up to the police and consented, together with Popa Jack, for treatment to not only get his head together but be able to live in peace with himself and those around him.

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