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"Alfred Hitchcock Presents" Revenge (1955)

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18 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

First entry in Hitchcock series

Author: (chuck-reilly) from Los Angeles
22 February 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The first entry in the Alfred Hitchcock series (1955), "Revenge" sets the pattern for most of what followed. A young married couple (Ralph Meeker and Vera Miles), newly residing in a West Coast seaside trailer-park, start their day as usual. He wakes her gently, they have breakfast together with some pleasant conversation and then she sees him off to his engineering job at a local plant. During the casual breakfast chatter, it's established that the wife has had some kind of mental breakdown in the past and that the couple has moved to the quaint seaside community for health reasons.

When Meeker returns from work, he finds the trailer full of smoke from an errant oven and his wife unconscious from a vicious assault. After she's revived and questioned by the police, a nosy neighbor (Frances Bavier, Aunt Bee from Mayberry of all people) arouses the audience's suspicions. Earlier, she had stared disapprovingly at Miles when she was sunbathing in a revealing outfit. Since the wife had a previous breakdown, the assailant could be anyone (despite her groggy description of "a tall man in a gray suit"). What follows is textbook Hitchcock. The couple decide to ditch the trailer and move temporarily to a hotel in the nearby town to get away from the scene of the crime. While driving down the main street, the wife spots someone who appears to be her attacker. Husband Meeker decides to take what he feels is the appropriate action. At this point in the story, the viewing audience has been led astray as much as the husband and the resolution ends in tragedy.

Hitchcock's explanation of the events depicted hints at a "moral to the story" and that it has all been presented for the audience's benefit. The censors may have goaded him into stating some of this nonsense, but most likely it was all part of the show. In retrospect, "Revenge" is a worthy opener to the series and sets a high standard for what was to come. Although not totally unexpected, the "twist" at the end of this first installment leaves viewers with a very unsettling feeling.

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22 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

An Indictment of the Human Belief That We Can Ever Be Certain of Anything, Ever.

8/10
Author: jzappa from Cincinnati, OH, United States
1 August 2009

A married couple played by Ralph Meeker and Vera Miles have moved into a trailer park in California, after she apparently suffered a nervous breakdown. She is adjusting well to a more mellow life, after her strict schooling as a ballerina. Meeker sees Miles' ballet dancing as fantasy and playing, wehre he is a practical work force type, an engineer.

But then he comes home from work to find her terror-stricken and mortified after, evidently, a man assaulted her in the trailer. The police investigate, but find but a few generic details to go on. Meeker spirals into swelling rage about what has happened, and he is obstinate in his resolution to kill the man accountable, if he can find him. Yet this story is not only playing on the violent in the mind of the spectator, us, pertaining to the murder, but in the assault on his wife, too.

The exposition not directly heading to the story's turning point, Alfred Hitchcock knew how to tell a story without having to tell us anything. Rape. Murder. Uncertainty. The dialogue is never corroborated or denied by the visual text, which is why there is such great tension owing to the incomprehensible eyewitness testimony of Miles, who pre-Psycho here shows us how riveting she can be in terrified close-up. There is even an interesting moment of fleeting lesbian undertones, yet the moment is not placed for such reasons.

The first episode ever of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, directed by the master himself, half an hour long, aired at 9:30 on CBS on a 1955 Sunday night, is not just a little thriller yarn watered down for the new medium; it is an indictment of the human belief that we can ever be certain of anything, ever. It is a commentary on appearance profiling in a decade when that probably was not something of which your average viewer could claim to be innocent.

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15 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Trailer Park Confidential

6/10
Author: dougdoepke from Claremont, USA
26 February 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This first installment already presents some hallmarks of the series. The ending, for one, surprises, since Vera Miles seems like such a nice, sincere young woman. Listen also for the siren sound at film's end. That's the long arm of the law catching up. But if you think about the timing, it's really implausible that the cops would catch up like that. The series would later smarten up and save justice triumphant for the host's epilogue, where it would not interfere with the story-- a revolutionary move for 50's TV. Notice too how tactfully a presumed sexual attack is hinted at in the script and on screen. Anything more explicit was not permitted, so unless you read between the lines, you may not understand what appears to have happened (we never know for sure). Anyway, Vera Miles delivers a really sobering performance, directed by the master himself. And though the 30 minutes remains unexceptional, there is already a clear willingness to tamper with some of the more numbing conventions of the day.

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10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

A Make Believe World???

10/10
Author: kidboots from Australia
2 March 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Have you ever had in your mind the plot of some long forgotten TV show or movie - everything forgotten (stars, show etc) but not that plot. That's what makes it so frustrating!!! I had two - a "Twilight Zone" episode called "The Hitchhiker" haunted me for years and this one!! About 17 minutes into the story I finally twigged and said "This is it, this is the one"!!!

Anyway this is about Carl and Elsa Spann who move to a caravan park to live a more stress free life following Elsa's breakdown. They both seem to be settling down, Elsa eager to do well, decides to bake a cake while Carl is at work. There is one ripple in the calm water, the peculiar, worried look friendly neighbour Mrs. Ferguson (Frances Bavier) gives Elsa when she sees her sunning herself.

Carl feels Elsa, being artistic, lives in her own little world where everyone is nice - does she??? Is her attack real??? Elsa, as well as a few witnesses, describes a man in a grey suit coming up from the beach but does he really attack her?? Carl comes home from work to find Elsa in a catatonic state claiming to have been attacked by a man in a grey suit but none of the residents have heard anything. The police urge Carl to get his wife away from the caravan park but while driving away Elsa comes out of her trance long enough to identify her assailant walking along the street. Carl takes the law into his own hands but later while driving away....

The stars are two of the best - Ralph Meeker excelled at everything he did - sadistic criminals ("Jeopardy") or decent hardworking guys (with just a hint of malice)!!! Alfred Hitchcock had put Vera Miles under personal contract and predicted big things from the actress he proclaimed was going to be his next Grace Kelly. Unfortunately pregnancy forced her to bow out of "Vertigo" and Kim Novak received all the acclaim but anyone who has seen her strong yet sensitive performance in Hitchcock's "The Wrong Man" knows that with luck she could have reached the top.

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10 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

What a start

8/10
Author: ctomvelu1 from United States
15 January 2013

Very first episode of AHP features Vera Milks, a Hitchcock favorite, and Ralph Meeker as a couple who has just moved into a trailer park by the sea. An engineer, he is starting a new job and she, a former ballerina, is recovering from a nervous breakdown. On the husband's return from work on their very first night there, he finds his wife in a state of shock and near-death, having been assaulted by an intruder. Their doctor advises the husband to move her into a motel and away from the park, and let her recuperate there. Meanwhile, the husband vows to kill the rapist if he is ever found. Classic stuff, very much playing like a movie, only in a half-hour format. The master himself directed. The early scenes with Miles and Meeker are incredibly sensual for their time and the fact that this was a 1955 TV show. The husband awakens his wife with a kiss as he prepares to leave for work, and she embraces him so passionately that we have no doubt what she has in mind. After he leaves and a kindly neighbor (Benederet) comes over to pay a visit, we see the wife wearing only a man's shirt. The camera lovingly lingers on her perfectly shaped bare legs and thighs as the two women sit and chat. In the next scene, she is shown wearing (for the time) a revealing bathing suit as she prepares to sunbathe out in front of the trailer. The camera proceeds to do a slow head-to-toe shot of her as she sunbathes, again lingering on her shapely legs (supposedly seen through Benederet's eyes, which gives the astute viewer pause to reflect and wonder). The contrast between this voluptuous character and the zombie-like creature she becomes is incredible. Hitchcock knew how to draw the best out of the lovely Miles, who appeared in no fewer than three of his movies. A must see.

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9 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

"There he is. That's him"

8/10
Author: ackstasis from Australia
4 December 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

After spending the last few years blossoming into a fully-fledged Alfred Hitchcock fan, I decided to expand into his work in television. The Master of Suspense was among the first big-name Hollywood directors to recognise the possibilities inherent in the television medium, and the original series of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" ran from 1955 until 1962. The series consisted of (typically) half-hour standalone stories, each of which contained the suspense, mystery and drama that audiences had already come to expect from the director's work. Though Hitchcock himself only directed a few of the episodes (this first story being one of them), he nonetheless appeared in person to bookend each tale, offering a droll remark or two and occasionally denigrating the commercial sponsor. Many popular actors and actresses of the day temporarily relinquished their screen prestige to appear in these television episodes, and many more used the series to achieve their first big breaks in the acting profession.

"Revenge" (Season 1, Episode 1) was directed by the Master of Suspense himself, and it has all the hallmarks of your typical Hitchcock mystery. Ralph Meeker and Vera Miles play a husband-and-wife couple who have arrived in California to allow Miles, a ballet dancer, to recover from a nervous breakdown. On her first day alone, the wife is assaulted (and, it is implied, sexually assaulted) by a "dark man in a grey suit," though she can offer no further leads for police detectives. Meeker swears revenge for what has been done to his wife, who remains in a dazed, semi-catatonic state for the remainder of the episode. When Miles apparently identifies the man responsible, Meeker follows stealthily, and rather hastily takes the law into his own hands. Was that the man who assaulted his wife? Was she even assaulted at all? Hitchcock delicately cleans up the loose ends in a manner that suggests he's satirising the need for a "moral of the story" rather than adhering to it. This is a short, sharp thriller from a man who knows what he's doing.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Concise

8/10
Author: gavin6942 from United States
7 March 2016

When Carl Spann (Ralph Meeker)'s wife Elsa (Vera Miles) is assaulted by an unknown attacker, he drives his still-incoherent wife around town, hoping she can point him out, so he can kill him.

As the debut episode, this is definitely a strong one. When you only have twenty minutes to tell a whole story, you have to be good. Hitchcock himself directs this one, and it has a nice plot with solid characters and better than average actors.

In many ways, this show is more like a series of mini-movies. And a little bit darker than "Twilight Zone". Well, maybe not darker. But set in more realistic settings than some of the "Twilight Zone" episodes. They are great companions.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Great Start to A Classic!

10/10
Author: ShelbyTMItchell from Seymour Tennessee
7 March 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

We first see a bald heavy set man who is film directing great Alfred Hitchcock in his GOOD EVENING trademark. As what was to become his dry wit and introducing a story. Movies won him respect but it was the TV show that won him fans and wealth.

The show features a young couple that went to a quiet place after the wife suffered a nervous breakdown and after her ballerina career. Then she says while the husband is working, she is attacked by a man.

But the police can't find any proof so the angry husband tries to find the man and punish him to the core. What will happen next I won't tell those who have not seen the episode.

A great start to a great classic show. And Hitchcock really is a hoot! Watch this show and you will know what I will mean.

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A great start to a great television series!

10/10
Author: b_kite from Tennessee
24 October 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In the premiere episode of the series. Elsa Spann (the beautiful Vera Miles) and her husband Carl Spann (Ralph Meeker) have recently moved to a beach located community after Elsa a former ballerina has recently suffered a nervous breakdown due to stress. However, one day Carl returns from work to find that Elsa has been assaulted and raped (even tho the term in never implied). As the police discover no leads Ralph's hate begins to escalate as a now traumatized Elsa says she could remember the man if she saw him. The two then set out to get revenge on her attacker, with horrible consequences...

The premiere episode of this series directed wonderfully by Hitchcock himself is a great little story which builds up the mystery and suspense and is a quite brutal little tale for its time building up to a surprise conclusion that many may see as rather predictable, but, I really didn't think so and loved the rather chilling final scene regardless. Both Ralph Meeker and Vera Miles make this one highly enjoyable as they play a believable couple and you cant help but feel symphony for both of them over what happens. The rest of the cast has a nice group of veterans led by Francis Bavier (Aunt Bea from The Andy Griffith Show) and the great Ray Teal who most may remember as the sheriff from "Bonanza".

Overall, the series starts off with a bang, this is one of my favorites from the show, and it still gets to you 61 years after its original airing, highly recommended.

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"The director's task is to manipulate the audience."

10/10
Author: grizzledgeezer from United States
26 December 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

That's what The Master said -- and does -- in this first entry in "Alfred Hitchcock Presents".

This review does not reveal the ending. But it's "suggestive". Those who want to fully enjoy the story should not read further.

How anyone can rank this episode at less than 9, or consider it "ordinary", is beyond me. Hitchcock shows his mastery by deflecting the audience's attention from what ought to be obvious -- and for making the audience sympathize with the wrong characters. (The good acting helps, too.)

A perfect little gem of storytelling.

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