Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Season 5, Episode 27

The Cuckoo Clock (17 Apr. 1960)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery
7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 66 users  
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Mrs. Blythe goes to spend a weekend at her cottage. She hasn't been there since her husband died the year before. Stopping at the general store, she's told that a patient has escaped from ... See full summary »

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Title: The Cuckoo Clock (17 Apr 1960)

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Cast

Episode cast overview:
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Himself - Host
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Ida Blythe
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Madeleine Hall
Donald Buka ...
The Man at the Door
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Dorothy (as Pat Hitchcock)
...
Burt
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Storyline

Mrs. Blythe goes to spend a weekend at her cottage. She hasn't been there since her husband died the year before. Stopping at the general store, she's told that a patient has escaped from the local mental institution. Once at her cottage, she meets Madeleine who says she had seen a dangerous looking man nearby. Madeleine is obviously upset and wants to leave, but Mrs. Blythe begs her to stay. She agrees, but with dire consequences. Written by garykmcd

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17 April 1960 (USA)  »

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(RCA Sound Recording)

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1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

Cuckoo Crock
4 August 2012 | by (Southeastern Massachusetts) – See all my reviews

When a series runs for 7 years -- even when it's the superb Alfred Hitchcock Presents -- we'll find a few duds along the way. I guess we shouldn't be surprised if a series starts recycling old material, either. This week's tale of an isolated housewife facing the prospect of an escaped asylum inmate retreads episodes like Fog Closing In and The Dangerous People. Not to mention, it relies on the outdated, potboiler cliché of mentally ill people as monsters to fear, icky psychos lurking in the shadows.

The cabin setting, and the uncertainty over an at-large villain's identity, echo the episode A Little Sleep as well. The distraught young Madeleine Hall has barged into housewife Ida Blythe's cabin, and is she or isn't she the escapee, whose gender is (awkwardly) kept secret? I can avoid spoiling that, and still say the ambiguity of the women's encounter would be more compelling if the episode didn't stack the deck against Hall. Fay Spain's acting isn't the problem. Last seen as the domineering screenwriter in The Last Dark Step, she's equally good here, but Hall is written as having an absurd penchant for disturbing rhetoric, and condemning doctors and others who don't understand it.

Perhaps a serious consideration of the mentally ill is too much to expect from this premise, although the series can do great drama. But this episode has no point other than cruelty and ugly violence, which it takes great pains to produce. It doesn't help that its characters often behave implausibly.

It's also one of the series' worst-made. The general store scene is like a rehearsal on stage. The actors shout their lines at each other -- when they don't outright forget them.

A cheapie, unworthy of its brilliant hosting scenes: surreal comedy in which Hitchcock takes the lid off some literally canned laughter (as well as screams).


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