|Index||3 reviews in total|
As Hitchcock fare, the entry is pretty slender. The screenplay manages
some tension as Thaxter's Miss Dent holds her former boss Mr. Blake
(Scott) at gunpoint throughout their commuter ride home on the
Five-Forty-Eight. She's a troubled, lonely woman quite willing to be
seduced by Blake in a well done scene suggestive for 50's TV. The
problem is he callously fires her the next day amid all her romantic
expectations. Now she's mad as heck and we wonder what form her
troubled revenge will take.
The story's adapted from literary writer John Cheever, but comes across as rather talky for a standard Hitchcock entry. The ending manages some irony, but lacks the expected punch. Where the entry succeeds is as a showcase for actress Thatcher who specialized in just such troubled roles. Here, she goes through a gamut of emotions convincingly, such that the episode really depends on her skills to carry it along. She's one of those attractive rather than glamorous actresses who found a successful niche in Hollywood. Scott appears type-cast as the insensitive cad, doing his usual credible job, but without the trademark moustache. Gothic director John Brahm, is, as always, an ace at creating dark atmosphere. Anyway, for fans of Thaxter, myself included, the 30-minutes remains a showcase.
I just watched "The Five-Forty-Eight" last night and was riveted. I'm quite surprised to see the lukewarm reviews here. John Brahm, the director, had a penchant for noirish, anxiety-laden night pieces like this one ("The Five-Forty-Eight" in fact has a similar feel to the Twilight Zone episode "Mirror Image", also directed by Brahm.) Phyllis Thaxter is terrific as the lonely, fragile secretary who goes over the edge after being jilted by Zachary Scott's weak, cad businessman. Brahm ratchets up the tension and suspense by having Thaxter narrate the back-story in flashback while holding Scott at gunpoint on a commuter train. The final scene, with Thaxter marching Scott like an execution squad out to a field outside the train station, had me guessing all the way how it would end. A must see!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This entry into the Hitchcock series is not your standard episode by any means. It's more or less a character study of a woman who is having severe mental problems (Phyllis Thaxter at her frenzied and harried best). She plays an unstable secretary who has a brief affair with her boss (a disinterested Zachary Scott) who promptly fires her the very day after their bedroom encounter. Already distraught for a variety of reasons, nervous and distracted Phyllis decides to take matters into her own hands and begins stalking Scott. She finally ends up on the same commuter train with him (the "Five-Forty-Eight" of the title) and shoves a small handgun into his ribs. Phyllis has something to tell this fellow and she'll pull the trigger in a second if he calls for help. Unfortunately, that scenario is the meat of this story. When the two disembark from the train, Phyllis takes poor Zachary to the edges of the railroad yard and makes him get on this knees and then has him plunge his face into the muddy ground. She lets him live for reasons known only to herself. The end. Directed by John Brahm, this episode mainly serves as an acting lesson in hysterics given by the great Phyllis Thaxter. Scott, a fine actor in his own right, is given little to do but hear Phyllis out as she relates to him her anxieties, fears, anger etc. Mordified and embarrassed, Zachary has to sit there with a gun stuck in his ribs and take it all in. The final frame shows him lifting his head up from the mud and expressing relief that it's all over. He was probably also happy that the filming for this entry was over too. Many viewers will feel the same way.
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