Sunday, January 13, 2013

TV Review: Alfred Hitchcock Presents S1Ep03: Triggers in Leash (1955)

Alfred Hitchcock Presents
ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS - Episode 103 - Triggers in Leash
Episode 103: Triggers In Leash
Original air date 10.16.55

Written by Richard Carr
Directed by Don Medford
Based on a story by Allan Vaughan Elston

Dell Delaney...Gene Barry
Red Hillman...Darren McGavin
Maggie...Ellen Corby

"That's precisely why I don't care for Russian roulette. I never seem to win."

Saloon owner Maggie does everything that she can think of to prevent two gunslingers from 'slinging it out right in the middle of her establishment. Maggie's deceased husband was a bit of a gunman himself, so she's used to dealing with trigger-happy Alpha males, and has developed a number of tricky ways to distract them.

It's a single room play with a tiny cast and a very simple plot. I've never been a fan of Westerns, and this episode certainly didn't change my mind. With nothing but dialogue and silly poses to build the suspense, the suspense never really builds. Sure, we wonder who is going to shoot first, or how Maggie is going to stop it, but in the end, do we really care?

I, for one, didn't.

Hitch himself summed up my thoughts best in his wrap-up segment. "That was disappointing, wasn't it?"

Gene Barry was, at this point, best known as the lead in 1952's The Atomic City and 1953's The War of the Worlds, but three years later he would land the role that would make him famous, the title character in television's Bat Masterson. He would appear in one more episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and in 1963, he would appear in a single episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.

Darren McGavin received his big break in 1955 with Summertime and The Man With The Golden Arm, where he acted alongside Frank Sinatra, the same year that this episode premiered. Over the course of his career, McGavin portrayed a plethora of characters, but none so beloved as Carl Kolchack in The Night Stalker. He would appear in one more episode of this series, and another in The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.

Ellen Corby's performance in 1948's I Remember Mama earned her a Golden Globe Nomination and gave a true kickstart to her career. She worked steadily in movies and television but is most familiar for her role as Grandma on The Waltons. This was the first of four appearances that she would make on the series, and she would appear once more on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. In 1958, she would crop up again as a hotel manager in Hitch's Vertigo.

This was only screenwriter Richard Carr's fourth writing credit, and his first Western. He would go on to write for many more Western television shows, including select episodes of Maverick, Bonanza and Gunsmoke--as well as geekier fare like The Six Million Dollar Man, The New Adventures of Wonder Woman, Charlie's Angels, and Batman. He would pen two additional scripts for Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

Director Don Medford was no stranger to the anthology show, even before this gig came along. He had already directed 35 episodes of Tales of Tomorrow, and would later go on to direct five episodes of The Twilight Zone, but he is perhaps most well known for directing the two part finale of The Fugitive. He would direct one more episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents ("Into Thin Air", which would air just two weeks later) and yet another for the 1985 incarnation.

Allan Vaughan Elston, whose short story this was based on, was a writer of Western pulp fiction. Triggers In Leash was originally published in the July 1925 issue of The Frontier magazine, was reprinted in the October 1947 issue of Zane Grey's Western Magazine, and was included in the anthology Alfred Hitchcock's Fireside Book of Suspense. Another of his stories would be adapted into an episode the following year, called "The Belfry."


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