Friday, February 1, 2013

TV Review: Alfred Hitchcock Presents S1Ep06: Salvage (1955)

Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Episode 106: Salvage
Original air date 11.06.55

Written by Fred Freiberger & Richard Carr
Directed by Jus Addiss

Dan Varrel...Gene Barry
Lois Williams...Nancy Gates

Lois Williams is in a lot of trouble. Recently released criminal Dan Varrel is on her tail and seeking revenge because she was inadvertently responsible for the death of his younger brother, gunned down by police on a robbery job. When Dan catches up to her, Lois doesn't even seem too concerned about her impending demise, seems, in fact, to welcome it--which Dan does not appreciate in the least.

He has a change of heart and not only lets her live, but also gives her a life. He gets her a good job, solves her economic woes, and convinces her lousy suitor Tim Grady to quit his playing around and marry her.

So why is this greasy gangster suddenly playing the role of life coach? It's certainly not because he found religion while on the inside. He's much too nefarious for that.

The acting is good here, especially by the two leads. Gene Barry plays well as a scheming scumbag, and just as well playing as a scheming scumbag playing that he has a heart of gold. Nancy Gates was also good as the harried and paranoid victim of hard luck and hard knocks.

This is a pretty solid episode, although it certainly has its moments of misogyny. At the start, Lois enters a bar and is promptly told that she has to leave. "Sorry, miss, but we don't serve unescorted ladies at the bar." Then when Dan finds her, he craves her subjugation, wanting to see her on her knees and begging for his life before he offs her.

Gene Barry had previously appeared in the episode entitled "Triggers in Leash", so please see that review for more information about him. This was his second and final appearance on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, having gone from a gunslinger to a gangster.

Nancy Gates had appeared in two different Gildersleeve films and the science fiction movie World Without End, but she is most well known for her part in Suddenly with Frank Sinatra, which earns her some hipster cred as well. She married J. William Hayes in 1946 and had four children, including producers Chip Hayes (who worked on Melrose Place) and Jeffrey M. Hayes who produced the 2004 remake of Salem's Lot and the Stephen King anthology series Nightmares and Dreamscapes. This was the first of two appearances she would make in Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

Fred Freiberger was a scriptwriter with a very varied career, careening from horror and sci-fi, to westerns, to cartoons, and various mashups therein. He wrote the script for the films The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms and Beginning of the End ("Filmed in new HORRORSCOPE!"), and contributed to TV shows like Rawhide, The Wild Wild West, The New Scooby Doo Mysteries, and Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space, as well as Space: 1999, The Six Million Dollar Man, and Superboy. He was also a producer, however his track record in this capacity has given him an unfair reputation as a "Series Killer", as Star Trek, The Six Million Dollar Man, and Space: 1999 were all cancelled while he was on the job. This was his only contribution to Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

Richard Carr, who shared scripting duties on this episode, contributed to many Western television shows, including Rawhide, Bonanza, Gunsmoke and 50 episodes of The Guns of Will Sonnett. This was one of three episodes he scripted of Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

Justus "Jus" Addiss directed the film The Cry Baby Killer (featuring a young Jack Nicholson) in 1958, and also did work on the Twilight Zone and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. His life partner was the "unashamedly gay" (in the words of Barbara Eden) actor Hayden Roarke, best known for his role as Dr. Bellows on I Dream of Jeannie. This was the first of ten episodes that Addiss would direct.


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