“Alfred Hitchcock Presents: The Case of Mr. Pelham (#1.10)” (1955)

“Alfred Hitchcock Presents: The Case of Mr. Pelham (#1.10)” (1955)

ah presents


genre: uneasiness

I have been feeding on these small adventures. Even though i had obviously heard about this show, i had never tried it. Right now i have seen a handful of episodes, and incidentally i’ve been hitting many directed by Hitchcock. This is such one. After having seen these episodes, i consider that they deserve individual commentary, even though it sounds reasonable to consider this a “show”. I mean, quite beyond the immortal generic, the Hitchcock sketch that Alfred himself drew, and the by now inseparable soundtrack, we have a feel to every episode (at least those i’ve seen so far) that binds them together. I’m still not able to properly define what that is, but apparently, and generally speaking, every episode tries to play with the basic notions of the mystery genre (Hitch’s cinematic home), mixed with nonsense and the bizarre. It doesn’t press so hard on these two aspects as Twilight Zone, but it so far i reckon in it higher visual interest, or wasn’t the patron of this show AH. In any case, the episodes are uneven among them, and quite different in their conception, different writers, different directors, different actors. So i look at them as short films, part of a larger universe where they exist together.

This Mr Pelham is a very good and balanced example of the different genres they use. Maybe that’s why i’m starting my comments here. Hitch’s direction is quite low-key. It’s competent, of course, fully detached from any ordinary television values – which 50 years ago probably didn’t exist so rooted on people’s minds as they do today – but apart from some dolly shots, exquisitely executed, the camera work is normal. Those dolly shots are actually remarkable, so check them, they usually start a scene, with a certain framing, that indicates a certain environment, and that framing is corrected through camera movement to make us find something that matters, like when Ewell gets the first time in the club, the camera adjusts our focus to Ewell, and puts us in the action. This subtlety is remarkable.

But the interest is in the narrative, the story itself. I have the feeling the idea here was deceiving us into believing we were watching a criminal identity swap case, only to make us fall into the awkwardness of the inexplicable. In the end, we really don’t know what that was all about, and may be led to mistrust what we see. Who was the real Pelham? Who was the real Hitchcock, in the end? Like this is a kind of short “being malkovich”.

It works, it’s not fascinating beyond the taste of the mood, but it’s good. Ewell… i don’t know how could he be the man peaking under Monroe’s skirt. His acting is so noisy and denounced it aches. Hitch’s interventions are priceless.

My opinion: 3/5

This comment on IMDb


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