Friday, March 8, 2024

SSW/FFB: HITCHCOCK IN PRIME TIME edited by Francis M. Nevins, Jr. and Martin H. Greenberg (Avon 1985)

(Avon Books, August 1985, 0-380-89673-7, $9.95, 356pp, trade pb, anthology)    Can be read here.

1  Introduction ·  Henry Slesar  · in

The 1955-56 Season 
8 · And So Died Riabouchinska · Ray Bradbury · ss The Saint Detective Magazine June/July 1953
23 · The Orderly World of Mr. Appleby · Stanley Ellin · ss Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine #78, May 1950
44 · Momentum · Cornell Woolrich · nv Detective Fiction Weekly December 14 1940, as “Murder Always Gathers Momentum”

The 1956-57 Season
77 · The Better Bargain · Richard Deming · ss Manhunt April 1956
88 · The Hands of Mr. Ottermole · Thomas Burke · nv The Story-teller February 1929
109 · The Dangerous People · Fredric Brown · ss Dime Mystery Magazine March 1945, as “No Sanctuary”
121 · Enough Rope for Two · Clark Howard · ss Manhunt February 1957
152 · The Day of the Execution · Henry Slesar · ss Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine June 1957

The 1957-58 Season
163 · The $2,000,000 Defense · Harold Q. Masur · ss Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine May 1958
181 · The Dusty Drawer · Harry Muheim · ss Collier’s May 3 1952

The 1959-60 Season

The 1962-63 Season
225 · Hangover · John D. MacDonald · ss Cosmopolitan July 1956
238 · Hangover · Charles W. Runyon · ss Manhunt December 1960 

The 1963-64 Season
254 · A Home Away from Home · Robert Bloch · ss Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine June 1961
264 · Terror Town · Ellery Queen · nv Argosy August 1956

The 1964-65 Season
310 · One of the Family · James Yaffe · ss Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine May 1956

For whatever reason, this rather obvious project (an anthology of stories adapted by Alfred Hitchcock Presents: and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour) saw only one trade paperback edition from Avon, in 1985, toward the earlier years of the mass influx of Martin Greenberg anthologies, and coinciding with the 1985 latter-day revival of Alfred Hitchcock Presents: (one season broadcast on NBC, then three more seasons cablecast on the USA Network channel); the acknowledgements pages are misleading, and verge on useless, but, happily, along with Henry Slesar's introduction to the volume, the living and game writers (for some reason, Ray Bradbury chose not to) supplied brief but useful or at least interesting notes about the fiction and its adaptation, even when (as with Stanley Ellin), the writer in question has no clear firsthand memory of the adaptation (or, in his case, even seeing it). Co-editor Francis Nevins supplies afterwords for those writers who were already gone or unwilling (even John D. MacDonald, still ticked in 1985 that Shamley Productions had the odd idea of flanging together his story with one of the same title by Charles Runyon for that script, is game to let us know about this; Runyon not much less puzzled, but happy enough to get the check).

At least two of these stories had also made their way into "Hitchcock" anthologies I'd read in the '70s, Robert Bloch's 1961 story "A Home Away from Home" (Bloch notes that he enjoyed expanding the brief short story, an Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine Poe-inspired-contest-winner, when adapting it for the AH Hour adaptation; Bloch would also employ a version of the story as the framing device for his later anthology film-script for Asylum), in Alfred Hitchcock's Noose Report (1966), one of the Dell paperbacks which were essentially best-ofs from AHMM, and Harry Muheim's "The Dusty Drawer", which leads off Robert Arthur's brilliant 1969 anthology for Random House, Alfred Hitchcock Presents: A Month of Mystery (online here)as well as the Dell paperback first-volume (of 2) reprint, AHP: Dates with Death. 

A book well worth having, as well as reading, even given the odd skipping through the seasons of the original television series. One wonders if there was some intention on the part of the editors to make a more comprehensive survey of the stories adapted for the program. Additionally, it's not the worst survey of the sorts of crime fiction one could find in magazines in the (for the most part) 1950s and '60s.

Jack Seabrook corrects Muheim's memory of the previous television adaptation of his "The Dusty Drawer" in his review of the AHP: episode and, in passing, this anthology in this Bare Bones post.


Jack Seabrook said...

Thanks, Todd! I really like this book. I also like the Slesar collections of stories adapted for the show.

Todd Mason said...

It's a very likeable book! And Slesar is almost always worth reading (though I have my suspicions of his novelization of 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH).