December 2, 2009 THE VILLADOM TIMES III & IV • Page 23 ‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents’ features stars, thrillers by Dennis Seuling “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” premiered in October 1955. Hitchcock himself introduced each show with his trademark dry wit, and directed selected episodes. The anthology series featured tales of mystery and suspense, horror, and the supernatural, usually with a surprise ending. The show ran for 10 seasons and was the forerunner of such series as “Thriller” and “The Twilight Zone.” The 36 episodes from 1958-59’s season four (Universal Home Entertainment), now available in a four-disc set, are one of the series’ best collections of stories. “Poison,” directed by Hitchcock and based on a Roald Dahl short story, finds plantation owner Harry Pope (James Donald) awakening to find that a deadly snake has crawled into bed with him and is now asleep under the covers on his chest. Suspense mounts as Harry, his partner Timber Woods (Wendell Corey), and a neighboring doctor attempt to figure a way to save him from a lethal bite. “The Waxwork” is a creepy tale of reporter Ray Hewson (Barry Nelson) who convinces wax museum owner Mr. Marriner (Everett Sloan) to let him spend the night in the museum’s murderers’ row gallery so he can write a story about its atmosphere. Later that night, Hewson is stunned to see the unfinished figure of a murderous barber named Bourdette suddenly spring to life. Bourdette claims he was scheduled for execution the following morning, but escaped and hid in the museum. A personal favorite, “Banquo’s Chair,” also directed by Hitchcock, stars frequent series cast member John Williams as Scotland Yard Inspector Brent, who sets up a plan to entrap a man (Kenneth Haigh), acquitted of murdering his aunt years earlier, into confessing to the crime. Brent hires an actress to appear as the ghost of the dead woman to shake up the nephew at a dinner party, prompting a confession. Tone, Joyce Meadows, Brian Keith, Steve McQueen, Dick York, Paul Douglas, Cloris Leachman, Richard Kiley, Leslie Nielsen, and Elizabeth Montgomery. Also included in the set is the featurette “Fasten Your Seatbelt: The Thrilling Art of Alfred Hitchcock.” “Wings of Desire” (The Criterion Collection) beautifully uses the medium of film to create a unique and sometimes surreal viewing experience. Directed by Wim Wenders, the film centers on guardian angels Damiel (Bruno Ganz) and Cassiel (Otto Sander). These angels witness everything that takes place around them on Earth, specifically the streets of 1987 West Berlin. Moving invisibly through the city, they observe, collect, and share people’s thoughts, fears, and memories. This is shown in a scene in a public library, where the viewer is able to hear the inner monologues of many people, a technique that suggests switching from one radio station to the next. In the library, the number of angels is almost as large as the mortals, as each angel seeks something interesting or worthy to commit to memory. After an eternity of observing, Damiel begins to wonder what it would be like to be mortal. When he encounters and is attracted to the lonely trapeze artist Marion (Solveig Dommartin), he decides to become human. Alfred Hitchcock hosts 36 episodes of the anthology series, ‘Alfred Hitchcock: The Fourth Season,’ featuring Bette Davis, Claude Rains, Cloris Leachman, and Leslie Nielsen. This episode is wonderful in its use of reaction shots to illustrate the growing tension and then panic of the nephew as he sees his aunt’s “ghost” while casual dinner conversation takes place around him. Bette Davis stars in “Out There, Darkness” as wealthy Miss Fox, who hires the elevator boy to walk her beloved pet poodle. When Eddie asks her for a loan, she turns him down and he refuses to walk the dog any longer. That night, Miss Fox is mugged and her handbag and valuable ring are stolen. Assuming Eddie is the perpetrator, she informs the police and Eddie is arrested but, after he’s spent a year in jail, the actual culprit is caught. Eddie is released and a penitent Miss Fox tries to make amends. Other stars appearing in fourth season episodes include Claude Rains, Franchot “Wings of Desire” is a tough film. The first two-thirds defy traditional plot narrative, relying instead on philosophical reflections on the human condition. There are lots of characters, but little time is spent on them. Wenders concentrates on Marion, an elderly man (Curt Bois), and actor Peter Falk, as himself, who has come to Berlin to make a movie. For the patient, “Wings of Desire” pays off in the dreamlike blackand-white and color cinematography of Henri Alekan and a beautiful score by Jurgen Kiepner. Available in both DVD and Blu-ray formats, “Wings of Desire” contains the following extras: a booklet with photos, chapter headings, and a critical article; deleted scenes; outtakes; a documentary about the film featuring cast and crew interviews; audio commentary by Wim Wenders and Peter Falk; and theatrical trailers. “Paper Heart” (Anchor Bay Entertainment) stars Charlyne Yi and Michael Cera. Yi does not believe in love, or so she says. At the very least, she does not believe in storybook love or the Hollywood mythology of love, and her own experiences have turned her into a skeptic. “Paper Heart” follows Yi as she embarks on a quest across America to make a documentary about the one subject she does not fully understand. 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