The Movie Waffler Hitchcock in Reverse - <i>I Saw the Whole Thing</i> (1962) | The Movie Waffler

Hitchcock in Reverse - I Saw the Whole Thing (1962)

The only episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour directed by Hitchcock himself.

Starring: John Forsythe, Kent Smith, Evans Evans, John Fiedler

Five witnesses are present at the time of a collision between a car and a motorcycle. Initially, the car speeds away from the scene but the next day the driver, mystery writer Michael Barnes (Forsythe), turns himself into the police. Barnes insists he was stopped at a red light when the motorcycle collided into him and, given his knowledge of the legal system, decides to act as his own defense attorney at the trial. As the trial begins, news comes in that the motorcyclist has died from his injuries, meaning Barnes now faces a manslaughter charge. The five witnesses all claim that Barnes was at fault for the incident but their stories fall apart under Barnes' questioning.
In 1962, the format of the hugely popular TV series Alfred Hitchcock Presents was expanded from a half-hour show to an hour long one, or 50 minutes when you remove commercials. With the revised format came the new title of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. A new intro sequence was the only other difference as the show kept Hitchcock's humorous introductions and the iconic theme tune of Charles Gounod's 'Funeral March for a Marionette'. Unlike The Twilight Zone, which similarly made the switch to hour long shows, the decision was generally considered a positive move, allowing more time to develop stories and characters. The show ran with the hour-long format for 93 episodes until June of 1965.
Hitchcock directed 17 episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents himself but I Saw the Whole Thing, aired on October 11th 1962, was the only time he would helm an episode in the longer format. Set mainly within a courtroom, it's a stagy affair, even by the standards of early sixties TV. There are a couple of interesting visual moments however. In the opening scene, Hitch uses freeze frames to convey the shock of the witnesses. This could be seen as something of a dry run for a similar technique the director would employ in his next feature film, The Birds, where he uses short, almost frozen shots of Tippi Hedren's reaction to the chaos occurring outside the town cafe. Another interesting moment comes when Hitch opts to shoot a scene from the POV of the courtroom judge. These moments apart, there's little to distinguish it from the average TV show of the era.
While the Rashomon type story-line would have been fresh in 1962, it now feels cliched. The script, by Henry Slesar, isn't very engaging. We never really get behind Forsythe's predicament as his character doesn't seem all that bothered himself. Of the 93 episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour available, it's difficult to see what drew Hitch to this particular one.

The Intro
"Good evening. I am organizing a "key club" – it seems to be the thing to do. For the uninitiated, a "key club" is one which members can enter only if they process a key. These clubs are terribly exclusive, since membership is limited to men. My club is completely different – it is for women. Inside the club is everything a woman could want... including me! You see, I am the club's only bunny.
This evening's story is not about "key clubs". It is about a man who finds himself in a unique predicament and is called "I Saw the Whole Thing". If you wish to see the whole thing, I suggest you watch this spot closely for the next sixty minutes."

Eric Hillis