Alfred Hitchcock Presents is an American television anthology series hosted by Alfred Hitchcock, which aired on CBS and NBC between 1955 and 1965. It featured dramas, thrillers, and mysteries. By the time it premiered on October 2, 1955, Hitchcock had been directing films for over three decades.
A series of literary anthologies with the running title Alfred Hitchcock Presents were issued to capitalize on the success of the television series. One volume, devoted to stories that censors wouldn't allow to be adapted for broadcast, was entitled Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Stories They Wouldn't Let Me Do on TV—though eventually several of the stories collected were adapted.
Alfred Hitchcock Presents is well known for its title sequence. The camera fades in on a simple line-drawing caricature of Hitchcock's rotund profile. As the program's theme music, Charles Gounod's "Funeral March of a Marionette," plays, Hitchcock appears in silhouette from the right edge of the screen, and then walks to center screen to eclipse the caricature. He then almost always says "Good evening." (The theme music for the show was suggested by Hitchcock's long-time musical collaborator, Bernard Herrmann.)
The caricature drawing, which Hitchcock created, and the use of Gounod's "Funeral March of a Marionette" as theme music have become indelibly associated with Hitchcock in popular culture.
Hitchcock appears again after the title sequence, and drolly introduces the story from a mostly empty studio or from the set of the current episode; his monologues were written especially for him by James B. Allardice. At least two versions of the opening were shot for every episode. A version intended for the American audience would often spoof a recent popular commercial or poke fun at the sponsor, leading into the commercial. An alternative version for European audiences would instead include jokes at the expense of Americans in general. For later seasons, opening remarks were also filmed with Hitchcock speaking in French and German for the show's international presentations.
Hitchcock closed the show in much the same way as it opened, but mainly to tie up loose ends rather than joke. He told "TV Guide" that his reassurances that the criminal had been apprehended were "a necessary gesture to morality."
Alfred Hitchcock Presents finished at #6 in the Nielsen ratings for the 1956–57 season, and at #12 in 1957–58, #24 in 1958–59 and #25 in 1959–60.
Originally 25 minutes per episode, the series was expanded to 50 minutes in 1962 and retitled The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. Hitchcock directed 17 of the 268 filmed episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and one of the 50-minute episodes, "I Saw the Whole Thing" with John Forsythe. The last new episode aired on June 26, 1965, and the series continued to be popular in syndication for decades.
In 1985, NBC aired a new TV movie pilot based upon the series, combining four newly filmed stories with colorized footage of Hitchcock from the original series to introduce each segment. The movie was a huge ratings success. Alfred Hitchcock Presents revival series debuted in the fall of 1985 and retained the same format as the pilot: newly filmed stories (a mixture of original works and updated remakes of original series episodes) with colorized introductions by Hitchcock. The new series lasted only one season before NBC cancelled it, but it was then produced for three more years by USA Network.