Saturday, July 30, 2011

Alfred Hitchcock Presents - "Summer Shade" (1961)

After portraying a cynical tough-guy private eye on Alfred Hitchcock Presents in the episode "40 Detectives Later" in 1960, Franciscus returned to the show a few months later, in January 1961, as a wholesome, preppie suburban husband and father in the supernatural tale "Summer Shade." Franciscus's character, Ben Kendall, is househunting in rural New England with his wife, Phyllis (Julie Adams), when they chance upon their dream home. But, as always in tales like this, if something looks too good to be true, there's a catch - in this case one that may involve witches and ghosts.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Alfred Hitchcock Presents - "Forty Detectives Later" (1960)

In this episode of the famous mystery series, Franciscus plays William Tyre, a hard-boiled private detective who takes a job he comes to regret (don't they always?) - a client named Munro Dean (George Mitchell) hires him to find the man who murdered his wife (played by Jack Weston), and the client's motive is seemingly to exact a violent revenge. But of course nothing is ever that simple in Detectiveland, and the plot contains the twists one expects of a Hitchcock production. The story takes liberties with the genre, by turns respecting its conventions and parodying them.

Although only 26 at the time, Franciscus made his P.I. as cynical and mercenary (but in the end, as rock-bottom ethical) as the genre demands. (Having already played the part of a New York City police detective in Naked City, he no doubt found the role relatively easy.) It was hardly the last time he would play a detective; he later starred as a private investigator in two of his T.V. series, The Investigators (1961) and of course Longstreet (1971).

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Deputy - "Mother and Son" (1960)

In this episode of the Western drama, The Deputy, Marshal Simon Fry (Henry Fonda) paroles the brains behind an outlaw gang so that the young man can visit with his mother, who is unaware of the man's criminal activities. Franciscus plays the son (and gang leader) of the episode's title, William Stanhope. Interestingly, this is one of the episodes of this series in which Fonda played a substantial role (in most of the show's episodes, Fonda only appeared briefly in the start and end, although he narrated all of them), convincing Stanhope to turn on his own gang.

Also of note is Fonda's relationship with Franciscus - who might well have been Fonda's own "son" (-in-law) had Jane Fonda agreed to marry Franciscus when he proposed to her (as told in "James and Jane", March, 2011).