Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Series 2, Episode 2

   Herschel Daugherty
   James P. Cavanagh (teleplay); Martin Brooke (story)
   Phyllis Thaxter, Paul Langton
   07 October 1956
   25:14 (total) --:-- (film) -:-- (Hitchcock)

Fog Closing In
Mary and Arthur Summers argue in their apartment over the suggestion of Mary's parents moving in with them. Arthur angrily reminds his wife that he deliberately moved away so that he could be away from them and doesn't wish to discuss the issue further but Mary insists on pushing her point and telling him she would feel safer if her parents lived with them. Arthur tries to sympathise with her but knows she is afraid of something beyond what he can help her with and suggests she sees a psychiatrist.
Arthur, a travelling salesman has to leave for a business trip and calls for a cab to take him out. As he departs he insists that if Mary needs to use the phone then she should wait until after 6pm when the rates are less. Impatiently, as soon as he is gone she is straight on the phone placing a long distance call to her mother in New York. As she dials the operator she hears a disturbance but it turns out just to be a stupid cat. But when she looks closer she finds her front door has been busted and an intruder standing in her hallway.
Having escaped from the state hospital, the man simply wants to stay at her house for a while. Wanting the company, Mary agrees to help the young man and leads him into her living room. The man asks why she is being so kind to him and she tells him she knows what it feels like to be afraid. The two sit there exchanging their life stories and getting acquainted. As Mary begins to reveal her darkest fears to the complete stranger the doorbell rings. It's two interns from the hospital searching for their escaped patient and they want to search the house. Mary lets them in as the stranger makes his escape out the back. After looking around the interns are satisfied the house is empty and they leave.
Shortly after Mary makes another call to her parents when she hears somebody entering the house. Trapped in her bedroom, she grabs a gun and when the intruder enters the room she fires!
"Good evening friends, and others. Tonight... [turns to talk to a woman who is partially obscuring the screen] Madam, some of our audience are having difficulty in seeing. Would you mind? [the woman then removes her head] Thank you. On the theory that what was good enough for Shakespeare is good enough for us we plan to open tonight's play with a maid soliloquising as she dusts. Unfortunately tonight happens to be the maid's night out. I'm expecting an important call. [telephone rings] It must be Scotland Yard calling. [Hitch answers the phone] Yes? Thank you. [Hitch puts the phone down] It was. They say I'm being watched. That's very gratifying for a television performer. Tonight's play is entitled Fog Closing In. 'Fog'. I don't suppose any of you are familiar with that word. It's an American expression meaning... well, it's really hard to explain to anyone who hasn't experienced it. The word has no English equivalent. Oh well it isn't too important, we'd better go on with the play."

[Hitch is waving a cloth around trying to dissipate the fog] "This concludes our play for the night. Unhappily for Mary Summers however, there's more to her story. For she subsequently found herself in one of those institutions she'd come to fear. Next time we shall be back with another story. Until then good night."

Mary is troubled by a recurring dream where she is alone in her bedroom when the door begins to open but at that point she always wakes up. When these events play out in real life in the episode she reacts by shooting the man who enters the room - her husband. She knows it is him, but still shoots him.

The first third of the episode is tediously slow and rather static as the couple discuss their problems in the lounge. Phyllis Thaxter is really irritating at first and it's hard to find any real emotion with her character. The middle of the episode where she talks at length with the stranger is much better, but the ending is a real let down. Very poor episode.
"They say I do terrible things to people, but that's not true - 'cos if I did, i'd remember it......" This guy's an obvious maniac, but as he's reasonably good-looking and not a cringing Peter Lorre type, Phyllis Thaxter brings him into the front room and offers him a hot drink. She even tells him that her husband's away and that she's alone. Surprisingly, he doesn't do terrible things to her, but she ensures that he escapes so that he can do terrible things to a whole load of other people - for the next fifty years. This episode is a total mess, all talk and very little action. It's so dull that we can study Phyllis Thaxter's attempts to be Katherine Hepburn, and that annoying little hesitant effect she does EVERY time she begins to speak. We know we're in a lower-grade production when the Thing That Goes Bump in the Night - that scary monster with glowing eyes - turns out to be the cat. It's ALWAYS a cat, or at least it was until around 1933 when they stopped making static early-talkie horror movies (and I include The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case amongst these). They must have known, while they were making this, that it was a lemon. Even the cat knows it : he's out of there as soon as possible, and he's the best actor in the whole thing. But they had to knock out a whole episode every week, so they can't ALL be good. Fortunately most of them ARE good, otherwise none of us would be bothering with this stuff sixty years later. Every actor in this episode has dead eyes, as if they're just doing it for the money. Even the cat's eyes don't look real. I suspect that's his stunt double. Hitch must have watched this and groaned. His opening monologue is listless, unfunny and makes no sense. He's telling audiences that there's no English equivalent for "fog". What's that all about ? He was a Londoner. London in the 50s was full of fog. We know this : we've seen it in the movies ! For me, the only interesting aspect of this is the brief appearance of "the other" Billy Nelson, as the taxi driver. Readers of the Another Nice Mess website - highly recommended - may be familiar with a tiny Yorkshire comedian who functioned for many years as Duggie Wakefield's stooge and went to Hollywood with Duggie in 1933 to appear, not with great success, in some Roach two-reelers. Until recently the IMDB thought that THIS Billy Nelson and the American small-part actor were one and the same, even though while one was doing bits in Hollywood Westerns, the other one was in Aladdin at the Dudley Hippodrome. The world of movie research struggles on !

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Arthur Summers... PAUL LANGTON
Cab driver... BILLY NELSON

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Acknowledgements: [IMDb]

This page was last updated on: 04 April 2020