Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Series 3, Episode 1

   Robert Stevens
   Stirling Silliphant (teleplay); John Keir Cross (story)
   Jessica Tandy, Tom Conway
   06 October 1957
   24:39 (total) • 21:49 (film) • 1:09 (Hitchcock)

The Glass Eye
Cousin Julia (JESSICA TANDY) has died and had nobody to leave her possessions to. Jim and Dorothy Whitely (WILLIAM SHATNER, ROSEMARY HARRIS) are packing up some of Julia's things when they come across a glass eye kept in a box. Jim recalls the story of Julia's life as a lonely woman whose daily routine involved making tea on a single flame; then she would dress before going to work as a clerk for a solicitor. How she would dine in a cafe and wonder why others seemed so happy and in love and yet she was ignored by men. And then she would go home, make herself a small meal and hope that just for once her neighbour would come home and accidentally walk into her apartment by mistake.
Julia would look forward to the one day every week when her neighbour would entrust her small son into her care. Julia takes the boy to a music hall where she becomes fascinated with a ventriloquist act performed on the stage by an Italian with the name of Max Collodi and his dummy George. The boy becomes impatient with Julia and forces her to buy him a lemonade. The little brat. Anyway, Julia buys herself another ticket for the evening show, which she attends and enjoys as she once again watches Collodi and his dummy on the stage. When Julia gets home that evening she seems to have discovered feelings for the artist and imagines her life with him as his wife.
Back in the present Jim shows Dorothy a selection of theatre programmes from the venues Julia frequented to go and see Max. Julia had decided she needed to meet Max and have him fall in love with her. She quits her job and uses her savings to travel in order to see Max. She writes him a letter, which he responds to with thanks for her praise. Julia persists in her letters to Max until eventually they agree to meet in Blackpool. She buys a hat and heads off to see him at his hotel where he waits for her in his darkened room. She is so excited to finally meet her idol. They exchange pleasantries but when she gets up to leave she cannot resist wanting to touch Max. Big mistake!

•When we first see Julia we are told that she was in her 30s. Yeah right. Anyone can see she was much older! In fact she was 48 at the time of the episode being made. "Thirties" indeed!
•Julia takes the small boy to a music hall in Fulham. Fulham is a small town in south London, England. The fact that Jessica Tandy herself was British then this makes perfect sense.
•Julia and Max meet in Blackpool, a northern English seaside town.
•When Julia receives Max's letter she reads it aloud in her room. Nobody else was there, so it is logical to reason that she would not have read it out loud.
•Billy Barty would later play the midget carny who sells 'The Jar' in an episode from The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.
"Good evening. Tonight's narrative is about a private eye. A very private eye. [Hitch opens a box on the table in front of him to reveal a glass eyeball inside] A glass eye is a very interesting object. For one thing, I always thought a glass eye would be better than the real article. It never gets bloodshot. And being made of glass it must certainly be easier to see through. This evening, due to one of those delightful coincidences our story happens to be about a glass eye. It is entitled 'The Glass Eye'. You see, everything fits in.

"That was a heartwarming little story wasn't it? Obviously, heaven does protect the working girl. Now I have a confession. This - [opens box with glass eye] - is not a glass eye. We were unable to find one but we were able to find the next best thing. I hope you don't mind. Good night."

Wow, where do I begin with trying to make sense of this! Okay, so the glass eye came from the dummy after it spilled onto the floor and Julia picked it up and for some reason decided it would be a great idea to keep it. But the real spoiler is the fact that the dummy was the man and the ventriloquist was, er.... the dummy all along. I know. I tried my very best to explain that!!

The third season begins with a humorous introduction from Hitchcock, emphasising the title of the story before we move on. But that ending!! What the hell just happened?!! I spent twenty minutes wondering where the ending is coming from and then when you realise it you just sit there and think..... well, what the bloody hell?! BRILLIANT! Absolutely brilliant! Unfortunately I cannot give the episode a full 10/10, despite the obvious 10/10 quality ending. The middle section and plot was above average but also quite slow. But that ending!
"That was a heartwarming little story, wasn't it ?" Yes, Hitch, and also a sad and genuinely terrifying one. It's almost a tradition in movies and telly episodes featuring ventriloquists with vaguely unsettling dummies (and there's another one in Season One) that something will go badly amiss, and near the end, this one goes absolutely berserk. It has everything : it's beautifully photographed, with a nice sense of the Edwardian music hall, there's Tom Conway channelling much of the vocal smoothness of his brother George Sanders, and it has an early and most earnest performance - and narration - by young Mr. Shatner. What became of him ? Jessica Tandy is quite touching as the gentle middle-aged single lady hopelessly in love with her "perfect man". The ending is hinted at during the earlier scenes, building up the growing sense of something ghastly about to happen, but when we see the full extent of the horror - heightened by the tilted camerawork - it's truly shocking. Hitch's opening and closing bits are special too, not just generic throwaways but relevant only to this episode, and they are hilariously and appropriately macabre. He must have known this was an outstanding episode. Nice one, Hitch.

(click any image to enlarge)

Julia Lester... JESSICA TANDY
Max Collodi... TOM CONWAY
Dorothy Whitely... ROSEMARY HARRIS
George, the dummy... BILLY BARTY
Music hall presenter... NELSON WELCH
Allan, the neighbour's son... PAUL PLAYDON

(click any image to enlarge)

The Alfred Hitchcock Presents Companion by Martin Grams Jr & Patrik Wikstrom (book) [IMDb]

This page was last updated on: 07 December 2020