Friday, August 26, 2016


The celebration among my film-oriented friends and acquaintances and blogging colleagues of Alfred Hitchcock's 117th birthday anniversary (eleven come seven!) on and around 13 August reminded me, as any mention of Hitchcock is likely to, of just how profound the influence of the anthology series he licensed his name to (with Random House, under the ghost editorship of Robert Arthur, who sometimes would use his pseudonym "Pauline C. Smith" for the purpose), the Alfred Hitchcock Presents: books, a multimedium tie-in to the television series launched the same year, 1956 (which also saw his partnership with a magazine publisher, to form HSD Publications produce the first issues of the still-publishing Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine. Random House would shortly thereafter begin publishing Arthur's similar, though rather handsomely  illustrated, young readers' anthologies, and eventually to begin a series of teen detective series novels, the Three Investigators, who initially would interact with Hitchcock as a character in the books. Add to that that Dell Books would publish the fat AHP: hardcovers in two-volume paperback sets, and also the more or less annual best-ofs from the magazine, and a level of intentional and unintentional confusion about who was responsible for what under the Hitchcock brand remains a tangle for bibliographers, as has been addressed occasionally on this blog and related ones and centrally on a few such as Frank Babics's and The Hitchcock Zone

So, here's the Contento index of this volume; imagine the effect on a young reader such as myself at age 10 or 11, upon opening such a magisterial selection, not the first AHP: I read, nor certainly the last, but one of the best of a brilliant set...drawn from sources as eclectic as the nature of the stories, save that they featured characters drawn into or trapped by extraordinary circumstances of one outre sort or another, usually told in excellent or at least engaging prose, and usually both intense and shot through with often grim wit:
    Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Stories My Mother Never Told Me ed. Alfred Hitchcock (ghost edited by Robert Arthur) (Random House LCC# 63-16155, 1963, $5.95, 401pp, hc)
    Derivative anthologies: Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Stories My Mother Never Told Me (Dell 1966), Alfred Hitchcock Presents: More Stories My Mother Never Told MeAlfred Hitchcock Presents: Stories My Mother Never Told Me, Part IAlfred Hitchcock Presents: Stories My Mother Never Told Me, Part II.
    • Introduction · Alfred Hitchcock (ghosted by Robert Arthur) · in
    • The Child Who Believed · Grace Amundson · ss The Saturday Evening Post Dec 16 1950
    • Just a Dreamer [Murchison Morks] · Robert Arthur · ss Argosy Jul 5 1941
    • The Wall-to-Wall Grave · Andrew Benedict · ss Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine Sep 1962, as “Walkup to Death”
    • The Wind · Ray Bradbury · ss Weird Tales Mar 1943
    • Congo · Stuart Cloete · ss Story Mar/Apr 1943
    • Witch’s Money · John Collier · ss The New Yorker May 6 1939
    • Dip in the Pool · Roald Dahl · ss The New Yorker Jan 19 1952
    • The Secret of the Bottle · Gerald Kersh · nv The Saturday Evening Post Dec 7 1957
    • I Do Not Hear You, Sir · Avram Davidson · ss The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction Feb 1958
    • The Arbutus Collar · Jeremiah Digges · ss Story Aug 1936
    • A Short Trip Home · F. Scott Fitzgerald · nv The Saturday Evening Post Dec 17 1927
    • An Invitation to the Hunt · George Hitchcock · ss San Francisco Review Mar 1960
    • The Man Who Was Everywhere · Edward D. Hoch · ss Manhunt Mar 1957
    • The Summer People · Shirley Jackson · ss Charm Sep 1950
    • Adjustments · George Mandel · ss Great Tales of the Far West, ed. Alex Austin, Lion Books 1956
    • The Children of Noah · Richard Matheson · ss Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine Mar 1957
    • The Idol of the Flies · Jane Rice · nv Unknown Worlds Jun 1942
    • Courtesy of the Road · Mack Morriss · ss Collier’s Nov 5 1949
    • Remains to Be Seen · Jack Ritchie · ss Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine Jun 1961, as by Steve O’Connell
    • The Man Who Sold Rope to the Gnoles · Idris Seabright (pseudonym of Margaret St. Clair) · ss The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction Oct 1951
    • Lost Dog · Henry Slesar · ss Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine Feb 1958
    • Slime · Joseph Payne Brennan · nv Weird Tales Mar 1953 [Dell paperback reprint edition only]
    • How Love Came to Professor Guildea · Robert S. Hichens · na Pearson’s Magazine Oct 1897, as “The Man Who Was Beloved” [Dell paperback reprint edition only]
    • Hostage · Don Stanford · ss Cosmopolitan Aug 1953
    • Natural Selection · Gilbert Thomas · ss Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine Aug 1950
    • Simone · Joan Vatsek · ss Today’s Woman 1949
    • Smart Sucker · Richard Wormser · ss Manhunt Jan 1957
    • Some of Your Blood · Theodore Sturgeon · n. Ballantine Books 1961 [missing from the Dell editions]
--the impressive mix of a few Not Yet Quite chestnuts of anthologies of suspense and horror fiction, and related fields, with stories new and older from writers famous or then as now somewhat little known (and keeping it in the family, Arthur includes not only his own fine story--and would in other volumes have both an Arthur and a Pauline C. Smith story on occasion--but also a good one by his wife, Joan Vatsek). Robert Arthur knew his fields of fiction well and had excellent did his successor Harold Q. Masur, after Arthur's rather early death in 1969; Masur would continue to produce only slightly less diverse anthologies for Random House till Hitchcock's death in 1980, and then one more volume for the same instant remainder publisher, Galahad, that was then publishing at least one of the AHMM-derived anthologies. And, as several of the Arthur Random House volumes could boast, the inclusion as the last entry a complete novel, its first time in a hardcover edition (as apparently no book club was interested in reprinting a paperback original novel about a rather pragmatic fellow who believes quite sincerely he's a vampire...and among other things finds a very convenient manner of sating his craving for blood)(hey, as a kid, I was already aware of the rudiments of menstruation...largely from reading Louise Fitzhugh's second novel about Harriet the Spy, The Long Secret, and from the light pass-over of the matter in some sex-ed materials I'd read, but this was still a bit icky...and that much more so apparently to many theoretically adult readers and editors). Perhaps it wasn't just space limits nor copyright matters/conflict with the Ballantine paperback edition that led to the novel being dropped from the Dell paperback reprint editions...which add the Joseph Payne Brennan story "Slime" and the already rather familiar Robert Hichens "How Love Came to Professor Guildea" (which Arthur would also include in his 1965 YA anthology Alfred Hitchcock's Monster Museum) to help fill the hole.
1970s edition...
I certainly remember the horror stories in this anthology the most clearly among the contents, though the Fitzgerald, as crime fiction, is also very much of a piece with his most famous work in dealing with both the resentment and the envy of the wealthiest Americans, and the enchantment of the protagonist with a young woman not too interested in commitment...another companion piece to Gatsby. The Matheson (borderline suspense/horror about a nice New England town with some odd nutritional tics of its own), the Brennan (one of the most famous of the inspirations for The Blob, and the author's most famous story), the Rice, the Jackson, the Hichens, the Collier, the proto-steampunkish sfnal horror of the Davidson (this might've been the first Avram Davidson story I read) and particularly the "Seabright"--the most famous story by Margaret St. Clair, though her "The Boy Who Predicted Earthquakes" was dramatized rather well by Night Gallery...I had read the "Gnoles" story in a Betty M. Owen Scholastic Book Services anthology before encountering it here, but it remains great fun. The Masur volumes were even more studded with major crime fiction writers I would encounter again in my adult reading, though often their bylines hadn't stuck with me, and I discovered I'd read them years or decades before in looking again at the anthologies recently, where as one can see above, Arthur was no slouch in this manner, either...Henry Slesar's "Lost Dog" has stuck with me. And I do remember not being able to find "arbutus" in the first dictionary I consulted. And this was definitely the first encounter I had with the fiction of Stuart Cloete...though I wouldn't learn that his surname was "clew-tee" for a decade or so. 
I'd say this anthology series, more than any other single set of books, exposed me to what I might enjoy in future reading and sent me down interesting new pathways...often, any anthology or certainly any anthology series I enjoy is at some level compared with range and grace of these books, which apparently did very well indeed for their publishers for more than a quarter century, and are so sorely missed by some that McSweeney's even reprinted one, in a typically half-assed though cute package, in tandem with a similar anthology edited by contributor Ray Bradbury back in the day. 

For mor of today's books, pleas see Patti Abbott's blog.
Sergio Angelini's fine review-essay

    Alfred Hitchcock’s Monster Museum ed. Anon. (by Robert Arthur) (Random House, 1965, $3.95, 207pp, hc)


George said...

I was a big fan of these ALFRED HITCHCOCK anthologies when I was a kid. In the 1980s, I lost interest but now I'm buying the missing anthologies whenever I run across them.

Todd Mason said...

I never quite lost interest, but the ALFRED HITCHCOCK'S ANTHOLOGY issues published in the 1980s reflected the blander nature of the magazine as edited by Cathleen Jordan (not awful, and featuring a scrap more horror fiction than Eleanor Sullivan had before her, but blander)(sadly notable, how Davis Publications editors Sullivan and Jordan both died rather young, in their early '60s...crime fiction doesn't Usually do that to one).

Todd Mason said...

Editors: (from the FictionMags Index)
William Manners - Editor: Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Dec 1956 – Aug 1961.
Lisa Belknap - Editor: Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Sep 1961 – Jan 1963.
Richard E. Decker - Editor: Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Feb 1963 – Sep 1964.
G. F. Foster - Editor: Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Oct 1964 – May 1967.
Ernest M. Hutter - Editor: Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Jun 1967 – Feb 1976.
Eleanor Sullivan - Editor: Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Mar 1976 – Nov 1981.
Cathleen Jordan - Editor: Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Dec 1981 – Jun 2002.
Linda Landrigan - Editor: Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Jul 2002—.

Todd Mason said...

Davis Publications, Inc.; New York: Alfred Hitchcock’s Anthology
Eleanor Sullivan - Editor: Alfred Hitchcock’s Anthology, 1977 – Mar 1982.
Cathleen Jordan - Editor: Alfred Hitchcock’s Anthology, Sep 1982 – 1989.

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

Awesome post Todd (and thanks for the nice shout out) - I had no idea the Sturgeon book had been published in one of the Hitchcock anthologies. One would imagine that more readers would have found it this way than in the original paperback, do you think?

Todd Mason said...

Considering how well most paperbacks were still selling in the early '60s in the US, no, unless there was some distributor resistance to that title or Ballantine. But given how many AHP: books were in libraries, it might have eventually come close (in those bad old days that paperbacks weren't so welcome in libraries and paperbacks rack life in non-booskstores could be as little as a few days or a week...

Check ISFDB's record of editions for the Sturgeon novel here:

Jerry House said...

I read this anthology (and all of Arthur's AHP anthologies) when I was much younger. They have stayed with me as an example of what an anthology should be. Thanks for the review, Todd.

Two points: "Andrew Benedict" was an Arthur pseudonym; and you published this review on Gerald Kersh's birthday.

Todd Mason said...

Thanks! I was utterly unaware of Benedict, and really should've mentioned Kersh, as well as reading the ISFDB page of birthdays...AHP anthologies introduced me to his work...

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

Thanks for the link Todd - had far more reprints than I would have imagined!

Mathew Paust said...

The face even a mother would have trouble loving.

Jack Seabrook said...

Todd, do you have any idea what story by Robert Arthur was used as the source for the Hitchcock hour "The Cadaver"? I've searched everywhere but have not found it yet. I am sure the story was not called "The Cadaver" and I know it wasn't in AHMM.

Todd Mason said...

Other than to guess *maybe* "The Jokester" as by Anthony Morton (The Mysterious Traveler Magazine Mar 1952; The Saint Detective Magazine (UK) Jan 1956) or "Welcome Home"(Dime Mystery Magazine Oct 1948, as “Calling All Corpses!” by Robert Jay Arthur; The Mysterious Traveler Magazine Jun 1952). not even a vague suspicion. I will ask around.