‘The Alfred Hitchcock Hour’ review: The Jar 1964
Residents of a small town are frightened by the contents in a glass container.
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour ran from 1962-1965 on CBS. An episode in 1964 titled The Jar was truly suspenseful because it left so much to the imagination. Pat Butrum, (Mr. Haney in Green Acres) is Charlie Hill a small town farmer. He goes into town and visits a carnival where he sees a magic jar. Billy Barty portrays the carney who entices people to guess what is in the large crockpot size glass container. Something is floating in the jar and it seems to be hairy and have at least one eye and a nose. The farmer purchases it for $12.00 and takes it home. His young wife Thedy hates it and asks her husband to take it away. The contents of the jar look absolutely hideous and all kinds of ideas came to mind about what it truly was.
Instead of getting rid of the jar, Charlie invites the entire town to come to his home and guess what is in his mystery jar. One man asks is it an octopus, while another wonders if it is male or female. The townspeople are in awe and just sit and look at it, They eventually disagree over the color of the hair and eyes. Charlie says perhaps it's a man who sunk into a muck hole of the nearby swap who was shrunken and perhaps it is someone they all know. The jar is stolen in the night and Charlie gets his gun to go looking for his property. He finds it in the swap in the swamp with a black man named Jadu who talks with an African accent.
Charlie falls into quick sand and screams for Jadu to help him, but the swamp man begins a long speech about the origin of the jar. He says it is Bambo Mama from whom all life evolved. While he is being poetic, Charlie is sinking fast and crying out. Finally, when the muck is up to his neck, farmer Hill gets the attention of the swamp man Jadu completes his poetic dissertation as if nothing at all is wrong, and saves farmer Hill.
When Charlie makes it back home, Thedy is waiting to tell him a story. She got a ride into town and talked to the carney who sold Charlie the jar. She says the man laughed at how some dumb farmer paid $12.00 for what was worth only about $3.00. She goes on to say the carney told her that the jar contains paper, clay, wire, yarn cotton, string, and babydoll eyes. To prove her point she takes the lid off and yanks out the contents to the shock of her husband. He tells her that the townspeople get a kick out of coming to his home, looking at the jar and wondering what it contains. Charlie begs her not to ruin the mystery and says he was about to serve refreshments to his guests.
Thedy laughs and tells her spouse that she will indeed expose him and Charlie puts a bag over her head before the scene ends. When the program comes back on, all the townspeople are assembled in the Hill livingroom and Charlie is serving them watermelon. He takes a cover off the jar and asks his friends and neighbors to tell him what they see. They remark that the hair used to be red and now is brown. One notices that the eyes changed from green to blue, while another says they were always blue. A little girl goes to the jar to take a closer look and says she sees a ribbon. She spells the letters to her mother who exclaims that they spell Thedy Sue Hill.
The woman runs to her daughter and as she pulls her back from the mystery jar she screams along with others that Thedy is in the jar. Charlie Hill rocks in his chair with his arms crossed and a satisfied look on his face. I enjoyed the suspense of wondering what was in the jar and then was disappointed that it only contained household items. The twist came when Charlie decided to put something truly frightening inside the container which was the head of his wife. If you enjoy old school suspense and black and white television, I recommend watching this episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. They don't call him the master of suspense for no reason.