10 August 2010

Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Breakdown was originally broadcast on 13th November 1955, during the first season of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Like the season premiere, Revenge, it was directed by Hitchcock himself. Joseph Cotton (star of Hitchcock's Shadow Of A Doubt) plays a ruthless executive who fires a long-term employee and criticises the man for crying. His comments resonate ironically in the episode's final sequence.

Cotton's character is paralysed in a car accident, and assumed dead; although he remains conscious, he is unable to move or communicate. In a voice-over, he expresses his frustration, paranoia, and desperation. The audience is as powerless as he is, being unable to tell the other characters that he is still alive. This is a classic Hitchcock strategy - the audience knows more than the on-screen characters, thus constantly intensifying the suspense.

The car crash is filmed as a montage, with brief, sudden shots conveying violence and chaos. This is followed by a series of long, still shots of Cotton's paralysed face, just as Janet Leigh's motionless face stares at us from the bathroom floor in Psycho.