Wednesday, October 27, 2010

An Attractive Family: Season 2 Episode 15

Originally aired 1/1/62
Starring Richard Long, Leo G. Carroll, and Joyce Bulifant.
Written by Robert Arthur from his story.
Directed by John Brahm.

The Farringtons have made a practice of offing new additions to the family, inheriting the wealth of their dearly departed along the way. Their latest plan goes awry when they find they need to rid themselves of a new sister-in-law (Bulifant), or risk losing the part of the family fortune they haven't already spent.

JS: Hold on a second—it's not Halloween. What the heck are we doing back at the Psycho house? What's funny is that growing up, I always recognized The Munsters house when that showed up in other TV shows and movies (The Ghost and Mr. Chicken!) I was watching. I guess the Psycho house wasn't available for sitcoms...

PE: The Psycho house is an icon to us, of course, but I always wonder (when it pops up every other episode) if the folks back in the early 60's noticed that all the creepy goings-on in this show happen in the same old house.

JS: Once again, we've got a very nice looking episode. The pre-credits sequence is particularly creepy, with all the nice statuary dressed around the otherwise familiar house exterior. And then leading into Jinny's nightmare scenario, with the tall shadows and disembodied voices, things were looking pretty cool. It's some time before the episode gets that interesting again (visually or otherwise).

PE: I liked the long run down the hill for Bulifant. When she starts hearing voices, I thought we were seeing the return of Mr. George (with some new friends). Bulifant's got an annoying voice and I couldn't stop thinking of Georgette on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Ironically, Bulifant went on to have a recurring guest role on that show.

The 'vultures'
JS: While I also found Bulifant's high pitched whine annoying, by the end of the episode my only issue with it was the fact that I couldn't help but picture Frenchie from Grease every time she spoke. As for the rest of the cast, the members of the family Farrington all turn in fine performances, as does Leo G. Carroll, a few years after his great turn in North by Northwest.

PE: Agreed. I did appreciate its mean streak. The two kills are handled with a large dose of sadism. Dick and Marian (Joan Tetzel) almost seem to enjoy the murder aspect of their game more than the profit. Both smile after their handiwork.

JS: Yeah, I thought it was going to be one of the better black comedies, but I didn't feel that it lived up to that early promise. The last line/shot was nice, but by then it was too little, too late.

PE: This one's about as right down the average-o-meter as they get. I didn't hate it but I didn't love it either. Richard Long went on to have a major career in television, first in a supporting role on 77 Sunset Strip and then on to fame with The Big Valley and Nanny and the Professor, before dying too young (4 days after turning 47 years old). Joan Tetzel makes her second and final Thriller appearance. She was previously seen as Marie Vane in "The Devil's Ticket." According to the IMDB, Bulifant was originally to play Carol Brady on The Brady Bunch but was jettisoned for Florence Henderson. Small miracle there. The Brady Bunch was annoying enough without Bulifant's vocal chords. She was married for nine years to James MacArthur ("Book 'em, Dano!"), which makes her the ex-daughter-in-law of Helen Hayes and a perfect climax to our trivia section.

JS: "An Attractive Family" by Robert Arthur first appeared in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, November 1957.

PE: No wonder Hitch was pissed. Thriller was not only using most of his TV talent, now it was mining his pages for gold.

JS: Something tells me he wasn't too upset with this particular Thriller...



  1. A total delight from beginning to end (WHO CARES how many times the Psycho house was used, as long as it's done this well??)

    The opening Nightmare sequence is one of Thriller's absolute best---it's REALLY scary!-- and even though the episode continues on in the crime mode, director Brahm makes certain that the creepiness from the prologue never really leaves our mind. Brahm's overall direction is amazingly good, as the cast and script deftly balance evil with whimsy. The pace of this episode is certainly better than most any we have seen recently, and the script is neatly proportioned and structured.

    Otto Kruger--- the suave, sometimes villanous, but always elegant actor of old really CRACKED ME UP! When Richard Long's young bride went hurtling backwards over the cliff (cleverly framed by the camera's viewfinder), Otto reacted minimally, as if to say "That's it, dear; you look just perfect!" Check out his subtle reaction when Joyce B ALMOST puts the poisonous mushroom in her mouth at dinner, and his lame "I'm back" at the beginning of Act 4 as he slinks in the front door with the brown paper bag; the man was outstanding in this show, one of the many elements that makes it such a delight. I actually laughed out loud at a lot of these things, including the dart-in-the-doll shot. Wicked, nasty, funny stuff (and how about that bull's eye with the dart that Richard Long threw?).

    Morton Stevens' score was one of his very best, period. VERY well done. The final line of dialogue and closing shot capped off a practically-perfect show. I see no reason to be stingy; "An Attractive Family", while probably not everyone's cup of tea, brilliantly accomplishes what it sets out to do.

    TEN BIG POISONOUS-MUSHROOM KARLOFF HEADS, and a new-found favorite of the series for me.


  2. I liked this one and laughed all through it also. Hell, I thought they WERE an attractive family, alot more likable than Joyce Bulifant. After the show I made some mushroom snacks but my wife wouldn't eat any. Maybe next time...

  3. Have you tried the crossbow yet, Walker?

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  5. This was definitely an entertaining, palatable episode. Remember all that whining about dull, non-thriller-esque police and crime sagas that seemed to dog the first half of season one? Well, this is one that is done right -- there's enough devilish grins from the attractive family that I didn't know who to cheer for near the end -- though good ol' Leo G. Carroll comes through in the pinch to save the future Mrs. Murray Slaughter.
    I can imagine the folks at AHP watching this and steaming, because this is cut from the same cloth. Unfortunately, all it ended up doing was preventing the king of horror from ever appearing on Alfred's show -- a true pity.
    Eight and a half Karloffs, plus a bottle for Otto!

  6. That second still with the shadows seems to be looking ahead to "The Guests" on Outer Limits.

  7. I thought this was one of the better crime ones, its #22 out of 67 on my list, 3 Karloffs, love the opening dream sequence, which puts the episode in Thriller territory. Very
    well acted, Richard Long is particularly slimy good. Only thing I didn't understand is why when Leo G. McCarrol and Joyce Bulifant are alone, they continue the act, kind of like a similar scene in Man of Mystery. Still I find this episode solid and underated- I laughed out loud when she said
    "You're an attractive family.....of MURDERERS.", nicely ties into title.

  8. An Attractive Family was a solid Hitchockian Thriller. The prologue was terrific. Come to think of it, most Thriller prologues have been great. The cast that made up the family played their roles of ordinary evil with wicked banality. Joyce Bulifant was a bit too old and that voice...but something about her remained likeable.

    I thought that the first two death scenes were done really well. The scenes dryly established the killing bonds that tied the Farrington household together.

    After the two deaths things dragged for a bit when us viewers peeped into the mundane daily goings on at Casa Farrington. The obvious set up for the death of lil' miss annoying voice took up a lot of time. I did enjoy the mushroom dinner scene and the continued callous manner of the Farringtons.

    The appearance of the Psycho house adds half a star to the episode. Things end in a typical murder mystery fashion, but this black comedy still warrants two and a half Karloffs.

  9. Echo the praise here for the prologue -- it's lost none of its power, especially in these days of kids hounding other kids to commit suicide. It's creepy, ghoulish and blackly funny all at once.

    Hate Bulifant, loved everyone else.

    And has anyone else noted that THRILLER had an new (not repeat) episode on Christmas night and this episode on New Year's Day evening? That would never happen now.

  10. Michelle ChevallierApril 5, 2014 at 12:26 AM

    The scene with the nearsighted bride falling off the cliff was laughably bad. She screamed first and then threw herself backwards. They probably should have gone for another take.

  11. Does anyone know if the manuscript of this episode exists in print, I watched it this morning, thinking it would be a good high school play.

  12. Long was in the Twilight Zone episode "Number 12 Looks Just Like You" as well. Had a record of playing creepy handsome dudes. I wonder if he and Tetzel were told to play Dick and Marian as incestuous lovers or if that's just something they did to amuse themselves.

    Bulifant also played Murray's wife Marie on The Mary Tyler Moore show.

    I enjoyed this episode. It had a nice twist at the end.

  13. Picking up on a comment by our hosts in their opening comments: this episode really plays like Season 2's "Mr George"-- WITHOUT the fantasy element (the prologue, as we find out, is a nightmare).

    Both shows feature a trio of nasty family members intent on murdering the young female heir to the family fortune, and in both cases, the victim-to-be is watched over and ultimately saved by a kindly, concerned it a ghost or bird-watcher. LR