Welcome back to my “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” marathon! At some point, we all have dreams to meet celebrities. This could be for many reasons, like enjoying their work or finding them attractive. However, some take this idea further to the point of obsession. Today’s episode details what it would be like to fulfill that dream. This is “The Glass Eye.”
While attending to the estate of his dead cousin Julia Lester, Jim Whitely finds a glass eye and proceeds to recount the story of how Julia got it. Julia lived as a spinster and led a routine lifestyle. She was so lonely that she quickly became attracted to a famous ventriloquist, Julia vowed to follow him from act to act in an effort to meet him. The ventriloquist, Max Collodi, eventually agrees to meet with her. But is there more to Max beyond his good looks?
This episode won an Emmy back in the day, and I feel it deserved it. This is a story about loneliness and obsession and how easily they can intertwine. There’s a twist that you think you can predict, but the episode turns it on its head at the last second. And the ending is both heartwarming and bittersweet for both Julia and Max respectfully.
Most of the story takes place in flashbacks that focus on Julia and her increasing infatuation with Max. During these, Jim narrates the story a bit, and it occasionally cuts back to him and his wife as they look over memorabilia that Julia had collected of Max. This is a story trope that’s been done many times before, but I thought it was an effective use for this type of episode.
The episode also puts it main characterization into Julia both through the narration and story, giving her the most fleshed-out performance overall. That’s not to say Jim or Max weren’t good, but Max mainly serves as the object of Julia’s attraction and Jim’s role is to tell her story. However, I didn’t mind as this IS Julia’s story and really highlights how sad and lonely her life was. She maintains a mundane daily routine, has been loveless well into her 30s, and when she gets obsessed with Max, she goes so far as to quit her job and leave her home to follow his grand tour. All the actors did a fine job, but Julia’s was definitely the best. She didn’t have much dialogue, but she got across the character well without it.
The glass eye serves to kick off the plot, but since the story leads up to how Julia came to possess it, it comes back into play during the big reveal near the end. With the combination of that reveal and the beginning of the episode strongly implying that she died alone, the episode becomes very bittersweet in hindsight. I liked that this episode set up everything to portray Julia’s obsession as a very real thing, and how like in real life those kinds of obsessions tend to be unfulfilled. It’s one of those themes that makes the episode feel timeless as a result.
Overall, I highly recommend “The Glass Eye.” It’s a very lighthearted story compared to some of the usual Hitchcock-related fare, but the themes involved and twist on the twist ending were great. This is definitely my favorite episode so far.