This episode of 'Alfred Hitchcock Presents' was banned from broadcast

The episode was described as "excessive, unnecessary and not something we wanted to be associated with" by sponsors.

When you hear the title "The Sorcerer's Apprentice", what comes into mind? The segment from Disney's 1940 movie Fantasia? The 2010 movie with Nicolas Cage? 

What about an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents written by Psycho author, Robert Bloch, that was pulled from air for being too gruesome? 

This 1962 episode was scheduled to be the seventh-season finale of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. It starred blonde bombshell Diana Dors, Academy Award-nominated actor Brandon deWilde, Tony from the original Broadway production of West Side Story Larry Kert, and Broadway talent David J. Stewart in one of his only TV roles.

So it had a Hugo-award winning writer and a star-studded cast... what could be the problem?

The story follows carnival magician Sadini the Great (Stewart) who finds a boy (deWilde) unconcious on the carnival grounds. As Sadini lets the boy, Hugo, recuperate in his trailer, he becomes infatuated by Sadini's wife, Irene (Dors). Following Irene around the carival, Hugo discovers her affair with high-wire walker George (Kert). 

Hugo has difficulty distinguishing between fantasy and reality, believing that Sadini is actually sawing his wife in half during a magic trick and repairing her with his magic wand. Irene, seeing an opportunity to get rid of her husband, convinces Hugo that Sadini is the devil himself, and that by murdering Sadini, Hugo will inherit his magic wand and the powers that come with it. It works, and Hugo kills the kindly magician.

Believing himself to now have Sadini's magical powers, Hugo attempts to convince Irene to run away with him, and in the ensuing argument, she bumps her head and is knocked unconcious. Hugo, eager to demonstrate his new magic, carries Irene to the performance tent, where he prepares the sawn-in-half trick that he saw earlier...

You can imagine how this grisly tale ends. While no gore is shown onscreen, Hugo brandishing the saw while Irene screams is chilling. And as Hitchcock puts it in his closing narration, "I don't quite know how to put this, however, I must tell you the truth. The saw worked excellently, but the wand didn't."

When they saw the finished episode, sponsor Revlon considered the episode too horrifying to air. "We believe that this was excessive, unnecessary and not something we wanted to be associated with in having our name brought to the living rooms of America,” said Theodore G. Bergmann, vice-president in charge of advertising for Revlon, Inc. “We protested to the network and succeeded in having it eliminated.”

Perhaps the episode would have aired later — but in season eight, the show changed to an hour-long format and was re-titled The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, making the half-hour "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" unusable. For years, it was considered a lost episode.

However, due to syndication, the episode has gained new life and new appreciation. You can't keep a good, gruesome story down.

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46 Comments

poncacityqueen 2 months ago
Alfred Hitchcock was an awesome writer the only thing I didn't like is on some of his shows u had to figure out what was the conclusion many times it left me hanging lol
PierreKhoury 3 months ago
That episode is tamed by today's standards!
Sooner 3 months ago
This was a better time in life. Why do we like such sadistic stuff.

Nowadays there are filthy, depraved movies like saw and hostel, where victims are kidnapped for pervos who pay to get their kicks cutting off body parts and finally murdering the victim. Why would people want to watch something like that. I started watching one of those not knowing what the movie was and was disgusted and turned it off quickly.
EricFuller 3 months ago
I've seen the episode on Tubi. Regarding the reaction from advertisers like Revlon, they're such hypocrites.
Joe 3 months ago
I'm sure I've recorded all the late-night episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents on my "Hopper" but don't recall seeing "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" on MeTV.
JanSWI 3 months ago
Aren’t there some Twilight Zone episodes that weren’t originally aired, too?
cperrynaples JanSWI 3 months ago
No, but The Incident was banned for racist content! That's the one with George Takai AKA Sulu!
Mannixishot 3 months ago
Just like the story says, no gore is shown. It's still a terrific episode and shouldn't have been banned to start with.
sputnik_57 3 months ago
I always had the impression that AH didn't care much for the sponsors anyway....
daDoctah 3 months ago
Diana Dors was, at the time, married to Richard Dawson. Her birth name was Diana Fluck. You may supply your own joke.
cperrynaples daDoctah 3 months ago
No, because then I'd be banned for the board! Fun Fact: Several years later, Dawson did a Hitchcock hour in which he played a variation of Robert Walker in Stranger On A Train!
justjeff 3 months ago
That episode is in the public domain because the copyright lapsed before renewal. You can find it posted on the Snopes page via the link in the above article for Theodore G. Bergmann...
Runeshaper 3 months ago
That is truly a terrifying tale!
Pacificsun Runeshaper 3 months ago
The Sponsor's decision not to support the episode was correct. You never know who's being influenced in the audience. No, a circus theme isn't going to be common to most people's experience. In terms of thinking about the episode, literally. The problem is that "horror" with no redeeming value, meaning pure sadism is dangerous. You have viewers out there unable to separate from reality and real consequences to experimentation in progress. Many ultimate criminals begin with animal cruelty to satisfy their thirst for torture. And television can confirm or promote the tendency. Just as do violent video games. Nobody ever talks about those. And the public can never understand how mass shootings happen.
musicman37 Pacificsun 3 months ago
Such horse-hockey. If someone is raised with love and attention, and is level headed, their viewing of a show like this or use of video games isn't going to make them go on a killing spree. Why not lay the blame where it TRULY belongs? Something in their UPBRINGING was deficient way before playing video games or watching horror shows. Might as well blame heavy metal music for suicides.
Pacificsun musicman37 3 months ago
If the comment was mistaken as a generalization, of course not. And my hunch is, the reaction is in favor of freedom of choice. Well that's very much under dispute in this day. And in terms of an Either / or Principle. And if certain things are being controlled, restricted, limited, qualified (and on it goes down the line) then let's apply that argument to other variables. Yes, the entire argument pertains to a percentage of deranged individuals. So the comment is to be classified as a "trigger."

Now, 𝒉𝒐𝒘 that condition is put into practical use, is another argument entirely.
Sooner musicman37 3 months ago
Not everyone is raised properly. And why would you need crappy entertainment like depicts violent sadism? Can't you find plenty of other things to entertain yourself?
JHP 3 months ago
havent seen the ep just yet

but compared to the other crap nowadays?!? gees
harlow1313 3 months ago
Well, my heroes, The Kinks, have an excellent song that references Diana Dors entitled "Good Day."

Catman harlow1313 3 months ago
She is also in the mix on the cover of the Beatles' album Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Timmc8 harlow1313 3 months ago
Love that tune. And the Kinks 👍
Sooner harlow1313 3 months ago
A great group way too overlooked.
CaptainDunsel 3 months ago
MeTV seems to skip over one of my favorite AHP episodes, "Human Interest Story" with Steve McQueen and Arthur Hill, in their rotation. Of course if they did show it, they'd probably give away the ending in one of their ill thought out summaries.
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moax429 CaptainDunsel 3 months ago
That's also from NBC Universal. I guess it might turn up on COZI.
Pacificsun moax429 3 months ago
👻 Friendly interjection here.
MeTV draws from the Universal Library as well.
Comcast also has a tie with NBC Universal. And MeTV programming on Comcast is a popular incentive to choose them.

As with many things, a significant money incentive is usually the bottom line 👻
bnichols23 CaptainDunsel 3 months ago
Agreed on Owen Marshall. I used to watch that myself. Hill just had that earnest face & delivery; hard to *not* like him.
CaptainDunsel bnichols23 3 months ago
And that quality is what made his turns in "Futureworld" and "The Murder of Sherlock Holmes" (first episode of "Murder, She Wrote") so effective.
Andybandit 3 months ago
I never seen any Alfred Hitchcock movies except the Birds.
CaptainDunsel Andybandit 3 months ago
Just watch "High Anxiety" with Mel Brooks. You'll get a short course in Hitchcock films in one sitting.
MrsPhilHarris 3 months ago
I remember watching this a few years ago.
JKMallaber 3 months ago
One episode of Hitchcock Hour really freaks me out. Not sure of the title, but a prison inmate makes plans to escape in a coffin and ends up being buried alive.
CaptainDunsel JKMallaber 3 months ago
That would probably be "Final Escape", from season 2 of TAHH. It was remade for the 1985 reboot version of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents".
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0394041/reference/
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0508387/reference/
cperrynaples 3 months ago
Because of the morbid theme, this is one of several AHPs in the public domain! You can watch it on YouTube and the Internet Archive!
Not quite sure I follow. How does the "morbid theme" place this episode in the public domain?
Pacificsun CaptainDunsel 3 months ago
CPN will answer for himself. But my hunch is when some of these episodes are rejected for a controversial reason, then they're cut from syndication packages, so the entire run is not rejected as a lease option.

I wonder if that means the entire series of I Spy is out there in IA too? Never thought about this as an alternative.
CaptainDunsel Pacificsun 3 months ago
I can understand them excluding it from a syndication package. But that wouldn't alter the copyright on the affected episode. Those are all independent.
What I was thinking might be the case is that an "unwanted" episode might not appear on some list someone worked from, and thus was *overlooked* when it came time to renew (or even apply for) copyright protection.
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