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.