One of the most talked about episodes of the entire series. Little Billy Mumy loves playing shoot-em-up with his little cowboy friends. Presumably it's all good clean fun. But then he swipes a real hand-gun from an uncle just returned from dangerous Africa. Trouble is that Mumy thinks the real thing is a toy and problems mount as he loads first one real bullet and then more before going into the neighborhood looking for likely targets.
Hitchcock himself directed as the suspense mounts. When will the impish Mumy pull the trigger for real and who will be on the receiving end. It's a genuine nerve-wracking 20 minutes. Mumy is well cast as the little hellion. (Can't help but note presence of Biff Elliot as the father, long after his one shot at stardom as Mike Hammer in "I, the Jury" fizzled on the big screen.) There's an amusing little vignette as suffering daddy Olan Soule tries to bribe Mumy into letting his annoying little daughter ride the mechanical horsey. Hitchcock's penchant for dark humor is all over that brief sequence. This is one of the few "message" entries of the series, carrying a clear lesson about kids near guns. In fact, Hitch replaces his usual whimsical epilogue with an expressly cautionary message to adults. That aside, a six year-old on the loose with a real gun makes for a very suspenseful and unusual half-hour
Most of the Hitchcock-Directed episodes of Alfred Hichcock Presents are good, occasionally great, never quite rising to the level of his classic film work. Bang! You're Dead, starring a pre-Lost In Space Bill Mumy (with an appearance by his future TV sister Marta Krisen), has what those other episodes do not: Hitchcock in top form. The cattle (uh, actors) are excellent, working from a tight, clever and suspenseful script. Hitchcock delivers a short film masterpiece.
The very last segment of this series to be directed by Hitchcock personally (he later did the first show in "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour") is a brilliant exercise in excruciating suspense, but it's more than that. How expertly, and how swiftly, Hitchcock really nails America's hideous and all-pervading gun culture! Machismo has even infected a five-year-old as he runs around playing "war" games with his friends and talking about killing someone. The world in which this incipient assassin operates is depicted sharply - the bland, anonymous supermarket-and-suburbia setting is just right for repressed violence, a place where grown men are dominated by their ghastly spoiled brats and where the most likely victim of Jackie's urge to kill is the underpaid and under-appreciated African-American maid. The untypical seriousness of Hitchcock's wrap-up remarks is highly appropriate.
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