FORGOTTEN BOOKS #339: ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S WITCH’S BREW

ALFRED HITCHCOCK'S WITCH'S BREW 1
DELL published over 60 paperback titles featuring “Alfred Hitchcock” on the cover. These short story collections were fun reading and I read dozens of them back in the Sixties and Seventies. I chose Alfred Hitchcock’s Witch’s Brew because DELL, for some bizarre reason, published two different editions with the same title but with different sets of stories. The first DELL edition of Alfred Hitchcock’s Witch’s Brew was published in 1965. The second edition, with a cooler cover, was published in 1975. If you’re a completist, you’ll have to track down both editions.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
1. To Whet Your Appetite… by Alfred Hitchcock (ghost written)
2. The Wishing-Well by E.F. Benson
3. That Hell-Bound Train by Robert Bloch
4. As Gay As Cheese by Joan Aiken
5. Madame Mim by T.H. White
6. Blood Money by M. Timothy O’Keefe
7. His Coat So Gay by Sterling E. Lanier (a Brigadier Ffellowes novelette)
8. They’ll Never Find You Now by Doreen Dugdale
9. The Widow Flynn’s Apple Tree by Lord Dunsany
10. In the Cards by John Collier
11. Strangers in Town by Shirley Jackson
12. The Proof by John Moore
ALFRED HITCHCOCK'S WITCH'S BREW 2
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
1. Introduction by Alfred Hitchcock (ghost written)
2. Premonition by Charles Mergendahl
3. A Shot from the Dark Night by Avram Davidson
4. I Had a Hunch, and… by Talmage Powell
5. A Killing in the Market by Robert Bloch
6. Gone as by Magic by Richard Hardwick
7. The Big Bajoor by Borden Deal
8. The Gentle Miss Bluebeard by Nedra Tyre
9. The Guy that Laughs Last by Philip Tremont
10. Diet and Die by Wenzell Brown
11. Just for Kicks by Richard Marsten
12. Please Forgive Me by Henry Kane
13. A Crime Worthy of Me by Hal Dresner
14. When Buying a Fine Murder by Jack Ritchie

38 thoughts on “FORGOTTEN BOOKS #339: ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S WITCH’S BREW

      1. Todd Mason

        There were three different sorts of “Hitchcock” anthologies, essentially: Robert Arthur’s ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS: anthologies (continued by Harold Q. Masur) after Arther’s death), Arthur’s ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S _____ anthologies for YA readers (such as MONSTER MUSEUM and SINISTER SPIES), which saw one more volume as a series after Arthur’s death, and the best-of anthologies from AH’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE. After Hitchcock’s death, Random House gave up on the PRESENTS: series, and a few of the Davis Publications AHMM-associated volumes started using that prefix…meanwhile Dell was publishing paperback reprints of the fat AH PRESENTS anthologies split into two volumes, as with the WITCHES’ BREW…which they repackaged badly…that they were also publishing the AHMM best-of did Nothing to discourage confusion.

      2. Todd Mason

        I assumed too much about WITCHES’ BREW above, however…did you take the contents list from the book itself, George, or from an online listing? Otherwise, Sergio might have it right on the button, that the AHMM best-of was published in both the Dell editions, and the Random House volume is the one (or possibly one of two, I really need to check) Henry Vial anthology to follow in Robert Arthur’s sequence.

    1. Todd Mason

      Actually, Sergio, it looks as if the 1977 YA book was simply a reprint of the 1965 book…which makes me wonder if the ’65 book was meant by Arthur to be a YA volume, but for one reason or another was rejected by Random House and published as an adult title by Dell, already deep into the various AH books. Why the magazine folks and Dell would produce another ancho with the same title a decade later is presumably sloppiness.

      Reply
      1. Todd Mason

        OK, I might’ve been presuming way too much. Unless George had a copy of the older edition and copied the contents from it, I suspect an online source confused the Viet book with the older Dell…and the older and newer Dells have the same content (the second set), while the contents of the 1977 YA book are what George has listed first here.

        Yes, the nonchalance with which Dell and Davis handled these is enough to make anyone pull hair, George…and sloppy online sources don’t help. Frank Babics was trying to straighten all these our, as were a few others less systematically.

      2. george Post author

        Todd, I’m wonder if DELL changed the Table of Contents on other Alfred Hitchcock anthologies. Sounds like a good Summer project.

      3. Todd Mason

        I suspect they didn’t, at all…unless you have the two at head to look at. I think someone decided to list the 1977 Random House YA anthology by the title as if it was the 1965 Dell anthology, and that’s the source of confusion here.

    2. Art Scott

      I don’t usually pick nits at misspellings in blog comments, but since Todd perpetrated two in one post, perpetuated in following comments, and since I have a personal stake in this one, here goes. The screenwriter/editor who worked on these things was Robert (Alan) Aurthur, mit der extra “u”. Whence it came from I know not.
      Arthur (spelled correctly) “Art” Scott

      Reply
      1. Todd Mason

        Well, the ISFDB link to WIKIPEDIA works, anyway. Just to add to the misery, there are at least two more Robert Arthurs (no extra U) in IMDb, of which one was also a producer. I suspect Death came for the wrong Arthur when he was snuffed, out of related confusion.

      2. Art Scott

        Thanks Todd, for correcting my error & sorting this out. There seems to have been a confusing multitude of A(u)rthurs, myself included.

  1. Deb

    As we often have to remind our teenagers, “gay” had a different meaning back then. Even so, how interesting that the word cropped up in the titles of two stories.

    Man, that Hitchcock had a sweet gig going in the sixties and seventies: sign a contract, take a few photos, have other people do all the heavy lifting, and– voila!–watch the cash flow in.

    Reply
      1. george Post author

        Todd, I always thought ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE was a money-maker. ELLERY QUEEN’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE was better.

      2. Todd Mason

        HITCHCOCK’S wasn’t as diverse as QUEEN’S in the late ’50s and ’60s, but it was livelier…a bit more hardboiled, if not as much as MANHUNT and MIKE SHAYNE (neither of which were consistently as good by that time), and averaging somewhat better in quality than THE SAINT MAGAZINE while that one was still publishing (it and MANHUNT finally gave up the ghosts in the latter ’60s, though THE SAINT was briefly revived). QUEEN’S often had a bit of a potted feel about it, though it did have a couple of advantages over AHMM, not least the high-profile editors, while AHMM editors were all but hidden away until Davis Publications bought the magazine in 1976.

      3. george Post author

        Todd, there’s no doubt that AHMM was darker in the early years. When Davis Publications bought it, the magazine turned bland.

  2. Richard R.

    Looks like they were all reprints of stories published elsewhere, though I’m guessing based on a few of them I recognize. I never read any of these collections, but remember seeing them.

    Reply
  3. Jeff Meyerson

    I used to have some of the Hitchcock anthologies too. How interesting that two collections with the same title had all different stories. Like Deb, I couldn’t help but notice two “Gay” titles. I did know that they were ghost-edited.

    I agree, the second cover is a lot better.

    Reply
    1. george Post author

      Jeff, the later covers in the series were drawn. The early covers used mostly photos of Hitch. You can date a book in this series by its cover.

      Reply
  4. Ron Clinton

    I pick these anthos up every time I see one, which I’ve found isn’t too uncommon (though not as frequent as I’d like). The stories by common contributors like Slesar, Bloch, Ritchie (a particular favorite), T. Powell, Porges, and a few other favorites of mine are alone always worth the price of admission (which usually isn’t more than a buck).

    Reply
  5. Todd Mason

    OK. Though there’s very little to make it plain, it’s pretty clear, George, that whatever source you got the first contents from was in error, and attributed the 1977 Random House contents to the 1965 Dell paperback. While the 1965 and 1976 Dell paperbacks had the same content, the second list, of stories taken from AHMM.

    One WITCHES’ BREW aimed at adults, from Dell, and edited probably by the editor of AHMM at the time…1965 Dell and reprinted
    One WITCHES’ BREW aimed at YA readers, the last of the ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S anthologies so published by Random House,

    The Alfred Hitchcock Wiki screwed up the contents lists. See here, where they get the YA book in correctly…they simply messed up the listing for the Dell editions. http://the.hitchcock.zone/wiki/Alfred_Hitchcock%27s_Witches%27_Brew_(book)#Alfred_Hitchcock.27s_Witch.27s_Brew

    Reply

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