Thriller: The Complete Series (Image)
“As sure as my name is Boris Karloff, this is a thriller.” Hosted by Boris Karloff (who plays it straight with theatrical flourish grounded in easy-going dignity and knowing humor), this television horror anthology of the early 1960s began as an awkward mix of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Naked City, favoring psychological dramas and crime stories over tales of terror.
“The Twisted Image,” the first episode of the series, is in fact a pretty interesting (if a little outré) piece of genre TV, with Leslie Nielsen bringing a touch of smarmy arrogance to his role as a business executive and family man picked out by an obsessive young woman (Natalie Trundy) with piercing eyes and delusions of a relationship. As she transforms from nuisance to would-be homewrecker hounding his wife with phone call confessions, the tale gets tangled in the parallel story of a mailroom employee (George Grizzard) who is equally disconnected from reality as he passes himself off as Nielsen’s character. As a thriller it’s a bit clumsy and overworked and the climax can’t really sell the concept, but as a portrait of early sixties social culture twisted up by suspicion and psychosis it’s downright fascinating.