by Mike Tooney

   As prolific as Edward D. Hoch was — with over 900 short stories to his credit — the movie and TV media have made virtually no use of his output. The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) lists just 9 films derived from his works (9/900 = 1 percent). No more eloquent testimony against the obtuseness of Hollywood can be adduced.

1. “Off Season.” The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, May 10, 1965. With John Gavin, Richard Jaeckel, and Tom Drake. Based on Hoch’s story “Winter Run,” this is a nice little crime drama with a nasty twist. This show was the final one of the Hitchcock series.

2. It Takes All Kinds. Film, 1969, based on the story “A Girl Like Cathy.” With Robert Lansing, Vera Miles, and Barry Sullivan. Film critic Leonard Maltin describes it this way: “Fair double cross drama about Miles’ shielding of Lansing when he accidentally kills sailor in a brawl in Australia. Nothing special.”

3. “The Ring with the Red Velvet Ropes.” Rod Serling’s Night Gallery, November 5, 1972. With Gary Lockwood, Joan Van Ark, and Chuck Connors. I’m sure I saw this one but don’t remember a thing about it.

    The TV series McMillan & Wife (1971-77) made good use of Hoch’s stories:

4. “Cop of the Year.” November 19, 1972. With Rock Hudson, Susan Saint James, John Schuck, Nancy Walker, and Edmond O’Brien. Based on “The Leopold Locked Room,” with John Schuck’s character doubling for Captain Leopold. Neat little impossible crime plot, with Schuck accused of murdering his ex-wife.

5. “Free Fall to Terror.” November 11, 1973. Guest stars: Edward Andrews, Tom Bosley, Barbara Feldon, John Fiedler, Dick Haymes, James Olson, and Barbara Rhoades. Based on one of Hoch’s best stories (“The Long Way Down”), a businessman evidently crashes through a plate glass window, disappears in mid-air, and hits the ground — three hours later.

6. “The Man without a Face.” January 6, 1974. Guest stars: Dana Wynter, Nehemiah Persoff, Stephen McNally, Donna Douglas, and Steve Forrest. Cold War espionage with a mystery slant.

    The French produced a mini-series in the mid-’70s:

7. Nick Verlaine ou Comment voler la Tour Eiffel. Five episodes, France, July-August 1976. If anybody knows anything about this production, please inform us.

   The British horror/fantasy series Tales of the Unexpected used a couple of Hoch’s stories as inspiration:

8. “The Man at the Top.” June 14, 1980. Introducer: Roald Dahl. With Peter Firth, Rachel Davies, and Dallas Cavell.

9. “The Vorpal Blade.” May 28, 1983. With Peter Cushing, Anthony Higgins, John Bailey, and Andrew Bicknell.

    — and, unless the IMDb list is woefully incomplete, that’s the extent of the film industry’s use of Edward D. Hoch’s stories.