Alfred Hitchcock Comes to North Attleborough

Attendance at movie theaters fell to an all-time low in 1951 as more and more people stayed home to watch television. As theaters began to close their doors, the remaining exhibitors decided to fight back. They convinced the major Hollywood studios to participate in "Movietime USA," a public relations device designed to lure patrons back to theaters. The excuse used was to celebrate the 50th anniversary of motion pictures.

240 actors, directors, and writers participated. They were divided into small groups, some led by stars such as Gregory Peck and Ronald Reagan (who was still in movies) were dispatched to various parts of the country. One such group, led by director Alfred Hitchcock (1899 to 1980), left Hollywood on a TWA flight bound for Boston on October 6, 1951. Others in the Hitchcock group included Dorothy Lamour (best remembered for being in a series of films starring Bob Hope and Bing Crosby) and an 18-year-old starlet named Debra Paget (best remembered for co-starring with Elvis Presley in his first movie).

Besides appearing in Boston, Hitchcock, Lamour, and Paget toured smaller Massachusetts cities and towns such as Brockton and North Attleborough. They were greeted in North Attleborough with great fanfare and posed for photos in front of the Community Theater on South Washington Street. They were then led across the street to pose for more photos in front of the World War 2 Memorial Pool which had opened four months earlier.

The "Movietime USA" tour of 240 Hollywood types, in the 28 major cities of the United States (along with dozens of smaller cities and towns) was a flop that did nothing to stop declining movie attendance. Television had won big, and it didn't help when, just nine days into the tour, on October 15, 1951, CBS decided to premier "I Love Lucy." Alfred Hitchcock would go on to make more classic films, but he saw the handwriting on the wall and in 1955 began hosting a long-running series, "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" that made him a television star.

Alfred Hitchcock with Two Birds