Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Series 2, Episode 25
Francis Cockrell (teleplay); Alec Coppel (story)
John Williams, Alan Napier
17 March 1957
24:23 (total) • 21:51 (film) • 1:29 (Hitchcock)
|I Killed The Count (Part 1)|
As Hitch tells us in his opening remarks, this story takes place in London, England. The maid Polly Stevens (Patricia Hitchcock) comes in one morning to find a gruesome discovery: Count Mattoni (Anthony Dawson) has been murdered in his armchair. Inspector Davidson (the always reliable John Williams) is called to the apartment and begins questioning potential witnesses, beginning with the maid. She tells the inspector that she is used to his line of questioning owing to the numerous amount of people she has worked for who have suddenly died.
Assisting with the inquiry is Raines (Charles Davis) who is a young and keen detective eager to do well with the case. Inspector Davidson discovers an unopened letter addressed to the Count from Lord Sorrington and telephones him on the number given in the letter, but Sorrington denies knowing the Count.
The landlord shows the inspector and his detective around the building where they go into an adjoining apartment which is rented by the mysterious Mr. Rupert. There they make a crucial discovery: a missing cartridge shell which they believe was fired from the murder weapon. As they enter the next room an unfinished letter on a typewriter is discovered which points to a Bernard K. Froy having just entered the room with a gun before the message abruptly ends. The inspector sends a man over to the Dorchester hotel to fetch Froy and have him bring the man back to the apartment for questioning. Meanwhile Davidson questions the left operator for the building who offers that Froy had been around to see the Count as recently as two weeks ago.
The night liftman Mullet is called to the apartment for his questioning. Mullet tells the inspector he has seen Rupert and could identify him easily. Their conversation is interrupted with the arrival of Froy, so Mullet is asked to wait in the bedroom. Froy, who after being quizzed initially denies knowing the Count but upon further pressure from the inspector he confesses that he in fact does. Froy goes one better..... he confesses to killing the Count. The inspector is delighted and thinks this wraps up the case, except for when Mullet is asked to positively identify Froy as being Rupert, Mullet tells the inspector that the man in the room is not Rupert at all. As Mullet leaves the room, Lord Sorrington enters. Sorrington tells the inspector that he didn't know the Count either - but later changes his story. They are interrupted when Mullet re-enters the room and fingers the Lord as being Rupert; a claim Sorrington strongly denies. But when the inspector produces evidence in the form of the typewriter-penned letter, Sorrington begins to talk... and confesses that HE killed the count!
•Originally aired as three separate parts (part 1, part 2 and part 3) between March 17-31, 1957.
•Count Mattoni was murdered by gunshot to the head at his address in Oxley Court, Baker Street. His room number was 8. His body is discovered by the maid.
•When Martin first enters the Count's room after the murder the camera seems to deliberately show Martin's foot as he steps inside the line of evidence on the floor, providing the viewer with their first suspicion to the killer? The second suspicion comes with Polly the maid when she confesses that seeing the aftermath of a murder isn't anything new to her.
•Patricia Hitchcock pulls off the most unbelievable cockney accent - it's almost silly, until you suddenly realise she is actually British!
•When Mullet leaves the room at the end of part 1, he reacts in shock at seeing Sorrington entering the apartment to talk to the inspector. A big clue?
•The line, "I killed the count" is spoken as the last line of the first episode by Lord Sorrington.
•Some sources list Jerry Barclay as "Peters" - this is wrong. His character doesn't show up until the next episode.
HITCH'S PROLOGUE (33 secs):|
[We see an armoured statue and then hear Hitch's echoing voice off camera] "Good evening ladies and gentlemen. This is Alfred Hitchcock. [Hitch walks into the frame but the voice continues talking] Tonight's play takes place in merry old England and is called 'I Killed The Count'. [The real Hitch now begins talking] When they asked me to wear this I demurred. I didn't realise it would be an invitation for automation to take over. [Hitch lifts the helmet flap open and looks inside] Empty! Now what does that imply? Oh well. Let the play begin."
HITCH'S EPILOGUE (56 secs):
"Well this is embarrassing. Our time is running out and here we are with an unfinished story on our hands. I'm afraid you'll just have to wait until our next show to find out more about just who killed the count. Personally I shall welcome the week in which to think up some answers. After all, Froy and Lord Sorrington can't both be telling the truth. There's nothing I detest more than a murderer who tells fibs! Next time we shall continue the strange case of Count Victor Mattoni. Thus far our desperate detectives have two very good suspects but their confessions seem to ask more questions than they answer. If all this has managed to pique your curiosity please join us for the next installment. Oh I know what you're thinking. No! I did not kill the count. Good night."
IN MY HUMBLE OPINION...
With the immaculate John Williams carrying the story (perfect casting for him), and leading a predominantly all-British cast could go wrong? The story gets straight down to things: there has been a murder committed and it's a journey of whodunnit as the inspector begins questioning all potential witnesses. The first part ends on an interesting cliffhanger after two different suspects both confess to the murder. Couldn't wait for the second part!
A three-parter ! Although made in Hollywood, this could be a cheap British B-picture, one of those hour-long crime thrillers churned out by little studios like Nettlefold. But in comes John Williams as the police inspector and we know we're safe. Hitch's daughter Pat sets the mood perfectly with her version of the Cockney chambermaid, just exaggerated enough to let us know that this is going to be fun. And so it is. Mr. Williams comes in, fully confident that this will be just another routine murder to add to the list of all the others he's solved easily (apart from the one he doesn't want to discuss) and we see him gradually disintegrate into disbelief and confusion as nothing is as straightforward as it seems, all the suspects are trying to mislead him, and two of them have confessed to the crime already. He didn't expect THIS ! His bafflement is a joy to see. The whole thing was made on one set and has the look of a photographed play, but with nicely fluid camerawork. It has the feel of "Rope", or more specifically "Dial M For Murder" - which has Mr. Williams playing virtually the same part - and it zips along. Hitch's conclusion seems rushed, a one-take quickie in which his shifting eyes reveal he's reading the cue-card, and at one point something goes CLONK in the background. Another murder ? To be continued !
(click any image to enlarge)
Inspector Davidson... JOHN WILLIAMS
Lord Sorrington... ALAN NAPIER
Bernard K. Froy... CHARLES COOPER
Mullet, night porter... MELVILLE COOPER
Detective Raines... CHARLES DAVIS
Polly Stephens, maid... PATRICIA HITCHCOCK
Count Victor Mattoni... ANTHONY DAWSON
Mr. Martin, landlord... KENDRICK HUXHAM
Johnson, lift operator... GEORGE PELLING
Clifton... ARTHUR GOULD-PORTER
(click any image to enlarge)
This page was last updated on: 15 August 2020