Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Series 2, Episode 21
Joel Murcott (teleplay); Evan Hunter (story)
Russell Collins, Rip Torn, Ray Teal
17 February 1957
With the police sirens wailing, a fugitive runs through the dark streets and into an alleyway but is quickly apprehended by a detective and two officers. They retrieve a gun from the criminal, Steve Morgan, who is wanted for assault and take him to the station for questioning but he refuses to give a statement. The gun turns out to be a toy and Steve is lead to a cell, all the while he is smirking and laughing. He doesn't find is so funny once the cell door is slammed and locked behind him. He quickly gets acquainted with his elderly cell-mate Skinner who tells him of the procedure that will follow in the morning with the police line-up.
The morning comes and the two men are marched off to a line-up and questioned by the Chief of detectives. After each give their individual statements they are held back for further questioning. Skinner and Steve are held in a small room with two other inmates, neither of which are particularly in any mood to answer any of Steve's casual questions. Shortly afterwards the prisoners are recalled to the line-up for further interrogation.
One of the men, Assissi is grilled by the chief for carrying a loaded gun. When the questioning intensifies Assissi starts to crack and admits his real intention was to shoot people. All of this seems to amuse Steve who watches on while waiting for his turn. Next up is Skinner, who is charged with throwing a garbage can through the window of a clothing store and stealing some overcoats. He protests that he could not remember. When pressed on other unrelated questions Skinner continues to answer that he doesn't remember. The chief tries to jog his memory by reading out Skinner's extensive rap sheet which includes homicide some years previously.
Then it's Steve's turn. He is charged with robbing a candy store before slugging the owner. The smirking Steve tries to breeze through the questioning but finds it more difficult than he expected. When pushed hard about why he robbed the store for just $12 he becomes emotional and his smirking disappears and he starts explaining what happened. Only, it doesn't matter now because the charge of robbery is about to be upgraded to murder.
[Hitch is standing against the wall with a height chart behind him. He is dressed in a flat cap white shirt and a jacket]
[voice over: "This is a police line up. Here, desperate criminals who have been brought to bay appear before the detective boards and are questioned by the detective. Listen."]
Detective (who has his back to the screen): "Take your hat off. Name: Hitchcock, comma, Alfred. Height five foot six. Weight, prisoner refuses to make a statement. Here's his record: 1940 picked up on Suspicion. 1942 Spellbound. 1944 Notorious. 1955 Rear Window. 1956 The Man Who Knew Too Much. Anything to say, Hitchcock?"
[Hitch, now in close-up, finally speaks] "Well sir, I admit it ain't a good record but I'll try to do better."
Detective: "Better? You call this latest charge 'doing better'? Appearing on television?"
Hitch: "I'm sorry sir but my family was hungry."
Detective: "Now take him away."
Hitch: "Wait a minute sir, you've got The Wrong Man. Don't you want to see a sample of me work?"
Detective: "Okay. Here's what we found on him when we picked him up."
"Occasionally in our series we touch on a subject that is far too real to be made a butt of my usual flippant remarks. Tonight's story of juvenile delinquency is certainly a case in point. And we have presented it with the hope that it might in some small way throw a little light on what has become a serious national problem."
REVIEW & OPINION
So, the title of the episode relates to the prisoner Steve Morgan. What a delightful opening introduction scene: "Weight: prisoner refuses to make a statement!" as Hitch stands in the police line up. Great stuff! The reference to many of his (American) movies is also a nice touch. However, the line Hitch comes out with when he first speaks is so hard to hear I had to listen to it six times before I could get it! Surprising that although the bulk of the attention in the story relates to Rip Torn's character that it is in fact Russell Collins who takes top billing for the episode. It plays okay and fills up the twenty minutes at a roughly even pace, but there are a couple of scenes that get us sidetracked, in particular the prisoner who gives his statement about wanting to shoot everybody! I wasn't entirely surprised by the ending, far too predictable and the whole things ends rather abruptly. Not only that, at the end of Hitch's closing remarks he doesn't even say "Good Night"! Ray Teal's talents are wasted in nothing more than a walk-on part as the Chief of detectives but it's the elderly prisoner played by Russell Collins who saves the show with his charming performance and is the only reason I have rated this a 6 - just barely. Mediocre, to be honest.
The victim of Steve's candy store robbery succumbs to his injuries.
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Skinner... RUSSELL COLLINS
Steve Morgan... RIP TORN
Chief of Detectives... RAY TEAL
Kelly... JAMES NOLAN
Assissi... PAUL PICERNI
Franklin... CHARLES WATTS
Custodian... PETER LEEDS
Jailer... MICHAEL ROSS
Reporter... MARTIN WILKINS
Booking officer... HUGH SANDERS
[?]... ROBERT ROSS
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This page was last updated on: 27 May 2020