Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Series 5, Episode 11
Bill S. Ballingher (teleplay); Harold R. Daniels (story)
Raymond Massey, Robert Emhardt
06 December 1959
26:04 (total) • 23:34 (film) • 1:38 (Hitchcock)
Ed Fratus (Robert Emhardt) is a traveling salesman who arrives at a roadside cafe on a farm, sees a little girl observing a butterfly before stepping on it and laughing. He then goes inside to sell his merchandise to the owner Ben Tulip (Ray Teal). Ed tries to entice the patrons with keyrings and a pack of naughty playing cards.
Meanwhile, outside in the barn two brothers Clay Pine (Richard Chamberlain) and Sam Pine Jr. (Brad Weston) are struggling to contain a bull (named Comanche) that has attacked their brother Davey and call for help. Their father Sam (Raymond Massey) comes in and lifts the injured Davey into the back of their truck and heads off to get medical treatment for him along with the two other brothers. Along the narrow winding roads they get stuck behind another motorist who refuses to pull over and let them pass. The annoying driver is none other than the salesman, who seems to take great delight in deliberately driving slow and holding them up. Not only that but when the truck tries an overtaking manoeuvre Ed runs them off the road and into a ditch and drives off.
The men finally get Davey to a doctor but the delay costs him his life. Sam swears revenge on the mysterious man who caused Davey to die and returns to the cafe to find out who was driving the wagon that departed from there the day before. After some pressuring from Sam, Ben Tulip tells him that it was Ed Fratus, the salesman. Sam spends the next several days waiting at the cafe for the salesman to return. After some time the salesman shows up and the Pine boys go to work with the plan. They sneak outside and empty the salesman's wagon of its fuel and wait for him to drive away.
The salesman doesn't get far when he surprise, surprise runs out of gas - and who should show up but Sam and his boys who offer to 'help' the man out. They push the car back to the farm and invite Ed inside the house for a drink. Sam tells his new guest about the death of his son last week and how he was gored by a bull and then invites the salesman to step out back and see the bull for himself but he wisely refuses!
When Sam leads the salesman into believing that he has in fact drunk poison, the salesman quickly gets into his wagon and heads for a doctor. A doctor he will never reach....
HITCH'S PROLOGUE (1 min 13 secs):|
[Hitch is sitting in a chair by a campfire] "Good evening aficionados of outdoor cooking. I'm quite thrilled with my new barbecue. It was rather inexpensive but of course I didn't take any of the extras. I eschewed the heat indicator and temperature control, the motor-driven spit, the glass-covered rotisserie, the stainless steel side table, the built in blower, the warming oven, the utensil rack and the asbestos gloves. I did buy the firestarter however. [He picks up two sticks] I understand one rubs these together. For buying the lighter I received free a restaurant credit card. I expect to have no trouble acquiring charcoal since I have a fellow barbecuer who makes it out of beef steaks. I was given this amusing costume to wear. [Picks up an apron which says 'Come and get it - DANGER MEN AT WORK' and hat which says 'BAR-B-Q' on the rim] Frankly I have now lost my appetite completely. Perhaps we should turn our attention to the play."
HITCH'S EPILOGUE (25 secs):
"This concludes our entertainment for this evening. You'll be pleased to know I have solved my barbecue problem. It involved burning down a barn each time you want roast lamb. It's even better on those occasions when I can get my guests into the barn too. Next time I shall return with another story. Until then good night."
IN MY HUMBLE OPINION...
A great story, with suspense immaculately maintained throughout. Robert Emhardt is rude and obnoxious, starting with that opening scene where he steps on and squashes the butterfly. By the end of it all he is reduced to a quivering, embarrassing wreck who gets exactly what he deserves. A very strong episode.
Raymond Massey was celebrated for his portrayal of Abraham Lincoln, in a movie and on television, and his suitability for the role is readily apparent from his performance here as the farmer. He's a stoic, he accepts what life throws at him, doesn't make a fuss, but he brings about justice in his own way. Right from the outset this time we know Robert Emhardt is a baddie, a crass, sweaty loudmouth who stamps on a butterfly just to upset a little girl. It looks appallingly real too : what happened to "no animals were harmed during the making of this motion picture" ? I hope the butterfly had a stunt double. This is easily one of the best episodes, completely holding the attention from the start. It wanders into familiar territory with the "he's taken poison but is it REALLY poison ?" angle, which I'm sure we've seen before, but this has an interesting variation on it, even though the outcome is inevitable. There's a fine supporting cast too. Young Richard Chamberlain is impressive at the beginning of his career. It's always a pleasure to see dependable old Ray Teal, NOT the sheriff this time, but still having authority over his little domain. Rosco Ates, older than I've ever seen him, thankfully abandons the stuttering routine that he always imagined was comedic. (It wasn't.) And it all wraps up nicely with Hitch blithely hinting at burning his relatives to death in a barn. Oh yes, and Snub Pollard's in it.
(click any image to enlarge)
Sam Pine... RAYMOND MASSEY
Ed Fratus... ROBERT EMHARDT
Ben Tulip... RAY TEAL
Clay Pine... RICHARD CHAMBERLAIN
Sam Pine Jr... BRAD WESTON
Tavern customer... ROSCOE ATES
Davey Pine... JACK EASTON JR.
Dr. H.S. McQuillan... GORDON WYNN
Little girl... BETSY HALE
Bar patron... SNUB POLLARD
(click any image to enlarge)
This page was last updated on: 03 July 2020