The Alfred Hitchcock Hour
Series 2, Episode 26


   Alf Kjellin
   Arthur Ross (teleplay); Jack Ritchie (story)
   Donnelly Rhodes, Lou Jacobi, Lonny Chapman
   01 May 1964
   48:14 (total) • 44:53 (film) • 1:54 (Hitchcock)
   6/10


Ten Minutes From Now
Commissioner Grindley is being interviewed on television after his life has been threatened. James Bellington (Lonny Chapman) walks into City Hall carrying a package and demands to see the parks commissioner. Instead he is confronted by Lt. Wymar who asks what is inside the suspicious looking package. When James almost drops it we hear a distinctive ticking sounds coming from within. Wymar lunges towards James and snatches the package from him and calls for the bomb squad - who arrive within ten seconds (!!)
It is established that the only thing inside the package was an ordinary alarm clock. Lt. Wymar questions James on why he wanted to see the commissioner but James provides nothing but sarcastic comments and threatens to sue the department for false detention if he is not allowed to leave. Wymar instead forces James to be questioned by a psychiatrist, Dr. Glover. James tells the doctor of his anger at the commissioner for not allowing his artwork to be exhibited before storming out of the office. The doctor warns the lieutenant that James may commit suicide or murder within the next couple of days.
Lt. Wymar and Dr. Glover pay a visit to James' apartment where they find all of his paintings. The cop dismisses the work as rubbish but the doctor finds it interesting and notes an obvious talent in James. The psychiatrist gives the cop a mouthful for coming into the apartment without James' knowledge and rearranging things, worried that if James was to notice this it may trigger him into building a real bomb.
James buys some items from a hardware store and sees a detective watching him. A delivery guy brings a package to a museum but tells the cops outside that he is not supposed to deliver it for another five minutes, as instructed by the sender, Mr. Bellington. The cop immediately takes the package from him and calls for the bomb squad, whilst James sneaks into the museum carrying a similar-looking package when the cops are distracted. Inside the museum James strikes up a conversation with a woman who is there for the exhibition which is taking place at that moment. He tells her that he is an artist and that his package contains paints but he cannot leave with it because they would confiscate the package because they know he is an artist. It's all a deliberate ploy to get her to take the package from him, which she does. But James is apprehended by the cops who take the package from the woman and go outside to defuse the 'bomb'. James opens the box in front of the police and shows them that it does actually contain paints, just like he said.
Sergeant Marklen (Neile Adams) arrives at the police station to go over her plans with the psychiatrist and the lieutenant to catch James. She reveals she is wearing a wire and intends to trap James on tape. She casually meets James in a bar and strikes up a conversation with him. After winning his confidence James starts to confide in the woman but things go wrong when he gets upset and discovers her recording device; smashing it and then leaving.
James heads for the museum with another box in his hands and after evading the cops he manages to get inside the building but he is quickly surrounded. James warns them that he will explode his bomb in ten minutes time and blow up the entire museum, destroying all the art within it as his act of revenge. The building is evacuated and that is when James' real intentions are discovered.


TRIVIA
•Is it just me or is Donnelly Rhodes an almost spitting image for Anthony Perkins in this episode?
•Blimey those museum guards are inept and easily distracted, aren't they?
•This was Neile Adams' third appearence in the show. She first shows up halfway through the story as a detective. Her two previous outings (both in Alfred Hitchcock Presents) were "Man From The South" and "One Grave Too Many".
•The title refers to James telling the cops that he will release his finger from the button which will ignite his bomb in ten minutes.
•The IMDb lists David Carradine as the art thief, but this is disputed by The Alfred Hitchcock Presents Companion book who state he is Edward Mallory. There are only two art thieves in the story, yet the IMDb list three. So by that logic you can assume that IMDb are completely useless, as always.
HITCH'S PROLOGUE (1 minute 0 secs + 24 secs):
[Hitch is ringing a bell in his right hand and holding a lantern in his left hand] "I'm resorting to this device to attract attention to our program. I have no shame whatsoever. The Town Crier was a seventeenth century American newspaper. As newspapers go it was rather primitive. It had no contests, no crossword puzzles, no funnies. And of course the columnists couldn't wrap their garbage in the Town Crier. They simply threw it at him when they disagreed with his editorials. There was no advertising either. The more I describe it, the more attractive it sounds. Naturally this has nothing to do with this evening's play. Our story is a modern one about a man who moves about a large city carrying a box which was both mysterious and disquieting. It follows... [shrugs shoulders] this advertisement."

[Hitch is ringing the bell] "Here ye, here ye. I dislike breaking in at the middle of our story but we have some late breaking news. The station over which you are viewing our show has just been tentatively identified. Your local announcer will now provide you with the details, after which we shall return to our story."


HITCH'S EPILOGUE (30 secs):
"Unfortunately our hero chose to celebrate a bit early. The paintings were traced and he is now helping to manufacture cardboard boxes for the state. Of course this program is not to be interpreted as an endorsement of bomb threats. Even when used by collectors of modern art. As for what this program does endorse I shall leave that to the town crier I hear in the wings."



SPOILERS
James uses the ploy of making the cops think he has a bomb when in fact he uses their fears against them so that they evacuate the museum. This is when he steals artwork inside by taking the originals and substituting them with his fakes.



IN MY HUMBLE OPINION...
James' character, played by Donnelly Rhodes is fascinating right from the beginning. He is rude, abrasive, intelligent and charming. As the story plods on however, his character becomes a bit tiresome and annoying. Neile Adams shares one rather insignificant time-filler of a scene in the bar with him, but her appearance is forgettable. The twist at the end is just about satisfactory.
GEOFF THINKS...
Ten Minutes From Now ? Watching this, it seems like the end of it will be ten hours from now. Plastic-faced Donnelly Rhodes, a living Gerry Anderson puppet, does a reasonable job in playing this Angry Young Man as a sort of American Anthony Newley - what kind of fool is he ? - with his air of privileged contempt and continual flow of flippant remarks, but he overdoes it and his character quickly becomes so repellent that we'd be quite happy to see him blown up. Lonny Chapman as the top cop isn't much better, mainly sticking to "angry and incompetent". Lou Jacobi manages to lose his lovable Jewish persona altogether and comes across as the creepiest creep of all. Neile Adams is wasted in a small role as the world's most obvious undercover cop : she must have been brought in just to fill out the time. More than any episode we've encountered, this one shows the padding : achingly dull dialogue scenes go on forever, and in one shot a large number of cops take ages to run through some bushes. Everything here looks false : the streets are the studio backlot, and "exteriors" are obvious interiors. It's all about art, but the best paintings on display are the backgrounds, pretending to be buildings across the street. Worst of all, the twist at the end is infuriatingly ridiculous and unlikely : the cops are frustrated and the arrogant jerk walks away. Hitch usually "corrects" these miscarriages of justice in his closing remarks, but the damage is done. Aside from all this, the episode is almost an instruction manual on how to terrorise a community with bomb threats, so in view of recent history it now seems especially tasteless and corrupt. This isn't one for the ages : it's one for the bin. Move over, "Triggers in Leash" : this is the worst episode.

THE CAST
(click any image to enlarge)



James Bellington... DONNELLY RHODES
Dr. Glover... LOU JACOBI
Lieutenant Wymar... LONNY CHAPMAN
Sergeant Louise Marklen... NEILE ADAMS
First policeman... ED PECK
Secretary... SANDRA GOULD
Woman in the museum... BETTY HARFORD
Thief... DAVID CARRADINE
Commissioner Thomas Grindley... JESS KIRKPATRICK
Messenger... TONY FRANKE
Guide... SYL LAMONT
Newscaster... VINCE WILLIAMS
Salesman... HAROLD AYER
First bomb squad man... HINTON POPE
First detective... JOHN W. ZIEGLER
Thief's assistant... TOMMY KIRK


GALLERY
(click any image to enlarge)

Acknowledgements:
The Alfred Hitchcock Presents Companion by Martin Grams Jr & Patrik Wikstrom (book)
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0394090/ [IMDb]

This page was last updated on: 29 November 2020