Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Season 1, Episode 29
Air date: April 15, 1956
Time: 24 mins 47 secs
Rating: 7/10

Director: James Neilson
Teleplay: Victor Wolfson, Robert C. Dennis
Based on a story by Stanley Ellin
Director of photography: Reggie Lanning
Art director: Martin Obzina
Editorial supervisor: Richard G. Wray
Editor: Edward W. Williams
Music supervisor: Stanley Wilson

Mr. Appleby is an antiques collector with a store which is struggling to find customers to sell its items to; or so it would appear. One woman customer, Martha Sturgis, registers her interest in some items but Appleby abruptly tells her the items are already sold. Mr. Desar, a foreign businessman whom represents his father, who furnished Appleby with many treasures, enters the store to discuss payment owed to him for the items in the store. Desar reminds Appleby that regardless of whether the items are selling or not, that he is here to collect a payment from him; £12,000 within 2 weeks. Appleby tells him that business isn't doing so well and in fact the truth of the matter is he doesn't want to sell any antiques because he wants to keep them for himself.
The woman in the store accidentally breaks a valuable porcelein camel which angers Appleby, who screams at her that it was worth a thousand dollars. She agrees to write him a cheque to cover the damages. But before Appleby can celebrate the unexpected windfall, Desar snatches the cheque from him and tells Appleby that if he cannot find the money to pay for his stock then Desar will take the items back and sell them elsewhere; a notion Appleby clearly wishes to avoid at all costs.
When Appleby returns home he gets on his wife's case about her being untidy, which leads to a heated argument. He tells her his financial predicament but she refuses to give him the money from her endowment policy. He then consults a book called "Accident Or Murder" (fancy just having a book like that just lying around on your bookself! I mean, seriously!) and after following a set of instructions from within its pages, he carries out the unthinkable. After his wife's estate is sorted out, Appleby is able to pay off Desar and continue trading. As a token of an apology (although not his real intent), Appleby offers an antique box to Miss Sturgis, the customer who broke his camel in the shop, then swiftly proposes marriage to her.
After being forced to meet with her lawyer, who lays it down clearly that Miss Sturgis' wealth must not be a factor in Appleby wishing to marry her, he suggests that Appleby courts his bride-to-be for a period of one month, during which he is encouraged to spoil her. A formal agreement is made between the lawyer and the couple that each will be heir to the other's estates and that a proviso Appleby moves into his new wife's home, where she has always lived. He agrees, but it doesn't take long before his greed overcomes him and he needs a sum of money to prevent foreclosure on his shop and losing his stock. His wife refuses to help, saying it would be nice to have him home with her instead. She buys a cat - something that he loathes. He decides to get rid of her the same way he killed his first wife, but Martha is already one step ahead of him...

[he appears bending forwards before standing up straight].
"Good evening ladies. Has your husband recently acquired a far-away look in his eyes? In the event that something unforeseen happens to you, do all of your worldy goods go to him? Is he at this time nervously excusing himself from the room? If you have answered 'yes' to all of the above questions you receive a score of one hundred, a gold star for neatness, and my advice to leave for mothers immediately! That is, immediately after the conclusion of our programme. Our story tonight is called, 'The Orderly World Of Mr. Appleby'. Unfortunately it will do nothing to relieve your fears, if that is what you want. If you want contentment, security, peace of mind, listen to this piece of advice from our friendly philosopher."

"Ah well, the bigger they come the harder they fall. By the way, what you have just seen is of historical significance: it was in precisely this way that a housewife carrying an arm load of vegetables invented the tossed salad. Now before I say good night my sponsor would like to bring you an important message. I needn't tell you to whom it is important. [fade to black] That concludes our entertainment for tonight. Once again through a propaganda play we have attempted to make the world a better place in which to live. I'm confident that tonight we struck a telling blow in a cause of wall-to-wall carpeting. Good night."

Episode 29 of Season 1.
This was the second time that Michael Ansara and Robert Harris had appeared in an episode together: they were both in Shopping For Death.
The credits list Helen Spring and Edna Holland in the cast but they do not appear in the episode. Strange?
This story, with the same title, was later filmed as an episode for the television series "Tales Of The Unexpected". The episode aired June 7th, 1980.
There are some reviews of this episode posted elsewhere that state Martha Sturgis is a widow, yet in the episode she claims to have never been married.
Other sources, who appear to have simply copied one another, mis-spell the maid's name as "Elly". When Appleby comes to the house and is shown inside he clearly calls her Ella.
Personal opinion
"This was a slow-building episode, which seemed to plod along initially but builds to a tense climax. As usual, I didn't see the twist ending coming!"
Martha blackmails Appleby into staying home with her and giving up his shop, as she reveals she knows that he murdered his first wife. If he fails to comply with her wishes, or if she was to suddenly die unexpectedly, there is enough evidence on him in her lawyer's safe to incriminate Appleby. She also tells him that the lawyer will telephone the house every night to ensure she is alive and well. The telephone rings, but Martha slips on the rug as she walks over to take the call and dies. Appleby's time is up.

Robert H. Harris
Laurence Appleby
Meg Mundy
Martha Sturgis
Gage Clarke
Sidney Gainsborough
Louise Larabee
Lena Appleby, the first wife
Michael Ansara
Mr. Desar
Mollie Glessing
Ella, the maid


This page was last updated on: 18 January 2018