Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Series 2, Episode 19

   Herschel Daugherty
   Herbert Marshall, Robert Horton, Jarma Lewis
   03 February 1957
   24m 29s

A Bottle Of Wine
Judge Connors hides a gun in his cabinet as his much younger (by 41 years in real life!) wife Grace returns home. She is leaving him and has only returned to collect some items while her lover Wallace waits outside in the car. The judge tries to understand why this has happened and blames her departure all over one word. He goes outside and invites Wallace indoors to get out of the heat and after some awkward conversation Wallace reluctantly agrees. The judge takes Wallace into the library where he opens a bottle of sherry and proposes a toast to Grace. They drink but Wallace feels slightly intimidated by the tone of the judge's description of his marriage to Grace and his reminders of how the bottle was supposedly meant to celebrate their tenth anniversary, which would have been coming up shortly.
The uncomfortable Wallace gets up and leaves but Judge asks him whether he isn't curious about the woman he has just stolen from him? This presents Wallace with the opportunity to discover the truth about Grace which only her husband can provide because Grace would never do it herself. This tempts Wallace back and he accepts a second drink from the host, whilst reiterating his apologies for the situation. As the judge quotes Aristotle to his guest, he goes to the cabinet and takes out the gun, making sure Wallace sees it.
The judge holds Wallace at gunpoint and insists he continues to drink the the bottle of sherry. But his conscience gets the better of him and the judge puts the gun back in the drawer. The two men sit down and talk and Wallace begins to find the judge to be reasonable. The judge explains about how he fell in love with Grace and describes her in such a way that Wallace doesn't understand because it doesn't sound at all like her. When Wallace gets up to leave the judge begins to quote Socrates to him and about death. Wallace begins to feel unwell and the judge informs him that he mas maybe three minutes to live and that the bottle they both drank from was poisoned. Wallace begins to panic but it's too late and the judge leaves the room and locks the door behind him. Wallace pleads with the judge not to let him die alone in the room, but the judge snaps back that Wallace was prepared to steal his wife and leave him to die alone.
Grace finally comes downstairs to find her husband reading Wallace his last rites.
[Hitch is standing behind a large wine rack in a cellar] "Good evening. I came down here because I understand the current year is a very good year for wine. For drinking it, that is. I'm looking for some champagne. [He picks up a bottle from the rack and reads from the label] Not to be taken internally. Oh. For bathing only. Fortunately my tastes aren't so expensive. I'll bathe in ginger beer! That way one doesn't have to add a softener. All this is by way of introducing tonight's play. It is called, by extraordinary coincidence 'A Bottle Of Wine'."

"Forsooth. Such knavery. Naturally the police apprehended Wallace and he paid for his ungentlemanly conduct. After all, one should not shoot one's host.... before dinner! This concludes our little preachment on the evils of drink. Tune in next time when we shall again present a charming little horrific fairy tale. Good night."

The episode opens with a rather interesting camera angle, looking down on the judge from above while sinister music plays on the soundtrack, providing a tense mood immediately. The story itself is simplicity, and focuses on just three characters. The husband, his wife and her lover. Although the wife is absent for the most part the story plays out well with a good deal of suspense and sets up an interesting ending. One little gripe I had about this one was the long absence of Grace during the conversation between the two men; it didn't seem logical but rather, a convenience for the scene to play out. Any why didn't Wallace just get up and leave at the first sight of seeing the Judge holding the gun in his hand? Was it due to curiosity in what the judge might have to say to him? Either way, a very strong episode made even more entertaining by the twist ending. A very good episode.
When the judge opens the bottle of wine I thought it was odd that he did so off-camera. This becomes important later in the story because Wallace mentions the absence of a label on the bottle. The judge tells his rival that he has poisoned a bottle of wine and by them both drinking it, it was his intention that he would kill them both. In truth, the judge hadn't poisoned the bottle at all, which is confirmed by the wife at the end... after Wallace shoots and kills the judge from behind the locked door out of desperation.

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Wallace Donaldson... ROBERT HORTON
Grace Connors... JARMA LEWIS

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Acknowledgements: [IMDb]

This page was last updated on: 06 May 2020