Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Series 7, Episode 12

   Robert Florey
   James P. Cavanagh (teleplay); Susan Glaspell (play)
   Ann Harding, Frances Reid
   26 December 1961
   24:15 (total) • 20:49 (film) • 1:09 (Hitchcock)

A Jury Of Her Peers
It's a cold, dark night when Jim Hale (RAY TEAL) pulls up in his horse-drawn cart outside Millie Wright's isolated farm house. When he goes inside he finds Millie (JUNE WALKER) sitting and shivering in her rocking chair and seems confused. Jim tells her he has stopped by to talk to her husband John about having a telephone line installed at the farm on account of them being all alone out there in the wilderness. Millie tells Jim that her husband is upstairs and he should go on up and see him. Moments later Jim comes back down and tells Millie that John is dead; it looks as though he has been strangled. Millie tells Jim that she found him like that earlier in the day.
Jim says he is going to have to inform the sheriff and invites Millie to come home with him. She gratefully agrees. Back at his own house Jim telephones the sheriff and heads off to meet him at Millie's house whilst Millie stays with Jim's wife, Sarah (ANN HARDING). The two ladies start chatting when Sarah asks Millie why she married John when she could have had any man. There is also a suggestion of jealousy thrown in.
The next day the sheriff and a lawyer observe Millie through a window in the office. The lawyer is convinced that Millie is putting on an act in the attempt to plead insanity for when the case goes to trial but he intends to get a conviction on her. Together, along with the sheriff's wife Mary (FRANCES REID) and Sarah, they ride out to Millie's farm to look for evidence and a possible motive.
Mary finds a shawl in a drawer and asks Sarah if she thinks Millie killed her husband. Sarah says no, but begins to wonder herself. Sarah finds some shoddy stitching on a garment which Millie apparently was working on and begins to cut it out, much to the shocked look on Mary's face. Mary threatens to tell the sheriff and the seeds of suspicion from the viewer now shift towards Mary being involved in the murder? A birdcage with a broken door is discovered in a cupboard. The previous occupant of it is then found wrapped up in a piece of silk in Millie's sewing box. It's neck had been wrung.
Upstairs the sheriff is playing the part of the deceased whilst the lawyer is demonstrating on him some methods of how Millie strangled her husband. There is a brief moment when the lawyer pulls the rope a bit too tight and the sheriff tells him off. Another clue to the murderer? When the men come downstairs Sarah deliberately hides the bird from them, again much to the shock of Mary who once again says she has to tell the sheriff. A right little grass isn't she, that woman?! A proper little do-gooder! Did Millie's husband kill the bird, and was that enough of a motive for her to strangle him in the same manner?
Sarah and Mary disagree on the ethics of concealing the evidence from the sheriff in order to protect Millie. Sarah sympathises with Millie after she suffered twenty years of abuse from her husband and begins to tell Mary all about John and how she regrets not visiting Millie more often. The sheriff returns to the house with the lawyer after looking outside in the barn. It is here when Millie's fate is decided.

•In the opening scene when Ray Real pulls up in his horse-drawn cart you can clearly make out the painted background behind him.
•Sarah says that Millie was married to John when she was 17 and that they had been together for 20 years. So that puts Millie at aged 37 now? Wait just a minute!!
HITCH'S PROLOGUE (1 minute 9 secs):
[Hitch is wearing a surgical gown] "Good evening devotees of television. Recognising the popularity of medical drama on t.v., we are preparing one of our own. [camera pulls back to reveal a man sitting next to a gurney, also dressed in a medical gown] In this series I play the part of a wise fatherly head of the largest dog and cat hospital in Los Angeles. This lad plays the part of young Doctor O'Hara, a very promising and dedicated young veterinarian. Here you see him as he will appear during the most of our first story. In this story he wrestled with the problem of whether he should remain with me, treating the pets of motion picture stars and millionaires and the animals who themselves maybe stars, or whether he should go back to a small town where he can treat the ordinary un-pedigreed poodles. Fortunately, I convinced him that integrity isn't everything. [close-up] Now for an episode from another series, Alfred Hitchcock Presents. After this one minute special."

HITCH'S EPILOGUE (1 minute 5 secs):
"The story you have just seen was intended to be the beginning of a series about Mrs. Wright. I'm afraid we'be blundered badly however, for she was convicted along with Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale and her adventures were rather limited after that. As for our series about doctors, this too was abandoned. The young man managed to hold up, but being kind and fatherly and folksy proved too much of a strain for me. Now for the last of a series of three commercials, after which I shall tell you more of our producing plans. [commercial] During the coming months I hope you will look for our two newest projects. Our series about gangsters in the clothing industry called 'The Unmentionables' and another built around the adventures of an itinerant strike breaker in the old west entitled, 'Frontier Fink'. Until next week, good night."

The story centres around the two women who figure out the motive for why Millie allegedly killed her husband. They reasoned that her husband strangled Millie's bird, and this was enough of a reason for Millie to strangle him. Sarah tries desperately to sympathise with Millie's actions but Mary, being the sheriff's wife thinks it is not for them to decide Millie's fate. However, Sarah does just enough to convince Mary that Millie doesn't deserve further punishment and eventually the two women join forces by concealing evidence from the sheriff.

Intriguing to a point, the story sets up a potential whodunnit in a murder case but this is quickly downgraded to us knowing who did it but then trying to figure out a justifiable motive. A relatively weak episode. The ending was just about adequate and explains the title of the story but personally I thought the opening scene in the dark house between Ray Teal and June Walker was the best in the episode.

(click any image to enlarge)

Sarah Hale... ANN HARDING
Mrs. Mary Peters... FRANCES REID
George Henderson... PHILIP BOURNEUF
Henry Peters, sheriff... ROBERT BRAY
Mrs. Millie Wright... JUNE WALKER
Jim Hale... RAY E. TEAL

(click any image to enlarge)

Acknowledgements: [IMDb]

This page was last updated on: 21 February 2021