Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Series 2, Episode 33
Sarett Rudley (teleplay); A.A. Milne (story)
Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Evelyn Rudie, Hugh Marlowe
12 May 1957
24:30 (total) • 22:06 (film) • 1:20 (Hitchcock)
|A Man Greatly Beloved|
Hildegard Fell (Evelyn Rudie) is a young girl, the daughter of a minister, living in a small Massachusetts town. She begins to tell her story (to the camera) about how she took matters into her own hands in trying to convert a rude man, Mr. Anderson, into a lovable person. It begins one day when Evelyn pays a visit to Mr. Anderson (Cedric Hardwicke), a middle-aged man who is sitting in his living room playing a game of chess with himself. The annoying kid invites herself into his house and sits herself down and starts to interfere with his chess pieces and demands a lemonade from the unsuspecting host.
The two of them sit down together whilst Hildegard bores the ears off Mr. Anderson (and the rest of us) until she defeats him in his game of chess. She tells him that the rest of the town look upon him as "mean" and "selfish" because he won't let the annual church bazaar be held in his garden.
Hildegard then pays a visit to Mrs. Whiteford who is having trouble contacting the deceased as a practicing medium. Mrs. Whiteford is trying to contact Naomi, who has passed to the other side, and with Hildegard wanting to know what it is Mr. Anderson is hiding, she suggests Mrs. Whiteford uses Naomi to find out. (Don't ask me who Naomi is, that bit is never revealed!) Just then Clarence comes home (we have to wait until the final scene to learn that Clarence is Mrs. Whiteford's nephew). Hildegard, who has her sights on one day being married to the much-older Clarence, asks him if he knows of Mr. Anderson? Clarence tells her that he knew of a judge by the name of Anderson and tells her about some of the cases he tried.
The rude kid then pays another visit to Mr. Anderson and puts him on the spot by telling him she knows all about his past. He declares that the truth was bound to come out eventually about him but he asks for Hildegard to keep it a secret. She agrees, but under the condition of blackmail that he allow his gardens to be used for the bazaar. Mr. Anderson reluctantly agrees.
The day of the church bazaar comes and everything is going well, except that due to rain the garden cannot be used so the event is held inside Mr. Anderson's house. Hildegard naturally makes a nuisance of herself and conducts a séance right there in front of everybody. The lights are turned down and Hildegard crawls underneath the table where the kooky séance is being held. Mrs. Whiteford summons the spirit of Naomi (whoever Naomi is?) which is Hildegard's cue to do her bit to expose Mr. Anderson as a former judge. Apparently, as the story wraps up, Hildegard explains to those few people who are still watching the episode who haven't fallen asleep or turned it off at this point that Mr. Anderson became a changed man. He donated a stained glass window to the church before he died.
Hildegard's father is reciting the eulogy for Mr. Anderson's funeral when Clarence shows up at the house with some information which sheds new light (or rather, darkness) on Mr. Anderson's character.
•This was Sir Cedric Hardwicke's second (and last) appearance in the show, having starred in the opening episode from season 2, "Wet Saturday".
•The title, "A Man Greatly Beloved" is a passage of text from The Holy Bible from Daniel: Chapter 10 verse 11 which reads "A man greatly beloved understand the words I say unto thee".
HITCH'S PROLOGUE (58 secs):|
[Hitch is standing next to a large wicker basket and holding a sword in his hand which he initially raises vertically] "Good evening. [He claps twice and a young boy walks on and gets inside the basket. Hitch then pushes four swords into the basket and claps his hands. There is no reaction from the basket so he claps his hands again before looking into the basket] Good heavens! He looks like a toothpick holder on an hors d'oeuvres table. Oh well, I guess I just have to practice some more. So much for the sideshow. Now turn your attention to the centre ring where you will find our main attraction."
At this point we fade out and the film begins. But there is dialogue/footage which has been removed, where Hitch continued with, "But before the main event, we must pause for a moment to allow one of our hawkers to... uh, pass among you and peddle his wares."
HITCH'S EPILOGUE (22 secs):
"Thus ends tonight's story. After seeing it I think you'll treat your neighbour more kindly. After all he may be a former axe murderer. Of course there is nothing to worry about, he's probably out of practice. I hope you'll join us next time when we will present another story of mystery, and/or suspense. Good night."
IN MY HUMBLE OPINION...
Shockingly poor episode with so many loose ends and unanswered questions. I started to lose interest very quickly. And looking at that kid's teeth in every scene was very off-putting. And who the hell told Edith Barrett she could act? She is just as bad and unconvincing here as she was in her previous episode, "The Night The World Ended". She is awful. And as for that final scene - nobody saw the kid crawl under the table? Nobody could tell that the voice of 'Naomi' was really Hildegard? I couldn't even hear half of what she was saying! Bloody awful.
"We must have absolute quiet" says meek little Edith Barrett as she begins her seance, and a chubby lady lets out a little belch. That was the high point of this episode. Personally I'd have preferred the absolute quiet of not watching it at all. Miss Barrett, though, is always welcome, her legion of off-screen problems clearly visible in her on-screen fragility. Solid, stolid Sir Cedric is his usual reliable self, but the twist at the end was as unexpected - and as unwelcome - as it was unlikely. A.A. Milne wrote the original story for this one, and he proved once again that he was responsible for a load of Pooh. I couldn't wait for it to end, not to see what would happen, just for it to end. We also got an early performance from Brylcreemed smoothie Robert Culp, not quite as annoying as he would be fifteen years later, but you could see he was working on it. But quite off the annoyance scale in every possible way was that little girl. I hoped she would have just a bit part but no, she was there shouting out her lines through the whole thing. Letting her wander into the house of an ex-strangler was a chilling prospect : Sir Cedric exercised commendable restraint. Allowing a small child to take part in a seance, no matter how phony, as if such things are harmless fun, was totally corrupt. Move over, "Triggers in Leash" : there IS an episode worse than you.
(click any image to enlarge)
John Anderson... SIR CEDRIC HARDWICKE
Hildegard Fell... EVELYN RUDIE
Rev. Richard Fell... HUGH MARLOWE
Clarence... ROBERT CULP
Mrs. Fell... REBECCA WELLES
Aggie Whiteford... EDITH BARRETT
Dart thrower... KEN CHRISTY
(click any image to enlarge)
This page was last updated on: 15 October 2020