Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Series 2, Episode 8

   Jules Bricken
   Dorothy Stickney, Carmen Mathews, Ray Collins
   18 November 1956
   23m 57s

Conversation Over A Corpse
Two sisters, Cissie and Joanne Enright are preparing a meal for their landlord Mr. Brenner (Ray Collins) whom they claim is cheating them out of the house they thought they were going to live in. When Joanne discovers Brenner's intentions to evict the girls and tear the house down they formulate a plan to kill him. Cissie adds some poison to the cookies she is baking, while Joanne laces the tea with tablets. Cissie begins to have second thoughts but Joanne insists they go through with their plan.
Brenner goes to the bank and withdraws $5,000 to pay the girls to leave his house, joking with the teller that he "might have to kill them to get the house". At the house Cissie and Joanne give Brenner the cookies and tea and he asks when they can move out. Cissie, who isn't the brightest star in the sky, is horrified when Brenner jokes that they cannot remain living there while the house is being torn down around them! He reminds the girls that he wants the land - not so much the house and that they signed an option upon moving into the house whereby he paid them money so that he could evict them later on. Still the sisters refuse to leave and Brenner suddenly starts to feel unwell. Joanne, with eloquent charm, tells Brenner that he has just taken enough poison to kill ten men. He dies in the chair. Panicked by this the girls argue over what they ought to do with his body. As they discuss "taking him out in sections" and digging a hole to bury him under the wood shed, it appears that Brenner isn't quite dead after all - but they girls fail to notice this until they attempt to drag him out of the chair!
Joanne: "Oh what a nuisance this is. Now we have to kill him again. Some how!"
They come up with a variety of alternatives, such as a shotgun, a knife, a hammer and a gigantic rolling pin all while Brenner acts it up for the camera in comical fashion. Joanne goes outside to find other instruments to finish the job, leaving Cissie and Brenner alone. There, Brenner comes round and the two begin a conversation which brings up some interesting revelations about Joanne's real identity. Cissie also confesses that she only put half the amount of poison in the tea as she was instructed, therefore saving Brenner's life. Brenner promises Cissie that he won't take her house away if she helps him out of the predicament but just at that moment Joanne returns, gleefully announcing she has found the weed killer.
Cissie confronts Joanne and tells her about how Brenner suggested that Joanne was going to blame Cissie for the murder. An enraged Joanne grabs a meat cleaver and goes to sort out Brenner. A gunshot is heard as Cissie prepares a poisoned drink in the kitchen. When Cissie returns to the lounge Joanne is dead and Brenner is holding the shotgun. Cissie pleads once more with Brenner not to take the house from her but he offers her a good alternative deal. This isn't what Cissie wants and she hands Brenner the poisoned whiskey.
Brenner telephones the police to tell them he killed Joanne and that Cissie helped to save him.... until the poison kicks in and he suddenly realises he has been screwed! The episode is neatly wrapped up with a slightly obvious finale.
[Hitch is holding two ladles crossed over one another and wearing a chef's hat] "Good evening. Tonight we offer you a generous portion of mystery, a pinch of comedy, just a soupçonne of a commercial all seasoned by a few irrelevant comments from your host. As you may know food is a hobby of mine. I don't claim to be an expert cook but I am rather a good eater. If you will wander into my kitchen I'll allow you to watch me as I concoct some delicacy to tempt your pallet. [Hitch walks to a table with several test tubes on it and puts the ladles down] I cannot abide careless cookery. [Hitch opens a book and begins to read from it] Let me see, I've er... I've just added ten cc's of sugar. All is left is to add the white of one egg, and by the white I do not refer to the clear gelatinous substance inside. Naturally I mean the shell. This is where most amateur cooks make their mistakes. While you're waiting for me to finish I suggest you turn your attention to tonight's story. It is called 'Conversation Over A Corpse'. It sounds like perfect dinner conversation."

"She wasn't a sissy. As a matter of a fact that was her downfall. She wanted to steady her nerves before the police came so she took a few slugs. Very sad. Except for the newspapers who detected a love triangle. The picture papers had more fun than at a hanging. Well so much for tonight's cooking demonstration. I hope I've made everything clear. Next time I shall show you how to prepare an exotic delicacy. White Hunter a la Mal Mal. You'll be the talk of your neighbourhood. I shall also reveal one of my own culinary secrets: 'How to remove the wrapper from a frozen food package without tearing the directions.' Good night."

A fun episode, with high levels of comedy being dished out. Ray Collins hams it up in front of the camera as he is incapacitated in the chair each time one of the sisters attempts to kill him. Comedy gold and a much better episode than the previous few. Slightly disappointed with the obvious ending and how drawn out it is but I won't let that detract from the fact that this one was rather enjoyable for the most part.
Cissie kills Brenner when, even after he kills Joanne for being cruel to both of them, he still won't give her the house. She even manipulates him into telling the police that he killed Joanne after she tried to poison him, before himself dying from the poison administered by Cissie.

(click any image to enlarge)

Cissie Enright... DOROTHY STICKNEY
Joanna Enright... CARMEN MATHEWS
Herbert Brenner... RAY COLLINS
Bank teller... TED STANHOPE

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Acknowledgements: [IMDb]

This page was last updated on: 29 March 2020