Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Series 2, Episode 9

   James Neilson
   Robert Horton, Robert Middleton
   25 November 1956
   24m 38s

Crack Of Doom
Two men on board a night train approach a friend of theirs, Mason Bridges, for a game of cards but he politely declines. Surprised by Mason's rejection his friend Tom Ackley sits down with him and asks him why? So Mason begins to tell the story of two years ago after his graduation when he was a real estate agent and a valuable life lesson he learned.
Sam Klinker, a wealthy trade partner of his tries to lure Mason into a poker game but Mason isn't interested. Sam gives Mason an envelope containing $10,000 cash which is intended for another agent who has cancelled an appointment at the office but who will collect the money in the morning. That evening the poker game goes ahead with seven men playing, including Sam and Mason. When Sam destroys Mason with a big hand Mason walks away from the game but Sam invites him to return if he can raise more money to continue. (You can guess where this is going, right?)
Desperate to get back into the game and win back some of the $1,000 he has lost from Sam, Mason does the inevitable. He heads for the office and borrows $4,000 cash from the money in the envelope entrusted to him by Sam earlier, with the intention of getting his savings out of the bank when they open in the morning to compensate the 'theft' if he loses it.
Sam checks his savings book and to his horror he discovers that his wife has already withdrawn all of the money from their account to invest in an oil company on the stock market which hasn't worked out in her favour. Sam now finds himself in the awkward position of having to find $4,000 by the morning to replace the money in the envelope he is surprisingly forgiving of his wife.
Mason returns to the poker game with the money, which Sam suspects he has stolen from the envelope at the office. As the evening grows late Mason thinks he has a great hand and goes all-in on a pair of queens he is holding. As he examines his hold card the screen shows a blurry image of what appears to be another queen (this is really the clue to where the twist is going to come from)...
The final showdown gets really intense when Sam raises the stakes so high that Mason, desperate to get revenge on Sam, has to lean on funding the final card with writing a cheque. Does it pay off?
[Hitch is sitting at a table playing a game of solitaire and holding a playing card (7 of hearts) in his hand] "Oh good evening onlookers. I er... seem to be stuck. I don't suppose you see a place for a red seven? No, of course not. This programme isn't in colour. That's right, you can't distinguish colours can you? There's nothing to winning really. That is if you happened to be blessed with a keen eye, an agile mind, and no scruples whatsoever. Tonight's play is called 'The Crack Of Doom'. As the title suggests, The Crack Of Doom is a story about Mason Bridges, his wife Jessie, his secretary Della, his friend Tom Ackley and Sam Klinka. And it begins in a club car of a New York Chicago streamliner."

"I hope you weren't displeased by the lack of bloodshed in tonight's story. It's impossible for us to stage a murder every night. We're running out of victims. Of course we could replenish our supply by changing this into an audience-participation show. However for the present at least I think we'll muddle along the old way. That's all for tonight. Next time I appear we shall have another story to tell you and I hope you will allow us to come into your living room. It's erm, terribly stuffy, closed up in this television set. Good night."

The story is really in two timelines. The night of the poker game and the conversation on the train. The train sequences, albeit necessary to explain the plot, do slow the episode down a bit but the poker game does have suspense. See SPOILER section for final thoughts....
The blurry card Mason thinks he sees was not the Queen of Spades like he thought, but rather, the Jack of Spades. But this is a cheat on the viewers because we are clearly shown the Queen of Spades earlier and led to believe that is what Mason was holding. This is really a con on the audience watching the episode. Not fair, and completely ruins the episode. FOUL. I have deducted two points from my mark based purely on that fact alone.

(click any image to enlarge)

Mason Bridges... ROBERT HORTON
Jessie Bridges... GAIL KOBE
Secretary Della... KAY STEWART
Card player... GAVIN GORDON
Card player... FRANCIS DE SALES
Card player... ALAN REYNOLDS

(click any image to enlarge)

Acknowledgements: [IMDb]

This page was last updated on: 02 April 2020