Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Series 2, Episode 14

   Robert Stevens
   Leora Dana, Russell Collins, Hugh Marlowe
   30 December 1956
   23m 51s

John Brown's Body
Harold Skinner is a junior partner with John Brown & Co., a New York-based furniture company and has designed a new chair which he shows to the boss John Brown, but his design is rejected because it is too modern. Mrs. Brown enters the office and offers to take her husband to a surprise lunch but when he makes an excuse not to go Harold steps in and offers to take his place. At the restaurant Harold shows his sketches to Mrs. Brown and when she admits that she likes them he offers her to go into partnership with him. He even seems to flirt with her slightly.
A few weeks pass and Harold shows up at the Brown's house to drop off some documents and finds that John is away on business but Mrs. Brown is at home and invites him to stay for dinner. When the maid leaves them to their own devices we see that their meeting at the house was actually staged as Mrs. Brown takes Harold into the lounge for some, well some intimacy! After giving Mrs. Brown a generous portion of mouth-to-mouth interaction Harold discusses ways of making John think that he is losing his mind in order for him to green-light Harold's furniture plans with the company but Mrs. Brown declares her husband to have a good memory and it would be difficult to pull off. So the two of them scheme to do just that.
A few days later John is at the office when he receives a letter reminding him that he needs to send out some contracts but he swears he has already done so. Harold brings to his attention that the contracts are still in John's drawer, casting the first doubt in John's mind that he is getting forgetful. Harold continues by reminding John that the safe in the office was also unlocked and that John is the only one who knows the combination. The confusion mounts as Dr. Sam Helck, an old friend of the couple turns up for dinner at the house but John has seemingly forgotten about the invitation. The doctor recommends to Mrs. Brown that John sees a psychiatrist in light of his recent behaviour.
John is taken to see Dr. Croatman, the psychiatrist but refuses to co-operate and when he runs out of the office hysterically it is suggested he be put in a rest home. The plan is working and Harold pursues his work with Mrs. Brown by his side while John Brown is locked up and resorting to painting canvases. A year has passed and Harold is paid a visit by his accountant who warns him that due to falling sales in the company he could be insolvent within three months unless business picks up. In need of $50,000 Mrs. Brown decides her only option is to visit her husband and talk him into giving up the money to save the business but John admits he likes being where he is. After consultation with the doctors, John is set to be released from the Hillcrest rest home so his wife and Harold go to bring him home. John signs his release form but the psychiatrist does a u-turn and refuses to let John. He then explains to Mrs. Brown why.
[Hitch is sitting on a large pair of scales. As the camera pulls back we see two assistants who remove several bags of money from the opposite chair on the scales which lowers the host to the ground] "Good evening and welcome to 'Alfred Hitchcock Presents'. [Hitch addresses the two assistants as they walk off] See you next year. We thought you'd like to see this. So many of you have expressed an interest in knowing how I was paid. Now I can afford to go back to my diet. Tonight's play is about a body. Not mine. However, the title is 'John Brown's Body'."

"I hope that ending was properly terrifying. What's this? [Hitch opens one of the money bags from the scales] Nothing but sawdust. Oh well two can play at that game. [He pats his stomach] That's all I have here. This concludes our programme for tonight. On our next programme we shall both be back. Me and my shadow. Good night."

A massive improvement over the previous episode with an interesting story and no predictable conclusion. Not so much of a twist ending, but a logical one and overall a decent enough episode. Apparently, Leora Dana was 33 years old when this episode was made. Damn, she looks at least 50!
Well let's start with the fact that John Brown does not die! When John is set to be released from the asylum he is asked to sign a release but the psychiatrist denies him from leaving after John signs his name "George Washington". The doctor tells Mrs. Brown that if they were to take John home they would only be taking home his body because his mind is elsewhere. Clever title, isn't it? It seems the moral of the story here is that the employee having an fling with the boss's wife while making the boss think he is mad so they can carry on their secret love affair resulted in the business falling apart and the two of them being left together with nothing. It's justice.

(click any image to enlarge)

Vera Brown... LEORA DANA
Harold Skinner... HUGH MARLOWE
Dr. Croatman... EDMON RYAN
Doctor's receptionist... MADELON BAKER
Accountant... NORMAN LEAVITT

(click any image to enlarge)

Acknowledgements: [IMDb]

This page was last updated on: 18 April 2020