Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Series 2, Episode 4

   Herschel Daugherty
   A.J. Russell (story & teleplay)
   Hume Cronyn, Carmen Mathews
   21 October 1956
   24:25 (total) • --:-- (film) • -:-- (Hitchcock)

Kill With Kindness
Fitz Oldham and his sister Katherine are bird lovers. Somewhat. As they peer out of their window at what appears to be a rare bird, Katherine spots an elderly gentlemen in the park whom she thinks is a nice man simply because he is a bird lover. The couple quarrel over Fitz's butterfly collection before Katherine goes out to talk to the elderly man in the park. Taking pity on him she invites him back to her house for dinner but something doesn't seem right.
Mr. Jorgy introduces himself as the hungry guest and is shown into the living room and to Fitz's butterfly collection whilst Katherine heats the dinner. Jorgy appears at first to be sceptical of the strangers' act of kindness towards him as Fitz turns on some charm when questioning the man over his family and current life situation. At this point it appears to the viewer that the brother and sister have some sinister plans for this man!
The siblings resume their squabbling in front of their guest when Katherine instructs Fitz to kill a moth that has entered the room. Fitz announces that if they could find a substitute for his corpse then they could claim on a life insurance on him which is in his sister's name. So now we know what they're up to. When Jorgy tries to leave they keep him there with the lure of a new suit and shoes and a bed for the night. Katherine attends to Jorgy upstairs whilst Fitz prepares the kerosene down in the basement. The pair go over their plan to set fire to the house with their guest in it. Katherine prepares some warm milk for Jorgy and sets the devious plan in motion but when she starts the fire Fitz has forgotten an important detail of the plan. The ring...
[Hitch is tied to a stake] "Good evening. Television fans can be so demonstrative and unpredictable. At the time this happened I was under the impression I was being put on a pedestal. My wife's not going to like this. She's always telling me not to leave my ashes on the floor. [Hitch lights a cigarette and begins to smoke it] Tonight we present a very warm little story called 'Kill With Kindness'. Reception seems to be rather bad tonight. Is your screen clouding up? Mine is. I think we'd better run a test film first. If you have no difficulty in seeing it we will show you our story."

[there is smoke everywhere] "I thought I'd better get out of there. I just remembered that my tumbrel is double-parked. I shall return next week at the same time to bring you another story and to relate the further adventures of Alfred Hitchcock. Good night."

Fitz and Katherine lure a complete stranger into their home with the sole intention of killing him and making it look like it is Fitz who has died in order to claim on a life insurance.

Oh no. I was so hoping it wasn't going to come down to it in the end.... but fortunately it wasn't the ending I was expecting. At least there was some justice in that the scheming siblings ended up with nothing to show for their act of deviousness. Some black humour in this episode too.
There's more than a hint of "Arsenic and Old Lace" about this one, with the unmarried siblings plotting to kill a lonely old man ; but in the celebrated play (and Frank Capra movie) their motives are kindhearted, albeit deluded. THIS brother and sister intend to bump off the old tramp in order to benefit financially. Hume Cronyn does his usual Eccentric Codger routine, a characterisation that fitted him well, as he did variations of it all the way from Hitch's "Shadow of a Doubt" right through to the 80s and "Batteries Not Included" and even beyond that. Carmen Mathews, as his sister, is more focussed and ruthless, and she needs to be, with this unreliable twit as an accomplice. But the real star here is James Gleason. After a lifetime of playing grizzled New Yorkers - was this fine actor EVER a young man ? - James gives entirely the correct interpretation to his role, which is no interpretation at all. He underplays to the point of invisibility. He hardly even says his lines, just mumbles it all, a sad and defeated old loner. This is a man who has wandered through life unnoticed and uncared for - and quite rightly, he emerges unscathed at the end, still innocently unaware of the fate this gruesome pair had planned for him. To me it seemed a slightly weak ending, in that an attempted murder went undetected, but what other choice was there ? We'd hate to see anything nasty happen to Mr. Gleason. This episode is in a lighter tone than others in this season so far, and it benefits from this, although the sight of Hitch starting to burn at the stake is genuinely nightmarish. They overdid the macabre element here, I fear. All well done, as usual, except Hitch's bits - and Hitch's bits were nearly VERY well done.

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Fitzhugh Oldham... HUME CRONYN
Katherine Oldham... CARMEN MATHEWS
Neighbor... MARGIE LISZT
Fireman... MIKE RAGAN

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Acknowledgements: [IMDb]

This page was last updated on: 29 March 2020