Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Series 2, Episode 34

   Justus Addiss
   Robert C. Dennis (teleplay); Raymond Mason (story)
   Judith Evelyn, Robert Emhardt
   19 May 1957
   24:28 (total) • 22:14 (film) • 1:17 (Hitchcock)

Martha Mason, Movie Star
Mrs. Mabel McKay (Judith Evelyn) is a middle-aged housewife who is waited on by her downtrodden husband Henry (Robert Emhardt) one morning when he brings her coffee. She believes that she resembles a famous, beautiful actress by the name of Martha Mason but Henry is keen to remind her that he doesn't see it in her. He makes fun of her before going off to attend to his garden. Later that day Mabel goes to the theatre to see the latest movie starring Martha Mason. When she returns home Henry is doing some gardening with some new chemical fertilizer which, when laid underneath the plants helps them to grow better.
A while later that afternoon Mabel complains to Henry about the banging he is making on his frames he is constructing in the garden for his flowers but he carries on. She finally confronts him and says she wants a divorce but he tells her he doesn't agree with divorce and therefore he refuses her. So she picks up his hammer and... makes herself a widow. Afterwards she meekly shovels the earth back into the hole with Henry at the bottom of it.
The next morning Henry's boss, Mr. Abernathy telephones the house to ask where he is because he hasn't shown up for work and Mabel tells him that Henry has run off and left her for another woman and left her a note. Abernathy comes over to the house to read the alleged letter Henry wrote to Mabel explaining his actions but he is not completely convinced it sounds like something Henry would do.
The police sergeant visits Mabel at her home to take a statement and then later invites her to the station to get her to sign a statement. It is here when another woman introduces herself as Henry's secret lover. So Henry really was having an affair. But there is one other little detail Mabel isn't aware of... As she is charged with murder she faints a la Martha Mason, the movie star.

•This was Robert Emhardt's fourth appearance in the show.
•The name of the film Mabel goes to see starring Martha Mason is "Forgotten Woman".
[Hitch descends the steps of a spaceship whilst wearing a space helmet] "Good evening. I've been on Mars where I went for the opening of a new television station. In all part of a scheme to take the best of our cultural advances to the Martians. Or, er, martinis as they prefer to be called. They are highly intelligent and my attempts to educate them were quite successful. Within a matter of minutes they were able to spell out 'Earth Men Go Home'. Using my two companions to form the letters. It was very gratifying. As you have doubtless already guessed tonight's play is entitled, 'Martha Mason, Movie Star'".

"Poor Mabel. I guess she just didn't have a green thumb. That concludes tonight's entertainment. Next time we shall be back with another story. Meanwhile I'm off to another planet. I've always been curious about Venus. [Hitch walks towards the spaceship and then turns around to face the camera] Good night."

Mabel is caught and charged with Henry's murder when it is discovered that Henry did indeed run off with another woman, Cora. Cora reports to the police that Henry didn't show up to meet her as expected. The police, meanwhile became intrigued as to how well the lilies Henry planted in his garden have grown so they dig them up and discover Henry's body.

Tough one to call in terms of how the episode sustained my interest. I thought Mabel's character was utterly annoying, and that whole fake crying scene she puts on when Abernathy visits her at home made me cringe. Robert Emhardt is always a joy to watch even when he is playing the villain but this time around he is the unfortunate victim of his unstable wife's misery when she kills him with his own hammer. His appearance in the episode is all too brief.
Any appearance by the most psychotic of the Ominous Roberts (Messrs. Middleton and H. Harris being the other two) is to be welcomed. You never know with Mr. Emhardt : he'll either be charming or stab someone in the eyeball. But here he's on the receiving end of the sudden violence, and quite early on too, at which point this episode runs out of steam. Burying someone in the garden is becoming nearly as popular in these episodes as the poison in the coffee. Is murder really this easy ? Comedy isn't easy : the cutesy-pie background music seems to hint at all this being amusing, but it's hard to tell if this is a comedy without any comedy, or a thriller without any thrills. Judith Evelyn - Miss Lonelyhearts in Rear Window - does her best to play the dizzy delusional wife, to the extent that it's unlikely she would be efficient enough to commit the perfect murder. Strangely enough, Mr. Emhardt's dalliance with the girl in the police station is quite believable, exactly what we've come to expect from him, although it's somewhat gruesome to contemplate. So he didn't let us down, did he ? This isn't one of the better episodes, not a disaster like the previous one, just a bit too silly. Hitch's contribution is equally silly - and he seems to know it - although the mention of the Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine on the end credits shows that he was really on the ball with his merchandising.

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Mr. Abernathy... VINTON HAYWORTH
Police detective... RUSTY LANE

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Acknowledgements: [IMDb]

This page was last updated on: 16 October 2020