Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Series 6, Episode 25

   Paul Henreid
   Howard Swanton (teleplay); William C. Morrison (story)
   Larry Gates, Myron McCormick
   04 April 1961
   25:34 (total) • 21:22 (film) • 1:54 (Hitchcock)

Museum Piece
Mr. Hollister, the curator of a museum is finishing up a tour with a small number of customers before closing for the evening. One man remains behind, an archaeo-psychologist (I think that's what he said?) by the name of Clovis who makes observations about a human skeleton on show in the museum. After some small talk Hollister invites Clovis to join him for a drink. Clovis claims he can diagnose ancient man from his possessions and so is shown around the room that passes as the entire museum. One of the items is a stuffed grey fox whom Hollister calls "Circe". He also reveals that the skeleton was his son Ben (because you know, that's what you do when your son dies - you wait for him to rot and then stick his skeleton on a stand and put it in your living room!)
Hollister tells the back story of how the fox was responsible for luring the son to his doom. Ben was out hunting one day tracking the fox and learning its habits until one night he follows it into a barn and kills it. What Ben doesn't know is that Tim McCaffrey and his girlfriend are inside the barn having some 'private time' when they witness the shooting of the fox. Tim confronts Ben and after an altercation Ben shoots him dead in self defence. The girlfriend eventually reacts to what she has seen, but not before time!
Mr. Hollister (that's Ben's father in case you missed it) pleads with the prosecutor Mr. Henshaw (Edward Platt) that the killing was not intentional and that Ben should receive a fair trial but Henshaw doesn't seem to care. At the trial, Henshaw puts his strong case across for the prosecution and demands the death penalty for Ben. Ben is found guilty of first degree murder but gets a lighter sentence of life imprisonment.
Mr. Hollister visits his son in prison and lays out his plans to create a private museum from a ranch and asks Ben to design it but Ben just isn't interested. Knowing that Ben will not survive in prison, Hollister once again pleads with Henshaw to intervene but Henshaw refuses.
Back in the present and Hollister winds up his retelling of the story with Clovis at the museum. When Hollister steps out momentarily Clovis makes a discovery about the skeleton Hollister claims is his son...
[Hitch is standing next to a mummy's sarcophagus with a mummy standing next to it] "Good evening. This object which looks like a gentleman who innocently wandered into a Red Cross bandaging class is a mummy. This particular one is an Egyptian Pharaoh and was buried with all his wives. A rather extreme example of togetherness. A few of his more progressive colleagues subscribed to this custom but with a difference: they buried their wives first, promising to follow at their earliest convenience. Appropriately enough the title of tonight's theatre piece is 'Museum Piece'. First however, we have an item with no title but perhaps after watching it you can think of a name to call it."

"Unfortunately the police took a dim view of the old curator personally adding a new exhibit to the museum. Sometimes I find the attitudes of the authorities puzzling. They seem bent on stifling initiative, but enough of that. Now we shall watch while my sponsor makes an exhibition of himself. [fade out; fade in] That is all until next week when we return with another story. Perhaps we shall put our gift-wrapped friend back in his box. [Hitch opens the sarcophagus and notes hieroglyphics inside] His last will? No. Listen for for dial tone before depositing money. [shrugs shoulders] Good night. [Hitch then walks into the sarcophagus and closed the lid behind him!]"

So the skeleton was not Ben, but that of Mr. Henshaw, whom Hollister blamed for the death of his son. The archaeologist was actually from the district attorney's office working undercover. Clovis discovers that the skeleton is Henshaw and not Ben. But before he can do anything about it Hollister kills him with a knife to the back and then later stuffs Clovis's skeleton into the display cabinet along side Henshaw's. How does one person manage to keep getting all these skeletons anyway? Don't you have to wait for the body to rot first?

A bit of a silly episode if you ask me. There are some clues scattered throughout the episode that gives away the ending if you know where to look and listen for them. The reaction of Tim's stupid girlfriend after Ben shoots him dead is so ridiculously stupid, it's just stupid. She sits there and watches it happen and just stupidly doesn't even react. Unsurprisingly the actress Darlene Tompkins didn't have much of an acting career after that! I wasn't surprised by the ending, and I am not so sure I was supposed to laugh either but I did! Especially when we see the second skeleton with one leg shorter than the other (if viewers were paying attention they will have noted Clovis mentioning this early on). Not altogether exciting and no big surprise at the end either. I've seen better.

(click any image to enlarge)

Mr. Hollister... LARRY GATES
Newton B. Clovis... MYRON McCORMICK
Ben Hollister... BERT CONVY
Mr. Henshaw... EDWARD PLATT
Tom McCaffrey... TOM GILLERAN
Tim's girlfriend... DARLENE TOMPKINS
Prison guard... TOM BEGLEY
Defense attorney... PAUL BRADLEY

(click any image to enlarge)

Acknowledgements: [IMDb]

This page was last updated on: 04 July 2020