Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Series 3, Episode 6

   James Neilson
   Frank Gabrielson (teleplay); George F.J. Smith (story)
   Jo Van Fleet, Oscar Homolka, Claude Akins
   10 November 1957
   24:40 (total) • 21:55 (film) • 1:32 (Hitchcock)

Reward To Finder
Carl Gaminsky (OSCAR HOMOLKA) is walking home one night when he finds a wallet lying in the gutter by the side of the road. He picks it up and takes it home where his wife is doing her washing. As she serves him his supper he seems to be in an unusually good mood and shows her the wallet he found which contains $5,200 in cash and no identification inside. His wife, Anna (JO VAN FLEET) begins wondering what that money could do for her and a manicure set she has been wanting, before suggesting Carl hands the wallet into the police station with the hope of a small reward for their honesty. But Carl has other ideas.
A uniformed cop comes to the apartment asking for money for the police benevolent fund. After Carl gives the cop some money (out of his own pocket), his wife almost drops Carl in it when she asks the officer what she should do with an item she found. She is informed that if she hands anything into the police station and it isn't claimed by the owner within six months then she would get to keep it.
The next morning Anna reads an advertisement in the newspaper offering a generous reward for the return of the lost wallet. Anna is keen to contact the person who posted the ad, and excited to find out how much the reward is going to be, but Carl shows reluctance. Though, he does compliment his wife's cup of coffee. Uh-oh.
Later that evening Carl comes home from delivering the money back to its rightful owner but when his wife excitedly asks how much reward he got Carl tells her he got nothing. He sneaks off upstairs and yep, you guessed it, he still has the wallet in his pocket - which he hides under a floorboard in the attic with a smirk on his face.
Two week pass and one day Carl comes home from work with a bunch of newspapers which he collects. Anna reads in one of them the lost and found advert which is still asking for the return of the wallet. Suspicious, she creeps up the stairs to the attic and sees her husband through the keyhole counting out the money from the wallet. Anna demands "her share" of the money or else she will report him to the police. Well, she gets her way and is next seen giving herself a manicure from the brand new set she has just bought with the now-stolen money. And oh boy, that's just the beginning of her spree! The list of new items goes on and on!!
Carl flips out with Anna and her out-of-control spending and reminds her it is HIS money. She counters with the fact SHE is entitled to half or she will tell the police everything. A bit hypocritical but there you go. They end up having a major fight and Anna calls the lost and found department at the police station. But when prompted, she tells the operator she had made a mistake. She makes Carl a cup of coffee (with an added ingredient) whilst upstairs Carl grabs a bronze statue in his hand. Oh dear, this isn't going to end well.

•During Hitch's opening remarks he slips up in his dialogue when he says, "Actually, I have no regard for money aside for purchasing..." Listen to the way he says "aside" - he clearly stumbles on his words.
•Look at how hurredly that wallpaper was stuck up on the stairwell wall! It has so many bubbles and creases in it.
•How convenient that the view from the keyhole just happened to place Carl right in the middle of it and an easy view of him counting the money!
•Now I do not condone violence or domestic abuse towards women in any way whatsoever but when Carl smacks Anna's hands after all the luxuries she purchased with that money I have to admit she deserved it! But when she hits him around the face later on during a heated argument I had my mouth wide open in shock! Whoah!
•"WHO DO I TALK TO ABOUT LOST AND FOUND? YES, I'LL WAIT!" - Now tell me that isn't just the funniest bit of dialogue in the whole episode.
[Hitch is standing with his back to the camera and placing dollar bills on a tree in the studio] "I'll be with you in a moment. I suppose you're as surprised as I was to see a money tree like this. The one's I've seen have always been much taller. Oh, I smudged that one. The ink wasn't dry yet. Last year my entire crop was wiped out by grasshoppers. I finally tried insect spray but by that time the grasshoppers were so rich they could afford gas masks! Actually, I have no regard for money. Aside from its purchasing power it's completely useless as far as I'm concerned. Unfortunately the leading characters in tonight's play do not share my detachment. You shall see what befell them in a moment."

[Hitch is holding a wad of bank notes in his hands and counting them] "Naturally no-one was the winner in that little merry-go-round. No-one except the local art store owner. The demands for statuettes shot up to astronomical heights. It was surpassed only by the amount of coffee that was sold. By the way, I thought my money was a bad influence on me, so I sold it. However, I had the foresight to strip it completely. [Hitch looks at the money and reads from it] Void if detached. [He throws all the money up in the air] Good night."

Both Anna and Carl were thieves. Carl was dishonest for not handing the wallet into the police and doing the right thing. This ultimately cost him his life. Anna was just greedy and felt entitled to money she came into under false pretenses by blackmailing her husband. Once she started using the money to buy herself luxuries she became no better than Carl. Both were cowards in the end as well because Anna poisons her husband in a deceitful way and Carl violently murders her when her back is turned. The irony was that the object he used to kill her was purchased with the stolen money. What a mess. The moral of the story here is for all the fur coats and luxuries you have in this life - they are completely meaningless to you when you are dead. Okay, that isn't the moral of the story at all.

In what wasn't intended to be such a humorous episode, I couldn't stop laughing when Carl comes home to find Anna has refitted the entire living room with new chairs, a sofa, pillows, a new dress, hand lotion, a new cooker and just for good measure a FUR COAT! She went completely mad with that money. And to top it all off, that phone call she makes to the police where she yells down the phone demanding to speak to lost and found. Just imagine being on the receiving end of THAT call? So, I thought all along that the missing wallet belonged to the policeman but I was wrong. In fact we never actually find out who owned the wallet, which was a bit of a let down and an anti-climax but I guess that wasn't the point of the story. The focus of the story was greed. So for the pure brilliance in its unintentional comedy I just had to score this an 8. Yet strangely, it is probably one of those episodes I wouldn't want to watch on repeat if you know what I mean?
It's pleasing to welcome back our old friend the Poison in the Coffee. This was becoming all too frequent in the earlier episodes, to the extent that it must have accounted for half the murders on American television. But here it's an appropriate ending to a splendid episode. Again, there are no winners at the end of this tale, but it doesn't matter, with such a great script and assured acting from the small cast. Oscar Homolka - who is hardly small - reprises his hulking morose downbeat turn from "Sabotage", and in one dramatically-lit shot as he's going up to the attic he looks just like Dracula (but better fed). Jo Van Fleet is the browbeaten loyal wife who's stuck with this abrasive loser. She was forty before the movies discovered her, and she often plays older characters, but here she is momentarily allowed to look more glamorous than she did in "Shopping For Death" in Season One. She fluffs a line but so what ? People do that in real life (and so does Hitch in his intro). Her performance is a masterclass in naturalistic acting. As in all the best Hitch episodes, the tension builds up throughout, leading to a conclusion that is somehow inevitable and the only possible outcome for this sorry pair who had it all and lost it all. Did I mention the Poison in the Coffee ? I'm sure we'll see it again. This really was a great one. Hitch's "money-tree" introduction was well-written too. If Hitch is good, the show will be good - and this was.

(click any image to enlarge)

Mrs. Anna Gaminsky... JO VAN FLEET
Carl Gaminsky... OSCAR HOMOLKA
Police officer... CLAUDE AKINS

(click any image to enlarge)

The Alfred Hitchcock Presents Companion by Martin Grams Jr & Patrik Wikstrom (book) [IMDb]

This page was last updated on: 15 February 2021