Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Series 3, Episode 19

   James Neilson
   Robert C. Dennis (teleplay); Roy Carroll (story)
   Leif Erickson, Martin Balsam, Norma Crane
   09 February 1958
   24:58 (total) • 21:55 (film) • 1:33 (Hitchcock)

The Equalizer
Eldon Marsh (MARTIN BALSAM) has just got through playing a round of golf and brags about his successful win over his opponent Harvey Sloan in the changing rooms with his friend Wayne Phillips (LEIF ERICKSON). Eldon and Harvey then retire to the club to share some drinks where Harvey tells him he has just hired a salesman named Wayne Phillips whom he intends to play a round of golf with at the weekend. Harvey asks Wayne to make up a game of bridge with him but Wayne isn't interested so Harvey settles for alternative players.
Later that evening Eldon asks his wife Louise (NORMA CRANE) for her opinion on Phillips she brushes him off as nothing more than okay. But when Eldon tries to extract more from her by suggesting that she was fascinated by him she turns it around by say that it is he who appears to be the one who is fascinated by Phillips. Louise assures Eldon that she is completely uninterested in Wayne Phillips before going to sleep.
On Monday morning Phillips finds Eldon is his office and starts chatting with him not only about Eldon's wife but also a co-worker's wife. Eldon gets fed up with Phillips' constant praise and compliments for his wife and so warns him to back off. Phillips responds with "I don't know whether that's a warning - or a dare?" Hmmmmm..... interesting!
Saturday comes and it's the day for the pre-arranged golf game but Phillips doesn't show up at the club. The guys start talking and Eldon overhears that Phillips has a reputation for playing around with married women. Suddenly Eldon doesn't feel too well and makes an excuse to leave. He tries to make a telephone call - presumably to his wife, but nobody answers.
Eldon gets slowly drunk at a bar when his wife shows up. He tells her he didn't feel like playing golf and almost came home. She momentarily looks nervous but continues the conversation and tells him she has been home all day. Phillips and Sloan are playing their bridge game in the bar when Phillips gets up and walks outside to where Louise has just gone. When he returns to his chair Eldon throws a drink into his face and offers to fight him right there. After some threats Phillips punches Eldon out cold.
That night Louise comes home to find Eldon in bed and feeling sorry for himself when she admits she has in fact been seeing Phillips. Louise tells Eldon that she leaving him and storms off out. Eldon is fired from his job and vows to find Phillips and fight him. Boss Harvey offers to give Eldon his job back if he just forgets all about Wayne Phillips but Eldon is hell bent on revenge. Eldon returns to the country club and finds Phillips flirting with another woman. He wants to fight and tells Phillips one of them has to die. Given that there is an obvious physical mismatch between the small Eldon and the much larger Phillips, Eldon offers a duel with equal weapons but Phillips refuses. Eldon persists by phoning Phillips at the club and still Phillips refuses to fight so Eldon shows up at his home and eventually Phillips agrees to a showdown with guns on the roof of a building in 2 hours time.
Both men show up on the roof, but only one of them is armed....

•Based on a short story "The Equalizer" by Roy Carroll, originally published in the October 1957 issue of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine.
•Mrs. Sobel's name is "Gene", according to Eldon Marsh - though the Grams/Wikstrom book lists her name as "Jane".
[Hitch is holding a golf club and dressed in golfing attire] "Good evening and welcome to tee-time. I'm taking up golf. I've learned to play by watching a demonstration on television. I'm convinced that it's very easy to make a hole in one. At least this one. [camera pulls back to reveal a man lying on the ground and Hitch about to swing his club at the man's head] In the demonstration a golfer knocked a ball off his friend's head. I'm not using a ball. Being a beginner, I feel I am entitled to a larger target. Perhaps you'd better look the other way. I know I shall. [Hitch closes his eyes and swings his club]

"So much for the price of low fidelity. I'm quite angry with my friend. [Hitch lifts up his golf club to reveal the head is broken] He ruined my club. And he didn't land anywhere near the hole. As a matter of fact I can't even find him. Now I'll have to find a ball, it's quite distressing. Why don't you join me in the locker room after we pass one of those sand traps that dot the fairways of television. [commercial] I thought we'd never get out of that one. However, we seemed to have completed the course in thirty minutes, which is par. Why don't you joins us next week for another round? In the club house, of course. Good night."

After his wife leaves him Eldon has nothing to lose and tells Phillips to bring a gun to their duel. But what Eldon ends up doing is framing Phillips for his murder knowing that Phillips will kill him. Eldon makes Phillips believe he has a gun when in fact he is unarmed and is prepared to sacrifice his life so that Phillips will go to prison for his murder. Kind of clever.

Suspenseful. I must admit when Eldon caresses his golf club early on and calls it his "equalizer" I figured it would come in to play later on, but this is a red herring (or just my strange imagination). I was hoping that the climax would reveal that Eldon had it all wrong and that there was a reasonable excuse for his wife's behaviour, but it turned out that she was in fact the slut he thought she was by cheating on him with Phillips. A powerful episode in some ways which builds nicely to a really exciting finale..... which in the end was more of an "oh" ending than an exciting one. Balsam is great, and to be fair so is Erickson as the cheating bastard who steals his wife!

(click any image to enlarge)

Wayne Phillips... LEIF ERICKSON
Eldon Marsh... MARTIN BALSAM
Louise Marsh... NORMA CRANE
Harvey Sloan... ROBERT RIORDAN
Police officer... ROBERT GIBBONS
Police officer... FRANK WATKINS

(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 November 2021