Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Series 2, Episode 37
George F. Slavin (teleplay)
Robert Middleton, Joe Mantell, Russell Collins
09 June 1957
24:14 (total) • 21:18 (film) • 1:35 (Hitchcock)
|The Indestructible Mr. Weems|
A board meeting of the 'Knights Of The Golden Lodge' is in session with Cato Stone (Robert Middleton) presiding as the leader. The men discuss their problem with regards to Elysium Park, a new cemetery which is slightly short of, shall we say, customers. With them having trouble of not being able to sell any plots they decide to pay a visit to Clarence Weems, a man whom they suspect will not live much longer to offer him a proposition of paying him $50 a week until he dies in exchange for him agreeing to be buried in their cemetery.
The men climb the four flights of stairs to Weems' apartment and are shown in by his daughter, who just happened to have been engaged to one of the lodge members but had postponed their wedding. Weems is sick and in his bed and tells the gentlemen he may not be around much longer. The lodge members pitch their idea to Mr. Weems who, after finding a small discrepancy about payment, likes and signs the contract. The men leave, happy with the progress they have made, as Weems gets friendly with his maid Mrs. Collins (whose character name ironically matches that of the actor she stars with in the scene!)
Later during another lodge meeting Cato is surprised by Weems' letter of intent to join their little outfit and Mr. Brown's up-and-coming marriage to Weems' daughter. One of the members rushes into the meeting excitedly to report he has just seen a very healthy Mr. Weems walking with a woman in the park. The members head off back to Weems' apartment, trudging again up those exhausting four flights of stairs to see him but find Weems to be resting.
A few nights later at the lodge ball Weems shows up with Mrs. Collins which frustrates the lodge members who end up arguing amongst themselves. They decide to go and speak to Weems' doctor who tells the men that Weems had lost his wife and business and had given up all hope and the will to live until the members made him their proposal, which then gave him hope and the desire to keep on living. The doctor commends them for their actions. But the men are so fed up that their plans have backfired that they make one last throw of the dice by offering Weems a hefty $500 for him to rip up the contract. The men race up the stairs to Weems' apartment but it's too much for one of their members, who collapses and dies at the top.
•Mr. Weems lives in apartment 4-D. Maybe a reference to an episode from the series, "Nightmare In 4-D"?
•The episode features two of the finest actors from the series: Robert Middleton and Russell Collins. It's virtually impossible not to take your eyes off them as once again the men put in top-notch performances.
HITCH'S PROLOGUE (40 secs):|
[Hitch is lying on a bed with his arms folded behind his head] "Good evening. Since you are allowed to make yourselves comfortable during our show I thought it only right that I'd be allowed to relax. After all, the rules of television seem weighed far to much in favour of the viewer. You can relax in your home, while I must stay here in this drafty studio. I'm not feeling a bit well but the show must go on whether you like it or not. And tonight's show is called 'The Indestructible Mr. Weems". Of course the show is not the only thing that must go on. We also have commercials, and they too must go on and on and on and on."
HITCH'S EPILOGUE (55 secs):
[Hitch gets up off the bed] "There, I think that proves we can be as sunshiney as anyone. Clarence and the widow Collins lived happily ever after and in desperation the trustees finally converted their park into a track for dog racing. It proved more popular than a cemetery, and rather profitable too. One of the consolations of being ill is the gifts one receives. [Hitch walks over to a coffin] One of my dear friends sent me this. Solid oak. Silver handles too. Apparently the donor wishes to remain anonymous. The card is unsigned. [camera zooms in to a card which reads "Wear it in Good Health"] Very nice. But I better not over-tax myself. Until our next visiting hours then..." [Hitch climbs back onto the bed and holds up a "Do Not Disturb" sign before going back to sleep].
IN MY HUMBLE OPINION...
A cracking episode, which is unsurprising given that Robert Middleton and Russell Collins are two of the stars. Despite the stagnant scenes with the many board meetings, there is a level of humour which is delivered with impeccable timing and deliciousness. "He's already entered himself in the cha-cha contest!" The way Robert Middleton delivers that line is funny as hell! The ending was predictable but even so, take nothing away from the sheer delightfulness of the episode in general.
Robert Middleton is a lodge boss, the big menacing guy in charge of some corrupt businessmen, and Russell Collins is a seemingly frail old coot who's much craftier and resilient than they imagined. We're in safe hands. We know what both of these splendid actors can do and how they work, so we can relax and enjoy ourselves. This is that rare beastie, a Hitch telly episode that's not based on a pre-existing story. It's an original teleplay, and it works beautifully. All we ask of Mr. Middleton is that his carefully-laid plans come unstuck, and they do. There's a nice circular quality to this, and a near-perfect ending with everything tied up neatly. The running gag - sometimes literally - of the four unfit middle-aged men hurrying up the stairs, pretending to be concerned for the well-being of Mr. Collins but with dark and greedy motives, has exactly the right payoff. Although dealing with the impending but much-delayed demise of one of the main characters, this is a light-hearted piece, with much fun at the expense of those lodges that permeate the world of American business (as in Laurel and Hardy's "Sons of the Desert"). We've all encountered hypocrisy disguised as philanthropy - even now we're engulfed by it - so the conclusion of this episode is quite satisfactory and entirely as it should be. A superb episode, one of the best so far.
(click any image to enlarge)
Cato Stone... ROBERT MIDDLETON
Harry Brown... JOE MANTELL
Clarence Weems... RUSSELL COLLINS
Mr. Elkins... DON KEEFER
Mr. Brodksy... HARRY BELLAVER
Laura Weems... REBECCA WELLES
Sara Collins... GLADYS HURLBUT
Dr. Allen... THEODORE NEWTON
Mr. Evans... TED BLISS
Minister... FERDI HOFFMAN (Voice only)
(click any image to enlarge)
The Alfred Hitchcock Presents Companion by Martin Grams Jr & Patrik Wikstrom (book)
This page was last updated on: 19 November 2020