Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Series 1, Episode 9

   Robert Stevenson
   Harold Swanton (teleplay)
   Peter Lawford, John Williams
   27 November 1955
   25:04 (total) • 21:45 (film) • 1:50 (Hitchcock)

The Long Shot
Charley Raymond (Peter Lawford) is a gambler desperate to get out of town to avoid his creditors after he loses a bet on a horse race. His prayers are answered when he reads an advertisement in a newspaper from a Londoner by the name of Hendricks (John Williams) who is seeking companionship from a fellow-Londoner to drive with him to San Francisco. Charley telephones Hendricks and adopts a fake British accent and agrees to meet with him at his hotel later that evening to discuss the trip.
The next day they set off in the car, leaving New York behind them as they head to California. Hendricks, whose advert specified a Londoner along for the ride, spends the whole journey boring his new passenger/employee about London and the old days. By the time they reach a motel Charley is on the verge of absolute boredom from Hendricks' relentless reminiscing of jolly old London. At the motel Charley asks for an advance on his salary and notes that Hendricks takes the cash out of his briefcase. When Hendricks is slowly getting drunk at the bar an associate of Charley's who has tracked him to the motel warns him about the debt he owes and proposes that Charley dumps the Englishman and comes away with him to place a huge bet on a horse race which potentially could pay off Charley's debt. Charley returns to his room and sneaks a look inside Hendricks' briefcase to find money and documents which would lead him to claiming a hefty inheritance left by his uncle; but as neither the family nor legal counsel knew of him personally Hendricks is required to show up at the offices with the paperwork to prove his identity.
Charley makes up his mind to dispose of Hendricks and assume his identity in order to claim the convenient money for himself, knowing this is his easy ticket to clearing his gambling debt once and for all. They continue the journey until Charley goes to visit Henricks' elderly aunt and cons her into believing he is Hendricks. She falls for it and after meeting him she tells him all about 'his' uncle and the will. Convinced that he has pulled off the false identity trick, Charley continues to drive Hendricks to San Francisco. That night Charley deliberately drives into the Nevada desert and stops the car to tell Hendricks they need to spend the night there because they are lost. Hendricks agrees and is even talked into sleeping outside on the ground.
That's the last anybody ever sees of Hendricks. The next morning Charley, now assuming Hendricks' identity arrives in San Francisco to meet the attorney in the hope of laying his hands on the inheritence... which he will never receive!
HITCH'S PROLOGUE (1 minute 1 sec):
[Hitch has his back to the camera and is playing a fruit machine. He pulls the handle and then bashes the side of it with his hand before turning to face the camera] "My last quarter. [He puts money in coin slot and pulls the handle again before cupping his hands at the bottom of the machine to collects his winnings - a couple of oranges] "I've been frightfully lucky this evening. Now if they were to invent a machine that I could play using orange seeds and cherry pips I'd be perfectly happy. All the foregoing would immediately seem justified, appropriate, clever and even dignified when I tell you tonight's narrative is about a gambler. It is called 'The Long Shot'. If you like to bet when the odds are high and the risk's great you'll appreciate our hero's philosophy. But if you prefer to put your money on a sure thing listen to this friendly tip about our highly touted product."

"We've had our dans macabre but as you know someone must always pay the piper. Fortunately we already have such a person, in fact several of them. These philanthropic gentlemen wish to remain anonymous but perhaps the more discerning of our audience will be able to find a clue to their identities in what follows. Af ter which, I'll be back. [fade out; fade in] Thank you. Our unknown benefactors will bring us back again next week at the same time. Why don't you tune in and see what little surprises we have dreamed up for you. Good night."

Charley kills Hendricks - or so he thinks, in order to claim on his inheritance. But 'Hendricks' is already dead and "English Jim" is the suspect, who hires Charley to keep him abreast of developments in London. The story all unravels at the end in the DA's office. Wow! Simply wow!!!!

This is the best offering from the first series. There's more twists than a pretzel in this episode! This is absolutely and positively exquisite! On a sarcastic note, it's truly amazing just how much light there is in the middle of a desert at night when the two guys are outside the car trying to sleep!
To be honest, I could never really see the point of Peter Lawford. A bland Englishman, well in with the Rat Pack and the Kennedys, why was he so famous ? He always seemed stiff and awkward and out-of-place in those MGM movies of the late '40s. Yet here he redeems himself. This is a genuine star turn, in one of the best episodes I've seen so far, even though it kicks off by giving him some incongruously Runyonesque lines to establish his character as "a tinhorn horse-player named Charlie Raymond". Mr. Lawford needed to raise his game here : he's sharing screen time with that most cunning of actors, John Williams, as the ex-pat who yaps on about dear old London. That wouldn't bore me : I'd happily spend a long journey chatting with Mr. Williams about the finest city in the world. However........Yes, this one's a classic. One more thing though : did Mr. Lawford insist on - or request - a separate title card with his name on, before the episode title card ? This privilege is given to nobody else so far. Just a thought.

(click any image to enlarge)

Charlie Raymond... PETER LAWFORD
Walker Hendricks... JOHN WILLIAMS
Margaret Stoddard... GERTRUDE HOFFMAN
Matthew Kelson... ROBERT WARWICK
Police sergeant Mack... FRANK GERSTLE
Bartender... TIM GRAHAM

(click any image to enlarge)

Acknowledgements: [IMDb]

This page was last updated on: 21 June 2020