Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Series 3, Episode 14

   James Neilson
   Bernard C. Schoenfeld (teleplay); David Alexander (story)
   Alex Nicol, Nita Talbot
   05 January 1958
   24:51 (total) • 21:45 (film) • 1:45 (Hitchcock)

The Percentage
Set in Manhattan, Eddie Slovak (ALEX NICOL) complains to his wife Fay (CAROLE MATHEWS) about their television set being broken and phones for a repairman in Queens to come and fix it, which Fay finds weird given the fact that it seems out of the way. The repairman, Pete Williams (DON KEEFER) shows up and instantly recognises his customer from their army days in Korea. Eddie tells Pete he has been looking for him for years but Pete says he changed his name to Wyzanski for business reasons.
Fay comes into the room and is introduced to the repairman despite Eddie's protests for her to stay out of the way.
Troubled by a time when Eddie had acted like a "chicken", he challenges Pete to call him a coward but Pete dismisses it. But Eddie persists, saying he wants to "fix the percentage" between them and to pay Pete for keeping their secret for all these years and for saving his life. He almost begs Pete and offers him all the money he wants but Pete simply just fixes the television set. Pete finally relents and settles for a fancy night out on the town with his wife one time.
The next evening Eddie and his wife Fay go out to a fancy restaurant with Pete and his wife Louise (NITA TALBOT). Eddie gets up to dance with Louise where he tries to pressure her into talking Pete into the idea of Eddie supporting him financially.
Back at the apartment and Louise telephones Eddie to make an arrangement to meet up at Pete's house for dinner the next night but Fay gets jealous, especially when Eddie calls Louise "baby" over the phone! Fay says she cannot attend the dinner date because she has a rehearsal so Eddie goes alone. When he arrives Louise is alone and tells Eddie that Pete is out getting ice cream for their dessert. Louise makes a play for Eddie but he is irritated that she has failed to talk Pete into accepting his offer.
When Eddie sees a framed photo of Pete in his army uniform on the mantle Louise seizes her moment and kisses him full on the lips. Their brief romantic clinch is broken when Pete returns with the ice cream (you won't believe which flavour it is!) Eddie goes on and on at Pete about wanting to pay him lots of money to show his appreciation but Pete starts to get a little fed up with it. Eventually Eddie goes too far when he trashes an ornament and Pete orders him to leave. Eddie leaves a bunch of money on the table to pay for the damages before leaving the apartment. Angered, Pete vows to send the money back.
Eddie returns home and finds his boss (WALTER WOOLF KING) sitting in an armchair and waiting to give him a proper bollocking. The boss tells Eddie to stop seeing Pete and his wife. A few days later (judging by Eddie's stubble) Eddie telephones Pete and tells him he put $20,000 in his account but Pete tells him he sent it back before hanging up the call. Later that day Louise calls up Eddie and invites him over when Pete is out and tells him that she has figured out a way of convincing Pete to take Eddie's money offer. Eddie goes over to Louise's apartment where they drink and fool around but when Louise admits she was only joking about having a plan Eddie strangles her to death. A bit extreme, but that's what he does.
Pete returns home, sees his dead wife slumped on the sofa with Eddie standing over her and doesn't smash his face in for some reason. The police, alerted by Louise's screams turn up and Eddie begs Pete to come up with a story about some prowler who broke into the apartment but Pete simply tells the cop the truth - Eddie killed Louise. As Eddie is taken into custody Pete does the proper thing by going to Eddie's apartment to break the news to Eddie's wife Fay....

•Based on the short story "The Percentage" by David Alexander, originally published in the April 1957 issue of Manhunt.
•Walter Woolf King's second appearance in the show (Our Cook's A Treasure).
•The repair bill for the television set is $6.43.
•The ice cream that Pete buys is chocolate peppermint. I mean, of all the flavours you could have bought - chocolate peppermint?
HITCH'S PROLOGUE (1 minute 7 secs):
"Oh good evening. I bring good news to those of you who are plagued by faulty television sets. [Hitch holds up a screwdriver] I am prepared to repair your set. It only stands to reason more can be accomplished working from the inside out then from the outside in. Let's see. Perhaps I should tighten this a bit. [Hitch leans forward and uses his screwdriver, causing the screen to go blurry] On second thought, it looked very good the way it was. [Hitch makes another adjustment and the screen returns to focus] Oh here's the trouble. We can't have loose wires hanging around. [the camera pulls back to reveal Hitch standing at a workbench full of tools and a cable suspended in mid-air, which he pulls on] Tonight's playlet is called 'The Percentage' and is about a professional hoodlum named Big Eddie who meets up with a television repairman. [Hitch pulls the cable from the ceiling and discovers an ariel at the end of it] As you see, it had exciting prospects. Someone has sent me the bird. But let's go on with the show. Perhaps we shall get some ideas from the repairman in the story. First however, we will subject the set and the audience, to this grueling test."

"Well that's the way the old body bounces. I can't seem to find out what's the matter with your set. What's this? [Hitch finds a shoe inside the broken television] No wonder so many television tubes are broken. If you don't care for the program turn off the set, don't throw your shoes at it! [Hitch then pulls out a horseshoe] Of course I realise that there are some of you that can't turn the knob. Your present tube seems to be in fine shape however. [Hitch smashes the glass on the television set with a handle] Oh well you shall have to wait until next time when we will be back with a new story and a new tube. Until then good night."

So the reason why Pete didn't accept Eddie's money was because all the time Pete was shagging... I mean having an affair with Eddie's wife. Eddie killing Louise made it easy for Pete to dump his own wife who admitted earlier on that she didn't really love him anyway, and then Pete could have the real prize of Eddie's wife Fay. Dirty rascal! I mean come on, out of the two women Louise was easily the better looking. Mind you looks aren't everything especially when the wife you have is secretly having an affair with your best mate.

Yeah, um, I don't quite know what to make of this one to be honest with you, haha! Eddie is relentless in trying to force Pete into accepting lots of cash but Pete resists every single time. At the end of the story we find out why. When I saw the ending I simply said, "is that IT?" Okay then. Hmmm... a bit disappointed because the episode kept building and building all the time but the ending was...... well.... it wasn't what I was expecting. Mind you, I am not sure what I was expecting! Made sense but seriously?
I did like Hitch's epilogue comments about throwing shoes at television sets!

(click any image to enlarge)

Eddie Slovak... ALEX NICOL
Louise Williams... NITA TALBOT
Pete Williams/Wyzanski... DON KEEFER
Eddie's boss.... WALTER WOOLF KING
Police officer... RALPH BARNARD

(click any image to enlarge)

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

This page was last updated on: 18 May 2021