Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Series 3, Episode 22

   Hersechel Daugherty
   Andrew Solt, Stirling Silliphant (teleplay); Andrew Solt (story)
   Jacques Bergerac, Susan Kohner, Marcel Dalio
   02 March 1958
   24:07 (total) • 21:40 (film) • 0:59 (Hitchcock)

The Return Of The Hero
Marseillie, France. Sergeant Andre Doniere (JACQUES BERGERAC) is a veteran from the French-Algerian war who finds himself at a small bar in Cafe Leon. He is in love with the proprietor's daughter Therese (SUSAN KOHNER), whose first duty is to take a bowl of soup outside to her drunken, penniless Uncle Fernaud (VLADIMIR SOKOLOFF). Andre offers to buy a lady singer playing a concertina a cognac but his friend Corporal Marchand pays for the drink instead, saying he owes Andre a favour.
The depressed Andre has taken the tough decision to return home to be with his fiancee Sybil and his family. Corporal Marchand entertains a young lady named Cherie at the bar with his story of the war and how he came to know Sergeant Doniere when they were picked up in the desert and taken to the same military hospital. He also tells her that he will soon be accompanying Doniere back to his friend's home where he will stay in one of the guest suites.
Doniere has a frank conversation with Therese at the bar about him leaving to go home and tells her that their brief romance means nothing to him. Francois (MICHAEL GRANGER) has his own intentions of marrying Therese and enters the bar. He tells the proprietor that he saw Therese sitting in the park in the pouring rain and questions whether that is normal. When an argument breaks out between them Doniere warns them to be quiet, which aggravates Francois. An altercation takes place between them and when Francois confronts the sergeant, Doniere pulls out a knife and threatens him.
Corporal Marchand lets on to Francois that Doniere is the son of the wealthy Countess d'Auberge but Francois doesn't believe him and tells him to prove it for a bet of 10,000 francs. The corporal hands Francois a telephone and instructs him to make a call to the Countess himself, reverse the charges and say he is her son. When the Countess accepts the call the proof is made. Doniere is then handed the phone and forced to talk to his mother.
During the conversation Doniere speaks with his mother, his finacee, his younger sister and his step-father. He informs his mother that he intends to bring his friend home with him to the party she has organized for him and explains how the friend has lost a leg in the war and had saved his life. His mother, along with his finacee express their disgust in the idea of having a cripple in their home as it would put a dampner on their party. It's all Doniere needs to hear for him to realize just how shallow his family are.
Doniere leaves the bar and wishes Therese well. She goes after him, confessing her love for him as the story ends.

•Episode number 100.
•When we first see inside the cafe, Sergeant Doniere is sitting on a stool at the bar. There are some crutches next to him and we do not see his legs. It's only on a repeat viewing does the viewer understand this relevance.
•The entire story takes place in real time.
•Hitch's closing remarks are all of ten seconds, making them one of the shortest in the show's history.
HITCH'S PROLOGUE (49 seconds):
"Good evening ladies, gentlemen, and those of you who arrive too late to classify. I wish to welcome you to 'Alfred Hitchcock Presents'. Please relax. There is no admission charge, no cover and no minimum. This is a non-profit organization. Profit being defined as that which is left after I take my share. Tonight's electronic floor show transports us to France. The nation noted for fine wines and er, provocative postcards. The scene is Leon's Cafe in Marseille."

"Tonight I shall not indulge in my usual gallows humour, for this program has no desire to make light of men who have suffered because of war. This concludes tonight's show. Next time we shall return to the scene of our next crime. I hope you will join us. Good night".

Doniere's telephone call to his mother is the key to the whole story. He pretends that his friend has lost a leg but wants to bring him home as a guest of the family to test their reaction. When his mother refuses on the grounds that the friend would be not welcome on account of his deformity Doniere realises the judgmental nature of his parents. The truth is, it is not his friend, but Doniere himself who has lost his leg in the war. A cleverly disguised ending with a moral.

This was one of the more difficult decisions I have had to make in rating an episode out of ten. For 90% of the episode I was bored stiff, having to endure an almost pedestrian-paced and utterly pointless story which was not only boring to watch and hard to follow but also seemingly uninteresting as well. Until the end. There is a good moral to the story and the finale is certainly a surprise after the viewer has spent almost twenty minutes captivated by boredom and French accents! To top it all off, Hitch's closing remarks simply made me say "wow" out loud. A really odd episode, not one I would care to watch on repeat viewings but I have to hand it to that ending as being one of the more surprising finishes to these stories. If you manage to make it all the way to the end without falling asleep you will appreciate the unexpected ending. And when you know the ending it will certainly make you want to watch the episode again to see what you missed. It's a bit reminiscent of a previous episode, "None Are So Blind" (Series 2, Episode 5).

(click any image to enlarge)

Sergeant Andre Doniere... JACQUES BERGERAC
Corporal Marcel Marchand... MARCEL DALIO
Count d'Auberge... VICTOR VARCONI
Jeanette... KAREN LENAY
Sybil Delamont... LILYAN CHAUVIN
Cafe patron... BOBBY BARBER

(click any image to enlarge)

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

This page was last updated on: 14 December 2021