Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Series 2, Episode 12

   Francis Cockrell
   John Williams, Patricia Collinge, Evelyn Varden
   16 December 1956
   24m 32s

The Rose Garden
Alexander Vinton (the ever reliable John Williams) is travelling from New York to meet up with Julia Pickering on business after she wrote a book his company intends to publish. On the cab ride over the driver seems surprised that Julia was capable of being an author and wonders if in fact his passenger has Julia confused with her sister Cordelia? After being dropped off at the ridiculously large house, Vinton is introduced to the two elderly sisters. After being shown to a room where he is invited to stay as a guest, Vinton begins to suspect that he is in the same house as depicted in the book written by Julia. He reads through the manuscript and sees objects in the bedroom which are all mentioned within the pages. One of the objects is a brass candlestick holder which he picks up after reading about how it was used as a murder weapon by Amelia who smashed it over Charles's head. He thinks out loud that 'Amelia' could be Cordelia?
That afternoon Vinton has tea with the ladies downstairs when he begins to voice his intrigue about how the house seems to be featured in the book, which surprises Cordelia, who hasn't read it. He continues on with details of the murder and even justifies the act of it much to the uncomfortable reaction from Julia. Cordelia expresses an interest in wanting to read the book before it is published but Julia seems to want to dissaude her from doing so. However, Vinton agrees to send Cordelia a copy of the book as soon as the publishers have it typed up.
Later Vinton catches Cordelia sneaking a peak at the manuscript in the bedroom but he doesn't let on to her that he knows. She leaves quickly and he enters the room only to find the candlestick holder missing while he reads aloud from the paper (seriously, who reads out loud to themselves?) In the story he reads about the stone bench in the garden....
In the second part of the episode we are treated to a fleeting shot of the aforementioned stone bench and we just know that is has some relevance to the storyline (!) Vinton scouts the garden and meets with Julia as they discuss some details from the book. He asks questions relating to the story for the sake of clarity but Julia starts to become agitated when Vinton's seemingly innocent interrogation of her gets a bit personal so she makes an excuse and leaves.
It seems that what Julia has written foreshadows what is to come of her dominating sister Cordelia as they leave for church. Vinton is left alone in the house for two hours while they are gone and he heads out into the garden to dig a hole to satisfy his curiosity that Cordelia's husband may be buried out there, as suggested in the story. Unfortunately for him Cordelia leaves church early and discovers Vinton digging. She confesses that Julia has a wild imagination and that she wrote the story to deal with the fact that she too was spurned by Cordelia's husband. Julia retracts her permission for having the book published and Vinton leaves. Julia finally finds the courage to stand up to Cordelia and threatens to go to the sheriff with all the facts, except Cordelia has other plans... and also, Vinton isn't quite done with them yet either.
[The camera pans to a sign which reads 'Cemetery lots - come in and browse' before we see Hitch waist-high in the ground digging a grave] "Oh good evening friends, Romans and countrymen. I've just unearthed some items which may be of vast archaelogical importance. Two fig leaves, and a half-eaten apple. Tonight's play is not about fig leaves but it does have a scene in a garden. It is called 'The Rose Garden' and is concerned with two elderly sisters in a magnolia scented house in Louisiana. [Hitch adopts a Southern accent to pronounce Louisiana]"

[Hitch is still in the mock cemetery and holding a shovel] "So much for the literacy set. And now we much interrupt our programme while we prepare the next play for production. I shall see you then. Good night".

The episode features John Williams. That automatically makes it worth watching. It starts out okay as the story is set up at the house, but it kind of loses its way in the second third by dragging on a little bit too long as Vinton reads the manuscript to Julia in the garden. However it does set up a tense finale which when you think it is going to go one way, the audience is thrown on its head and are taken in a different direction. It must also be noted that Hitchcock's dialogue is extremely minimal during this episode.
Cordelia confesses that she killed her husband to prevent the scandal of him running away with her sister Julia and that his body is out there in the garden... except it is underneath a different rosebed, where the bench used to be.

(click any image to enlarge)

Alexander Vinton... JOHN WILLIAMS
Julia Pickering... PATRICIA COLLINGE
Mrs. Cordelia Welles... EVELYN VARDEN
Barney, cab driver... RALPH PETERS

(click any image to enlarge)

Acknowledgements: [IMDb]

This page was last updated on: 12 April 2020