Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Series 2, Episode 30

   Jules Bricken
   Sarett Rudley (teleplay); A.A. Milne (story)
   John Williams, Barbara Baxley
   14 April 1957
   24:24 (total) • 22:02 (film) • 1:15 (Hitchcock)

The Three Dreams Of Mr. Findlater
Ernest Findlater (John Williams) is a middle-aged married man who is frustrated with his nagging wife Minnie (Isobel Elsom) so he takes refuge in talking to a young attractive girl named Lalage who appears on a South Sea poster in his study, whom he imagines as real. In his dream he is with Lalage and lounging around on a bed on a Hawaiian island sipping cocktails and lying comforted in her arms. As they talk Findlater confesses to the girl of wanting to get rid of his wife and she helps him come up with a plan in doing so.
Findlater later discovers an abandoned crashed car in the bushes and a loaded gun on the driver's seat. He takes the gun with him with the intention of using it in the killing of his wife. He and Lalage end up in the gents toilets at his club and another plan is hatched whereby he will use a rope to lower himself down out of the window, go home and kill the wife and then return by climbing up the rope so as not to be seen by the desk clerk who always notices whenever guests arrive and leave. All of these ideas come to nothing however when finally Findlater goes home to do the deed only to discover his wife has in fact died already.

•This was John Williams' ninth and penultimate appearance in the series.
•This is the second episode where John Williams and Isobel Elsom play a married couple. In this episode he plans to murder her but fails. In "Back For Christmas", a previous episode from series 1, Williams plays Elsom's husband who actually does kill her and buries her body in the wine cellar. I wonder what he had against her?!
•Talking of "Back For Christmas", aside from John Williams and Isobel Elsom, there are two other actors who appear in both episodes: Molly Glessing plays the maid in both episodes, while Arthur Gould-Porter also appears in both.
•Unusually, there is no dialogue from Hitchcock in the closing remarks segment, as he is asleep on the couch.
HITCH'S PROLOGUE (1 minute 2 secs):
[Hitch is lying on a couch whilst a psychiatrist (played by Raymond Bailey) sits beside him in a chair taking notes] "And then I dreamed I was in a huge theatre where one of my motion pictures was being shown. But the theatre was absolutely empty; not a full seat anywhere. On one wall was a gigantic mirror and when I looked into it I didn't see my own face, I saw my wife's. I suppose I'd accidentally wandered into her dream."
Psychiatrist: "That's not unusual. Do you and your wife sleep in a double bed or in twin beds?"
Hitch: "Both. She has a twin, I sleep in a double bed."
Psychiatrist: "Of course."
Hitch: "And then I dreamed... [Hitch then finally looks at the camera and begins to address the viewers] Oh, good evening. As you see this week I'm very much pressed for time. However I should be glad to squeeze you in for our customary session. Tonight's story is about a man whose driving ambition was to become a widower. It is called, 'The Three Dreams Of Mr. Findlater'. "

[Hitch is now fast asleep on the couch and snoring. The psychiatrist leans over him and then faces the camera and simply says "Shhhhhh!"]

Findlater has a dream that his wife dies (conveniently for him, as this is is real-life wish) and that upon his return home he is met by the maid and doctor who confirm the news to him. As he plans to murder his wife, he returns home only to discover that his wife has actually died in the exact way he imagined it and the dream plays out for real.

A much more light-hearted episode than usual with touches of the comical, especially when it comes to John Williams's disguises, though overall it is a weak offering with a plot so full of holes it makes a swiss cheese look air-tight. Williams is more often than not the most reliable of actors and here he shows a much softer side to his usual strong screen presence as he talks to a girl who isn't really there while donning several fake beards and moustaches to avoid being identified later on when he goes to murder his wife. That said, the comical element of the episode waters down the genuine thrill with which we have become accustomed to with this series and for that reason it was hard to really take this seriously. Good effort by all those involved but ultimately this was more fun that it was real. Forgettable, and certainly not one of the better episodes in the series; still, I can't fault the writers for trying something different here.
Gene Kelly was a tad over-fond of dream sequences, and they seriously disrupted some otherwise excellent movies, as he was allowed to indulge himself in fifteen minutes of ballet. The problem with dream sequences is that their content isn't actually happening to any of the characters in the story, so why should we care ? Undermining this episode is our knowledge that Mr. Findlater is dreaming of something that could never happen to him. His Hawaiian goddess only exists as part of a sad bank employee's fantasy. If he killed his wife, he'd have his dream girl - but that's all she is. Like that Tom Cruise turkey Vanilla Sky, it's sometimes difficult here to separate the fantasy from the reality. As he walks through some obviously-interior woodland, he finds an abandoned MG with a gun on the seat. Did that really happen ? Is it likely to ? Later we find Mr. Findlater strenuously doing press-ups so he can nip in and out of a washroom with a cunningly-concealed rope, like a wheezy old cat burglar. Behind all this nonsense there's our old favourite, the meek man plotting to do in his overbearing wife, but it's much more light-hearted than usual thanks to another old favourite, our dear Mr. John Williams, who has great fun with it - and consequently so do we. The Hitch telly episodes always allow this fine actor to display the full range of his talents. But after all that unlikely plotting, one of Mr. Findlater's dreams comes true, and it ends the episode on a very downbeat note. Where's the fun in someone dying of a stroke ? Ultimately, was that what he wanted, and will he be happy now ? John Williams made this one memorable, but it didn't really hold together.

(click any image to enlarge)

Ernest Findlater... JOHN WILLIAMS
Minnie Findlater... ISOBEL ELSOM
Psychiatrist... RAYMOND BAILEY

(click any image to enlarge)

Acknowledgements: [IMDb]

This page was last updated on: 16 September 2020