Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Series 2, Episode 35
Marian Cockrell (teleplay); J.P. Cahn (story)
Henry Jones, Mildred Dunnock
26 May 1957
24:28 (total) • 21:44 (film) • 1:28 (Hitchcock)
|The West Warlock Time Capsule|
George Tiffany is a taxidermist working out of a small studio which sits underneath his apartment. A young boy named Charlie watches on as George prepares a dead horse named Napoleon for stuffing. Minus its bones, he uses a wooden structure to create the shape of the animal, but retains the creature's skull. The boy reads in a newspaper that the Mayor of West Warlock accepts a memorial for the horse, one of the community's most beloved citizens of twenty five years service, with a statue at the Buckhorn Hotel. Napoleon's body is to be encapsulated in a time capsule which will be opened in one hundred years.
George returns home where his wife has received a letter from her brother Waldren in Canada informing her that he is coming down to stay with them. George's wife Louise nervously asks if he would be prepared to give up his favourite armchair for her brother but George flatly refuses. A thunderstorm rears up and George goes downstairs to the shop to check on the windows. During his absence Waldren turns up at the apartment and quickly makes himself comfortable in George's armchair. When George returns to the apartment and sees Waldren sitting there he is not amused.
A week passes and Waldren is still there, making himself right at home and having caught a cough from the storm. Feeling cold, he objects when George opens a window to let in some air despite the stifling heat in the room. He makes a real nuisance of himself and asks for cough medicine, which runs out. George is told by his wife to go and get some more (because even though Waldren is HER brother, apparently it is George's job to run errands for him? Go figure.)
George returns to his workshop and shows the young boy the time capsule he is planning to stuff inside the horse when he spots Waldren outside heading off out. George takes the opportunity to return home and speak to his wife about her brother and is concerned about her doing everything for him. Later George returns home from another day in the shop to find his wife lying on the kitchen floor. He takes her to the hospital where the doctor advises George to get rid of the brother-in-law. So George returns home to confront Waldren, who is completely uninterested in anything George has to say to him.
It's clear that Waldren is nothing but a lying, lazy, selfish and inconsiderate slob with no respect for anybody. George types up a letter to his wife telling her that Waldren has gone away to Mexico and signs it from Waldren. That is the last anybody sees of Waldren. Then comes the proud declaration from the mayor, who congratulates George on his work with the stuffed horse. I am sure you can guess by now what is stuffed inside the horse?
•When Waldren is coughing his guts up and realises the medicine is all gone.... you just KNEW Louise would tell George to go and get some more. No love, he's YOUR brother - YOU go and get some more! Cheeky cow. She even feeds Waldren the medicine on a spoon. What a lazy pain in the arse he is!
•The formaldehyde is introduced early on in the story and it is explained by George what it does. So when the annoying Waldren's cough medicine runs out and George is told to go and get some more it's pretty obvious what comes next.
HITCH'S PROLOGUE (53 secs):|
"Good evening television watchers. Tonight's masque is entitled 'The West Warlock Time Capsule'. The tale of a timid taxidermist. This gives me an excuse to exhibit this prize of mine and discuss taxidermy. I feel I know quite a bit about stuffed animals. After all, it takes one to know one. This I shot myself. You see, deer poaching is one of my hobbies. It took only two shots. The first one hit a bearded old man wearing a ridiculous red suit and riding in a sleigh. I'm having him stuffed too. It probably sounds silly to you but I'm sentimental that way. But enough of this, here in a moment is 'The West Warlock Time Capsule'."
HITCH'S EPILOGUE (35 secs):
"Honesty demands that I reveal that all did not go as Mr. Tiffany had planned. The weight of Waldren's pouchy body proved too much for Napoleon and within a few months the time capsule was opened by a Caesarian section. Waldren of course was quite dead and Napoleon hasn't been the same since. As for Mr. Tiffany the jury proved quite lenient. Next time we plan a return trip to your living rooms. I hope you will join us then. Good night."
IN MY HUMBLE OPINION...
This was another one of those episodes where I didn't feel particularly enthusiastic about it based purely on the title. But this was a thoroughly good episode with good (and annoying) characters. The ending was a little obvious but the build up to it was entertaining and enjoyable. I must admit I liked this.
This gem of an episode is greatly enhanced by the relaxed and relaxing presence of Henry Jones, America's Mr. Everyman, one of those actors who never lets you down, a friendly personality with a warm and winning smile, who is not above murdering his brother-in-law and inserting him in a stuffed horse. So engaging is Mr. Jones as an actor that we genuinely want him to get away with it, and the episode ends with a close-up of his seraphic smile as he does exactly that. When Hitch hilariously explains what happens next - and we can imagine how this appalling scenario must have looked, with the mummified corpse dropping out - we feel a sense of relief to hear that the judge was lenient. The appropriately-named Mildred Dunnock - for she resembles an unobtrusive little garden bird - is very sweet as Mr. Jones' wife, and we feel for him as he becomes increasingly frustrated by the sullen laziness of Waldren, the brother-in-law from hell. Mr. Jones' kindness and tolerance has been signposted earlier, as he refrains from hurling abuse or sharp objects at another one of those annoying whiney-voiced child actors, but Waldren is on another level altogether. Perfectly played by the tragically short-lived Sam Buffington, Waldren is a disgusting slob of a man, a slug in human form, and he gets what's coming to him : a hammer blow on the head and a syringe full of formaldehyde. Mercifully (or not !) the scene fades before we get to see the insertion point. This episode was a treat, excellent in every way, the series at its best.
(click any image to enlarge)
George Tiffany... HENRY JONES
Louise Tiffany... MILDRED DUNNOCK
Waldren... SAM BUFFINGTON
Dr. Rhody... RUSSELL THORSON
Mayor Herbert Ayers... CHARLES WATTS
Customer... JAMES F. STONE
Horse mover... JAMES PHILBROOK
Charlie... BOBBY CLARK
(click any image to enlarge)
This page was last updated on: 31 October 2020