Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Series 2, Episode 6

   Robert Stevens
   Jessica Tandy, Robert H. Harris
   04 November 1956
   24m 13s

Albert Birch, a middle-aged man from Canadohta, Pennsylvania, (Robert H. Harris) plans on bringing his girlfriend of 20 years to come and live with him in his apartment building by renting her a separate flat, but being the fussy type, she insists on having all new crockery. His landlady (Mary Wickes) is getting everything in readiness for him but when she accidentally breaks a vase in which Birch wants to put some flowers he sees it as a bad sign.
Edwina arrives and she's not alone! Birch looks less than thrilled that she is holding a newborn baby in her arms. But it turns out that 'Toby' belongs to Edwina's sister Martha, much to Birch's relief. Edwina explains that she is looking after the baby after her sister and her husband were killed in an accident, thus making Toby an orphan. Birch tells his fiancee that he is a bookkeeper and she is delighted. They go on to discuss how happy they are to have met up with one another again after so many absent years on account of Edwina putting an personal advert in the newspaper to find him. Everything seems to be going well. Until Birch offers to take the baby his bottle of milk and Edwin reacts strongly and stops him from doing so. The suspicion begins.
Three week pass and it's not just Birch's curiosity, but the neighbours begin to wonder about why they haven't seen much of the baby. Edwina's demeanour changes completely. She is easily startled, moody and aggressive towards Birch who pressures her into getting married, or at least to discuss the idea of it as they had previously planned. After she puts Birch at ease he goes to his apartment as the neighbours enter her apartment rather forcibly to make a peace offering after a previous altercation. An argument ensues when the pushy neighbours make Edwina nervous and she demands for them to leave. But the husband ignores her request and instead tries to force his way into the bedroom to see the baby. Edwina threatens him with a kitchen knife and after Birch returns the neighbours leave.
Birch and Edwina have it out, with her giving him a mouthful and him feeling confused over the whole thing. Edwina almost has a breakdown as she explains how lonely she feels after being absent from Birch's life for two decades. Edwina confesses that having the baby has given her a purpose in life and despite some reassurances from Birch, she completely flips when he tries to kiss her. Just then two men show up looking for Edwina. They are from a sanatarium. It all adds up. Edwina is a fruitloop. But at least Birch isn't left alone... Edwina leaves him with Toby.
"Double, double, toil and trouble. Fire, burn, cauldron, bubble. [Camera pans back to reveal Hitch standing over a cooking saucepan as he is heating a bottle of milk]. I don't know why people do this, it's not at all good for the cuffs. Takes the starch out of them. I wonder if it does this to babies? Of course, that must be the idea! As you shall soon see tonight's play bears a relation to the foregoing, however slight. It is a tragical, comical, historical, pastoral, musical mystery entitled 'Toby'. 'Toby' takes place in New York in nineteen hundred and ten and on your television screen in just a moment."

"When shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightning or in rain? When the hurlyburly's done, when the battle's lost and won. That will be ere theh set of sun. Or in other words next week. Good night, cuz!"

Jessica Tandy in complete cuckoo mode. You know there's something not quite right about her character right from the off, but you can't put your finger on what. I thought the baby was dead but it turned out not to be the case. Then I suspected the reason we didn't see it was because it was black (how does my mind work?) Robert H. Harris is brilliant throughout, and you feel a little sorry for the guy after everything, and especially at the end. The episode felt like a lot of time stretching and the lack of suspense was made up for with the continuous guessing of the ending. It was okay, I suppose! Incidentally, Hitch's closing comments are taken from Macbeth.
Toby is a cat. That's right - a stupid bloody cat!

(click any image to enlarge)

Edwina Freel... JESSICA TANDY
Albert Birch... ROBERT H. HARRIS
Mrs. Foster (landlady)... MARY WICKES
Marie McGurk... ELLEN CORBY
Italian tenant... PENNY SANTON

(click any image to enlarge)

Acknowledgements: [IMDb]

This page was last updated on: 20 March 2020