Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Series 3, Episode 15

   Robert Altman
   Robert C. Dennis (teleplay); Alec Coppel (story)
   Joseph Cotten
   12 January 1958
   24:23 (total) • 21:24 (film) • 1:29 (Hitchcock)

It's the annual Christmas office party and Shelley (CHRISTINE WHITE) is trying to make a telephone call to her boyfriend Tony Gould (JOSEPH COTTEN) but the noise from all the drunken workers in the office is too much for her to hear so she goes into the boss's office instead. Mr. Courtney (GORDON WYNN) lets Shelley use his phone before he leaves and wishes her a Happy Christmas. Shelley phones Tony's best friend Charlie (SAM BUFFINGTON) in the hopes of getting hold of Tony, who happens to be there. She asks Tony if he has told his wife about their affair and threatens to do so herself if he hasn't.
Tony makes his way over to Shelley's building where they lock themselves in the boss's office for privacy. He tells her that his wife has agreed to a divorce but it will take time. The impatient and suspicious Shelley needs convincing and attempts to telephone Tony's wife to make sure she knows but in a panic Tony grabs a knife (it's actually a letter opener) and kills Shelley. He leaves her lying on the floor and tries to leave by unlocking the office door with her keys but the key snaps off in the lock, trapping him (and Shelley) inside the room. Tony hides Shelley's body in the adjoining bathroom and tries to find another way out of the office by smashing a window but can't get out due to bars across the frame. Also, he is two storeys up so he can't jump out of the window either. He is trapped in the office with a corpse. Doesn't look good for him.
Tony phones Charlie to come over to the building and rescue him but Charlie is drunk and in no fit state to help out. As luck would have it Tony sees a woman across the way at her window and tries to get her attention by throwing a heavy object (not sure what it is) through her window. He tells the woman to call for a locksmith to come and let him out of the room and he thinks she obliges him. But in fact she calls the police, who arrive to rescue Tony, believing he is Mr. Courtney who has locked himself in his own office. All is good and Tony is freed when the cop kicks down the door to let him out. As Tony goes to leave with the cops, Charlie shows up drunk and staggers into the office. It's the worst thing that could have happened for Tony.

•I found it amazing how Tony had the balls to kill his girlfriend in cold blood in the office yet doesn't think to escape the office by breaking his way out? Doesn't make sense.
•If the building was all locked up how did the cops get in?
•In Hitch's opening remarks he opens with saying "we are indulging in an old city tradition", but another version was shot where he replaces the word "city" with "American". Also, he later says "we are going to throw a company director to the lions" which is replaced in another version with throwing a "vice president" to the lions. In the closing remarks again Hitch substitutes the phrase company director with vice president. Also, the epilogue ends with "But we before our party, the... chief wishes to remind us why we work here." which is missing from the DVD.
•The first hint of Tony's intentions come when he grabs Shelley with his hand on her chin and squeezes it. From here you suspect that he may be capable of more than just a playful bit of manipulation.
"Good evening fellow revelers. Tonight we are indulging in an old city tradition. It is the event that turn the mild-mannered white collar-worker into a four-armed beast of prey, the office party. However, we had this room designed especially for the party by the girls in the office. It has no corners. I am in charge of the entertainment which all should enjoy. After most of the hors d'oeuvres have been eaten, we're going to throw a company director to the lions, I realise it isn't much but the lions are a great deal cheaper than the string quartet we had last year. They don't drink as much either. And now for our party." [Hitch pours drink]

[Hitch is now standing next to a large lion on a table] "If you think Tony Gould is in trouble, you should have been at our party. My fastidious friend here refused to eat the company director we had prepared for him. The other workers are furious. Several of them were only one heart beat away from a promotion. It was all I could do to rescue Leo from the crowd. People can be quite vicious once they get the smell of blood."
[the DVD version continues with...] My friend here is taking me home with him tonight. However I shall be back again next time with another story. Good night."

[the original script continues with...] I think I shall allow him to continue his escape by turning out the lights for one moment, after which I'll return. [commercial break, followed by a scene with the lion eating Hitch's jacket]

Tony, who had plenty of time to get out of the locked office awaits for help to arrive. Expecting his drunken friend Charles and/or a locksmith to show up he instead finds two policemen coming to assist him. The cops free Tony from the room but Charles shows up and finds Shelley's corpse in the bathroom leading the cops straight to her and with Tony locked in the room with her immediately makes him the prime suspect.

An entertaining episode albeit slightly dumb as well. The clue was in the title and it became apparent quite early on what "together" was going to end up meaning. A dark episode where Tony's character is a cold killer who tries to cover up his affair by offing his mistress to stop her from blackmailing him. Not only that but he kills her from behind and then after realising he is in a locked room with her corpse he is dumb enough to invite help to arrive in order to free him instead of kicking the door down and getting the hell out of there. Mind you, Joseph Cotten demands the viewer's attention with his on-screen presence as always and despite his sinister character he is highly watchable. Hitchcock delivers his closing remarks whilst standing next to a massive lion was bold and brave. Got to give him big credit for that one. I thought the story flowed rather well and the episode was over quite quickly. Just goes to show how absorbed one can get when being immersed in the story!

(click any image to enlarge)

John Courtney... GORDON WYNN
Man at party... SANFORD L. GIBBONS
Dark-haired girl... BONNE GREEN
Woman at window... FLORENCE MACAFEE
Frank, the young cop... FRANK ALLOCCA
George, the old cop... GEORGE ELDREDGE

(click any image to enlarge)

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

This page was last updated on: 30 May 2021