Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Series 1, Episode 3

   Don Medford
   Dick Carr (teleplay); Allen Vaughn Elston (story)
    Gene Barry, Darren McGavin, Ellen Corby
   16 October 1955
   25:02 (total) • 21:50 (film) • 1:40 (Hitchcock)

Triggers In Leash
Inside a small wooden cabin Maggie (Ellen Corby) runs a modest little cafe. It's raining outside, whilst Ben (Casey MacGregor) finishes up his meal before going out to fetch more wood for the stove. Dell Delaney (Gene Barry) steps inside out of the rain to warm up. He is dressed in denim and wears a pistol on his belt. After a few moments the door bursts open and Dell jumps up from his chair like a firecracker with his gun drawn. It's only Ben, returning from outside carrying the wood. Dell apologises and helps Ben pick up the wood from the floor after he dropped it. Ben tells Maggie that he needs to go into town to fetch some kerosene for the lamps and Dell asks him not to mention that he has seen him.
Ben leaves and Maggie fixes Dell some breakfast. In bursts Red Hellman, who is aggitated and ready to shoot Dell where he stands. Dell becomes equally ready to shoot Red. Red tells Maggie that Dell is a coward because he only picks a fight with people when they are liquored-up but not when they are sober. Dell's version differs in that he says the two men were playing cards the night before and that Red had too much to drink. During the game Dell decided to quit the game, (conveniently while he was ahead, adds Red). Maggie gets between them and tells Red to grow up, and that Dell could have killed him but chose not to. Red disagrees and says that he could outdraw Dell if it came down to it. So now we have a stand-off between two idiots in a shack with a woman - the only sensible one in the scenario - standing between them.
Maggie steps out of the way but warns them that she will be a witness to a murder, and will make it her business to ensure the killer also dies by hanging. That shuts them both up for a little while. Both men sit down at the same table as Maggie serves them ham and eggs. Dell and Red continue to bicker and accuse, while the sensible one (Maggie) tells them they are acting like kids. (She's not wrong). This bickering goes on and on until Maggie finally intervenes and pleads with the men to stop their fighting. Red proposes to Dell that they should both stand and wait until the cuckoo clock strikes noon in a few minutes time, and they they go for their guns. Surprisingly Dell agrees and so both men wait for noon.
But with less than a minute to go, an unforeseeable act of God decides the outcome.

•It takes Hitchcock 26 seconds before he speaks his opening dialogue after we first see him. He is messing about with a gun.
•Gene Barry, Darren McGavin and Ellen Corby all score their names above the title in the opening credits.
•At the start of the story the cuckoo clock on the wall reads 11:11am.
•When Maggie says the line "I hear Lucy Benson is going to have herself twins", her laugh that follows made me cringe!!
•It is a bit silly of Maggie to stand so close to Dell when Red's bullet could so easily hit her, should he fire first.
•There is a fresh cut above Red's left eye. This is presumably from the fight he had with Dell the night before.
•Maggie's dead husband was called Charlie.
•The final scene shows the cuckoo clock chiming. Quite apt that it would end on a comical note.
•When the episode ends Hitchcock's first words are "That was disappointing wasn't it?" I couldn't agree more!
HITCH'S PROLOGUE (1 min 04 secs):
[Hitch is fiddling around with a gun, inserts a bullet into the chamber and then rotaes the barrel several times before addressing the camera] "That's precisely why I don't care for Russian roulette. I never seem to win. There are two revolvers such as this which play a part in tonight's story. It's what you might call a western; although there isn't a horse to be seen. We intended to get horses but they couldn't remember the lines. So you'll be seeing people instead. The cast is a very small one and threatens to become smaller with every passing moment. You see two of the characters have threatened to eliminate each other on sight. Now I am sure there are some of you who don't want to see them do that. So I suggest instead that you listen to our sponsor's message."

"That was disappointing wasn't it? Still you will be happy to learn that both Dell and Red did die eventually. That very day in fact. Food poisoning. Maggie's heart was in the right place she just wasn't a very good cook. And now let us hear a word of two from our sponsor. A word or two? Or three, or four, five, six, seven? [fade out; fade in] Five hundred and eleven, five hundred and twelve, five hundred and thirteen. [Hitch looks off camera] Thank you, sir."

Divine intervention. The large crucifix which sits on the end of the shelf where the clock is, is helping to keep the balance of the shelf. When Maggie removes the crucifix it upsets the balance of the clock, causing it to malfunction and stop at 11:59 and so no chimes are heard. She later puts it back and the clock resumes ticking and does finally chime noon but by then both men have left.

So the jist of all this was that the two men are pissed at each other because of a game of poker? When Red bursts through the door to confront Dell, honestly, the two men standing there look ridiculous. It's almost comical. What do they look like? My observation is nicely confirmed when Dell was upset because Red "started calling me names". I'm serious - watch the episode and you'll see I am not making this up!! This episode was quite tedious at times, and I did kind of wonder where the twist was coming from. The ending, after all the threats of an explosive finish, simply delivers a fizzle rather than a firework.
Hitch's sad-faced remark at the end is supposed to refer to the outcome of the episode, but I think it reflects his genuine attitude towards it : "That was disappointing, wasn't it?" Yessirree, Hitch, it shore wuz. Dagnabbit, Maggie, them new-fangled tee-vee folks done shoved in every goldarned, dad-blasted Western clee-shay they could possibly think up, and then some. I wuz plum tuckered out watchin' them two hom-brays squarin' up tuh each other fo' nigh on twenty minutes. This epeee-sode wuz so putrid, ah'm a-gonna have tuh fumigate mah front room. Phew ! *uses spittoon, waits for clang. Nothing happens*. CLANG ! Boy, this heah room's deeper than ah thought! Seriously, this one stank, and I think Hitchcock knew it, and "that was disappointing, wasn't it ?" was his sly way of sharing his feelings with the audience, without criticising it outright. No wonder he never made a Western. It's always a bad sign when you couldn't care less about any of the characters. It's an even worse sign - as in this case - when you want them all to be dead, and as soon as possible.

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Dell Delaney... GENE BARRY
Red Hillman... DARREN McGAVIN

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Acknowledgements: [IMDb]

This page was last updated on: 15 July 2020