Humorously, this is a reversal of Maté’s D.O.A., a San Francisco salesman opens up a second front in Los Angeles.
Analytically, it’s precisely the same joke as Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage, that is, there are only two characters, no matter how you look at it, the businesswoman and her husband. These are particularly fine roles for Joan Fontaine (or Ida Lupino) and Edmond O’Brien. Edmund Gwenn’s home is on the tour (Lupino’s character says she never saw Miracle on 34th Street).
Also there’s Blake Edwards’ Micki + Maude, though here (with a Cassavetes note) it’s the lonely man in sunnier climes who becomes a father, the girl he left behind him hasn’t the least conception.
A dandy director. “One of Lupino’s sympathetic little problem pictures” (Time Out Film Guide).
Alfred Hitchcock Presents
The ten-year marriage of an æsthete and a perfect wife.
Hitchcock’s The Paradine Case supplies the latter, the former offers a tainted cordial in a citation from Suspicion.
And here is where Hitchcock takes the plunge (cf. “Mother, May I Go Out To Swim?”, dir. Herschel Daugherty).
A Crime for Mothers
Alfred Hitchcock Presents
It’s the adopted daughter’s seventh birthday, her mother shows up at the door, drunk as ever and demanding more money. She goes off threatening court action.
A lawyer tells her to try Legal Aid. A private detective knocks on her door, he heard about her plight. Kidnap the girl, he says, she’s yours.
They case the school, he points out the child. The kid gets a cab ride with her new governess (“You mean like in Jane Eyre?” “Where’s that?”).
The detective arrives with his partner, ex-FBI, for a witness. The woman is told to lay off or face a kidnapping charge. The wrong girl was taken, the detective’s daughter playing a part.
Claire Trevor modulates her lush into a slattern, careless or beady-eyed, and shivers at the revelation. Biff Elliot plays the canny “confidential investigator”.
A Fist of Five
The five Brannon brothers kidnap “Tough Tony” Lamberto for $150,000 ransom, he deals in heroin, Mike Brannon is a police sergeant dismissed for beating one of Lamberto’s hoods.
Lamberto is about to go on trial for income tax evasion, has asked Ness for a deal to pay his taxes and leave the country.
Sgt. Brannon tells his captain, “I’m tired o’ you saying ‘open up the gates, let the rats run loose in the city’.”
Lamberto’s men won’t pay, their boss is going up the river, why should they?
He pays them back with his dying breath.
“For want of a nail,” the kingpin is lost. He buries the hatchet with a bootlegging rival, the enforcer is “put out to pasture”. Five months later, Ness pulls an unorthodox stunt by stopping a truck shipment of Canadian whiskey as though it were hijacked, the peace evaporates (the rival protests his innocence, fears a war will bring in the Syndicate to run things). The enforcer has lost his nerve. He piles on excuses, his girl observes “nothing wrong, just like the stock market” in 1931.
A younger gunsel sympathetically tries to cover for him, the enforcer’s cowardice is so great that the gunsel ends up dead alone in the street. A Tommy-gun battle in two cars side-by-side along a country road never comes off because the enforcer in his back seat ducks down at the last moment, his car is shot through and through and crashes, the driver is killed (Lupino echoes Dreyer’s Vampyr as the enforcer, unhurt, stands in the car behind the now-vertical windshield).
A new man after the enforcer’s job gives him a fright with an apparent “hit”. The girl ditches him, there’s no retirement from the underworld, he calls Ness.
The kingpin with his new right-hand man moves against his rival in a basement full of statuary (angel, Egyptian god, gargoyle), both mobs are eliminated. Ness lets his tipster go, recommends the Coast. “Maybe they won’t find me there,” says the enforcer with a kind of hopeful resignation.
The Twilight Zone
Serling’s idea is that the masks worn by his unhappy revelers express the real character of each one, as visible to all but themselves. The special quality of these masks, made or “created” by a Cajun, is that at the stroke of midnight when the old man dies and his Boston heirs remove them, the features of each mask remain upon the face.
The maid’s hand in a flower arrangement cuts to the doctor’s hand taking a pulse.
The distinguishing mark of the direction, if it isn’t some remarkably subtle fast cutting here and there, and the refined treatment of the actors, can be found in the casting itself and the preliminary makeup, which give a strangely neutral aspect to the characters in advance of their transformation.
Robert Keith as the New Orleans patriarch resembles the latter Voltaire in one low-angle profile shot.