The Alfred Hitchcock Hour
This reverie on cheating spouses begins with secret plans by husband (Barry Nelson) and wife (Patricia Breslin), his personal ad in the newspaper and her social life of committee-work masking an affair.
In his case, it’s an experiment he’s conducting as Dean of Psychology. The ad reads, “Are you hopelessly tied to your marriage partner? Perhaps there is an ultimate solution.” The police shut down the ad, but two respondents from its one-day run are a man who wants the professor’s list of clients for his own well-run assassination service (Edward Andrews), and the professor’s rival (Richard Dawson).
The hit man takes a contract for the wife from the husband, who summons his rival to take the rap. In an amusing bit of Hamlet, the rival kills the hit man behind a curtain, thinking it’s the husband.
Reason prevails, however. The wife, in possession of the hit man’s silencered pistol, calls the police to have her lover arrested. Her husband, though prone to hide in his soundproof study, gave her what the lover did and something more.
A superbly-directed farce on the comic plane of The Trouble with Harry.
The Hand That Hurts, The Hand That Heals
The sore ailment is psychological, says the psychiatrist (Steve Ihnat). He has a straitjacket at the ready.
Pain to the very bones, with accompanying nausea, are the symptoms. The patient (Janice Rule) flees to Dr. Kildare, who bravely takes the case.
He doesn’t solve it, Dr. Gillespie does that. The one test left out proves his hunch, parathyroid adenoma (an elegant, poetical name). The ferocious duration of an hour is not too much for the relatively simple operation that concludes it.
So Long Patrick Henry
Olympic runner sells out to the Chinese for a pile of money, Scott and Robinson try to persuade him to return.
A work of genius, written by Robert Culp on the finer points of politics.
The title is the athlete’s mocking farewell to Scott in Tokyo.
Extensive location filming in Hong Kong.
The Blue Dragon Society (vd. William Nigh).
A notable irruption of Jack Webb style at the “Cherry Bar on the docks”.
The do-it-yourself fortune cookie, “a tennis player is with you...”
The Enemy Within
A superbly-directed episode in which a transporter malfunction creates a Jekyll-and-Hyde Kirk in two otherwise identical persons, each with half the captain’s personality.
A remarkable acting job shows Kirk diminishing in will and determination yet alternatively brutish and cunning, while a detachment from the ship slowly freezes to death as planetary night descends.
Repairs are made, the captain is instantaneously himself again, the landing party rescued.
R & R & R
The third R is revenge. A decorated soldier bucks for Officers Candidate School and isn’t sent there. He transfers out of the unit and winds up in Colorado with a medical discharge, Section Eight.
The Marines won’t have him, “we don’t take rejected meat”.
Honolulu is the rest and recuperation stop for soldiers in Southeast Asia, he skillfully murders his company officers’ wives, one by one, with a single thrust of a bayonet.
That’s the image in this acute version of Richard Thorpe’s Follow the Boys, adding that McGarrett grasps the menacing blade with his open hand to subdue the maniac.
Any Old Port in a Storm
The raucous setup has the Carsini vineyards about to be sold by one of the two half-brothers who have inherited the business. The buyer is a vintner of “69˘ a gallon” stuff, and the elder brother (Donald Pleasence) is one of the top few experts in the world.
The murder is a crime passionnel “aged in the vault,” as the semi-conscious victim is tied up among the rare vintages for a week, then dumped into the sea to look like the result of a scuba-diving accident (this cellar provokes Lt. Columbo to name “the Edgar Allan Poe short story” with a word he can’t pronounce—“it begins with an A”).
A heat wave oxidizes the wine in the proprietor’s absence on a trip to New York (where he buys, among other things, a bottle from the year of California’s statehood), and the lieutenant arranges to have him sample it unawares.
It opens with the connoisseur pronouncing upon a wine, “Titian would have gone mad trying to mix so beautiful a red. And he would have failed dismally in the attempt.”
It concludes with him blackmailed by his secretary (Julie Harris) and driven away by the lieutenant over a bottle of Montefiascone. “I guess, um, freedom is purely relative,” says the connoisseur.
The American Friends of Northern Ireland is a Sinn Fein organization masquerading as help for the victims on both sides. Mrs. O’Connell (Jeannette Nolan) of O’Connell Industries is its principal patron. The poet Joe Devlin (Clive Revill) is its leading fundraiser. He kills a finagling middleman (Albert Paulsen) in an arms deal, and comes immediately into the purview of Lieutenant Columbo.
Devlin is a blunderer, a drunk, and something else depicted in the Lieutenant’s first scene, which takes place amidst the pinball machines in Devlin’s parlor. “She would never go for it,” says Lt. Columbo, referring to Mrs. Columbo.
Mr. Pauley, the middleman, has bought a ticket to Lisbon, in a second Columbo reference to Beckett’s “ainsi a-t-on beau” (i.e., “over Lisbon afire Kant coldly stooped”).
The “dueling limericks” are structurally opposed, and the verses ascribed by Devlin to “a drunken Irishman”, such as,
the breathless beat of angels’ wings
to seek the unstained pastures of peace
are likely his own brand of blarney (the other poets he cites are G.K. Chesterton and Lewis Carroll). “All their wars are merry,” and in fact he buys his weapons directly from the merchant, a cowboy-hatted dealer in Winnebagos.
Mrs. O’Connell, Kate to Joe, spends her time wheelchair-bound embroidering a company flag (dark-green tower in a yellow circle on a field of light green), which figures in the thunderbolt of realization striking Lt. Columbo at the Port of Los Angeles, where he is monitoring the ship set to carry the guns to Southampton and on to Belfast. That tugboat has something familiar about it.
Chandler is the big key, Chandler’s Bookstore is named after him (where Devlin signs his book), “The Conspirators” is a re-arrangement of The Big Sleep, a novel about England ultimately centered on the murder of an Irish gunrunner, Rusty Regan.
Chandler’s also carries a $55 coffee-table book called A New History of Erotic Art that catches Lt. Columbo’s eye and prepares the brand name on the R.V. where Mr. Jensen caches the guns he now sells to Devlin, i.e., “Apollo”.
The Gaelic, Stravinskyan and Bartókian score is one of Patrick Williams’ most congenial inspirations.
Goes to the Guillotine
“Why would a man go to the market and buy hisself a three-pound corned beef, and pick out two head o’ cabbage, and then go home and cut off his own head?”
Then there is the palmed bullet, in this tale of a mentalist and a magician (and the CIA and the Pentagon), brilliantly written by William Read Woodfield and superbly executed by Penn, set up by the head act in Harvey Hart’s “Now You See Him”.
A cousin of Ben Matlock’s, Diana by name, comes to him all het up and bothered something awful, because you see her husband of many ages has departed for the lofts and coffeehouses of a much leaner scene, and with an artiste of sorts. Diana is a vociferating harridan with a great dislike of the whole idea, she takes off after her man with a pistol (“I wasn’t going to shoot him, I’m not crazy”) and winds up in jail.
The husband is a nice enough chap, of foreign extraction and prone to jogging. Seems there’s a photograph of him at an art gallery opening, only he was never there.
He and his mistress make a touching couple, she’s trying hard to paint and he’s trying hard, it’s like Richard Donner’s Twinky.
Les also finds love, with a retired nurse he meets over the melons at the supermarket. She wants to go to the Mayo Clinic for their honeymoon.
The wandering husband is killed during his regular run through the park, a roaring sedan careens over the greens and rubs him out, bouncing away past a damaging sign (the elderly jogger who witnesses this in his blue sweats is Eric Christmas).
Les and his girl break their engagement over Social Security, but good friend Ben advises it’s all for the best, Les can go on “picking her casaba melons” at the supermarket.
Diana’s car was used in the murder, and has a bended fender to prove it. But the murder wasn’t committed out of jealousy, it was to cover up the dastardly scheme of a con artist turned gallery director, who manufactured sheets of fifty-dollar bills and fobbed them off as Warhols.
An unusual form, which consists of a cursory exposition that serves as a setup to an extended illustrative punchline.
It’s a case of a self-described eccentric millionaire whose peculiar investments are kept afloat by his nephew, a model of diligence nonetheless cut out of the will. The millionaire is murdered, and attention is focused at length not on his “amusement park in Tierra del Fuego” but his children’s zoo in town.
A smuggling operation is uncovered after Leanne tells a wheelbarrow variant of Perry Mason’s joke about the boy and the bicycles.
The story by Joel Steiger is worked by Anne Collins into the central image of typewritten love letters from and to the millionaire, found at his death, to and from the imaginary woman named as his beneficiary. A claimant appears and is murdered, too.
A sideshow puts Billy the irascible neighbor on trial for his part in an investment scheme selling unsafe and ugly dolls.
Matlock is his defense counsel, and the executor of the millionaire’s will.
Penn contrives beautiful shots of the foliage at the children’s zoo, and has a bit of Buńuel thrown in when Cliff working undercover leads a suspect llama to a vet downtown.
There is no murder, only a well-to-do couple going through the stages of a very messy divorce with a veneer of civilization (the mess comes from his mistress, who is happily after all a sex therapist, and the divorced pair have a vacation in Hawaii after all). Ben and Leanne represent the husband and the wife, respectively.
At the same time, Leanne borrows again from Perry Mason to defend Ben against a confidence trickster from Boston (and known there as “Fall Down Freddy”) who sues him for a million dollars after a slip on the porch.
Penn has a grand establishing shot, house in morning light, someone watering to one side, an understatement by its brevity.
He’s the idle partner in an advertising firm who kills his counterpart during a brief hiatus from his alibi, a ceremony at which he is honored after creating the Atlanta Foundation for the Homeless.
Offered his choice of Dershowitz or Matlock, he opts for Leanne, woos her and wins the case with the help of his secretary, who implicates his partner's brother.
Leanne is bedded during a victory jaunt, where she learns that her client is guilty, though he can’t be tried twice.
She receives a conciliatory phone call from him, after which he settles back in bed with his secretary and the partnership’s insurance benefits.
A “millionaire philanthropist” whose mistress and son were killed in a crazed vet’s shooting spree saw the man acquitted by reason of insanity and institutionalized thanks to Matlock’s defense, and wishes to belittle Matlock by announcing a murder in advance, daring him to prove the thing in court.
How to Murder Your Lawyer
The mailroom clerk at a big law firm sells witness information to interested parties, with the result that witnesses die or disappear before trial. He hates lawyers, wants to open a skydiving business.
A lawyer in the firm teaches night school, where Det. Sloan sleeps. Another student is a paralegal in the firm, very bright with definitions. Someone tries to kill the teacher.
To combat this, Dr. Sloan just before the last scene declares him dead. First, he’s treated for minor injuries, but doesn’t have his medical insurance card (the paralegal borrows his identification to obtain secrets of the firm). A new policy in the emergency room of “pay as you go” almost ejects the patient at the behest of an admitting nurse, who is railed upon by Dr. Sloan until she leaves, not before he has mentioned the high price of “aspirin and bandages” in the emergency room. He can’t help elatedly snickering afterward.
The paralegal works on union cases. The teacher doesn’t get over there much, he says. Union thugs have tried to run him over, as he discovers later on with the paralegal’s help. Her furtiveness makes her a cause of suspicion for quite a while.
Gleason’s masterpiece of a teleplay is as cogent as it is far-reaching and subtly developed. Penn’s expert handling of the comedy comes to an exact point at a staff meeting of the law firm chaired by two senior partners at one end, who rebuke the teacher (seated just in front of the camera near the other end in a slightly distorted shot) for neglecting his work, then take up a Federal case with a missing file, one that passed under his eyes in the hands of the paralegal, who denies it. “Are you going to nest there?”, asks the most senior partner, as the teacher stands pondering the situation.
He’s made a junior partner in the end, with a promise of crushing work behind his back, and takes the paralegal as his assistant to share the honor. “He may not be the most brilliant,” she says of him to the gathered firm, etc.
An armored car robbery in Charleston remains unsolved, the millions have never been found. The FBI’s Ed Wingate is on the trail, a man of mystery, a master of disguise.
Ben and Billy are on vacation at the seaside in Wilmington, each with his retinue. The rental agent excites Billy’s amorous propensities, but she has an old flame, a writer of greeting-card verses, and turns down an offer of a trip to Terre Haute. Billy consoles himself with the notion that “Benny Boy” is envious.
The four rowdies from Charleston are diminished by one at the end of a triathlon by dint of a heart attack induced by monocaine. Wingate’s romance is a put-up job, engineered to spy on and then frame him for her murder. The millions are secreted under the floor of a motel room in Wilmington. Another of the four has engineered a plan to keep it all for himself.
This worthy tells Wingate, “any more harassment, I’ll haul your pathetic behind into court and hang it out to dry.” Matlock advises, “he can do it,” but the G-man doffs his shades to pronounce, “my behind is bone-dry.”