Alfred Hitchcock Presents – A Night With the Boys (05/10/59)

Irving Randall is in a poker game with 3 co-workers.  Well, 2 co-workers and his jerk of a boss.  His boss Smalley goads him into betting over his head, not with it.  He loses big. On the way home, he is stopped by a cop for walking alone at such a late hour.  The cop warns him this neighborhood is not safe at night.

This gives him a swell idea.  I often criticize AHP for its many shrewish wives, but the pusillanimous husband is just as much a stock character.  What really defies belief is why the lovely wives married these worms when everyone knows beautiful women prefer fat overbearing oafs.  Afraid to tell his wife Frances he blew a week’s salary in a poker game, Irving roughs himself up, tears his suit, rubs dirt all over himself, gives himself a nasty cut on the cheek, then tells his wife he was robbed by a teenager.

He says, “This big kid, 16 maybe 17 sneaked up behind me . . . he took my wallet, my whole week’s salary.”  They are still newlyweds, so Frances is genuinely more concerned about Irving’s well-being than the cash.  She does demand that he call the police to report the robbery.  To his dismay, the police call to say they caught the thief.

Irving goes to the police station.  He tells the detective he lost $96.  The kid was found with $92, so it seems like a good fit if the kid had the munchies for 21 McDonald’s cheeseburgers ($.19 in 1955).  Irving is very sheepish about the whole thing.  Actually, he was pretty sheep-like before this happened; he’s even wearing a wool suit. He asks, “How can I be sure the cash is mine?”  The detective says, “Because he was caught exactly 3 blocks from where you were mugged, running like the devil was chasing him.  That’s what I meant by real evidence.”  Well, that is pretty fishy, but not exactly conclusive.

While I absolutely love the premise, this episode is a hard sell because so far the PJ-clad Frances is the only likable character.  And even she is on thin ice with that 1950’s night gown that contains more fabric than I wear to work.  Otherwise:

  • Smalley is a loud-mouth bully.  The other two players were non-entities in their suits and vests, while he was a cigar-chomping jerk in a Hawaiian shirt.  He took pleasure in tormenting Irving.  As he is also Irving’s boss, we know it will just continue in the morning.
  • The uniform cop is unnecessarily hostile to Irving who was just walking down the street.  And to profile for a second, is a well-groomed guy in a suit & tie really a likely criminal unless he is in Reservoir Dogs, or Congress? [1]
  • The detective is a hard-ass very eager to connect dots that might put this kid in jail.
  • The kid does himself no favors with his insolence, arrogance, and especially offensive to me, hair — just a huge shock of tall, thick, upswept hair.  The bastard.
  • Finally, Irving is such a jittery specimen that it is hard to empathize with the corner he has put himself into.  And how he did he land Frances, although he is a pretty handsome guy.  The bastard.

Irving is also not helped by the make-up representing the scar he gave himself.  He cut himself with a rock which actually was probably a better choice than the tin can that was next to it.  Unfortunately, this is shown as a long 3/8-inch wide streak of jet-black greasepaint.  A wound that massive should have sent him to the hospital, and maybe the basement of the hospital.  It is just very distracting whenever it is on camera.

Irving says since he got the money back, he does not want to press charges against the kid — just to give him a break.  The detective is surprisingly receptive to that forgiving attitude.  Maybe I misjudged him.

When the kid is told Irving is not going to send him to the big house, he gives a great reading of “Thanks for the break” letting Irving know he knows this is BS and that Irving is up to something.  Maybe I misjudged him.

Irving brings home the cash and shows it to his wife.  Unfortunately, he can’t feel good knowing the truth about how he got it.  On the plus side, she is wearing a different gown and this one is much, much better.  Maybe I misjudged her.

The next morning, Irving has to stop by Smalley’s apartment to pick up some papers.  He finds Smalley roughed up with a band-aid on his chin.  He was robbed by some kid of $92.  Irving finally feels some relief with the confirmation that the kid was a crook after all, and he didn’t steal money from an innocent person to cover his own shame at losing the money in a card game.

Smalley grovels and asks Irving if he can borrow a few bucks.  Irving shows some backbone and confidently says with a smirk, “Sorry, you know how it is.  I’m a married man.”  So maybe I misjudged him. [3]

Well, Irving might feel better, but he isn’t really off the karmic hook.  To cover his own issues, he put the kid back on the street to continue his crime spree.[2]  Also, indirectly, Irving stole back the money that Smalley won fair and square in a poker game. And feels great about it because that big poopy-head Smalley was teasing him.

A great premise and a pretty good episode.

Post-Post:

  • AHP Deathwatch:  Joyce “I’m not Alice or Trixie” Meadows and Buzz Martin are still with us.  Sadly, as noted on a previous episode, Sam Buffington (Smalley) died at only 28, almost exactly a year after this episode aired.
  • AHP Proximity Alert:  William Kruse was just in an episode 2 weeks ago.  Give someone else a chance!
  • [1] Or a banker.  Or a lawyer.  Or a car salesman.  Or a pharmaceutical executive. Or a tobacco lobbyist.  OK, this profiling thing isn’t working out.
  • [2] Crime and spending — really the only two things where you can spree.
  • [3] When he first sees Smalley, Irving covers his scar to avoid questions.  After hearing Smalley’s story, he gains some confidence and stops hiding it even though, at that point, he has more reason to avoid explaining it.  The strangest thing is that Smalley never mentions the giant Harvey Dent-sized wound at all.
  • John Smith, who played Irving, was born Robert Errol Van Orden.  His name was changed by the same agent who rebranded Tab Hunter and Rock Hudson.  Clearly he was working on deadline when he came up with John Smith.
  • For a more in-depth look at the episode and its source material, check out bare*bonez e-zine.

One thought on “Alfred Hitchcock Presents – A Night With the Boys (05/10/59)

  1. Thanks for the plug. I really like this episode. It’s one that I remember setting the alarm for 2:30 AM when I was a teenager and waking up to watch it on Channel 5 in NYC. There’s something extra freaky about seeing a B & W show on a big old B & W TV at 2:30 AM in the late 1970s. In the attic, no less.

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