Alfred Hitchcock Presents – Appointment at Eleven (10/11/59)

Rated dead last of 268 episodes in IMBb’s increasingly credible User Ratings.  99.6% of the episodes were deemed better than this one. You could watch AHP every weeknight for a year and not get to this episode.

Even Hitchcock’s intro is off-putting. He is playing a bartender, but the TV is blasting so loud — gunfire, screeching airplanes, etc — that we can’t hear him speak.  I initially fast-forwarded through it because I thought it was an audio problem.  It isn’t just loud, it is offensively grating . . . like this episode’s Clint Kimbrough as David Logan.  I fear as AHP enters the 1960s this year, this episode signifies a change.  Will we lose the stoic war veterans, proper businessmen, reserved bankers, sturdy farmers, etc. [1]  Enter the weepy, screaming, self-indulgent man-child throwing tantrums in public.  I blame James Dean.

Sweaty David Logan is tossing and turning in bed before he wakes up from his dream shrieking.  He is living in a cramped apartment with his mother.  His bedroom has a window that is so comically close to their neighbor that he can see her nervously getting dressed to go to her first day on the job as the new librarian.  Wait, that’s my dream. His window faces a wall that is so close it looks like a framed painting of bricks.

I’m always happy to see directors get creative with their composition, but who thought this was a good idea?

David laments his father leaving them as if they meant nothing to him.  His mother just doesn’t want to hear any more about it.  She says what happened was between her and his father.  He has put on a suit and is going out.  His mother asks him to “stay here with me.”  That works about as well with David as it did with his father.

A blonde is hitting on David in a bar but he says, “I don’t like blondes.”  His blondist tendencies only seem to apply to girls with blue eyes, however, and this floozy has brown eyes.  He lays a big kiss on her and tells her a secret — he’s only 17. She seems more concerned with him repeatedly saying he will be born at 11:00 tonight than the fact that he was actually born just 17 years ago.  He tells her a story about his father fooling around with a blonde.

He goes on at length about his father with the blonde and how he left without even saying goodbye.  When he shoves her, a sailor takes him out back to teach him some manners and, strangely enough, how to tie a bowline knot.

In a nice scene, he is able to talk David down.  Like all sailors on leave, the old salt takes the 17 year old boy to the hot dog stand.  No that’s not a euphemism — they actually go inside and he has a frankfurter.  The sailor tells David about the Chief Gunners Mate that he is really going to “let have it” one day; maybe he was jealous of the Chief Gunner.  See, cuz he had a mate . . . . David commiserates that there is someone in his life he would like to see dead also.  He says ominously, “Tonight, somebody dies.” Well, I wouldn’t ever bet against that.

He leaves that bar and goes to Dooley’s [2] where his father played piano.  The bartender is more concerned about his age than the blonde, but relents and gives him a boilermaker — way to ramp up.  When the new piano player starts playing, David attacks him.

Blah blah blah, a news flash comes on the TV that David’s father has just been executed for the murder of his blonde girlfriend.  Who says the news is always bad?  As if that isn’t enough good news, he got fried only 2 months after the murder.  David doesn’t take it as well as me, however. He hurls a glass through the TV screen and tries to pull it off the wall.  He continues making a spectacle, crying, “I’m glad he’s dead!  I hated him!  I hated him!”

The failure of this episode falls squarely on the character of David Logan.  I point to the character because I suspect the actor Clint Kimbrough did a great job doing what the script and director asked for.  He is just such a whiny punk, though, it is hard to care. On the other hand, I found Norma Crane to be excellent as the blonde.  The sailor was either great or terrible; I’m just not sure which.  He did make an impression, though.

Rating it the worst episode of the series is pretty harsh.  While David Logan was insufferable, the supporting cast really came through.

Other Stuff:

  • [1] Of course they were all thieves and murderers, but they were otherwise of good character.
  • [2] Reference to Dooley Wilson, the piano player in Casablanca?
  • AHP Deathwatch:  A new record, three survivors!  Most notably, Michael J. Pollard and Clu Galager still show up occasionally.
  • Written by Evan Hunter who would later write The Birds for Hitchcock.  He also wrote 55 books about the 87th precinct.  Or was it 87 books about the 55th precinct?  It bugs me that he has a character named Meyer Meyer which is a rip-off of Major Major in Catch-22.  It is especially galling that he did it 5 years earlier.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.