Alfred Hitchcock Presents – Arthur (09/27/59)

The titular Arthur addresses the camera while stroking his c**k.  Oh come, it’s a chicken!  He is quite proud of his New Zealand chicken farm which he operates solo, and the fact that he got away with a murder.  In fact, he chokes his chicken — oh, grow up! — right on camera, committing another murder most fowl.  “Yes, that’s right,” he says a little too chipperly, “I am a murderer.” [1]

We cut to Arthur taking a roast chicken out of the oven, but I don’t think that was the corpus delishti he was talking about.  Even after making this gourmet dinner for one, his tie is still tight and his white apron is neat, form-fitting, and spotless.  I get more stains than that making reservations.  I thought he was done addressing the audience, but this guy won’t shut up.  He continues jabbering as he carves the bird.  He goes on about his fiancee Helen to the point where I’m begging for a flashback.  Oh . . . .

Helen drops by one evening and tells Arthur that she can’t marry him.  She is going to marry gambler Stanley Brathwaite.  She is not happy cooped up on the chicken farm with Arthur — ha, get it?  Cooped up?  She wants to travel the world with Stanley.  She says she only agreed to marry Arthur because she wasn’t sure anything better would come along.  Oh sh*t!  Did she not watch Fargo (Season 1)?

“Well, that’s the end of these shoes.”

A year after that carnage, a couple of government workers stop by.  Fortunately it is the Police and not the Health Department.  He proudly shows Sgt. Theron his high-tech gadgets which enable him to murder so many chickens single-handedly.  For instance that feed grinder, which is big enough to put a woman into.  He tells Theron he’ll meet him at the pub for chess and goes into the farmhouse.  Helen is there.

She has come crawling back from Stanley.  This being 1959, she doesn’t move in, but she does take over.  She cooks meals, but leaves the dishes stacked up.  She fills the ashtrays with butts.  Arthur likes being on his own and tells her so.  She is so upset that she knocks a coffee pot over on the carpet.  He asks her if she would be miserable if he threw her out.  Having never seen AHP, she says, “I’d rather be dead.”  He strangles her and she makes the same hilarious sound as the chicken — I mean, literally the same sound clip.   Well-played!

Three weeks later, Sgt Theron drops by again.  Seems Helen is missing.  Theron and an Inspector take a look around, but don’t find anything.  They leave, but have an officer keeping an eye on the place.

For reasons I can’t figure out, Arthur strategically decides to disappear for three days.  As he leaves, he tells us he wants them to believe he is making Crippen’s mistake. [2]  Arthur hides out in a cave for three days, then returns home.  A cave would seem to be the last place this fastidious, anal-retentive twerp would hang out.  It is also strange that they serve up this blatant resurrection reference but do nothing with it.

Arthur returns to find the police tearing up his farm looking for Helen.  They even try to dupe him by saying they found a body in the barn.  While I fully support tricking murderers into confessions, this is a stupidly specific way to do it.

Yada, yada, after the police fail to implicate Arthur, he sends Theron a nice chicken dinner to show there are no hard feelings.  Theron also raises chickens and asks Arthur what feed mixture produced these fabulous birds.  Arthur gives him all the ingredients except one.

Less than the sum of its mixed parts.  You better like Laurence Harvey because you’re going to get a lot of him.  I liked the farm which was probably just a backdrop after the first building.  However, it worked because it was well-crafted and also seemed like just the kind of perfectly clean operation Arthur would run.  The scenes inside the coop are great, although probably not so great for the chickens.  On the other hand, the scene we see is probably practically free-range compared to the industrial torture chambers chickens live in now.

Post-Post:

  • [1] The sound the chicken makes as Arthur snaps its neck is laughably human.
  • [2] The story at the link is pretty interesting; but I don’t know who would have ever gotten that reference before Google was invented.
  • AHP Deathwatch:  Tragically, no survivors in this cast of thousands.
  • AHP is getting pretty edgy — after the indirect incest of Touché, this episode features indirect cannibalism.
  • The lead character is named Arthur Williams.  The story is credited to Arthur Williams.  The title of the episode is Arthur.  Get over yourself!
  • Alternate title:  The Murders in the Perdue Morgue.
  • Strangely, Hulu calls this episode 37 of Season 4, but IMDb calls it episode 1 of Season 5.  The opening theme has a new arrangement.  The change, like all change, is for the worse.

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