Alfred Hitchcock Presents – Banquo’s Chair (05/03/59)

The episode opens with the same type of pointlessly specific title cards that Hitchcock aficionados will recognize from Psycho.  Blackheath . . . near London . . . October 23, 1903 . . . 7:20 PM.

Inspector Brent is making a call on Major Cook-Finch.  Brent asks to see Cook’s dining room and to speak to his “man” Lane.  Brent’s plans are as meticulous as the title cards, as he dictates everything from the seating arrangement to the position of the gas valve. The Shakespearean actor Robert Stone arrives.  Before the actor can have an hysterical tantrum about leaving England if George V takes the throne, Brent explains the haps.

There was a murder 2 years ago in this house.  The suspected murderer, John Bedford, is the guest of honor.  He was the sole heir to his Aunt Mae’s estate, but had an alibi. Inspector Brent has devised a plan where an actress will appear to be the ghost of Aunt Mae.  She appears during the pheasant and Bedford blurts out a confession.  They read him the Miranda Warning [1] and haul him off to gaol.

This episode uses one of the oldest tropes on TV — the pseudo-supernatural event that is staged, and occurs despite the unexpected absence of the perpetrators.  Not only is this lazier than I expect from AHP, it breaks with their tradition of non-supernatural episodes.  I can think of only one previously.

And it was directed by Alfred Hitchcock?

Not only that, but it ran laughably short.  Hitchcock’s vignettes seemed longer than usual, but the closing credits really showed the padding.  My God, they just went on and on. The make-up and gaffer credits were on the screen so long their mothers were saying, “Get on with it already!”  The union called and said, “We’re satisfied, let’s move on!”.  The theme was repeated countless times.  Really an off week for AHP.


  • [1] I didn’t realize this was a thing outside the US, much less in 1903. Although, back then it referred to Carmen Miranda and was a warning to wash fruit before eating it.
  • AHP Deathwatch:  According to IMDb, Kenneth Haigh (John Bedford) is listed as still alive at 88. But I have to wonder who notifies them in case of death.
  • Banquo is a reference to a character in Macbeth, and not Spanish for Bank as I thought.
  • For an in-depth look at the episode and the original work it was based on, check out bare*bonez e-zine.  Spoiler:  He liked it a lot more than me.

2 thoughts on “Alfred Hitchcock Presents – Banquo’s Chair (05/03/59)

    • Thanks for stopping by. When I read your complimentary post about the episode, I wondered if I would hear from you.

      It finally occurred to me at work today that using the “oldest trope on TV” might not be so awful for a show that aired almost 60 years ago.

      And maybe I shouldn’t have criticized the brevity since I only managed to squeeze 404 words out of it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.