Alfred Hitchcock Presents – Flight to the East (03/23/58)

ahpflighttotheeast002Fictional carrier Trans-World Airlines is taking on passengers in Nairobi in 1958; just as the made-up company Pan-Am ruled the skies in 2001.

Beautiful (although maybe not by not by Nairobi standards) Barbara boards and squeezes into the window seat beside two business-men.  Being 1958, her seatmate Ted bums a cigarette and they both start smoking like TWA Flight 800. [1]  You can tell this is a product of the 1950s — the flight out of Nairobi seems to have no black passengers.

Barbara recognizes Ted as a journalist (a relic just as extinct as TWA, TWA-800, and Pan-AM) and says she has read his pieces on the North African Campaign and later his dispatches on the Mau-Mau uprising in Kenya.  They discuss “Sasha the Terrible” who Ted believes was railroaded for war crimes.

Witness after witness — wait there was a trial in an African uprising? — told of loading crates or driving trucks under Sasha’s guidance.  They told of night trips into the countryside.  The crates delivered under cover of darkness and Sasha getting small packages of payments.

ahpflighttotheeast003Ted tells how an old man in the gallery caught his eye — an old man who showed up every day.  It was Sasha’s father, and he asked that Ted interview his son to prove his innocence.  Ted is convinced that Sasha is innocent, and that he was merely a patsy used by the real ringleader, Arthur Smith.  When it is clear Sasha is going to be found guilty and executed, Ted’s editor has him fired and deported.  Sasha is executed.  Ted reveals to Barbara that he is hand-cuffed to his traveling companion, being escorted out of the country.

Ted tells a story of searching the world for the mysterious Arthur Smith, he just happens to stumble into an obscure shop, on an obscure dirt street, owned by Sasha’s father. The old man accuses Ted of taking a bribe to abandon Sasha.  He throws a Nazi knife at Ted, but is juuuuust a bit outside.  As the old man is pulling out a Nazi pistol, Ted is able to stab him with the knife.

ahpflighttotheeast004Barbara admits knowing more than she let on — her father was the prosecuting attorney.  Her father believed Ted had a plan to advocate for Sasha’s innocence, through his writing, in exchange for half the diamonds Sasha had been stealing.  They invented the character of Arthur Smith to be the kingpin.

The prosecutor believed that Ted’s worldwide search was not for the non-existent Arthur Smith, but for Sasha’s father, who knew where the diamonds were.  He conjectured that Ted  went to the old man to demand half of them.  Ted pulled out his Nazi pistol.  When the old man knocks it from his hand, Ted throws his Nazi knife at him, killing him.

Blah blah blah, Barbara knew a soldier who said on his deathbed that he sold the Nazi pistol and Knife to a journalist that smoked.  Yeah, that’ll hold up in court.

ahpflighttotheeast005A tedious story tediously told, and not just by me.  Poor Barbara does the best she can with a role that requires absolutely nothing of her but to sit in an airplane seat and talk to the person next to her — a role I can’t even play in real life.

I just didn’t like Gary Merrill.  I didn’t like him when he was the crusading journalist and I didn’t like him when he was the conspiring extortionist and killer (although I suppose that second part is pretty reasonable).


  • [1] This was originally a reference to United 93.  Rereading it 18 months later, that seemed disgusting.  Reading this 18 seconds later, I’m not sure why TWA 800 is any more acceptable.
  • AHP Deathwatch:  No survivors.

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