Alfred Hitchcock Presents – Murder Me Twice (12/07/58)

ahpmurdermetwice0102The tuxedoed Miles Farnham walks in carrying two snifters of brandy. He hands one to similarly tuxedoed Bill Pryor.  Only one of them will be getting his deposit back.

Pryor mentions he has heard that hypnotism is now being used in some dental practices.  Farnham assures him that “we’ve come a long way since the days when hypnotism was regarded as a form of magic or witchcraft.”  True — it is now regarded as buffoonery or hucksterism.

He assures the crowd that a person cannot be hypnotized against his will.  Pryor’s wife Lucy bravely agrees to be a test subject.  Farnham easily puts her under so that she can hear and feel no one but him.  He takes her back in time.  When he asks her name, she surprises him by saying her name is not Lucy, but Dora Evans of the Philadelphia Evanses, circa 1853.  She goes on about seeing president Benjamin Pierce and about tending her gardens (although, I suspect “the help” did most of the tending).  She further recalls stabbing her husband in the back with a pair of pruning shears and actually commits that same act at the party, impaling [1] her husband!

ahpmurdermetwice0109She tells her story to Assistant DA William Burke.  He later tells Farnham that the Philadelphia Historical Society has confirmed that there actually was a Dora Evans. In 1853, she stabbed her husband with a pair of pruning shears.

Farnham later goes to see Lucy Pryor.  He tells Lucy that he believes she dug up the story about Dora Evans and used it as an excuse to murder her husband.  He sees himself as the only one whose testimony can keep her out of jail.  Before he can even state his terms, Lucy throws him out of her house.

At the coroner’s inquest, Farnham is asked if it is really a possibility that Lucy was possessed by Dora Evans — he proclaims it as fact.  The coroner reads into the record Farnham’s previous charges of fraud and malpractice.  Farnham is outraged that his professionalism and accreditation are being challenged.  After all, he has a degree in metaphysics.  As proof, her offers to put Lucy Pryor under hypnosis in front of the court.

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Harrumph, harrumph!

He pulls his Popeil Pocket Hypnotizer from his jacket and once again puts her under.  She is again possessed by Dora Evans and son-of-a-bitch if she doesn’t ram the shears into Farnham’s back!  BRAVO — I did not expect that!

The DA catches Lucy in the hall. He assures her they are alone, so she can speak freely.  He asks if she planned the whole thing.  She replies with a smile, “Would’st not thee like to know?”  What the hell is that — did they speak that way in 1853?

Another thoroughly enjoyable outing.  Tom Helmore (Farnham) played a perfectly mannered snake-oil salesman, and Phyllis Thaxter (Lucy) sailed through the episode perfectly.  Her performance, along with the direction kept the story and visuals interesting. Being AHP, ya know it is all a scam, but she really sells the ambiguity.  This is especially striking after the second stabbing.  As everyone surrounding her is panicking, she remains blank-faced.  She is still, and fading into the background as the others thrash like waves around her.

Great stuff.

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There is a lot of interesting framing of Lucy after the 2nd murder. She seems to be placid in a sea of confusion  — out-of-it in every sense of the word.

Post-Post:

  • [1] I had first used “skewered” but then saw that it doesn’t mean what I always thought it meant.
  • AHP Deathwatch:  No survivors.
  • AHP Proximity Alert: Herbert Anderson (Dennis the Menace’s dad) was just in an episode a month earlier — give someone else a chance!
  • Title Analysis:  Doesn’t make much sense.  Mr. Pryor was murdered once, Mr. Farnham was murdered once, and poor Mr. Evans was murdered three times.
  • Phyllis Thaxter (Lucy) played Clark Kent’s mother in Superman.  No, the good one. Why do I always think she was in the 1950s Superman?  Thinking of Phyllis Coates, I guess.  But then Lois Lane was played by Noel Coward, right?
  • Tom Helmore (Farnham) was in a memorable episode of Night Gallery.
  • George Shearing, Billy Shears, Harry Shearer, Norma Shearer, Rhonda Shear. Mostly Rhonda Shear.
  • The Popeil Pocket Fisherman is advertised as available at Woolworth, Woolco, and Korvette’s — all defunct.  Coincidence?

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