Alfred Hitchcock Presents – Night of the Execution (S3E13)

ahpnightexecution01Prosecuting Attorney Warren Selvy is being chewed out by his boss as he throws file after file on his desk of cases in which Selvy has failed to get a conviction.  Whether any of these defendants were actually innocent seems to be irrelevant.  To make matters worse, his boss is also his father-in-law.

Selvy would like to be District Attorney, but his father thinks that this losing streak is going to be a problem.  Not only that, his father-in-law says he believes his daughter Doreen is getting impatient with Selvy’s slow rise to the middle.  He tells Selvy that the jury doesn’t just want logic.  In the current Rodman case, he needs to show some passion, put on a show.  So the old man is a visionary, foreseeing the OJ trial 30 years down the road where evidence doesn’t mean shit.

His father-in-law tells him that if he can send Rector — er Rodman — to the chair, his political future will be secure.  Unfortunately he has an adversary in the courtroom named Vance who is a master of self-promotion.

ahpnightexecution02All charged up, he returns to the courtroom and demands a guilty verdict from the jury, and also that they send Rodman to the electric chair.

Selvy calls his wife — who is way out of his league, by the way — down to a local bar to await the announce-ment of the verdict.  In a surprisingly quick decision, Selvy finally wins a big one.

That night, he receives a visit from an old man who says that he is actually guilty of the murder that Rodman was convicted of.  Selvy is torn — he doesn’t want an innocent man to be electrocuted, but he also wants to win the trial and not have to marry some other woman who is in his league.  When the old man realizes that he will get the chair for committing the murder, he recants his confession.

The old man comes back later, a few minutes before the scheduled execution, and threatens to go public with his guilt, Selvy is worried about the effect on his marriage and political career so clocks him with . . . . er, a clock, killing him.

ahpnightexecution03His wife and father-in-law return home just in time to see the dead man on the floor.  The father-in-law recognizes the old man as a crank who confesses to crimes all the time. As Selvy stands there in shock at having killed an innocent man, the clock he used to kill the old man rings for midnight and the execution of Rodman.

KInd of a strange episode. Normally, the clock striking midnight in Selvy’s hands, signifying the death of Rodman would have been a gut-punch.  Here it is just a reminder that the real criminal was put to death.  Big deal — as Ernie Banks said, “Let’s fry two!”

On the other hand, I expected that Rodman was going to ultimately die and be found innocent, so the episode faked me out.  Which is a good thing.


  • AHP Deathwatch:  Georgann Johnson, last seen in One for the Road, still hanging in there.
  • Selvy (Pat Hingle) was Commissioner Gordon in the 1980s Batmans.
  • Edward Schaff gets only a few seconds on screen, and I’m not sure he had any dialogue.  He got more exposure as Hitler in Russ Myer’s Up!.  But not as much as Kitten Natividad.  Or Raven De La Croix.  Or Candy Samples.  Etc.

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