Alfred Hitchcock Presents – Number Twenty-Two (S2E21)

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Wipe that smirk off your face, punk!

Coppers are chasing a ne’er-do-well through an alley.  The young man, with a big smile on his face, seems to be taking this as a real hoot, daddio.  Ultimately cornered on a fire escape by the police, he gives up.  The punk with the smirk is Rip Torn, although so young here that he is unrecognizable.

He is pretty proud of himself over his crime-spree of a single robbery.  Of an old man.  In a candy store.  With a toy gun. Lest you underestimate him, he did slug the geezer with the toy gun.

He has a big smile the whole time he walks down the cell-block to his new home.  These are just temporary holding cells, but these are some of the best dressed criminals I’ve ever seen — suit jackets, ties, a nice fedora.  This is the anti-Oz.

He gets to his cell and meets his new roomie, an old man named Skinner, who has clearly been here before.  When Torn finds out he will be photographed for the mug shots, he gets excited.  Will reporters be there?  Will he get his picture in the paper?  Having his priorities straight, he is hoping to impress the “big shots” back at the pool hall.  However, he does worry that the papers will spill the beans that his gun was only a toy swiped from a 5 & 10 (The Dollar Store before inflation).  Wow, guess that really was a spree!

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Forced perspective trick now used by Tom Cruise.

Torn and Skinner are taken to a line-up where they are questioned from the back of the room by a man with a microphone.  Skinner and Torn are kept for additional questioning.  During the bonus round, Skinner claims not to remember anything in answer to all their questions.  Doesn’t remember last time he worked, or anything about the crime.

Torn continues to take it all as a joke until the detective tells him the old man he slugged in the candy store sustained a cracked skull and died.  That’s murder, baby!  Although, that must have been some toy gun to fracture his skull.

This is a pretty slim story.  The big final twist here is the standard plot point we would expect at the end of the first act in a contemporary crime show.  Maybe it was shocking 60 years ago, but I expect better from Evan Hunter.  Credited with the story, he also wrote the screenplay for The Birds and the 200 87th Precinct novels.

I rate it 8 out of 22.

Post-Post:

  • AHP Deathwatch:  Rip Torn and Martin Wilkins are still with us.  Although with a 1905 birth year, I suspect Wilkin’s bio might need updating.
  • AHP Proximity Alert:  Ray Teal was just in an episode 4 weeks earlier.
  • Would it have killed them to delay this one week and make it the 22nd episode of the season?
  • Alfred Hitchcock directed movies titled Number 13 and Number 17.  I like to think that if he had directed this episode, he would have renamed it Number 23 just to keep the prime number theme going.  And would have delayed it two weeks.
  • Hmmm, just noticed that there is already a movie named The Number 23.
  • And then there is this strange piece of business.  The man below does not seem to be drunk or stoned.  He does, however, have a snappy haircut and a stylish blazer-over-t-shirt that Miami Vice would not popularize for another 25 years.  The only thing I can think of is that they are hinting at some gay-related crime, but that would be pretty bold to put on TV in the 50’s.

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