Alfred Hitchcock Presents – Safety for the Witness (11/23/58)

ahpsafetywitness2A police lieutenant comes into Cyril Jones’ gun shop and asks when is the last time Jones sold a gun to Dan Foley.  Without asking for a warrant or subpoena, Jones sings like a canary showing the officer that he sold Foley a gun in January.

This episode apparently takes place in the alternate universe occupied by anti-gun zealots where criminals buy their guns at licensed gunsmiths and are subject to and bound by all laws on the books.

Lieutenant Flannery tells Jones that they picked up a friend of Foley’s and they just want to be sure the witness is safe.  Jones thinks witnesses don’t fare too well in this town; he thinks more should be done to protect them.  I would tend to agree as the local newspaper prints a large picture of the witness which might was well have had concentric circles painted over it.

The Witness Relocation Program is much more successful than its predecessor, The Witness Location Program.

Sure enough as Jones is walking home, he sees some gangtas bust multiple caps in the witness’s ass. I’m not sure if we are supposed to wonder just what the hell Jones was doing there.  Was he following the witness?

Jones recognizes the shooters and even greets them by name.  This is not the wisest move as they respond by shooting him and leaving him nicely parallel to the witness on the sidewalk (see below).

Flannery and the Police Commissioner visit Jones in the hospital.  After 3 weeks in the hospital, Jones still will not give up the shooters.  A nurse tries to shoo them off, but Flannery says they need to question Jones because they need a witness to find out who killed the witness, “It’s our first obligation to protect the . . .”  Kudos to the writer for highlighting this paradox.

After the police leave, the nurse tells Jones that he ratted out Foley & his partner Felix while talking in his sleep.  He checks out of the hospital that night.  The nurse gives him 8-to-5 odds that he doesn’t live until Tuesday.  He goes back to his shop that night.  The phone rings, but there is no one there when he answers.  If only he had some way to protect himself — oh, wait he’s in a freakin’ gun shop!

ahpsafetywitness6Rather than go home, he gets a hotel room “with a view” for $3.50 ($75 if he uses the mini-bar).  The next morning, he has a clear view of Foley & Felix across the street.  He loads up his rifle and takes aim at the two pin-striped bastards.

OK, I know they showed Jones picking up a silencer at his shop, but the shots he fires literally produce no sound other than the click of the hammer.  Using a sight, he neatly lays both of them out in the same parallel configuration we saw earlier.  More kudos for the hat placement which is just beautiful (see below — the June Taylor Dancers didn’t line up with this precision) [1].

Jones is a good citizen, so goes to the police station and confesses to the murders.  He says he “killed them both with a high-powered rifle from the sixth floor” eerily mirroring a murder that would take place, also with a mail order rifle — one day short of exactly 5 years from the date this episode aired.  Fittingly, the desk Sargent does not believe Jones’ double-bullet theory.


Left to Right: witness, witness, gangster, gangster.

The Sargent recognizes Jones’ name as the witness who would not finger Foley &
Felix when he was shot earlier.  Jones is oddly proud of this fact.  The Sargent calls the lieutenant and strangely asks what Jones name is despite just having recognized it seconds before.

Jones admits that he should have identified his assailants when he was in the hospital. He was afraid, reasonably knowing that snitches get stitches.  The Commissioner is skeptical that mild-mannered Jones killed the two thugs.  He claims that they “get guys in the station once a week that swear they shot McKinley.”  If it’s any consolation to them, that McKinley talk should dry up in about 5 years.

The lieutenant is also skeptical, demanding evidence that Jones assassinated the men. The District Attorney is concerned that Jones’ confession is a smear against the police that they are unable to protect witnesses.  He is quite rightly concerned that the Grand Jury will just consider Jones a hero.  Much to Jones’ dismay, to avoid embarrassment, the city sets him free.  He will be fine as long as some sleazy titty-bar owner doesn’t catch him in the garage.

Meh.  Not much going on here, but it is nice to see some old character actors doing their thing.


  • [1] Former co-stars of Art Carney (Jones) on The Jackie Gleason Show.
  • AHP Deathwatch:  No survivors.
  • Why is Sargent capitalized in spell-check but lieutenant is not?

2 thoughts on “Alfred Hitchcock Presents – Safety for the Witness (11/23/58)

  1. Sargent is probably capitalized because that’s how you spell the surname (like Dick Sargent of Bewitched). “Sergeant” is the correct spelling for the rank.

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