Alfred Hitchcock Presents – Sylvia (S3E16)

First of all, let’s acknowledge the obvious — Ann Todd is playing John McIntire’s daughter despite being only two years younger than him. Didn’t the producers realize that by Hollywood rules, if the woman is about the same age, she must play the mother of the man?  It must be said, however, that she has aged much more gracefully than him.

John Leeds walks into his daughter Sylvia’s bedroom to find her fumbling with a gun.  He is concerned for her safety, that’s why he never had one in the house. Sylvia says she wanted it for protection while her father is out of town.  He is more concerned with her hurting herself.

About to depart on a business assignment in Europe — as we all do — he is concerned about leaving Sylvia alone.  His suspicions are further aroused when his housekeeper tells him that Sylvia has given three weeks of vacation to the servants — as we all do.  He goes to Sylvia’s psychiatrist to see if he thinks she might be contemplating suicide — as we all — wait, what?

ahpsylvia06The doctor can’t tell him anything more confidential than his billing rate, but suggests that Leeds repeat the circumstances that led here, cleverly forcing us back into dreaded flashback mode.

Leeds and daughter Sylvia were on a cruise.  Standing at the rail, talking about her disinterest in meeting people her own age — other than her father — they were approached by Peter Kent, who asks Sylvia to dance.  Two months later, they were married. Leeds is disgusted that Peter is living off of Syvia’s allowance. The final straw comes when Peter forges a check from Leeds.

Peter is a pretty cool customer, not expecting Leeds to call the police on his daughter’s husband, then sitting calmly as he calls the District Attorney to set up a meeting.  Seeing that Leeds is serious, Peter offers to divorce Sylvia if Leeds will destroy the bogus check. Leeds agrees on the condition that Peter also “never see Sylvia again.”

Naturally as soon as Sylvia’s father is scheduled to get on a plane to Europe, she wants Peter to come back.  Leeds abruptly cancels his trip, and coincidentally, Peter comes to visit his office.  He tells Leeds that Sylvia called and begged him to come back — right after Leeds leaves the country.

ahpsylvia07Leeds correctly points out that they had a divorce.  Peter points out that there was no agreement for after the divorce; also that he had his fingers crossed.  Actually, he had agree to never see Sylvia, so this whole visit is a sham.  Peter agrees to go away again for the mere sum of $25,000 ($206,000 in 2015 dollars).  Leeds must be loaded in every sense of the word, as he agrees.

That night after dinner, for which Sylvia insists she and her father “dress”, she begins chattering about items she would like her father to buy for her in Europe.  He asks her of her plans while he’s gone, but she says nothing.  Leeds tells her that Peter won’t be coming.

ahpsylvia08Sylvia said she wanted to give Peter another chance.  And that she gave the servants their vacation so they could be alone.

That night, Leeds goes to her bedroom where she brushes her hair.  He says he just doesn’t like having a gun in the house, and asks for it.  She wonders why she was never allowed to have anything of her own — even a husband.  Correct answer:  Well, maybe because you’re an immature, naive, trust-fund parasite who has never accomplished anything, Chelsea Sylvia!

Or maybe she’s got a point — Leeds never hesitates to barge into his grown daughter’s bedroom in his house without knocking.  She could be naked, or even worse, nude.

So she shoots her father and says over and over, Oh Daddy, Why couldn’t you let me go?  Sadly, this girl was clearly unbalanced, not the usual scheming or over-their-head murderer we expect from AHP.

A strangely pedestrian story for Ira Levin, who wrote Rosemary’s Baby, The Stepford Wives and The Boys from Brazil.


  • AHP Deathwatch:  No survivors.
  • AHP Proximity Alert:  Raymond Bailey was in Miss Paisley’s Cat just four episodes ago.  C’mon, give someone else a chance.

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