Alfred Hitchcock Presents – The Avon Emeralds (03/22/59)

ahpavonemeralds6Hey, it’s TV’s Big Ben!  Were they required to set a certain number episodes in England?  I really can’t think of another reason to do so. The setting really has no bearing on the story.

Benson,  Inspectre Benson (Roger Moore) is clipping coupons in Sir Charles Harrington’s office when the old man arrives.  Wait, in the pre-internet version of Favorites, he is actually collecting articles on his passion, horticulture — which also has no bearing on the story.  He manages to bore even the old British upper class twit, rambling on about flowers and the friars who love them until Harrington stops him.

There was a recent case where the “Avon Lady Lady Avon [1] tried to sell some jewelry and overlooked the share of the proceeds due to the treasury.”  This is a very British way of saying that Lady Avon understandably tried to avoid the Tony Sopranoesque demand for a piece of the action by the government before her husband had hardly assumed room temperature.  Benson recalls being on the case.
Harrington tells him that an emerald necklace valued at £100,000 has been put up for sale by Lady Avon.  It is the last asset from Lord Avon’s estate, the rest having been seized in confiscatory taxes to keep the inbred royal family living in style.  He believes that Lady Avon intends to leave the country and sell the necklace abroad in a greedy attempt to keep her own money from the proceeds of the necklace sale which was, after all, ahpavonemeralds4originally purchased with cash that had already been taxed at least once.  The necklace is currently “in a hotel safe” but not “in a hotel, safe.”  Benson is instructed to verify the location of the necklace.

His heartless boss orders Benson to follow Lady Avon to the French Riviera and hang out for a few days to be sure she didn’t take the jewels with her.  If he spots the jewels, he is to bring them back.  I suspect his theory that she will show up wearing them at the topless beach will not pan out.

The audience can be forgiven thinking the next scene is set in France after that set-up, but they haven’t left England yet.  Benson asks the hotel desk clerk to show him the jewels.  An appraiser apprises him that they are the real Avon Emeralds.  The hotel manager implores her to keep them in a bank, but she insists on keeping them at the hotel.

Lady Avon wisely chose to keep the jewels in the main vault rather than the little safe in the hotel room closet.  For maximum security, she would have kept them in the mini-bar — no one ever opens it, and it would have been inconspicuous among higher-priced items.  Darn the luck, the emeralds are stolen before she can leave for France.

ahpavonemeralds2Benson meets Lady Avon at the airport when she lands in France.  This is a potentially fun scene where a waiting gendarme can’t grasp that 1) Lady Avon doesn’t have the jewels, 2) that they were not insured, and 3) that she stole them from herself.  The elements are all there for a snappy routine . . . except for competent performances.  I guess I could have mentioned this in the first sentence, but Moore’s performance is ghastly.  His constant wide-eyed mugging is a huge distraction in every scene.  The Frenchie’s delivery and thick accent are also komedy kryptonite.

To the policeman’s credit, he can see no more reason to see this through to the conclusion than I can.  However, while he takes off to the beignet shop, I feel duty-bound to finish up here.  Lady Avon is strip-searched, although because it is off-camera, I’m just speculating.  The jewels are still mysteriously absent.

All is explained and, despite there being no murder this week, I am forced to like the tax avoidance scheme on principal.  If I really wanted to complain, there is a courier bag that could have benefited from some foreshadowing.  There is also a plant in the last scene which is a callback to Benson’s interest in horticulture, but plays absolutely no role in the story.

Despite Moore’s dreadful performance, I rate it a pink Toyota.[2]


  • [1] Apparently pronounced A-VIN in England — like Stratford-upon-A-VIN . . . I’m reading a book about Shakespeare.  That’s really my only point here . . . I’m reading a book about Shakespeare
  • [2] I know that’s a Mary Kay thing, not an Avon thing.  All I know about Avon is Ding Dong, and how could I possibly work that in?
  • AHP Deathwatch:  A pretty hardy group, most lasted until their 80s and 90s.  The one survivor, Roger Moore, is still alive because no 007 has ever died.  And don’t give me that David Niven or Barry Nelson crap.  Also not included:  Any character named Jimmy Bond.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.