Alfred Hitchcock Presents – The Impossible Dream (04/19/59)

A couple are is dancing and discussing what a tramp the woman is (by 1959 standards, anyway).  There are 2 gunshots which are effective shocks even though (i.e. because) they are so unrealistically staged.  They are dancing very close and shown from just below the shoulders when the shots are heard.  It is almost comical what a non-sequitur they are. Before the shots, the woman’s arms do not move, so it is as if she was holding the gun between them the whole time.  As we hear the shots, there is absolutely no recoil.

The camera pulls so far back we can see the director — no wait this has been a scene filmed for a movie.  Stage-victim Oliver Matthews picks himself up and heads for his dressing room.  He opens up a bottle of hooch and unloads on his assistant, Miss Hall.  He hates the film, hates that he has been reduced to a small role, and hates having to act beside Myra Robbins.  But he’s not just a h8ter, he does love that booze.  Miss Hall gets him to put down the bottle by offering a sedative.

Her slavish devotion is repaid by Matthews telling her, “You ought to find yourself a man.  You’re drying up,  Pretty soon you’ll have fewer choices.”  He goes on a Serling-esque harangue of self-pity about himself and mockery of Miss Hall.  This a pretty pathetic pair.  Even as Matthews is cruelly taunting Miss Hall on the way out the door to Mexico, she is obsequiously fawning over him.

We are tricked as he actually goes home, not that the director gives us any clue — this could have been a place in Mexico.  However, the wardrobe lady from the film set  who Matthews had earlier pretended not to know walks in and is all smiles.  I was expecting that his previous ass-hattery was an act and that he would be charmingly in love with the lowly wardrobe lady, Grace Dolan.  Well cheers to them for fooling me, but jeers for them subjecting me to another depressing co-dependent train-wreck of a relationship.

In this pairing, Dolan is blackmailing Matthews to keep quiet about his role in her daughter’s murder.  Ya know, most parents might take such evidence to the police.  He insists that he is broke and can’t keep paying.  She nastily demands that he write the check anyway and damn well better find a way to cover it.  As she is leaving, he asks her to stay for a drink which is not at all suspicious.

As she is looking through his record collection, he dumps a bottle of his sedative in her glass and charmingly stirs it with his finger.  As a result of the drug or his grubby finger, Dolan passes out.  She is so disgusting that he isn’t tempted to do anything but kill her.  He loads her in the car, wraps her in chains and gives her a long shove off a short pier.

He returns home and finds Miss Hall there.  She knows what Matthews did, but will not tell the police as long as he will be her boyfriend.

This episode is a victim of its own success.  Franchot Tone is just great as Matthews.  And, by great, I mean repulsive.  Miss Hall is so needy, you go right past empathy into thinking “what’s wrong with this woman?”, and Grace Dolan is just as nasty as Matthews. There is just no one to root for or identify with.


  • AHP Deathwatch:  No survivors.

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