Alfred Hitchcock Presents – The Impromptu Murder (06/22/58)

Sometimes I kind of feel that way about Alfred Hitchcock Presents — a guy commits a murder and accidentally incriminates himself.  The end.  Episode S3E38, for example.

ahpimpromptu02It is set in 1916, but could be anytime; it is set in England, but could be anywhere; the lead actor is an American, but could have been any nationality; the thief / killer was a lawyer . . . actually, that seems about right.

Solicitor Henry Daw (Hume Cronyn) who is also the Mayor-elect, gets a visit from Miss Wilkinson whom he has not seen in 9 years.  Miss Wilkinson tells Daw’s sister that she must be proud that he was just elected Mayor.  She says she is a little worried about taking on the role of Mayoress.  That’s another trend in AHP — men who are freakishly close to their sister.

Miss W tells Daw that she wishes to withdraw her investments from his management. She has an opportunity to double her money in 6 months due to a business proposition from a Nigerien Prince.  No wait, it’s her brother — it’s AHP, of course his sister is going to be his partner.  Business partner.

Sadly, Daw has spent Miss W’sahpimpromptu03 investment on 18 year old hookers, 20 year old scotch, and wasted the rest (coincidentally, that joke is also from 1916).

The next time we see Daw, he is digging one of those perfect graves that any slob seems to be able to dig on TV.  To AHP’s credit, at least he does break a sweat.  That might be because he dug it while wearing a vest and necktie.  Also the back-breaking digging.

That night, he strangles Miss W, which we witness as shadows on the wall.  He throws her over his shoulder like Jessica Tandy and takes her to the waiting grave.  Daw’s sister is awakened by him going down the stairs, but there is no indication that she witnesses any shenanigans.  Maybe she was just jealous.

ahpimpromptu04After he places Miss W in the grave (off-camera), we see that he has covered her with an exposed cement slab that doesn’t look at all out-of-place is this marshy area alongside the river.  As he is walking away, he seems to realize that he has forgotten something.  He puts a few shovel-fulls of dirt in a bucket, walks to the river, and dumps the dirt in the water.  To be honest, it took me a while to realize we just saw the first iteration of him getting rid of the dirt that Miss W’s body displaced.

To create the illusion that Miss W left on her own, Daw dresses up like a widowed Mulsim Invisible Woman going to work as a beekeeper near a Haz-Mat Facility in the Antarctic with fabric covering every inch of his body, including a scarf around his face. He then takes a carriage to the train station and heads toward Miss W’s home.

ahpimpromptu08During the dedication of a war memorial, a body is spotted floating down the river.  The police believe it could be Miss W and call Daw to identify the body.  Through a merry mix-up, Daw believes he has been caught in a lie and confesses to the murder — only to find that if he had kept his yap shut for 2 more minutes he would have gotten away with it.

Despite feeling a little familiar, another fine outing.  Hume Cronyn, especially, was very good, but then he was a highly regarded actor until he was 112 [1].  I also enjoyed the locations used.  When AHP starts with a title card establishing a non-US location, I always start out with a little dread, but this worked out nicely with great interiors and exteriors.


  • [1] I see upon further research, he was only 91 when he died.
  • AHP Deathwatch:  David Frankham (“Holsom”) is still alive.  I’m not sure who his character was, and I’m not going back.
  • Title Analysis: Not exactly impromptu.  The murder was planned at least  several hours in advance.  Daw did the all-important prep-work of site-location, digging the hole, creating an intricate alibi, and procuring boots, a shovel and a bucket.
  • Words ending in U — more than you would think.

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