The episode opens with a voice-over describing “Palm Beach, where the sun spends the winter, and people spend fortunes to be in it.” I guess sun is the “it” of that sentence, but it took a couple of rewinds for me to make sense of it.
We are introduced to what I can only assume is known as the “old money” crowd. Or the old “money crowd”. The “nonagenarian money crowd”, to be more accurate.
Writer Randall Burnside is in town to gather info on his next subject, Prince Burhan. He is introduced by the geezers to Irene Cole, wife of oilman Howard Cole. As is common with Hitchcock, this marriage is a little off. Mr. Cole is hanging out with a floozy starlet, playing tennis, boating, while ordering his wife around. Burnside is surprised to hear that Irene has the money in the family, yet tolerates this behavior.
The famous Prince Burhan arrives, either having spent too much time in the Florida sun, or having been made up just a few coats short of Al Jolson to represent some indeterminate Arab / Indian country. He seems to be quite taken with Irene, asking her dance, then out to lunch the next day, and for a walk. To be fair, her husband apparently believes what’s good for the gander is good for the goose.
We flash a few days forward and learn that the Prince is still spending a lot of time with Irene, sending her a bouquet of roses every morning, and wanting to party like its 1959.
Hanging out in a cabana, Prince Burhan makes clear his feelings for her, and Irene makes clear her belief in old wives’ tales.
The next day, Burhan kisses Irene and says he will kill himself if she doesn’t marry him; thus proving that he is not only a famous prince, but a drama queen. She refuses and sends him packing. Burhan dies the next day in a car accident, leaving Irene distraught with guilt.
Three months later, Burnside returns to Palm Beach. The resort manager informs him that the Prince was after Irene’s millions, that he was bankrupt. Somehow this is news to Burnside who has just finished writing a biography of Burhan. This is why you never hear about the investigative team of Woodward & Burnside. The manager, however, says it was an accident rather than suicide because the Prince’s mechanic had been in the middle of working on the brakes; also news to our intrepid reporter.
Burnside goes to New York to let Irene know it wasn’t her fault. However, he sees the positive effect Burhan’s death had on them. Thinking that the Prince killed himself over her, Irene has gained new self-confidence (and her own young actor boy-toy). Her husband has become much more attentive seeing that another man could desire her (and no sign of his floozy). Burnside says he doesn’t want to rob them of the Prince’s precious legacy to them and breaks the 4th wall: “Would you have?”
- In a headline about his death, Burhan is described as Oriental. In common parlance, that would exclude India.
- According to Wikipedia, ”Oriental” is banned from legislation in Washington state due to being raaaaaaacist.
- Once again in a Hitchcock joint, we have a woman disparaging herself and criticized by others for being “plain”, “ordinary”, “not amusing”, and (gasp) “over 30”. At least this time, he did not cast his daughter.
- Another unexpected 4th-wall breakage, just 2 days after Tales from the Crypt. More jarring than effective this time, though.
- Bess Flowers appears uncredited as an extra. She might have been the most prolific actress in history. She appeared in over 700 films, including 23 that were nominated for Best Picture.
- Oh, Hitchcock, you so crazy . . .