I was immediately befuddled on this one. Ben Nelson and Sharon Trotter pull up in front of her mother’s apartment. Maybe this is one of those things like the riddles that reveal what a sexist pig you are.
Seeing Sharon on the driver’s side  my first thought was great, another bloody English episode. Still not prepared to accept a woman driver, my next dopey thought was Holy crap! There’s no steering wheel in front of that guy — what a dumb oversight by the prop department.
My brain finally accepted that Sharon is driving. In my defense, however, that was probably pretty rare in chivalrous 1959. I would also submit to the jury that it makes no sense for her to be driving. They are arriving at her mother’s apartment where she is going up to have dinner alone with Mom. So why is Ben there at all if not to drop her off?
Anyhoo, skipping the first 3 seconds of the episode . . .
Ma sees Ben and Sharon out of her window. She disapproves of their relationship because Ben is married. Probably also because he is 21 years older than her daughter, and only 3 years younger than her. Or maybe because he foolishly put all his assets in his wife’s name.
When Ma expresses some sympathy for Ben’s wife, Sharon continues, “His house, his factory, his invest-ments, everything. And she’s not going to let go of it. Now do you understand what kind of woman she is?” [sexist remark redacted — maybe that riddle was right!]
The next day, Ben is surprised to get a visit at work from Sharon’s mother. She asks Ben to stop seeing her daughter because he is ruining her life. He says he thought she was old enough to make her own decisions, and that he wants nothing more than to marry her daughter.
That night, he rats out Ma’s visit to Sharon. Sharon is starting to get nervous now as they have been dating for a year and Ben has done nothing to free himself up. She worries about losing him “because she has no protection.” You know, like the assets they want to bilk his wife out of.
Ma then goes to see Ben’s wife. Mrs. No-Name Nelson  is pretty accommodating to this stranger who has taken a long bus trip to see her for reasons unknown. She pours them a couple of glasses of ice tea in pilsner glasses. Mrs. Nelson recognizes Sharon’s name, but doesn’t seem to know about her husband’s cheating. Ma finishes wrecking the home that Sharon was working on.
That night, Mrs. Nelson confronts her husband. She is willing to give Ben “his freedom” but nothing else. Turns out the aforementioned assets were left to her by her father, so the fact that they were in her name makes sense.
Sensing that she can still do more damage that night, Ma goes to Sharon’s apartment. While Sharon is changing, Ma answers a call from Ben. Not realizing he is speaking to Ma, he says his wife is dead and tells her the alibi she must give to the police to protect him. She is to say he was in her apartment from 6 to midnight.
Ma tells Sharon about the call, saying that Ben spoke so fast, she didn’t get a chance to say who she was. Sensing a way to protect Sharon, she relays the opposite message — that Ben wants her to say he wasn’t here all evening.
OK, that is a great twist, and certainly nails Ben — but how is Sharon so dumb that she doesn’t see the problem? She is going to provide an alibi for a murder suspect by saying he was NOT with her at the time of the murder? Don’t alibis usually work the opposite way?
This is a pretty somber affair, but has a few things going for it. Although a little slow and talky, the story has a lot going on. Yet, there is also a leanness to the simple story that makes it effective. Robert Alda is great as Ben — yet another AHP poser who will get what’s coming to him. I’d like to see some stats on how many wives were killed on AHP.
Jeanette Nolan was especially good as Sharon’s mother. She had to be concerned for daughter, reluctant in visiting Mrs. Nelson, then distraught at the pain she has caused her, and conflicted at lying to Sharon. Even as she is spreading the truth, she reflects a horror and self-loathing at knowing she is intruding, that this has hurt Mrs. Nelson and ultimately killed her, set the wheels in motion that led Ben to resort to murder, and denied Sharon the chance to be happy with Ben.
-  Things I will never remember if I live to be 100: In a car, is the left and right from the driver’s POV or the guy about to be run over? Also, which is ectomorph vs endomorph?
-  Portrayed by Fay Wray who has a history of being involved with big apes.
- AHP Deathwatch: No survivors.
- Title Analysis: No idea how they came up with this.
- Dorothy Provine (Sharon) was in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World where, in a cast of thousands, she was the only one to have no funny lines.
- There’s Got to Be a Morning After.
- IMDb and Hulu.