Sandra discovers Tommy’s hobby — a poster board where he tracks every murder for the year, whether it was solved and whether there was a motive. He points out to Sandra how the line for motiveless murders runs parallel to the line for unsolved murders. Yeah, well, all of the lines are parallel, dumb-ass. Did no one on the set understand basic geometry?
And not to get too nit-picky, but this is equally basic — it appears that ~240 solved murders + ~280 unsolved murders = ~475 total murders.
Sandra says it’s ten to seven, so she’s got to go. For the viewer, Sandra is there only for exposition; of the chart and her gams. But why is she there for Richard and Tommy? Is it 7 AM or PM? It’s a little early for being that drunk and still drinking at either hour. When she leaves, she kisses both men on the lips, and calls Tommy “Mr. Greer.”
Several reviewers compare this to Hitchcock’s Rope, but it is really more related to Strangers on a Train. Tommy expounds his theory that a motiveless crime has a 100 to 1 shot of being solved. Not to turn this into Mathterpiece Theater, but if that is true, the solved line should be much shorter. Richard says he only got Tommy started on this hobby to take his mind off of his ex-wife Marion.
Turns out Marion was Richard’s girl, then dumped him for Tommy. Now she has divorced Tommy, and Richard wants him to get over it. Richard challenges Tommy to commit a motiveless murder and see if he can get away with it.
Shortly thereafter, the two men take an elevator to the lobby which confirms that this is a hotel, not an apartment, and that it is 7 PM. Tommy’s place really looked more like an apartment, but there is a newstand and bar in the lobby. So are they on a business trip? And why are they so drunk at 7 PM?
Richard pulls out a Chicago phone book, closes his eyes and — I can’t stress this enough — opens it randomly, and blindly lands his finger on one Jerome Stanton of Chicago as the proposed victim. Tommy tears the page out of the phonebook — which is not what you want in your possession when trying to commit the perfect crime.
Tommy flies to Chicago and calls the Stanton home, but only the maid is home. She says Mr. Stanton will be home the next evening for the fights, as were all men in the 1950s. The next night, he goes to see Stanton under the guise of taking a poll. Tommy goes through an extensive ruse rather than just killing him outright.
Eventually, however, Tommy talks Stanton into a vulnerable position and pounds him in the head with a hammer.
Back in New York (or, I believe it was an unspecified city 1,000 miles from Chicago), he is eating breakfast and reading the paper. He sees that Jerome Stanton of Chicago was murdered — because local papers cover every murder in the nation. C’mon, today it wouldn’t even be covered in Chicago. He is shocked as he reads it was Jerome Stanton that his ex-wife Marion had left him for, and married. Richard, who had also been jilted by Marion, set Tommy up to kill Stanton and clear his path back to Marion. Asked by the police for any possible suspects, Marion had named Tommy.
Tommy attacks Richard just as the cops show up.
This is such a good episode that I’m willing to accept that Richard had somehow bent or marked the page in the phone book to open up to, and had memorized the spot so that he could literally finger Stanton’s name with his eyes covered.
Also that it was just pure luck that Marion didn’t answer the phone when Tommy called, and that she was not home when he went to see Stanton, and that Stanton never mentioned her name, and that there were no wedding pictures around.
I better stop before I talk myself out of the fact that this was a great episode.
- AHP Deathwatch: Skip Homeier is still alive, but retired from acting at 50. Tharon Crigler is also hanging on. Strange career — 6 roles in 1958, nothing before or after. Gary Clarke is still alive and working despite a 16-year gap 1996-2012 per IMDb.
- Did Richard smack Sandra on the ass at about 2:15? Pretty racy stuff for 1958.
- Not that this was a classic, but Googling Mathterpiece Theater further confirms my theory that it is almost impossible to come up with anything that is original. It’s like trying to get Joe as a Google login ID.