Alfred Hitchcock Presents – The Perfect Crime (S3E3)

ahpperfectcrime02Before watching:  Woohoo!  With a title like that, you know Sir Alfred is going to take the directorial reins for this episode!

After watching:  Master of suspense? Yeah, the suspense was when is something going to happen?

Charles Courtney (Vincent Price) is adding another exhibit to his collection commemorating crimes he has solved.  Back in the old days, this was called evidence and kept by the police or returned to the victim.

He receives a late night visit from defense attorney John Gregory (James Gregory — really, they couldn’t have at least changed the character’s name to Greg Johnson?).  Price notes that he has seen Gregory in the courtroom four times.  All four times, it sounds like Gregory’s clients were found guilty and executed; bizarrely, nothing is really made of that.

Gregory notices a blank spot in Price’s trophy case.  He explains that it is reserved for the titular perfect crime, a real work of art.  Rather than being vacant because the person was — by definition — not caught, it is vacant because Price feels no criminal mastermind has ever risen to his level to deserve the spot.

ahpperfectcrime12The conversation turns to the trial of No-First-Name Harrington for the murder of Ernest West.  Gregory says he might have represented Harrington if he had not been out of the country.  Since Harrington was just executed, it sounds right up his alley.

Price recounts in a flashback how West was found dead by his housekeeper.  He is lead to Harrington by analyzing tweed threads, tire treads, footprints, and financial evidence.

A certain stock had risen 57 points in the days leading to West’s murder.  Two days after his death, the stock dropped 63 points.  Price found that Harrington had been selling short as the stock rose and was on the hook for 132,000 share when West was killed.  At the same time that Harrington was selling short, West had been buying up all he could. So Harrington killed West — it was, as Price describes it, “murder for millions.”

There is nothing in that scenario that makes sense.

Gregory finally discloses that he knew West, Harrington and Harrington’s wife Alice.  And furthermore, Harrington was innocent and Gregory can prove it.  He tells an alternate version of the story that begins with the Harringtons and West being in a love triangle.

ahpperfectcrime03In another flashback, we see Gregory sitting in a fancy Monte Carlo hotel room talking to Alice.  And I literally mean SEE — for some reason, there is no dialog in the flashbacks other than the narration of the two stars. Alice hands Gregory a letter from her husband which is abusive.  They agree that her husband deserved to be killed.

Gregory brings up other facts that contradict Price’s version of events, or fill in certain gaps.  It soon becomes clear, unfortunately in yet another flashback, that Price has been responsible for sending the innocent Harrington to the gas chamber.

Welllll, let’s not go crazy with that innocent-talk.  Harrington was standing right beside Alice when she shot her husband.  Then he covered it up, or at least did not rat her out.  So really, the only miscarriage of justice is that Alice wasn’t sitting in his lap when he got fried.

Rather than spilling the beans, all Gregory wants is for Price to ease off next time when he has a client facing the death penalty.  Because, while it would be fun the bring the smug Price down to earth, and would benefit society to bring the shooter to justice — the important thing for a defense attorney is to be sure we get as many future murderers back on the street as possible.

This isn’t good enough for Price who fears for his reputation if this ever got out.  So that’s it for Gregory — Price commits the perfect crime.  Sadly, the moral police could not let just this one episode go by with a killer getting away with his crime.  Hitch gave his standard closing, assuring the audience that Price got caught.

ahpperfectcrime18The epilogue is a little muddled as we learn that Price stuffed Gregory into his ceramics kiln and made him into a vase.  His hobby of ceramics was quickly mentioned early in the story, so that part is not a complete non-sequitur.  But can the human body be incinerated down to clay?

And it was such a plain vase.  There should have been something to tie it to its source material — like being very fat or thin if that matched the body type of Gregory.  Or a bowl with a lid that resembled a unique hat, or at least color that matched his suit.  Or maybe something like the Hitler Kettle.

Overall, the performers did a great job, but it was just too talky and reliant on narration over the silent flashbacks.


  • AHP Deathwatch:  Ironically, Harrington is the only survivor.
  • I supposed Gregory’s constant losses to Price were the reason for his extortion.  It just doesn’t really work because Gregory comes across as an confident, intelligent attorney.
  • Price took a 2 year world-tour after killing Gregory.  He says he preferred Angkor Wat to the Taj Mahal.  Fine, but that just seems strange to randomly drop in the script.
  • Alice’s fate is not given in the episode, but she possibly went on to be part of the biggest crime of the last 50 years.

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