Alfred Hitchcock Presents – The Return of the Hero (03/02/58)

The scene:  Wartime France.  Hitchcock’s opening and closing remarks are very subdued this week due to the gravity of the story.  This isn’t ordinary Americans being killed after all, it’s . . . well, more on that later.

Gendarme, stop that man -- he has no baguette!

Gendarme, stop that man — he has no baguette!

Cafe owner Leon is forcing his daughter into a marriage with the butcher.  Therese has her eye on the salami of a soldier named Sgt. Andre, though, and is heartbroken by his discharge; I mean, that he as been discharged.

Andre’s friend Marcel is telling a barfly how he saved Andre’s life.  He tells her Andre is rich and engaged to a baroness.

Andre is much more humble and honest, telling Therese that a few kisses in the dark meant nothing, that a soldier needs a girl, it was never going to last past Marseilles.  She tells him she wants to be with him anyway, to look after him.  He brutally says he  wants to get back to his family.

ahpreturnofthehero02Meanwhile Marcel is still talking up Andre to the barfly — how he has a yacht, has a winning racehorse. One of the disbelievers at the bar calls Andre’s mother to verify Marcel’s stories.  Andre takes the phone and tells his mother — now seen in an evening gown at a glamorous party — that he will be home in 2 days.

BTW, the Countess is played by Iphigenie Castiglioni; I wonder if that is the same Iphigenie Castiglioni that was in Hitchcock’s Rear Window?

He says he invited a friend to come home with him.  He assures them all that he is fine, but his friend has lost a leg in the war.  His family, the snooty society folk are aghast! The friend has not had time to get a prosthetic leg, so he will have to walk on crutches or — avert your eyes, ladies — a wheelchair!

His fiancee says, “That’s terrible!  To bring a cripple in here.  He won’t fit in.”  Well, we really can’t judge her until we measure the doors.

Andre’s mother sympathetically is only thinking of his poor friend.  She says he is welcome, but “don’t you think it will be a little awkward?  He won’t be able to ride, or swim, or dance — he will be so out of it!”

When Andre says the man saved his life, his mother promises the best life for him . . . just so it’s not too close to the family.  They will be happy to send him to Switzerland to recuperate, but “don’t bring him home!  Not Now!  It would be so depressing having such an unfortunate boy around.”

ahpreturnofthehero04After the call, he tells Marcel that he can’t take him home with him now, because he is not going home.  He tells Therese to marry the butcher and lead a long and happy life. He then hobbles out on crutches, revealing that it is actually him who has lost a leg, and he was testing his family’s reaction.  Therese runs after him, and will probably catch him . . . what with having two legs.

Alfred says at the end that he will dispense with his usual gallows humor as this show has no desire to make light of men who have suffered as a result of war.  Hopefully next week he can have us rolling in the aisles again with tales of murdered Americans.

ahpreturnofthehero05This episode was OK, but another missed opportunity.  Marcel was seen walking around, so we know he is doing OK.  There are tell-tale crutches prominently displayed leaning against the bar in several scenes. And the accents made it an effort to listen to the dialogue.

Post-Post:

  • AHP Deathwatch:  Susan Kohner is still with us.
  • Sir Alfred is correct, there is nothing funny about wounded soldiers.  But it did remind me of the classic sketch by Dudley Moore and Peter Cook.
  • This idea has apparently become an urban legend even showing up in Snopes, but its roots go back even further.

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