Alfred Hitchcock Presents – The Right Price (03/08/59)

ahprightprice01Mort and Jocelyn are working in an office.  We know it is olden times because she is using an adding machine the size of a 30 pound turkey and smoking in the office, although sadly not smoking the turkey [1].

Mort has worked out by hand that his share of the profit is $705.  Jocelyn corrects him to say his share is only $505.  She accuses him of accusing her of trying to cheat him.  She checks his figures and says, “You’ve got a seven instead of a three in the 2nd column.”  How that could result in a $200 difference, I can’t see. [2]

She says she doesn’t know why she went into business with him, and he says he regrets letting her buy in.  She loaned him money when no one else would, but at an astronomical 10% because she had a big heart.  He zings her, “You mean that adding machine below your ribs?”  She explains, “Shut up!”  Then she strips naked.

Wait, thank God, she only strips off her dress and remains in a slip.  I can imagine this was quite a shock in 1959, and it actually startled me today.  The married couple walk out the door of their home-office and march up the stairs to bed.  The insulting and sniping continues.  They crawl into their respective twin beds and pull the covers up to their necks.  Jocelyn’s idea of pillow talk is, “You’ll never get a cent of my money.”

ahprightprice09That night, Mort hears a noise downstairs.  He surprises a 54 year-old burglar.  Are there any 54 year-old burglars?  I like to think they’ve all been shot much sooner than that. The burglar asks to see the silver-ware, then rejects it as junk when he sees one of the utensils is a spork. He has a bigger plan in mind, though.

He tells Mort about a job he pulled recently.  The homeowner stuck the insurance company for $5,000 more than the items taken, so everyone was a winner.  You know, except the poor saps whose premiums are raised to cover such fraud.  Playing on Mort’s pride in being a businessman, the burglar suggests a similar arrangement.

Unfortunately, the house is full of junky silverware, cheap art, fake jewelry and glass crystal.  However, there is something even more worthless in the house — his naggingshrewofawife (which is such a stock character on AHP, it should be a single word).  The burglar says he can make that problem disappear.  They haggle and agree on a price of $3,500 to kill her.

No time like the present, so the burglar goes upstairs and enters the couple’s bedroom.  After a few minutes, Mort goes up and finds that the burglar has already suffocated Jocelyn with a pillow.  He offers for Mort to “check her yourself.”  When Mort leans over, the burglar conks him on the head with a pistol butt and suffocates him.

ahprightprice26Jocelyn opens her eyes and they have a good laugh.  She had hired the burglar for $5,000 to go through this whole routine.

A nice little story.  The reveal of them as a married couple was slightly telegraphed — nobody on AHP bickers like that except married couples.  But Jocelyn tearing off her dress was effective even if not particularly at all sexy.  The gem in the story, though, is Eddie Foye Jr. as the burglar.  Much of the episode is simply him and Mort talking.  Foye has such a funny and disarming — even though armed — style of delivering his lines, that it is a pleasure to watch.

I rate it the price is right.

Post-Post:

  • [1] FWIW, I had smoked turkey last Thanksgiving, and it was awesome.
  • [2] I didn’t initially see it because it was clever.  The error was probably $400, so his 50% would be $200 off.  I appreciate them taking the time to make small things work out.
  • In a strange coincidence, Mort is played by Allyn Joslyn.  His wife in the episode is named Jocelyn.
  • June Dulo (Jocelyn) went on to be Murray the Cop’s wife Mimi in The Odd Couple.
  • AHP Deathwatch: No survivors.

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