Alfred Hitchcock Presents – Your Witness (05/17/59)

Attorney Arnold Shawn has his client Kenneth Jerome on the witness stand when his wife Naomi enters the courtroom.  His client has been involved in a auto accident which killed a woman.  Not being a Kennedy, he is looking at hard time.

Naomi is troubled by Arnold saying in court that he is searching for truth when he has been banging other women; and of course, the lawyer thing.  She flashes back to a conversation they had a month ago when she confronted him about the cheating.  Naomi accused him of dismissing it as if it were “a night out with the boys” which would have been a second problem.  Arnold said that after 10 years of marriage, having another woman show him some attention made him feel like “king of the barnyard” which is 1950s for cock of the walk.

Strangely enough her emotional flashback expands to include Al Carmody dropping by with info on the prosecution’s surprise witness Henry Babcock.  He is going to testify that when Jerome hit the woman, he was running a light.  Babcock is a model citizen, but Carmody and Arnold are sure they can dig up some dirt on him in pursuit of, you know, justice.

A month later, back in the courtroom, in what must be the longest hit-and-run trial ever, Arnold calls Babcock to the witness stand.  He testifies that Jerome hit the woman, backed up 50 yards to take a look, then drove off.  Unable to deny the facts, Arnold accuses Babcock of volunteering to testify because he wanted to be famous.

Seeing Arnold once again turn the truth into a lie, Naomi has another flashback.  Soon after the first flashback, Arnold says he was working late.  Naomi accuses him of lying, and has proof he was seeing the woman he had promised not to see again.  He casually continues eating a sandwich, and accuses her of being prudish.  She asks why he married her in the first place.  He answers, “Your father was an extremely influential man a dozen years ago and he had an extremely attractive daughter, also a dozen years ago!”  Oh shit!

Naomi is not so much on the pro-honesty band-wagon at this point.  As if Arnold hasn’t hurt her enough, he continues, “After all, it’s been 10 long years since you were 25!” Wait, she’s over the hill at 35?  That’s just into MILF porn range!  She is certainly no zero, but she seems to be rocking a size-zero dress — and back when that meant something.  This woman is svelte.  Brian Keith always seems like a coiled spring of hostility, and he is really brutal to her.  She is crushed.

Back in the courtroom, Arnold is cross-examining Babcock . . . I guess — I’ve never seen an episode of Law & Order, or Judge Judy.  Arnold brings up a lot of irrelevant facts such as why Babcock did not hear the woman earlier, that he doesn’t make much money, that he is lonely since his wife died, that he’s the janitor at a strip joint [1], that he is color-blind, and that he was fired from his job for having cataracts that impaired 85% of his vision. Well, those last two actually sound pretty relevant.  He is ruled incompetent as a witness and Jerome is found not guilty.

Naomi catches her husband in the hall.  She has the papers for him to sign so they can get divorced.  He thinks the current situation is fine and even suggests she get a little action on the side too. He tells her, “You could still be an attractive woman if you tried.”  See, he can be nice when he wants to.

In the parking lot, Naomi runs his ass down.  Too bad the only witness was just proven by Arnold to be an incompetent witness due to lousy vision.  D’oh!

This one is a little bit of a slog.  Naomi certainly isn’t the hag Arnold makes her out to be, but she is kind of dull.  Arnold is just thoroughly unpleasant with his cruelty and twisting of the law.  Two such presences do not make for a great viewing experience. However, the ending is pleasantly sharp and ironic . . . if you don’t think about it.

We are never told when Babcock had the corrective surgery.  If before Jerome’s accident, he should have spoken up.  If after then Arnold was right to nail him.  Either way, he has had the surgery by he time of the trial, so he could easily testify against Naomi.  But why would he after Arnold humiliated him on the stand?  Well, he was described as a model citizen.  Pffffft — should have stopped thinking while I was ahead.


  • [1] The Chichi Club, where Arnold tells us young beautiful girls dance.  Sure, he shows a picture of the intersection, but we’re supposed to take his word about the girls?
  • And what cruel bastard hires an 85% blind man to work in a strip club?
  • AHP Deathwatch:  No survivors.

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