Starring: Philip Abbott, Nancy Gates, John Baragrey
Written by: Harold Swanton (teleplay), Edgar Marvin (story)
Directed by: Robert Stevens
First aired April 8, 1956
Episode Grade: A
This one is a lot of fun. It’s so melodramatic, and it’s got a nice twist. It’s also got some of our old friends: Nancy Gates! Olan Soule! HARRY TYLER!
The black serif title card is back. WHAT is UP with THAT.
There is a tight close-up on Hitch’s thumb. He’s holding it out and squinting. And then the camera pans back and we see he has a palette and a canvas on an easel. He says: “What an extraordinary thumb. It completely obscures the subject I’m painting.” ….Did you know that Hitch was a visual artist? Quite a good one. You know the iconic silhouette of Hitchcock?
He drew that of himself!
Anyway, Hitch says he has some canvases ready for us. He olds them up. One says: “Post No Bills.” Another says: “Kilroy Was Here.” And then, for something more “exotic,” he holds up a canvas that says: “Pas De Stationnement.” He adds another: “Please Stand By.”
Episode Re-Cap & Commentary:
Mark and Debbie Halliday (Philip Abbott and Nancy Gates) are knocking on the door of an art gallery. The gallery worker (Olan Soule) opens the door, as he’s leaving for the night, and says they’re closed. But Mark’s already paid for a painting and he wants to make sure Debbie likes it. “Oh please,” she says. “It’s our anniversary!” (Quick note: Nancy Gates’s first line in her last AHP episode was also “Please.”) It’s their first anniversary, Mark explains. The gallery guy lets them in and goes to retrieve the painting. The item number is 128. And Debbie keeps saying “A 128 to hang over my mantel.”
She wants to know what it’s a painting of and she makes a few guesses. Then she says she doesn’t care and they have a passionate smooch. She says they’ll open a bottle of champagne (or, as I like to say, “SHAM-PAN-YA”) and hang 128 over the m—–
BUT DEBBIE IS HORRIFIED. The gallery man is holding the painting up to her. And she’s distraught. Mark tells the gallery fella he’s made a mistake; that’s not the painting he saw that morning. “It’s 128,” the gallery dude says. Debbie is now furious and tries to leave and Mark grabs her (more grabbing, like in Nancy’s other episode!) and says he’s never seen that painting before in his life! OH MY GOSH JUST SHOW US THE PAINTING ALREADY.
Debbie leaves, slamming the door behind her. Mark asks the gallery bloke who put him up to this. But gallery man says nobody put him up to anything, and Mark will have to take this to Mr. Harrison, the gallery owner. Mark is still examining the painting and says he’ll take it with him. And the music does that DUN-DUN sting as he shuts the door behind him.
At the home of Jeff (Raymond Bailey!), he and Mark examine the painting. “Is it Jocelyn?” Mark asks. “I don’t know, Mark,” Jeff says. Mark says, “You ought to know your own sister.” But Jeff says Mark was married to her, he should know her better than anyone else.
It turns out, Mark’s first wife Jocelyn disappeared five years earlier. Jeff has kept all the newspaper clippings and talked to the detectives but they were getting nowhere. Jocelyn disappeared without a trace. They remark on Jocelyn’s beauty (though we haven’t seen this portrait yet), and then Jeff notices initials and a date. The painting was done three years ago. That’s odd, right? Jeff says it must have been before she went to Europe. And Mark presses him and Jeff admits that a couple of years ago, he got a letter from Jocelyn, mentioning she was going to Switzerland. He burned the letter, because he didn’t want Mark to know. Mark divorced her for desertion. Jeff says she was in St. Moritz, and there was another man.
“She doesn’t love you, Mark,” Jeff says. “She never did.”
THEN we see the portrait. Well, she’s very pretty, and she looks pissed off. Like an angry Kate Middleton. Not nearly as alluring and unforgettable and gorgeous as Gene Tierney, though, not nearly. Remember the movie Laura?
I wish I looked like this
Jocelyn’s portrait stares at them disapprovingly from the mantel in the Halliday’s home. Debbie is looking back at Jocelyn, also disapprovingly. Debbie is pretty–evidently, she’s not supposed to be as glamorous as Jocelyn, but….I don’t know. I think Debbie is prettier, actually. Mark comes in buttoning the cuffs of his shirt asking about dinner, and notices the portrait. “What’s that doing there?” he asks. Debbie says it belongs there, it’s very fitting, instead of hiding it behind the sofa. She is really, really angry. “She’s been in the house our entire marriage…she’s even in your mind when you kiss me!” she says, and Mark is angry and bangs his hand on the chair he’s sitting in and yells “STOP IT!” Then he apologizes and Debbie runs to him and she apologizes and what the hell is going on here? Maybe they should all just have a drink, jeez.
Mark tells Debbie that Jeff got a letter from Jocelyn two years ago. Debbie asks if Jeff saw her. “No,” Mark says, “Nobody’s seen her.”
“That’s a shame,” Debbie replies. “She was born to be seen.” Then she recounts the first time she saw Jocelyn, at the beach at Shell Harbor, glowing, radiant….and Mark asks if they can change the subject and then Debbie says “Let’s eat.” These people need some sort of stabilizing medications or something. They keep YELLING! and whispering and YELLING! and whispering.
The phone rings. And it’s Jeff. He has a name: Clymer. Jeff says Mr. Harrison (gallery owner) doesn’t know how the painting got mixed up, but Arthur Clymer is an amateur artist in Shell Harbor who shows a lot of promise.
Debbie is pouring wine at the table and Mark sits down to carve the roast. My word, that roast is totally dried out, it’s like Mark is carving a tree log with a butter knife. She asks who was on the phone and he tells her. “What are you going to do about it,” she asks. And Mark says, “Nothing.” Then Debbie starts up again saying Mark shouldn’t have married her and he’s still in love with Jocelyn and they start yelling again. “As far as I’m concerned, she’s dead to me!” Mark yells. And then he tells Debbie to come with him to Shell Harbor, to settle this once and for all.
Up at Shell Harbor (I’m assuming it’s north, whatever), the realtor (our good friend Harry Tyler) says the hotel closed and the motel is all booked up, but he has one property left, $10 a day, $60 a week. I’ll take it. I mean, Mark says, “I’ll take it,” but hey, I’ll take it too. Shell Harbor looks pretty and that’s a really good deal. The realtor retrieves the key and says, “Willman Cottage, in the cove.” Mark looks spooked. “Are you sure that’s all you’ve got?” he asks shakily. The realtor assures him that it’s lovely and Mark says, “I know all about the Willman Cottage. I lived there. Five years ago.”
When Debbie and Mark enter the cottage, all the furniture is covered in sheets. The electricity isn’t yet turned on. As Debbie walks around the living room, she notices there are fresh flowers on the table. Fresh flowers….Lily of the Valley….Jocelyn’s favorite flower. She goes to hang up her coat, and notices Jocelyn’s trenchcoat and scarf in the closet. Mark and Debbie are both unhinged. Debbie says Jocelyn is there, in Shell Harbor, she’s been staying there, that’s where she’s been! Mark is taking off the sheets from the furniture and they uncover a bust of Jocelyn’s head.
Some time later, a man is at the door of the Willman Cottage. It’s Arthur Clymer (John Baragrey). Arthur is sort of handsome, and he’s very tall. A bit dorky, but nice. He came to get the bust of Jocelyn he carved. He’s very proud of it, and holds the sculpture with affection. He says he carved it a few months ago. It’s a sculpture of his wife.
“Is her name Jocelyn?” Debbie asks.
“Why yes, do you know her?” Clymer responds. Debbie then hands him the slicker and scarf and tells Mark to go with Clymer to help him carry all the things. Mark refuses and cowers. After Clymer leaves, Debbie says to Mark, moping by the fireplace and hiding his face, “That’s the first cowardly thing I’ve ever seen you do.”
Mark then goes to Clymer’s cottage and knocks on the door. Clymer is sitting at a table, alone, drinking. “Welcome!” he says, good-naturedly and sort of drunkish. He knows what Mark’s there for. “You want to see Jocelyn, don’t you?” and then he calls up the stairs. “Jocelyn! Jocelyn, we have company!” There is a shot of the stairs. But nobody descends. Clymer goes over the stairs and calls again, and then laughs at Mark. “You thought she’d come down these stairs, didn’t you?” and then slumps down on the stairs and drinks some more. He offers Mark his glass.
“Where is she?” Mark demands. “What happened to her?”
“Happened?” Clymer says. “Nothing could ever happen to Jocelyn.” He admits, then….that Jocelyn hasn’t been around for quite a while. He says he doesn’t know. He doesn’t want to know. And then his face dims and he says, “The little cheat.” He throws the wine bottle and it crashes.
After Mark continues to demand where she is, the drunken Clymer says, “She’s dead.”
“How did she die?” Mark asks.
“How does one die?” Clymer responds. He tells Mark it’s a complicated story and it’s getting late, some other time. But Mark throws Clymer back and Clymer continues with his drunken musings. Jocelyn was thrilling, and beautiful, and she never belonged to anyone but herself. Mark puts his hands around Clymer’s collar and yells, “WHERE IS SHE?” And Clymer gets up and says, “I’ll show you. Her grave is right outside.”
They go out the front door. “Over there, near the edge of the cliff,” Clymer says, as the waves crash against the rocks. Mark doesn’t believe it. “She isn’t over there,” Mark says incredulously. “She can’t be.”
And then Clymer breaks down. “I have to tell someone……I had to get away from her…..I couldn’t take it anymore…..I left her in New York and came up here….Took the cottage for a couple of weeks, alone…..” and on Clymer’s self-imposed exile, he says Jocelyn came up unexpectedly. Mark is listening to this, shaking his head at the pathetic man. He says, “No she didn’t. You’re lying.” And Clymer is crying “There was another man, always another man!” He says he can’t remember exactly what happened, but Jocelyn was laughing at him, and the next thing he knew she was dead at his feet.
“You weren’t there,” Mark says. “No one was there but Jocelyn and me!….How do you know I killed her?” Then he tries to hit Clymer and they fight. And as Mark puts his hands around Clymer’s throat, another man pulls a gun and holds it to his head. It’s Jeff.
“Mark,” Jeff says. “Get up.”
Mark says, “How did he know?”
And Jeff says they didn’t know….but after five years, and no witnesses, they had to resort to psychology. “It was a brutal thing to do to you,” Clymer says to Mark, revealing himself as Detective Inspector Iverson, Homicide. Jeff and Det. Iverson planned everything, set the whole thing up, the painting, the cottage, the flowers, the clothes. Several months earlier, they found her body after a landslide. They just had to get some sort of evidence.
They put the handcuffs on Mark and he asks pathetically, with tears in his eyes: “Did Debbie know?” Jeff and Det. Iverson tell him no. “She’s right. I never should have married her. There could never be anyone like Jocelyn.”
Please make a note of it:
Wasn’t this a GOOD ONE? I LOVE THIS ONE. It’s just really really fun to watch. It’s like an abbreviated version of Rebecca. Which Hitchcock directed, by the way. Rebecca won Best Picture at the Oscars, but Hitchcock never won an Oscar, not ever. Isn’t that ridiculous? Hitchcock never won an Oscar.
Philip Abbott plays Mark Halliday. He does a really good job in this. Everyone does. But he’s surprisingly sympathetic. At the end, when he asks if Debbie knows, he has tears in his eyes, and it’s a humanizing moment. Abbott was a respected character actor, not really known for anything in particular. But he did star in a couple of Twilight Zone episodes, and The Young and the Restless, and Murder, She Wrote. He passed away in 1998.
Debbie is played by Nancy Gates, who we saw in Salvage. This role makes more sense for her. She was a pretty lady, and clearly a nice girl. Way too nice for Mark Halliday.
Remember Raymond Bailey? I love him. He plays Jeff. He is most famous for his role as Mr. Drysdale in The Beverly Hillbillies, but he was a really good character actor, and was featured in movies and television. We saw him in Breakdown and The Case of Mr. Pelham. He is in 10 AHP episodes total, so we’ll be seeing him again. Yay!
John Baragrey plays Clymer/Det. Iverson. Film roles eluded him, but he had a steady career as a character actor on television. He died at the age of 57, from a cerebral hemorrhage. That’s so sad. But we do see him again, in an episode in Season 3.
Olan Soule played the gallery employee. He was a versatile and reliable actor, and had an incredibly long career, both in movies and television. He’s not a leading man, but really, if you’re going to have a career as an actor, you want this kind. The man worked and worked. We saw him in Our Cook’s a Treasure. He is in four more episodes, in later seasons.
And good old Harry Tyler. It’s always good to see him, isn’t it? He’s in forty billion more episodes.