Tuesday, January 15, 2013

TV Review: Alfred Hitchcock Presents S1Ep04: Don't Come Back Alive (1955)

Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Episode 104: Don't Come Back Alive
Original air date: 10.23.55

Written by Robert C. Dennis
Directed by Robert Stevenson

Frank Partridge...Sidney Blackmer
Mildred Partridge...Virginia Gregg
Mr. Kettle...Robert Emhardt

Frank and Mildred Partridge are in dire financial straits, and although Frank has landed a new job, it doesn't kick in until the following month. Even when he starts working, it's not going to be enough money to cover the expenses, and he knows he's never going to be able to retire.

A jokingly macabre dinner conversation turns into insurance fraud when they decide that Mildred should "disappear" for seven full years--long enough for her to be declared dead by the court system. They will then collect the insurance money, move to a country home (her under an assumed identity), and live out their twilight days together.

Frank's claims are immediately under suspicion by insurance investigator Mr. Kettle and the police, all of them sure that Frank murdered his wife, making the next 7 years difficult ones indeed.

A good, solid episode that goes to show crime does not pay, and absence does not always make the heart grow fonder.

At the time that this episode was filmed, Sidney Blackmer was most well known for his frequent portrayal of Theodore Roosevelt on film, but these days he is more famous for his part in 1968's Rosemary's Baby. This was the first of two appearances that Blackmer would make in the series.

Robert Emhardt was a beefy actor who got his start as an understudy for the equally beefy Sydney Greenstreet. Like Greenstreet, Emhardt was often cast as the villain. He would make 5 additional appearances in the series, and one more in The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.

Virginia Gregg was a busy actress who appeared in over 200 films and television episodes during her lifetime, not to mention a plethora of roles on radio dramas. She was a particular favorite of Jack Webb, who utilized her as a variety of characters in his programs, including Emergency, Adam-12, and the various incarnations of Dragnet. She would go on to provide the voice of Mrs. Bates, uncredited, in all four of the Psycho films. This was the first of four appearances she made in the series, and would make three additional appearances on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.

Screenwriter Robert C. Dennis would pen more than 500 television scripts before his death in 1983, including 30 episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents--more than any other contributor except for Henry Slesar. Among his many scripts, he is famous for writing the only episode of Perry Mason in which the titular lawyer loses a case.

Robert Stevenson directed 7 episodes of the series, but he is most well known for his work a few years later for Disney. Among his many directing credits are The Absentminded Professor and its sequel Son of Flubber, Mary Poppins, The Love Bug and Herbie Rides Again, and Bedknobs and Broomsticks. He was also an occasional screenwriter, whose unlikely final script was an episode of Good Times. From 1934 to 1944, he was married to award-winning soap opera actress Anna Lee, who appeared in genre films Bedlam from Val Lewton, Hangmen Also Die from Fritz Lang, and Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? The two had a daughter, Venetia Stevenson, who would also become an actress, appearing in the 1960 episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents entitled "Hostage".



  1. One of the better episodes. Some of the early ones (well, and later ones, too) are downright goofy.

  2. Kelly: Yeah, that is true, but every anthology show is going to have its fair share of stinkers. I know that many people consider the Twilight Zone to be untouchable, for instance, but for each fantastic episode, there was another that was just plain ridiculous. You have to take the good with the bad, I suppose, and hope that the bad isn't bad enough to turn you away for good.

    Thanks for stopping by!


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