Slesar's story tells of Mort and Jocelyn Bonner, a not so happily married couple who have both grown fat with advancing age and who now sleep in separate rooms. One night, lying in bed unable to sleep, Mort hears a noise downstairs and gets up to investigate. He discovers a burglar, who invites him to take a seat on the living room sofa. Frightened, Mort encourages the thief to take what he wants and depart, but the man proposes an arrangement where Mort tells him where the valuables are and is later able to collect on his insurance.
Mort proposes another sort of deal. The two men discuss having the thief murder Jocelyn and agree on a price of $3500. The thief goes upstairs to carry out the deed and Mort waits below until it seems to be taking too long. He ventures upstairs, finds the thief in Jocelyn's room, and is suddenly overtaken and killed by suffocation with a pillow. Jocelyn thanks the thief and gets out her checkbook.
The story takes place in a suburb of New York City and the thief remarks that he "worked the numbers in Jersey." Mort suggests he try robbing homes in Scarsdale. The imagery of moon, weight, and pillow returns at the story's end, when the narrator comments that "the moon . . . was still plump and imposing." The face of the moon is said to bear "a distinct resemblance to Jocelyn's own fat features," and right before Mort is killed, "Jocelyn's moon of a face exploded into a brilliant nova" and "another white moon was descending towards him"--the moon this time is the pillow that will smother him, bringing Jocelyn, plumpness, moon and pillow together at the climax.
|The unhappy home office|
The program opens with a slow dolly shot in on Mort and Jocelyn working unhappily together in an office. Jocelyn, played by Jane Dulo, suddenly gets up from her desk and whips off her dress, revealing a slip underneath and announcing that she is going to bed--the office is shown to be a room in the house they share. Unlike in the story, Mort and Jocelyn sleep in the same bedroom (in twin beds, of course). Mort comments that her first husband fell out of an open window to his death and Jocelyn tells him "you'll never get a cent of my money," suggesting a financial motivation for the subsequent murder plot.
|Allyn Joslyn as Mort|
Foy picks up little items around the house and pockets them, though Allen Joslyn, as Mort, grabs his cigarette lighter back when Foy moves to pocket it. The chatter between the two men wakes Jocelyn briefly but Mort lies to her and tells her that he is listening to the radio and having a midnight snack. The chat between Mort and The Cat seems to go on and on; at one point, Foy reclines in front of the fireplace with a sandwich and a beer! A beat cop named Joe even stops by because he saw a light on in the house; Mort sends him on his way with a promise to stop by the station house to praise his neighborhood patrol skills.
|Foy's oddly gleeful expression|
moments after the murder
Eddie Foy, Jr. (1905-1983) plays The Cat and recalls Phil Silvers with his big, black glasses and silly smile. Born Edwin Fitzgerald, Jr., he was the son of a vaudevillian. He was on Broadway from 1929-1961, in movies from 1913 and on TV from 1957. Memorable movies in which he appeared included Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), The Pajama Game (1957) and The Bells Are Ringing (1960) This was his only appearance on the Hitchcock series. As a child, he was part of the act called The Seven Little Foys; a 1955 movie was made about them but he was not in it.
Mort is played by Allen Joslyn (1901-1981), who was on Broadway from 1918-1952 and appeared onstage with Boris Karloff from 1941-1944 in Arsenic and Old Lace. He was in movies from 1937 and on TV from 1953, appearing just this once on the Hitchcock show. Memorable movies included Howard Hawks's Only Angels Have Wings (1939), Preston Sturges's The Great McGinty (1940), and The Horn Blows at Midnight (1945), a movie that starred Jack Benny and one which the great comedian never lived down.
|Jane Dulo as Jocelyn|
Bernard C. Schoenfeld (1907-1990), who wrote the teleplay, did much better work than this in the films Phantom Lady (1944) and The Dark Corner (1946). He wrote for TV from 1952-1975 and was responsible for 16 episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, including "The Night the World Ended."
Finally, Arthur Hiller (1923- ), whose direction of this episode is so uninspired, helmed 16 other episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, as well as three sub-par episodes of Thriller. He has been making movies since 1957 and directed the classic comedy The In-Laws (1979).
"The Right Price" may be purchased on DVD here or seen for free online here.