After having seen nine of his short stories adapted for Alfred Hitchcock Presents by other writers with varying degrees of success, it was finally time for Slesar to do the job himself. And what a job he did! "Forty Detectives Later" is an excellent adaptation of his own story and the quality of the teleplay surely led to further assignments and the beginning of a long and successful career writing for television.
First published in the May 1957 issue of Manhunt, "40 Detectives Later" is told in Chandleresque style, complete with first person narration by its private detective, Tyree. He has a visit from Munro Dean, whose wife was murdered in 1948 and who has been looking for her killer ever since, hiring at least forty private dicks along the way. Dean recently saw the killer at a lunch counter and wants Tyree to locate him and arrange a meeting. Tyree finds and tails the man, following him into a record shop and starting a conversation about jazz records. The killer, whose name is Otto, agrees to meet Tyree at the Hotel Bayshore that evening.
With "Forty Detectives Later," Slesar takes a good story and fashions from it a very entertaining teleplay. Arthur Hiller (1923- ) directs with much more crisp and fast-paced action than he demonstrated in his two prior Slesar episodes, and the script includes such hard boiled remarks as Tyre commenting that Otto would "hear a riff like he never heard before" when he met Dean in Room 305. There is even an inside joke, as Otto phones in an order for eggs and wants them "hard boiled." The result is a pleasure to watch, especially for viewers familiar with the conventions of the private eye genre.
Bopping to jazz music as Otto was Jack Weston (1924-1996), who only appeared in this single episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents but who was on TV from 1949-1986 and in movies from 1958-1988. He was a regular in four series: Rod Brown of the Rocket Rangers (1953-1954), My Sister Eileen (1960-1961), The Hathaways (1961-1962) and The Four Seasons (1984). He appeared on The Twilight Zone and Thriller twice each, and he was in the film Wait Until Dark (1967).
Munro Dean is played by George Mitchell (1905-1972), who appeared on the Hitchcock series four times. He was also on The Twilight Zone four times and on Thriller twice.
Finally, Arlene McQuade (1936- ) plays Gloria; she had played Rosalie Goldberg on the pioneering Jewish TV series, The Goldbergs, earlier in the 1950s.
"Forty Detectives Later" is available on DVD here or can be viewed online for free here.