"The Throwback," by Henry Slesar, does not concern murder, robbery, or any of the usual topics showcased on Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Instead, it deals with a love triangle, a May-December romance, and a question of honor, with a little deceit thrown in for good measure.
Elliot Gray is a young man with a dilemma: his lovely girlfriend Enid will only see him on certain nights of the week and does not want him to stay very long in her apartment. One night, he arrives for a date with a bottle of wine in hand, hoping for "'a quiet evening at home.'" When Enid resists, he asks her if there is another man and she confesses that she has been seeing Cyril Hardeen, a 54 year old widower, for four years. She calls him a gentle man, "'a knight in a storybook, a Don Quixote.'" Enid presses Elliot to profess his love for her and, when he does, she agrees to break off her affair with Cyril.
Elliot visits Cyril's mansion and is welcomed by a butler. The suitors meet and are a study in contrasts: Elliot is young, uncomfortable in his suit and tie, and surly, while Cyril is older, immaculately dressed, polite and well-spoken. Cyril confesses to being a 59 year old throwback, a romantic who should have lived in medieval days. He invites Elliot to have a drink with him at the bar in his basement and they go downstairs, where Cyril also has a gym. They drink to honor and Cyril removes his coat and rolls up his sleeves. He proposes that they fight for the love of Enid.
|Scott Marlowe as Elliot|
At home, Elliot tends to his wounds and rests until two policemen arrive at his door. They ask him to come to Cyril's house for identification. Back at the mansion, they find Cyril in bed, badly beaten, with Joseph the butler and Enid at his side, tending to him. Hardeen identifies Elliot as the man who beat him and says that he does not want to press charges for assault and battery. Elliot protests but no one believes him, and he is led off by the police as Enid tells him to go away. Cyril and Joseph exchange knowing looks as the story ends.
Slesar's onscreen credit states that he wrote the teleplay "From His Story." "The Throwback" had not been published before it was aired, so the nature of the story on which it was based is not known. Slesar may have written a treatment that was read and approved by the producer before he wrote his teleplay, or perhaps the producer preferred to create the appearance of having based the show on a previously published story. In any case, the short story was first published under the title "And Beauty the Prize" in Slesar's 1962 paperback collection, A Crime for Mothers and Others.
|Murray Matheson as Cyril|
Don Quixote has tilted at a dragon/windmill and won, defeating his younger rival and winning the hand of his lady. Yet to do so, he had to perpetuate the lie that he was beaten by Elliot, thus making his claim of honor ring hollow.
|Joyce Meadows as Enid|
The last change from teleplay to story concerns the ending. In the short story, the police take Elliot to the station and charge him with assault and battery. Enid arrives after having been with Cyril at the hospital. There is no visit to Cyril's house and no pardoning of Elliot by the older man. Even stranger is Enid's insistence that Cyril never had a butler! It is clear to Elliot and to the reader that the older man tricked him by hiring a boxer to pose as his butler and beat up both Elliot and Cyril. The short story is more carefully crafted and subtle, whereas the teleplay is more obvious and less satisfying.
"The Throwback" first aired midway through season six of Alfred Hitchcock Presents on Tuesday, February 28, 1961. The uninspired direction was by John Brahm, and the show was followed by the "Well of Doom" episode of Thriller, also directed by Brahm but more in keeping with his oft-used Gothic style. Brahm directed 10 episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and five of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour; his last episode before this one had been Henry Slesar's "Pen Pal."
Starring as Elliot was Scott Marlowe (1932-2001). Marlowe's career lasted from the early 1950s to the late 1990s and included episodes of Thriller and The Outer Limits, as well as a syndicated soap opera in 1994 called Valley of the Dolls. This was his only appearance on the Hitchcock series.
Murray Matheson (1912-1985) played Cyril. Born in Australia, he appeared in movies and on TV from the 1940s to the 1980s. He was on the Hitchcock show four times, and appeared on The Twilight Zone, Thriller, Night Gallery and Kolchak: The Night Stalker. He also had a role in Assault on a Queen, which was adapted by Rod Serling from Jack Finney's novel.
|John Indrisano as Joseph|
Joseph the butler is played by John Indrisano (1905-1968), a former professional boxer who worked as a boxing coach for actors and who appeared in many small roles on film and TV. He also appeared in an episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.
"The Throwback" is available on DVD here or may be viewed for free online here.
Grams, Martin, and Patrik Wikstrom. The Alfred Hitchcock Presents Companion. Churchville, MD: OTR Pub., 2001. Print.