By the fall of 1961, Henry Slesar had seen over two dozen of his short stories adapted for television as episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Certain themes were repeated, such as love and betrayal among parents and children, and stories were often set in and around New York City. The twist endings that were such a part of the TV series were always a key ingredient in his short stories, which is probably one reason that he became such a prolific contributor to the show. It was inevitable that, after this many episodes, a surprise turn of events would come as no surprise to regular viewers.
|Anne Francis as Julia|
The title card on this episode states that Slesar's teleplay was based on his story, so it is safe to assume that he wrote the story first and that it was not published in print form until his paperback collection came out the following year.
|Edmund Hashim as Marco|
One night, as the clock ticks past midnight and she sits in her apartment, angry and bored, Julia hears a noise on the fire escape outside the bedroom window. Thinking that even the company of a prowler would be preferable to solitude, she calls out an invitation but gets no reply. She telephones the police and speaks to Detective Parks, who tells her that it's a busy night and he can't spare a man to investigate her complaint.
|Jack Ging as Detective Parks|
Parks is disappointed when she mentions that she has a husband. They sit and have coffee together while Julia waits for Marco to come home, hoping he will find her with the detective and be jealous. At 2:15 AM Marco finally returns. He and Parks study each other and Marco turns to run, but the policeman catches him. Parks tells Julia that Marco's picture is "all over the department these days. We've been looking for him and his two pals for the last five weeks." Julia realizes with anguish that her lonely nights have just begun.
The twist ending is very similar to that of Slesar's story, "The Man With Two Faces," where a mother unwittingly leads the police to arrest her daughter and son-in-law in the apartment they share. That story had been published in the August 1956 issue of Manhunt and the TV adaptation was shown on December 13, 1960, less than a year before "Keep Me Company" aired on Tuesday, November 7, 1961, on NBC.
To adapt his brief, six-page story for a half-hour television show. Slesar had to make numerous changes and additions. The first scene is entirely new, as Marco and his brothers enjoy the dinner that Julia serves them. She is harried and frustrated, especially when he tells her that he and his brothers are going out after dinner. Marco says that he will be home by 11. In this and the next scene, Slesar dramatizes what was only mentioned as background in the story.
|On reflection, she's bored!|
|Neon lights blink on and off|
|Looking in from the fire escape|
The final capture of Marco is made more dramatic when Parks pulls a gun and handcuffs Julia's husband, telling the lonely housewife that Marco is really Harry Milan, wanted for warehouse robbery. Parks takes Marco away and Julia stares at the closed door as the shot fades out. While this conclusion is similar to that of "The Man With Two Faces," one key difference is apparent: the mother in the earlier show grieves for the loss of her daughter, exposed as a criminal, but the wife in the current show grieves mostly for herself and her lonely future.
|Another lonely night|
Anne Francis (1930-2011) was born Ann Marvak in upstate New York. She began modeling at age five and was on Broadway by age eleven. Her first movie came out in 1947 and she was on the scene at the dawn of television in 1949. She worked both in movies and TV until 1969; after that, most of her roles were on episodic TV. She is best known for Forbidden Planet (1956), as the star of the Honey West series (1965-1966), and for a couple of roles on The Twilight Zone. She appeared on the Hitchcock show five times.
This was the only Hitchcock appearance for Jack Ging (1931- ), who is featured as Detective Parks. He worked mostly on TV from the late '50s to the early '90s. Julia's husband Marco was played by Edmund Hashim (1932-1974), who was on TV from 1955 to 1970 and who was seen on the Hitchcock show three times; he played El Magnifico in "Maria."
"Keep Me Company" is not yet available on DVD and I was unable to find an online source for viewing.
Grams, Martin, and Patrik Wikstrom. The Alfred Hitchcock Presents Companion. Churchville, MD: OTR Pub., 2001. Print.