The second story by Roald Dahl to be adapted for Alfred Hitchcock Presents was "Dip in the Pool," written in the fall of 1951 and first published in the January 19, 1952 issue of The New Yorker. William Botibol, an American on a British ship cruising across the Atlantic, dines with the ship's purser and asks him when the captain usually estimates the distance the ship will cover in the twenty-four hours that began that noon. After a calm start to the day, the sea had grown unexpectedly rough around dinner time, and Botibol imagines that the distance traveled will be less than the captain's estimate. Each evening, the ship's passengers bid at auction on numbers estimating how far the ship will travel in a day, and Botibol thinks that he can win a large sum of money if he secures the "low field' estimate. He uses all the money in his savings to win the low field but awakens the next morning to find that the sea has calmed and the ship is moving fast to make up lost time.
|"Dip in the Pool" was first|
published in this issue
Dahl's story is a witty piece of understated English irony, where the pool of the title represents both the betting pool and the enormous pool of the Atlantic Ocean. Botibol takes a dip in both pools; dip is also slang for a pickpocket, and he tries to pick the pockets of his fellow passengers by attempting to ensure his own victory. Botibol is also a bit of a dip himself, or a loser. The ending is clever, for as the ship moves away from Botibol, a "bobbing black speck," Dahl ignores his plight and focuses instead on the nameless "woman with the fat ankles" who tells her attendant, "Such a nice man . . . he waved to me." The wave, of course, was a desperate signal for help, but to the poor woman it was a sign of friendship.
Once again, Dahl mixes horror and humor in a compact tale. Does Botibol deserve his fate? Of course not, but it does represent an amusing comeuppance for a know it all.
|Keenan Wynn as Botibol|
|From the introduction to the show|
|What Alfred is reading|
This failure to grasp the difference between a wager and an investment based on detailed research turns out to be Botibol's undoing. He sits with the purser at dinner and grills him about the captain's estimate, in a scene that mirrors the first scene in the short story, then asks a crew member on deck about the ship's speed before turning up at the auction and asking Renshaw for his opinion. Botibol thinks he has done the research needed to make a wise investment, yet--like his over tipping and loud dinner jacket--his actions betray his lack of knowledge. The auction is held and the details are spelled out much more explicitly than in the story. Next morning, Botibol and Ethel greet the calm day in their twin beds (1950s TV at its most censored); he admits to her that he lost money gambling but conceals the real amount, almost $1000 of their $1500 travel budget.
|Renshaw is reading it too!|
Robert C. Dennis (1915-1983) wrote for radio before moving into TV in 1950. He penned many episodes for TV series over the next 35 years, including 30 episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and four episodes of The Outer Limits. Hitchcock teleplays include adapting Henry Slesar's "The Right Kind of House" and co-writing "A True Account" with Fredric Brown.
|Keenan Wynn and Louise Platt|
|Philip Bourneuf and Fay Wray|
Mrs. Renshaw is played by Fay Wray (1907-2004), who starred in King Kong (1933) and many other classic films. This was one of her two appearances on Alfred Hitchcock Presents; the other was in Henry Slesar's "The Morning After." An impressive website dedicated to Ms. Wray may be found here.
|"He waved to me!"|
Emily, the woman who watches Botibol dive off the side of the ship, is played by Doreen Lang (1915-1999); while this was her only appearance on the Hitchcock TV show, she did have small parts in three Hitchcock films: The Wrong Man (1956), North By Northwest (1959) and The Birds (1963).
|That speck in the water is Botibol|
Dahls' original story may be read for free here. The Hitchcock version is available on DVD but is not currently available for online viewing.
"Dip in the Pool." Alfred Hitchcock Presents. CBS. 1 June 1958. Television.
"A Dip in the Pool." Roald Dahl's Tales of the Unexpected. 12 May 1979. Television.
Grams, Martin, and Patrik Wikstrom. The Alfred Hitchcock Presents Companion. Churchville, MD: OTR Pub., 2001. Print.
IMDb. IMDb.com, n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2015.
McGilligan, Patrick. Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light. New York: Regan, 2003. Print.
Spoto, Donald. The Life of Alfred Hitchcock: The Dark Side of Genius. London: Collins, 1983. Print.
Treglown, Jeremy. "Appendix." Roald Dahl Collected Stories. New York: Everyman's Library, 2006. 850. Print.
Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2015.
|William and Ethel in their cabin|
|William meets Emily in the corridor|
|Renshaw is so dapper|
|Renshaw has traded in his|
magazine for a book
|Checking out Emily|
|Over the side he goes!|
|She doesn't believe a word of it.|