Though Mabel is mousy and in her mid-thirties, she thinks she resembles a movie star named Martha Myers. Her husband Henry annoys her and she wishes he spent more than one night a week at the lodge. One evening, Henry calls her down to the basement to see his garden and she takes the opportunity to brain him with a hammer and bury him in the large hole he had dug. She disguises the area by burying potted plants and then types out a note from Henry in which he apologizes to her for running away with another woman.
The next day, she calls Henry's boss and reads him the letter. For the next week, she entertains a string of sympathetic neighbors; Mabel enjoys the attention until she receives a visit from Officer Merkin, who invites her down to the station to fill out a missing persons report. At the station, Merkin receives a phone call and then tells Mabel that they found Henry's body. It seems a "cheap blonde" had gone to the police to inform them that Henry could not have run away with another woman because she is the other woman, with whom he spent every Thursday night when Mabel thought he was at the lodge.
|Henry tells Mabel the truth!|
Mason's story is very funny and the ironic twist ending is of almost secondary importance to the portrait of a delusional woman for whom murder becomes a means to gain attention. It features much more narrative than dialogue, which must have made it challenging to adapt for television. The FictionMags Index lists three short stories by Raymond Mason, all appearing in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine in 1957 or 1958. I also located five paperback originals by this author in the same time period:
|And Two Shall Meet (1954)|
|Forever is Today (1955)|
|Love After Five (1956)|
|Someone and Felicia Warwick (1962)|
The back cover copy for Forever is Today states that Mason was "this generation's spokesman for the young and the damned," but what that means is anyone's guess. All of the novels but Bedeviled were in the Gold Medal series. I queried Bill Crider about whether Raymond Mason might have been a pseudonym, but he was not aware of it being anything but the author's real name. This was the only time a story by Mason was adapted for television or film, according to IMDb.
In the next scene, we see Mabel come out of a movie theater where a movie called Forgotten Woman is playing; she mimics a pose of Martha Mason's in front of a poster outside the theater. Mabel later arrives home to find Henry working in his garden. In the show, his garden is in the yard, unlike the story, where it is in the basement, an odd place to try to grow things! She suggests divorce and he ridicules the idea, then she picks up a hammer and kills him. The scene tries to be comedic, or so it seems from the jaunty, inappropriate music that accompanies the violent murder--I call it violent even though her weak swing with the tool appears unlikely to harm anyone, much less result in the death of her large husband.
|Robert Emhardt as Henry|
|Judith Evelyn as Mabel|
"Martha Mason, Movie Star" is dragged down by an average script and unimaginative direction. Judith Evelyn is not likable as Mabel and Robert Emhardt is not on screen long enough as Henry. The story by Raymond Mason is entertaining but the TV adaptation is much less so.
|Not very threatening!|
Judith Evelyn (1909-1967) was born Evelyn Morris and was on screen from 1946 to 1962. She appeared in Hitchcock's Rear Window (1954) and William Castle's The Tingler (1959) and she was in one other episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents: "Guilty Witness," where she also played a woman scorned who murders her husband.
Robert Emhardt (1913-1994) was a wonderful actor who appeared on stage and screen from the late 1940s to the early 1980s. He was seen on the Hitchcock show seven times, including "Don't Come Back Alive," "DeMortuis," and "The Right Kind of House." It is always a treat to watch Emhardt at work.
Finally, Rusty Lane (1899-1986) plays the detective. Lane got his start in movies in 1945 and was often on TV beginning in 1950; his nine appearances on the Hitchcock show include "None Are So Blind," "The Test," and "I Saw the Whole Thing."
Thanks to Peter Enfantino for providing a copy of the original story!
"The FictionMags Index." The FictionMags Index. 7 Jan. 2016.
Grams, Martin, and Patrik Wikstrom. The Alfred Hitchcock Presents Companion. Churchville, MD: OTR Pub., 2001.
"Martha Mason, Movie Star." Alfred Hitchcock Presents. CBS. 19 May 1957.
Mason, Raymond. "Martha Myers, Movie Star." Alfred Hitchcock's A Mystery By the Tale. Ed. Cathleen Jordan. NY: Davis Pub., 1986. 123-131.
Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 8 Jan. 2015.
In two weeks: "A Little Sleep," featuring Vic Morrow and Barbara Cook!