"Together" is the second episode with a script by Robert C. Dennis that is based on a story by Alec Coppel, according to the screen credits. Like "The Diplomatic Corpse," there is no evidence that Coppel's story was ever published, so it is not known whether it was an actual story or just an idea or treatment. The show was broadcast on CBS on Sunday, January 12, 1958.
This episode was one of two to be directed by Robert Altman (1925-2006), whose career had begun after WWII when he started out by directing industrial films. He moved into directing episodic TV, mainly between 1953 and 1965, before embarking on a successful film career with such movies as M*A*S*H (1970), The Long Goodbye (1973), and Nashville (1975). He was given an honorary Oscar in 2006, not long before he died.
Alfred Hitchcock was said to have liked Altman's work, so he was hired to direct episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. He directed only two; he was supposed to direct a third but claimed that he was fired after he criticized the screenplay. This may have been a bit of self-mythologizing on Altman's part because, after the story got around, Joan Harrison was asked about it and recalled no such incident.
|Christine White as Shelley|
A glass of alcohol sits on the table next to the card; as the camera pulls back, pans over slightly to the left, and continues to pull back (an impressive opening shot), an office party in full swing is revealed: men and women are drinking, talking loudly and milling about. The camera comes to rest on a young woman who is trying to conduct a telephone call amidst the din. One man kisses her cheek, another grabs the phone from her, and it is clear that we are in 1958, when a young, pretty woman at an office has a certain, well-defined role.
She gives up on the call and we see a man in an office next to the party looking out of an inside window that gives him a view of the goings on; the window has bars over it, giving the impression that he is a prisoner. The woman enters the man's office and we see that he is John Courtney, presumably the boss. Her name is Shelley and she asks to use his phone; he is kind to her, wishing her a nice Christmas before leaving.
|Gordon Wynn as John Courtney|
|Sam Buffington as Charlie|
He telephones Charlie and asks him to come and help. As Tony sits behind the desk talking on the phone, we see over his shoulder through the window across the alley as a light goes on and a woman appears.Tony does not see her. Charlies promises to come and rescue Tony, who merely says that he and Shelley are locked in the office but neglects to mention the young woman's condition. After he hangs up, Tony slides a sheet of paper under the office door and pushes the fragment of key out of the other side of the lock, but it slides off of the paper when he tries to pull it back through.
Charlie calls Tony back but is extremely drunk. (This is a Christmas episode of a very dark sort!) Tony's friend accepts an invitation from an attractive woman to go to another apartment for a drink, forgetting Tony altogether and leaving the phone off the hook.
Tony wakes up in the morning, having slept on the couch. He checks the door and finds it is still locked; he checks the bathroom and finds that Shelley's corpse is still on the shower floor; we see it in silhouette through the glass shower door. His nightmare is real in the cold light of Christmas morning. Tony sees across the alley, where the woman stands, brushing her hair in front of a mirror. She pulls the shade when he calls to her, so he throws a heavy object from the desk through her window and asks her to call a locksmith. She makes a telephone call--of course, the entire interaction between Tony and the woman in the window recalls the setting of Hitchcock's own classic, Rear Window.
Tony assumes that the woman called a locksmith and gathers his things to leave, tidying up the desk. Soon, however, the police arrive at her apartment and she shows them the broken window. As they head down and over to the office building, Tony has to do some quick thinking. On a side table, he sees a photo of John Courtney, the rightful occupant of the office, and realizes that he and Courtney resemble each other. Donning a pair of glasses he finds in the desk drawer, Tony prepares to impersonate Courtney.
|Tony calls out across the alley|
"Together"is an outstanding short film, where a strong, tight script, clever direction and fine acting combine to present a story of suspense. Joseph Cotten (1905-1994) stars as Tony and gives an excellent performance. Cotten met Orson Welles in 1934 and later because an inaugural member of the Mercury Theatre, appearing on stage and on radio in Welles's productions. He began his film career in 1937 but his first great role was in Citizen Kane (1941). Many other great roles followed, including Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt (1943) and The Third Man (1949). He began appearing on TV in 1954 and his career onscreen continued until 1981. This is one of three episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents in which he appeared.
|Charlie finds Shelley's corpse|
Sam Buffington (1931-1960) plays Charlie, Tony's drunken friend. Buffington made many TV appearances between 1957 and 1960 before his career was cut short by his suicide at age 28. He was on Alfred Hitchcock Presents three times, including "A Night With the Boys" and, as usual, he looks older than his real age.
Finally, Gordon Wynn (1914-1966) plays John Courtney, in whose office Tony is trapped. Wynn was on screen from the early forties to the mid-sixties and appeared in four episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
"Together" is available on DVD here or may be viewed for free online here. Read the GenreSnaps take on this episode here.
"Alec Coppel." Alec Coppel. Austlit. Web. 24 Feb. 2016.
In two weeks: "The Equalizer," starring Leif Erickson and Martin Balsam!