|Doro Merande as Mrs. Herman|
|"Mrs. Herman and Mrs. Kenmore"|
was first published here
One evening, Mrs. Herman tells Mrs. Kenmore that Bill is quite wealthy and that she is his only relative. Soon, the idea of murdering the old man for his money comes up and Mrs. Kenmore remarks, "You almost make it sound like an act of charity." Mrs. Herman promises Mrs. Kenmore $1000 for helping her to carry out her plan. In the months that follow, Uncle Bill and Mrs. Kenmore spend quite a bit of time together. Eventually, Mrs. Herman reveals that her plan to murder her uncle involves leaving the gas turned on at the kitchen stove.
The plan is carried out successfully. A day later, Mrs. Kenmore prepares to leave and reveals to Mrs. Herman that she and Uncle Bill had been married a month before. She promises to send Mrs. Herman $1000 after the will is read.
"Mrs. Herman and Mrs. Kenmore" is a slight tale with an ending that is not a big surprise. Yet in adapting it for the small screen, Robert C. Dennis wrote a script that allowed director Arthur Hiller and the cast to transcend the source material.
|Mrs. Herman with her RCA phonograph|
|Mary Astor as Mrs. Fenimore|
|A Robert Stevens-like shot|
Another slight change from the source story concerns the murder of Uncle Bill. Instead of having it take place in the kitchen, Mrs. Herman insists that Mrs. Fenimore find a way to get herself invited into his bedroom, where she can read to him until he falls asleep and then she can exit, leaving the door unlocked for Mrs. Herman to come in and make sure the flame goes out on his little gas burner. As Mrs. Herman puts it, "What has he to look forward to but the lingering agony of a helpless old age?" This is part of her justification for her murder plot, and the promised payment on the TV show has been increased to $2500, a much larger sum than the $1000 in the story, especially considering that the events have been moved about a half century earlier in time.
|Up in Uncle Bill's room|
|Noir lighting with a suggestion of prison cell bars|
|Brushing up on modern dance skills|
The director of "Mrs. Herman and Mrs. Fenimore" was Arthur Hiller (1923- ), who directed TV shows from 1955 to 1974 and then directed movies exclusively until 2006. He was behind the camera for 17 episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents; the last one I wrote about was Cornell Woolrich's "Post Mortem."
|Mary Astor, veiled|
As I read "Mrs. Herman and Mrs. Kenmore," I found myself thinking that the role of Uncle Bill would be perfect for character actor Russell Collins (1897-1965) and I was delighted to watch the episode and see that he was cast. Collins was onscreen from 1935 to 1965 and appeared in ten episodes of the Hitchcock series; the last one I wrote about was "John Brown's Body."
|Rusell Collins as Uncle Bill|
Finally, in a brief appearance at the end of the show as the detective, Wesley Lau (1921-1984) does not make much of an impression. He was onscreen from 1952 to 1981, appearing thrice on Alfred Hitchcock Presents and twice on The Twilight Zone. He also appeared in 81 episodes of Perry Mason as Lt. Anderson.
|Wesley Lau as the detective|
In two weeks: our series on Robert C. Dennis ends with "Invitation to an Accident," starring Gary Merrill and Joanna Moore!