|Walton wrote about Iwo Jima|
Bryce Walton was born in Missouri in 1918. He worked as a sailor, migrant farmer, gold miner, and railroad section hand from 1938 to 1941, spent some time at Los Angeles Junior College from 1939 to 1941, then served in the Navy and Marines from 1942 to 1945, earning a special citation from Admiral Nimitz for his coverage of action at Iwo Jima. He started writing freelance in 1945 and spent time at California State College in 1946 and 1947.
Walton is said to have written over 1000 short stories in his career and he also wrote six novels between 1952 and 1974. His work was mostly in the genres of science fiction and mystery; a blog post here features many good illustrations. Though some sources say that he won an award in 1961 for best short story of the year from Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, this appears to be incorrect. He did have a story published in that year's volume of Best Detective Stories of the Year.
|"Touché" was first|
"Touché" was first published under the pen name of Kenneth O'Hara in the November 1958 issue of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine. A pseudonym was used presumably because Walton also had another story, "The Mind Reader," published in the same issue under his own name.
"Touché" concerns Big Bill Fleming, a rich man with a problem. His young, second wife is having an open affair with a man named Phil Baxter. Fleming wants to kill Baxter but does not want to go to jail for murder. While at a hunting lodge, he discusses his problem with a bright young man who is studying to be a lawyer. The young man considers the problem from all angles and suggests that Fleming challenge Baxter to a duel with swords, where Baxter would be forced to defend himself. The young man guarantees that Fleming would be acquitted under California law if he killed Baxter in these circumstances.
|Paul Douglas as Fleming|
Big Bill goes to the police station and turns himself in. The trial that follows results in a not guilty verdict, as predicted, but the judge tells Fleming that state law requires him to support Baxter's son. The judge orders him to pay the young man $100,000 now and then $1000 per month for life.
Not wanting to see his wife anymore, Fleming returns home to collect some personal items. He finds Lara with Phil Baxter, Jr., who turns out to be none other than the bright young man who had suggested the duel.
The title of the story has a double meaning: it refers both to the swordplay between Fleming and Baxter and to the clever way young Baxter tricks Fleming into killing the elder Baxter and, at the same time, providing financially for the younger Baxter.
|Robert Morse as Phil Baxter Jr.|
|Hugh Marlowe as Baxter|
|The menacing shot of Douglas|
|James Flavin as Dan|
The judge explains his ruling to Bill and his lawyer in a short scene in the judge's chambers, then we see the lawyer and Bill drive up to Bill's house. The final scene occurs back in the living room, where the duel had taken place. The camera is focused on the back of the long couch and Lara pops up, having been lying in the arms of an unseen man. We soon see him sling his leg over the back of the couch, and his shoe is similar to that worn by Baxter in the duel scene. Bill comes in, glowering at his unfaithful wife, who tells him that they have company. Bill responds, "You expect me to be surprised?" and she says, unexpectedly, "Yes, dear!" Baxter Jr. then leaps over the back of the couch to face Bill, who registers shock. Unlike in the story, there is no mention of an estranged relationship between Baxter Jr. and his father, but the episode ends ironically, as the young man asks Fleming, "Would you mind if I called you Dad?" This is followed by a closeup of Bill's scowling face and a musical sting as the screen fades to black.
|The living room set where the duel takes place|
John Brahm (1893-1982) was born and raised in Germany but left in the early 1930s when Hitler came to power. He started out as an actor but gained fame as a director, making movies from 1936 to 1967 and directing many episodes of TV shows, starting in 1952. Two of his best films were The Lodger (1944) and Hangover Square (1945), and his work is notable for its shadows and sense of menace. He directed 15 episodes of the Hitchcock series, as well as many episodes of other genre series such as The Twilight Zone, Thriller, and The Outer Limits. The last episode directed by Brahm that I examined was "The Throwback," which also featured a duel.
|Dody Heath as Lara|
Hugh Marlowe (1911-1982) gets second billing as Phil Baxter. Born Hugh Herbert Hipple, be started onstage in the 1930s and also appeared on radio. He played Ellery Queen on radio and television and also appeared in movies beginning in 1936. He had a role in All About Eve (1950) and began appearing in TV shows that year. He was seen in six episodes of the Hitchcock series; the last discussed here was "John Brown's Body." Later in his life he was a regular on the soap opera Another World, from 1969 to 1982.
|King Calder as the lawyer|
In smaller roles, Dody Heath (1928- ) plays Lara Fleming. Her career on screen lasted from 1954 to 1974, and this was one of her three appearances on the Hitchcock series. King Calder (1897-1964) plays the lawyer who examines Fleming at trial; he was on screen from 1949 to 1964 and appeared in seven episodes of the Hitchcock series. James Flavin (1906-1976) plays Dan, the desk sergeant at the police station. He had character parts in nearly 400 movies and 100 TV episodes from 1932 to 1971 and was in four episodes of the Hitchcock series. Finally, Robert Carson (1909-1979) plays the judge; he was in eleven episodes of the Hitchcock series and had many credits as a character actor in a career that ran from 1939 to 1974.
|Robert Carson as the judge|
"Bryce Walton." Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2001. Contemporary Authors [Gale]. Web. 5 July 2016.
In two weeks: Brian Keith and James Best in "Cell 227"!