here in my series on Robert Bloch, who wrote the teleplay.
Bryce Walton's first teleplay for the series was "The Woman Who Wanted to Live," a fine adaptation of his own short story that had been published in the May 1961 issue of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. The story begins as Ray Bardon walks into a filling station at closing time and pulls a gun on the attendant. He robs the station and shoots the attendant just as a car pulls up. Rushing outside, he sees a woman who has just arrived in a convertible; he hides the attendant's body in the bay, retrieves his sack of money and goes back outside, where the woman waits calmly. She tells Bardon that she has heard about him on the radio and that she wants to live.
Tired and suffering from a gunshot wound in his arm that was sustained when he escaped from prison, he allows her to talk him into letting her accompany him and drive the car. The woman tells him that her name is Lisa and they talk as they drive through the night; she seems excited by the adventure while he is exhausted and weak, struggling to remain awake and not trusting his driver. Bardon tells Lisa about his time in prison, his childhood, and how he fell into a life of crime. He falls asleep and the car is stopped by a policeman, yet Lisa does not turn Ray in. He begins to trust her and they keep driving, finally stopping for the night at a motel.
|Charles Bronson as Ray|
The surprise at the end of "The Woman Who Wanted to Live" is so effective that it makes the reader go back over the story to look for clues, and this one has plenty, though the author never tips his hand. Lisa seems calm at first and her behavior while on the run with Ray suggests that she is immature and hungry for action, yet when the truth is revealed it is clear that she is tougher than he. Coming to pick up her boyfriend after work, she happens upon a scene of carnage, the man she loves shot by an escaped convict. She does not scream or try to run away; instead, she quickly assesses the situation and formulates a plan that she then proceeds to carry out with cool precision. Ray never has a chance. He and Lisa are similar in that they both faced challenges in their youth and, in the end, became cold-blooded killers.
Perhaps after having had three of his stories adapted by others, Walton or his agent suggested to the producers of Alfred Hitchcock Presents that he should try adapting the story himself, or perhaps this was such a strong tale that he had some additional bargaining power when the rights were sold to television. Whatever the case, Walton did a great job of altering his story for the small screen and his subsequent contributions to the series were adaptations of stories by other writers.
|Lola Albright as Lisa|
This is a fascinating scene where Walton and Crosland achieve a Hitchcockian transference in the mind of the viewer. Ray is a killer who murdered the filling station attendant, yet here he becomes the only hope for Lisa and we root for him to prevail over the punks. His quiet determination is more appealing than their brash rudeness, and gun trumps knife in the battle for a woman. After the incident, Ray asks Lisa why she did not take the chance to escape by running off into the bushes. She responds that she and Ray have something in common, since neither wants to go back to where they came from.
|Jesslyn Fax as the motel manager|
|Lisa gets the drop on Ray|
Charles Bronson (1921-2003) was born Charles Buchinsky and worked in a Pennsylvania coal mine as a boy. He flew with the Air Force in WWII and was awarded a Purple Heart. His onscreen career lasted from 1949 to 1999 and he appeared in three episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents as well as on The Twilight Zone. His fame soared soon after this episode aired and his great movie roles included those in Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) and Death Wish (1974).
Lola Albright (1924- ) was onscreen from 1947 to 1984 and appeared in three episodes of the Hitchcock series, including "The Black Curtain."
|Ray Montgomery as Fred|
Jesslyn Fax (1893-1975) plays the chatty motel manager; she appeared in many small roles in the 1950s and 1960s; she had a small part in Rear Window (1954) and also appeared in "Four O' Clock," Hitchcock's TV adaptation of a Cornell Woolrich story in 1957 for Suspicion.
The three members of the Dragons are played by Craig Curtis ("Rook"), Ben Bryant ("Fat Boy") and Robert Rudelson ("Cuke"). None had much of a career, though Rudelson did write a couple of movies directed by Russ Meyer.
|The story was |
first published here
The seventh season of Alfred Hitchcock Presents has not been released on DVD in the United States to date. I was not able to find a legitimate online source for the show, either, though it might be available on one of the torrent sites. The story was reprinted in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine's Annual #17, To Be Read Before Midnight, in 1962 but does not seem to have seen the light of day in over 50 years. Thanks to Peter Enfantino for providing a copy of the story!
"CBS Radio Mystery Theater | Episode 1338 | The Woman Who Wanted to Live." CBS Radio Mystery Theater | Episode 1338 | The Woman Who Wanted to Live. Web. 05 Aug. 2016.
Next: Our series on Bryce Walton concludes with "The Big Score," starring Rafael Campos and Evans Evans!