Bryce Walton's second teleplay for Alfred Hitchcock Presents was "The Big Score," which was broadcast over the NBC network on Tuesday, March 6, 1962. The source for this episode was a story, also called "The Big Score," by Sam Merwin, Jr., that had been published in the July 1955 issue of Manhunt.
"Prominent businessman and philanthropist" F. Hubert Fellowes has been murdered in his home. His safe was rifled and the police have set up a five-state dragnet, suspicious that the crime was a "carefully planned, professional job." In truth, the criminals are four young people: Gino, Dora, Mike and Arne, who have spent the past three days cooped up in a tenement, afraid to venture outside. Dora was a babysitter working for Fellowes, and this was just the latest in a series of robberies she had set up for her friends. "They were just kids . . . without connections; ranging in age from 17 to 21, they were "treading water way over their heads." Living in a city that is known as a safe haven for important crime figures, Gino is a punk who arrived two years before, riding a freight car with barely a cent to his name. He wanted to make connections with successful criminals but failed and now wants to move on.
|"The Big Score" was first published here|
Back at the tenement, Gino confronts Mike. Later that night, Dora comes home from another babysitting job to announce that the cops are checking each home in the neighborhood. An argument ensues and Dora kills Arne with a knife; Gino kills Mike by bashing him over the head repeatedly with the portable radio. Dora and Gino take the money and leave, avoiding trouble with the police on the way out and walking toward the highway. They are stopped by Ozzie and three mobsters, who tell them that Fellowes was the payoff man for the syndicate and that their future looks bleak.
The Jelke Ring reference is one that would have been familiar to readers in 1955 but is forgotten today. Minot Jelke, heir to an oleomargarine fortune, ran a New York prostitution ring that catered to the rich and famous and he was convicted in 1953 after a well-publicized trial.
A blurb in Manhunt says that Sam Merwin, Jr. (1910-1996), was a "former editor and an author whose work has covered virtually every field." He started out as a reporter, then edited magazines on and off from the 1930s to the 1970s, including important science fiction pulps and detective digests such as Startling Stories and Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine. His stories began to see publication as early as 1938 and he wrote mysteries, science fiction, romance, and even a few comic books. Other than this episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, his only other TV credit is a story that was adapted for Lights Out.
|Rafael Campos as Gino|
|Evans Evans as Dora|
Gino goes back to the tenement and there is a confrontation in which he appears to attack Arne, though it's not clear if Arne is dead or just drunk. Gino and Dora gather up the loot and leave. Instead of making their way to the main road on foot, we next see them speeding through the night in a sports car, pursued by another car. Though they are exhilarated by the speed of the chase they soon find themselves forced to the side of the road. Gino and Dora try to escape but are stopped by Ozzie and another man, who hold them at gunpoint. Ozzie tells Gino that the cash is syndicate money and that Fellowes was their boss. Ozzie's final line to Gino reinforces that the young man remains a "punk," unable to break out of his class and join the successful criminals.
|Philip Reed as Fellowes|
Rafael Campos (1936-1985) stars as Gino and, at 26, appears too old for the part. In the story, the character is said to be 20 years old and in the show he remarks that he is too young for a gun license. Campos was born in the Dominican Republic and made his debut in The Blackboard Jungle (1955). He appeared often on TV for the next three decades.
|John Zaremba as Lt. Morgan|
The other cast members all had unremarkable careers except for John Zaremba (1908-1996), who has a brief role as Lt. Morgan, the detective who interrogates Dora after the murder. He was in eleven episodes of the Hitchcock series, the last of which discussed here was "Starring the Defense."
The seventh season of Alfred Hitchcock Presents has not been released on DVD in the U.S. and I was not able to find a legal place online to view this episode.
OVERVIEW: BRYCE WALTON AND ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS
"Touché" is a clever story from 1958 that has the sort of twist ending that appealed to the producers of the TV series. The teleplay is by William Fay and the episode benefits from strong performances by Paul Douglas and Robert Morse.
"Cell 227" is an adaptation of "An Eye for an Eye," a story from 1959, and Walton's story is a thoughtful look at a difficult topic--capital punishment. Bill Ballinger's adaptation removes the story's subtlety and lops off its ending, changing the focus and making it more of a thriller than a meditation.
"The Greatest Monster of Them All," a story also from 1959, is adapted by Robert Bloch, who added humor and action to make a show that serves as a good send-up of the monster movie industry.
"The Woman Who Wanted to Live" was Walton's first teleplay for the series. He adapted his own story from 1961, adding some humor and an entertaining scene with a trio of juvenile delinquents. The result is a standout episode.
"The Big Score" is less successful, as Walton adapts a 1955 story by Sam Merwin, Jr. In trying too hard to portray young people who get involved in crime, Walton's script and the overall episode fall flat.
"The Opportunity" is another standout episode, where Walton and Henry Slesar adapt a 1957 story by J.W. Aaron and venture into edgy areas of the human condition. Great direction and strong acting make this episode one worth revisiting. I suspect Slesar was asked to revise Walton's teleplay, and Walton did not write any more shows for the Hitchcock series, which was about to expand to an hour.
Episode title-“Cell 227” [5.34]