Thursday, October 5, 2023

The Hitchcock Project-Dick Carr, Part Two-Salvage [1.6]

by Jack Seabrook

Dick Carr's second teleplay for Alfred Hitchcock Presents was "Salvage," which aired on CBS on Sunday, November 6, 1955. Although the title card says that the teleplay was by Carr and Fred Freiberger and that it was based on a story by Freiberger, the source was actually a radio play that Freiberger wrote called "The Long Wait," which aired on Suspense on November 24, 1949.

While the radio and TV versions have the same general plot and the same surprise ending, they differ in many details. "The Long Wait" is narrated in rapid, staccato fashion by Dan Varrell, played by Burt Lancaster. As the story opens, he disembarks from a train at Grand Central Station in New York City only to be met by Police Lieutenant Len Bush, who warns Dan not to kill Lois Williams out of revenge for her role in the death of Dan's brother Richie, who died two years before while Dan was in jail. Dan goes to a room at the Coronet Hotel and finds a gun hidden in the bathroom, left there for him by Shorty Thompson.

Gene Barry as Dan
Lois appears at the door of Dan's hotel room, beautiful and scared, and she surprises Dan by admitting that she has nothing to live for and by asking him to go ahead and kill her. She admits that her actions caused Dan's brother to kill himself. Unexpectedly, Dan finds himself unable to kill her; he puts the gun in his pocket and prevents her from jumping out of the window. She says that she has nothing, and he mutters that "'It's no fun this way.'" Instead of killing her, Dan offers to help Lois by becoming her partner if she returns to her former career as a dress designer. When Dan mentions that her old lover Tim Grady will come back to her, Lois agrees to his plan.

A month later, her dress shop is ready to open, and Dan visits The Emerald Club, where he asks Lou Henry for a $5000 loan to help Lois. Shorty Thompson is also at the club, and he calls Dan a rat for partnering with Lois; a fight ensues between Dan, Shorty, and two other crooks. After Dan gives Lois the money, he visits several crooks and threatens them to force their wives and girlfriends to patronize the dress shop. June, the widow of Dan's brother, throws money at Dan's feet, angry that he is helping Lois, whom everyone blames for Richie's death.

Nancy Gates as Lois
Dan uses intimidation to invite various crooks and their wives to a party for Lois that weekend; the day before, Dan learns that June has convinced Shorty to kill Lois. Dan finds Lois and Shorty at an art museum and prevents the killing; he tells Lt. Bush to arrest Shorty and June. The next evening, the party is a success. The only thing missing from Lois's life is Tim Grady, so Dan visits Tim in his room and tells him to marry her, offering to withdraw from partnership in her successful business and to let Tim take his place. Tim telephones Lois to propose marriage.

The next morning, Dan visits Lois at her shop and confirms that she is the happiest woman in the world. He telephones Lt. Bush and tells him to arrive at the shop in about five minutes. Dan tells Lois, "'Now you're worth killing!" and shoots her, finally getting his revenge.

There's a fatal inevitability to "The Long Wait," in which Dan's plan is worked out slowly and carefully until he reaches his goal, and his vengeance comes at Lois's peak moment of happiness. In The Alfred Hitchcock Presents Companion, Fred Freiberger is quoted as saying that he sold the script "about three times," but I have been unable to find any other radio or TV productions of it. He says that Hitchcock bought it and Dick Carr put his name on it, but the title card credits the teleplay to both Carr and Freiberger and a careful comparison of the TV and radio versions shows that the story was rewritten for TV; I suspect Freiberger had nothing to do with the TV show.

Peter Adams as Tim Grady
While "The Long Wait" is narrated by Dan Varrell, "Salvage" focuses more on Lois Williams, and the exposition is done differently through dialogue. In the first scene, she walks into a bar, where she is hit on by a drunk. She appeals to Lou Henry, but he refuses to help her. In scene two, Lois visits Tom Grady, who is waiting for a woman to join him for a romantic dinner. Like Henry, Grady will not help the desperate Lois. In these two scenes, which are not in the radio version, background is provided about Richie's death and Lois's role in it: she reveals that she talked Dan's brother into committing a robbery so she could get money to buy clothes that would impress Tim. When the police questioned her, she told them that Richie was responsible and where he could be found.

Gone from the TV show is Dan's narration, and we do not see him arrive in New York City and be warned by Lt. Bush, a character who has been eliminated from the story. Instead, Lois returns to her apartment and Dan soon arrives. This scene parallels the scene in the radio play where Lois comes to Dan's hotel room. In the following scenes, we see Lois at her dress shop, a changed woman, and we see Dan go to Lou Henry's bar to ask for $5000. Shorty appears here, but instead of a melee where Dan fights Shorty and two other crooks, Dan just throws his drink in Shorty's face.

Elisha Cook, Jr., as Shorty
All of the business of Dan threatening people to support Lois's dress shop is deleted and there is no appearance by June, who does not hire Shorty to kill Lois. Also gone is the scene at the museum where Dan disarms Shorty and prevents him from killing Lois. Instead, we see the party and Dan's visit to Tim Grady's room, which is quite similar to the scene in the radio play. The final scene omits the party at Lois's room. Instead, it's the morning after Dan visits Tim and Lois is so happy that she gives her staff the day off. Dan enters, Lois tells him how happy she is, and the show ends with him pulling out his gun and shooting her.

"Salvage" is a streamlined version of "The Long Wait" that uses dialogue and visual storytelling methods to convey the same general plot that is found in the radio version. In his revision, Dick Carr removes extraneous characters and scenes in order to focus on the main point: Dan wants to kill Lois but decides that he needs to make sure she has something to live for before taking it away from her. The radio version is more exciting than the TV version, but strong performances by the leads in the TV show ensure that it's an enjoyable half hour. One slight change in the TV version improves the surprise at the end: when Dan first agrees to help Lois, he says that his motive is to run an honest business, so he'll look better while on parole. This motive is absent from the radio play, in which it is always fairly clear that Dan is setting Lois up for a fall.

Paul Bryan as Lou Henry
"Salvage" is directed by Justus Addis (1917-1979), who worked in television beginning in 1953 and directed ten episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents; this was his first. In his private life, he was the lifetime companion of Hayden Rorke, who played Dr. Bellows on I Dream of Jeannie. Addis worked almost exclusively in television, from 1953 to 1968. He also directed three episodes of The Twilight Zone. His only feature film was The Cry Baby Killer (1958) for producer Roger Corman; this film was notable for being Jack Nicholson's first role onscreen.

Gene Barry (1919-2009) gets top billing as Dan; he had a long career on screen as a leading man. Born Eugene Klass, he started out on stage in 1940 before appearing on TV and in the movies from 1950 to 2005. His most memorable film, The War of the Worlds (1955), came early in his career; he then had a recurring role on the TV series Our Miss Brooks (1955-1956) before starring in four series over the course of fifteen years: Bat Masterson (1958-1961), Burke's Law (1963-1966 and 1994-1995), The Name of the Game (1968-1971) and The Adventurer (1972-1973). Barry appeared on the Hitchcock series three times, including "Dear Uncle George," and there is an informative website devoted to his career here.

Co-starring as Lois is Nancy Gates (1926-2019), who appeared on radio, in film, and on TV from 1941 to 1969. She was in one other episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents: "Portrait of Jocelyn."

In smaller roles:
  • Peter Adams (1917-1987) as Tim Grady; he was on screen from 1940 to 1969.
  • Elisha Cook, Jr. (1903-1995) as Shorty; he began acting in films in 1930, served in the Army in WWII, and continued to make appearances on screen until 1988. Among his many memorable roles were parts in The Maltese Falcon (1941), Phantom Lady (1944), and The Big Sleep (1946); on TV, he was seen on Thriller, Star Trek, The Night Stalker TV movie (1972) and The Odd Couple.
  • Paul Bryan (1910-1985) as Lou Henry; he played many small parts on screen between 1951 and 1983, including a role in Vertigo (1958), and he was seen on The Twilight Zone and Batman.
Fred Freiberger (1915-2003), who wrote "The Long Wait" for Suspense, started out in advertising in New York City in the late 1930s and served in the Air Force in WWII. After the war, he wrote for film, radio, and TV from 1946 to 1989 and produced TV shows from 1963 to 1982, including the third season of Star Trek

Listen to "The Long Wait" here. Watch "Salvage" here or buy the DVD here.

Dick Carr wrote the teleplays for three of the first fifteen episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents to air: "Triggers in Leash," adapted from a 1925 western short story; "Salvage," adapted from a 1949 radio play; and "The Big Switch," adapted from a 1936 story by Cornell Woolrich. All three episodes are enjoyable and demonstrate skill in the way that the sources are revised for TV. At this late date, it's unlikely we'll ever know why Carr did not continue writing for the Hitchcock show, but he also wrote eight teleplays for the 1955-1956 season of Four Star Playhouse, so perhaps he decided to focus on that series at the time.


Grams, Martin, and Patrik Wikstrom. The Alfred Hitchcock Presents Companion. OTR Pub., 2001.


"The Long Wait." Suspense, CBS, 24 Nov. 1949. 

"RadioGold Index." RadioGold Index, Accessed 23 Sept. 2023. 

"Salvage." Alfred Hitchcock Presents, season 1, episode 6, CBS, 6 November 1955.

"Suspense-The Long Wait." Escape and Suspense!, 21 Feb. 2010,


Listen to Al Sjoerdsma discuss "Salvage" here!

In two weeks: Our series on Lukas Heller begins with a look at "The Tender Poisoner," starring Dan Dailey and Howard Duff!

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