Thursday, June 7, 2018

The Hitchcock Project-Stanley Ellin Part Five: You Can't Be a Little Girl All Your Life [7.7] and Wrapup

by Jack Seabrook

Being a woman in America in the late '50s/early '60s was no picnic, as we have seen repeatedly on various episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, but the ordeal of Julie Barton, as presented in "You Can't Be a Little Girl All Your Life," may be the worst example yet. In Stanley Ellin's story, which was first published in the May 1958 issue of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, Julie awakens from sleep and thinks her husband Tom has come home late from work, but instead a gloved hand covers her mouth and, when she bites it, she is punched until she passes out. She wakes up to find herself being attended to by a doctor as her husband urges her to describe her attacker to the police. Lieutenant Christensen and Mr. Dahl from the District Attorney's office attempt to interrogate her, but all she remembers is that the man wore leather gloves.

"You Can't Be a Little
Girl All Your Life"
was first published here
Implying that she was raped, the police pressure her to help identify her attacker for the safety of the community. She receives round the clock attention from her husband and two nurses. Her parents visit and her mother reports that Tom is determined to kill Julie's attacker once he has been identified. She warns Dr. Vaughn, who promises to tell the police so that they will keep an eye on Tom. A suspect, Charles Brunner, is arrested and Julie is brought to the police station to identify him; under great pressure, she agrees that he was her attacker. Tom pulls a gun and lunges toward the man, but the police tackle him and his leg is broken in the melee.

After Tom spends time in the hospital, he comes home with his leg in a cast. As the trial approaches, Julie avoids mentioning the subject. One evening, after Tom is asleep, Dr. Karlweiss visits and wants to know if she is sure that Brunner was the man who attacked her. Karlweiss had been treating Brunner and says that a crime of this sort is out of character for him. As the trial gets ever closer, Julie is filled with a sense of impending dread. One evening, Tom asks her to gather his clothes to take to the tailor so that he will ready to attend the trial. She picks up the jacket that he had not worn since the night of the attack and finds a pair of gloves in the pocket; one is "crusted with dark-brown stains." Tom, hobbled by his cast, admits that he came home drunk from work after a business deal fell through. He could not find his key, so he crawled through the window. "'That's when it happened,'" he says. He can't explain why he did it, but he insists that she must go through with seeing that Brunner is convicted so she will never have to think of it again. Tom insists that no one will believe her if she tells the truth. Julie runs into the street, discarding the dark glasses behind which she had been hiding, and "fled toward lights and people."

Dick York as Tom
In this story, Stanley Ellin provides clues to the horrible fact of the attacker's identity while painting an uncomfortable portrait of a woman whose own identity is defined by the men around her. Julie is "desperately anxious to give him the answer he wanted" when Lt. Christensen presses her for details of her attacker's appearance, and her interrogators demonstrate no compassion for her, showing her her own face in a mirror to try to force a reaction. Her own mother insists that Julie protect Tom from his violent instincts and tells her that she "'owes'" her husband sex, leaving Julie "chilled by a sudden insight into her parents' life together." Julie is treated like a child: Dr. Vaughn tells her that she looks "'mighty cute in those dark glasses '" and Julie, understandably, admits that "'I just feel better wearing them,'" happy to shield herself from the reality of the situation before her.

Carolyn Kearney as Julie
Julies complicity in her situation is not ignored, however. When Tom calls her "'the only demure married woman in the world,'" she glows with happiness. At the story's climax, when Tom attempts to justify his actions, Julie's eyes are opened and she realizes that her weakness lies in "the need to have them always approve." At the end, she removes the dark glasses and throws them to the ground, no longer hiding herself from the reality of her world where men are in charge and she has been powerless.

Three years after Ellin's story was published, Helen Nielsen adapted it for television and it was broadcast on Alfred Hitchcock Presents on NBC on Tuesday, November 21, 1961. The teleplay removes the story's opening scene, where Julie is attacked, and the episode opens on a close up of Julie in profile. The right side of her face is kept hidden by how she is positioned and where the camera is placed, creating anticipation for the moment when her bruises are first shown. We learn of the assault through dialogue and Julie's interrogators subtly suggest that she may have played some part in her own victimization, asking how she spent her long, lonely evenings. Nielsen ends the first segment with a shocking moment, as Dahl spins Julie's chair around and we see her full face reflected in a wall mirror for the first time, followed by a cut to a close up of her eyes, one of which is badly bruised.

Julie is forced to look in the mirror
Nielsen increases Julie's isolation by removing all of the other female characters from the story and by increasing the focus on how the men in Julie's life have always sheltered her. When Julie's father visits, he explains that her mother died when Julie was young and her father raised her, protectively. He insists on tucking her into bed like a child and reminds Tom that her husband was also her first boyfriend; she went straight from the role of daughter to that of wife. Dr. Vaughn also asks Julie how she spent her evenings, suggesting that she was going out or doing something to encourage her attacker. Nielsen's script downplays Tom's violent tendencies; he has no gun at the police station and no one tells Julie she needs to protect him.

Ted de Corsia as Lt. Christensen
The final scene benefits from good shot choices by director Norman Lloyd. We see Tom sitting before a mirror in a shot that shows Julie's point of view; he puts on his tie and a pair of crutches are thrust into the frame in front of him. Julie goes to get his coat and puts on her dark glasses, suggesting that, once more, she is trying to shield herself from the truth. She takes his coat out of the closet and drops it, then sees the glove poking out of a pocket; she sees the torn finger and puts the glove on her own hand to confirm her suspicions.

Julie then confronts Tom in a scene that is more suspenseful than the one in Ellin's story. Once again, the camera shows her point of view, and we are in Julie's place as she approaches her husband. Her hand, holding the glove, enters the frame as she asks him about the garment and then accuses him. "'You hit me!'" she says, leaving any mention of rape out of the discussion. Unlike the story, where Tom is unable to stand up, here he gets up and, using his crutches, approaches her menacingly as he makes his excuses, falling once but getting back up and continuing towards her as she yells at him and finally takes off her glasses. He makes one last lunge and falls to the floor; she throws the glasses down and exits, repeating: "'They will believe me!'"

Howard Caine as Dahl
"You Can't Be a Little Girl All Your Life" is a good adaptation of a powerful short story, a short, low-budget crime film that makes good use of minimal sets and scene changes. The entire episode takes place in three rooms: Julie's bedroom, her living room, and a room at the police station. Carolyn Kearney gives a strong performance as Julie and Helen Nielsen's teleplay streamlines the story, increasing the suspense and adding moments of high tension such as the incident at the end of first segment where Julie is forced to look at herself in the mirror. Norman Lloyd's direction is sharp, with the point of view shots near the end of the episode recalling similar shots used by Robert Stevens in episodes like "Our Cooks a Treasure," and the camera angles and positioning of Kearney in the first scene creating viewer anticipation for the revelation of her bruised face.

Frank Milan as Dr. Vaughn
Helen Nielsen (1918-2002) contributed to the designs of aircraft in World War Two and the FictionMags Index lists over fifty short stories written by her, mostly between 1954 and 1973. She also wrote crime novels for 25 years, from The Kind Man in 1951 to The Brink of Murder in 1976. There were a handful of TV and film adaptations of her work, and she wrote teleplays for the Hitchcock show, both adapting her own stories for the small screen and adapting the work of others, such as Stanley Ellin.

Needing no introduction is Norman Lloyd (1914- ), who directed twenty-two episodes of the Hitchcock show. The last one examined here was Ellin's "The Day of the Bullet."

Bill Quinn as Julie's father

As Tom, the brutal, deceiving husband, Dick York turns on a dime from concern to menace. His screen career lasted from 1945 to 1984 and he was seen on the Hitchcock show seven times, including Ellin's "The Blessington Method."

Carolyn Kearney (1930-2005), so effective as the battered wife, was born in Detroit. Her screen career was rather brief, lasting from 1956 to 1970, and this was the only time she appeared on the Hitchcock show. She was also seen on The Twilight Zone and she played Dick York's wife once again (having not learned her lesson) on the classic Thriller episode, "The Incredible Dr. Markesan."

In smaller roles:
  • Ted de Corsia (1905-1973) plays Lt. Christensen; he was on Old Time Radio and then on screen from 1947 to 1972, playing countless small roles on TV, including appearances on The Twilight Zone, Thriller, and The Outer Limits. He was seen on the Hitchcock show three times, including "The Magic Shop." His first film credit was for Orson Welles's The Lady from Shanghai.
  • Frank Milan (1905-1977) plays Dr. Vaughn; he had an unremarkable career on screen, appearing on film from 1937 to 1942 and on TV from 1951 to 1962. This was his only role on the Hitchcock show.
  • Howard Caine (1926-1993) plays Dahl, the District Attorney's man; born Howard Cohen in Nashville, he served in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific Theater during World War Two and was on Broadway. His screen career lasted from 1953 to 1988 and he was seen on The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits. He was a semi-regular on Hogan's Heroes and an accomplished banjo player. Caine appeared on three episodes of the Hitchcock show, including "Mrs. Bixby and the Colonel's Coat."
  • Bill Quinn (1912-1994) plays Julie's father; he was on film as a child in 1923-1924 and then returned to the screen in 1956 and stayed till 1989. He was seen in countless TV shows and played Dr. Melnitz in four episodes of The Odd Couple. He also had a part in Hitchcock's The Birds (1963). He was in two episodes of the Hitchcock TV show.
Like most of the seventh season of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, "You Can't Be a Little Girl All Your Life" is not yet available on DVD in the U.S., nor is it available for viewing online.


Ellin, Stanley. “You Can't Be a Little Girl All Your Life.” The Specialty of the House, Mysterious Press, 1979.

The FictionMags Index.

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

"Helen Berniece Nielsen." Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2003. Contemporary Authors Online, Accessed 28 May 2018.


Stephensen-Payne, Phil. Galactic Central,

Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 28 May 2018,
“You Can't Be a Little Girl All Your Life.” Alfred Hitchcock Presents, season 7, episode 7, NBC, 21 Nov. 1961.

Stanley Ellin on Alfred Hitchcock Presents: An Overview and Episode Guide

The eight episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents based on stories by Stanley Ellin represent a very strong group indeed. All of the stories originally appeared in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, from the first ("The Specialty of the House") in May 1948 to the last ("The Day of the Bullet") in October 1959. Two episodes aired toward the end of season one: "Help Wanted" and "The Orderly World of Mr. Appleby"; both were fine adaptations that featured meek men who turn to murder. The weakest of the batch is the sole episode from season three, "The Festive Season"; the story on which it is based depends on a twist ending and the TV show is overly talky.

Three episodes from the fifth season deserve the label of "classics": "The Blessington Method," a rare show with science fiction elements that posits a solution to the problem of the elderly; "Specialty of the House," an unforgettable look at cannibalism and greed based on the story that launched Ellin's career; and "The Day of the Bullet," a wistful lament about childhood and how two boys' paths diverge after a seminal event.

Finally, season seven brought two more Ellin stories to the small screen: "You Can't Be a Little Girl All Your Life," a fine, low budget crime film that paints a troubling picture of a woman's life in 1961, and "The Faith of Aaron Menefee," with a script by Ray Bradbury that tells of a possibly crooked faith healer in rural America.

Stanley Ellin's stories are a delight to read and they served as great sources for a series of wonderful half hours of classic television.


Episode title-“Help Wanted” [1.27]
Broadcast date-1 April 1956
Teleplay by-Robert C. Dennis
Based on-"Help Wanted" by Stanley Ellin
First print appearance-Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine June 1949
Watch episode-here
Available on DVD?-here

"Help Wanted"

Episode title-"The Orderly World of Mr. Appleby" [1.29]
Broadcast date-15 April 1956
Teleplay by-Victor Wolfson and Robert C. Dennis
Based on-"The Orderly World of Mr. Appleby" by Stanley Ellin
First print appearance-Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine May 1950
Watch episode-here
Available on DVD?-here

"The Orderly World of Mr. Appleby"

Episode title-"The Festive Season" [3.31]
Broadcast date-4 May 1958
Teleplay by-James P. Cavanagh
Based on-"Death on Christmas Eve" by Stanley Ellin
First print appearance-Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine January 1950
Watch episode-here
Available on DVD?-here

"The Festive Season"

Episode title-"The Blessington Method" [5.8]
Broadcast date-15 November 1959
Teleplay by-Halsted Welles
Based on-"The Blessington Method" by Stanley Ellin
First print appearance-Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine June 1956
Watch episode-here
Available on DVD?-here

"The Blessington Method"

Episode title-"Specialty of the House" [5.12]
Broadcast date-13 December 1959
Teleplay by-Victor Wolfson and Bernard C. Schoenfeld
Based on-"The Specialty of the House" by Stanley Ellin
First print appearance-Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine May 1948
Watch episode-here
Available on DVD?-here

"Specialty of the House"

Episode title-"The Day of the Bullet" [5.20]
Broadcast date-14 February 1960
Teleplay by-Bill S. Ballinger
Based on-"The Day of the Bullet" by Stanley Ellin
First print appearance-Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine October 1959
Watch episode-here
Available on DVD?-here

"The Day of the Bullet"

Episode title-"You Can't Be a Little Girl All Your Life" [7.7]
Broadcast date-21 November 1961
Teleplay by-Helen Nielsen
Based on-"You Can't Be a Little Girl All Your Life" by Stanley Ellin
First print appearance-Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine May 1958
Watch episode-unavailable
Available on DVD?-no

"You Can't Be a Little Girl All Your Life"

Episode title-"The Faith of Aaron Menefee" [7.17]
Broadcast date-30 January 1962
Teleplay by-Ray Bradbury
Based on-"The Faith of Aaron Menefee" by Stanley Ellin
First print appearance-Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine September 1957
Watch episode-unavailable
Available on DVD?-no

"The Faith of Aaron Menefee"

In two weeks: Our short series on John Cheever begins with "The Five-Forty-Eight," starring Phyllis Thaxter and Zachary Scott!

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