Thursday, June 17, 2021

The Hitchcock Project-William Link and Richard Levinson Part One: Services Rendered [7.10]

by Jack Seabrook

"No Name, Address, Identity"
was first published here

Richard Levinson (1934-1987) and William Link (1933-2020) were one of the great writing teams in television mystery series. They met in school in 1946 and went on to a long and fruitful collaboration on radio scripts, plays, teleplays, and two movies. The team was active in TV from 1959 until Levinson's untimely death in 1987 and together they created Mannix (1967-1975), Columbo (1971-2000), Ellery Queen (1975-1976), and Murder, She Wrote (1984-1996). They also had a number of short stories published between 1954 and 1966 and won four Edgar Awards during their career as partners. After Levinson died, Link continued to write and his short stories appeared on and off between 1996 and 2015. He was president of the MWA in 2002 and has a website devoted to him here. Levinson and Link co-wrote a total of seven episodes of the Hitchcock show.

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The first episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents with a teleplay by Link and Levinson was "Services Rendered," which premiered on NBC on Tuesday, December 12, 1961. They based the script on their own short story, titled "No Name, Address, Identity," that was published in the July 1961 issue of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine.

Steve Dunne as the amnesiac
As the short story opens, a young man (who is never given a name) is hit by a car on a city street and a crowd gathers, but he insists that he is not seriously injured. "'I have an appointment,'" he says, and walks a few blocks before realizing that he can't remember who he is. Looking in his pockets for a wallet, he finds none, but he does find a thousand dollar bill wrapped around a sheet of paper with the name and address of a Dr. Ralph Mannix written on it. Realizing he is only a few blocks away from the doctor's office, the man hurries to the address.

At the office, he insists on seeing Dr. Mannix, who treats a cut on his head but offers no solution to the mystery of his identity. The young man explains what happened and the doctor diagnoses temporary amnesia, suggesting that the young man go to the police and tell them to publish his photograph in the paper so that his relatives will see it and come for him. Dr. Mannix cannot explain why the young man had his name and address. The young man notices a photograph of the doctor's wife on his desk. He leaves the office abruptly and stands before the elevator door, where he suddenly recovers his memory. Going back into the doctor's office, he tells Mannix that his memory has returned and that he knows where the thousand dollars came from: Mannix's wife paid him that amount to kill her husband. The young man picks up the doctor's letter opener as he breaks the news.

Hugh Marlowe as the doctor
Short and breezy, the story has a surprise ending that is not hard to predict. The brevity of the tale ensured that, when the authors adapted it for television, they had to find ways to expand it. The fact that they did so with such success may indicate why the writing duo were so much more successful as writers of teleplays than as short story authors.

Retitled "Services Rendered," the TV version starts off with a significant change: instead of being hit by a car, the main character is hit on the head by a long board that falls from scaffolding above a city street. (This method of inducing amnesia is quite similar to that used by Cornell Woolrich in The Black Curtain (1941), where the protagonist's amnesia is cured when a piece of molding falls from a building and hits him on the head as he walks along a city sidewalk.) The construction worker who dropped the board rushes down to street level to offer help, but the young man walks off alone, as he does in the story.

Percy Helton as Cyrus Rutherford
In the short story, he finds the paper and money in his pocket as he walks along the sidewalk; in the TV version, he wanders into a city park, where he joins a wino on a bench. The drunk engages the man in conversation, managing to bum a cigarette and convince the young man to join him for a drink at a nearby bar. At the bar, the wino, known as Pop, is a regular, and both men order shots of whisky. The wino introduces himself as Cyrus Rutherford, a name that does not seem to fit his fallen station in life, and it is the young man's inability to respond that makes the him realize that he has forgotten his own name.

He rushes into the bathroom and looks in the mirror, but to no avail; a well-chosen stock music cue creates mystery and suspense. Back at the bar, the two men discuss the problem of memory loss. When he can't find his wallet, the young man walks back to the scene of the accident, but the construction workers claim they have not seen his billfold. He returns to the bar, where Rutherford is still drinking. The young man finds the thousand dollar bill in his pocket and tries to use it to pay for the drinks, but the bartender grows angry at the suggestion that he should make change. Rutherford, of course, is no help--"'I'm fresh out of funds,'" he admits--and, after a bouncer is called over to manage the situation, the young man finds himself expelled from the bar.

Bert Remsen

This scene is quite entertaining and a good addition to the story. The best part of the sequence is the wonderful performance by Percy Helton, who plays Rutherford. When first seen on the park bench, his clothes are rumpled and his hands are shaking, but it is clear that he is single-minded in his efforts to get free cigarettes and whisky for himself. Inside the bar, Helton is focused on consuming as many shots as possible, even switching glasses with the young man when he is not looking. His admission that he is broke comes as no surprise to anyone.

The young man then arrives at the office of Dr. Mannix, who is inexplicably called Dr. Mannick in the show. The characters clearly refer to him that way, the name on his door is Mannick, and the diploma on his wall reads Mannick, yet the end credits of the episode refer to him as Mannix, as he is in the short story. The second half of the episode can't help but drag a bit after Percy Helton's performance in the first half. Steve Dunne, as the unnamed young man, is encouraged by director Paul Henreid to act his scenes in a Shatneresque display of near-histrionics, while Hugh Marlowe, as the doctor, is rather bland. The latter part of the story plays out essentially as it did on the page; when the young man stands before the elevator and recovers his memory, the effect on his mind is conveyed by having the floor indicator become wavy and go in and out of focus.

Karl Lukas

"Services Rendered" is a good start for Link and Levinson as contributors to the Hitchcock series, since they take their own short story and expand it to make it more entertaining. The conceit of having characters go to a bar to have an extended conversation is an old one in pulp and detective fiction, but it works well here, mainly due to the actors involved.

Directing this episode is Paul Henreid (1908-1992), who began his career as a film actor. He also worked as a director, starting in the early 1950s, and directed 29 episodes of the Hitchcock show, including "A Little Sleep" and "Annabel." 

Starring as the unnamed victim of memory loss is Steve Dunne (1918-1977), born Francis Dunne. He was in movies from 1945 to 1973 and on TV from 1951 to 1973. He starred on radio in The Adventures of Sam Spade from 1950 to 1951 and on TV in The Brothers Brannagan from 1960 to 1961. He was on the Hitchcock series five times and on Batman twice.

Bernadette Hale

Hugh Marlowe (1911-1982) gets second billing as Dr. Mannick (or Mannix). Born Hugh Herbert Hipple, he 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, including "John Brown's Body." Later in life, he was a regular on the soap opera, Another World, from 1969 to 1982.

Percy Helton (1984-1971) shines as Cyrus Rutherford, the drunk; he was in vaudeville from age two and served in the Army in World War One. He damaged his voice permanently while yelling in a stage play and thus had a distinctively squeaky way of talking for much of his career. He was on screen from 1915 to 1978 and appeared in seven episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, including "The Creeper"; he was also in the classic episode of Bus Stop, "I Kiss Your Shadow," as well as on The Twilight Zone and Batman.

In smaller roles:
  • Bert Remsen (1925-1999) as Jimmy, the bartender; he served in WWII and fought at Okinawa. His screen career lasted from 1952 to 1999 and included appearances in five episodes of the Hitchcock series, including "Bang! You're Dead." He was also seen on Thriller and The Outer Limits.
  • Karl Lukas (1919-1995) as Uncle Ben, the bouncer in the bar; born Karol Louis Lukasiak, he was on screen from 1951 to 1991 and had roles on Batman, Night Gallery, and The Odd Couple. He began his career on Broadway in the 1940s and was a semi-regular on The Phil Silvers Show (1955-1958). He was in five episodes of the Hitchcock show, including a major role in Ten O'Clock Tiger.
  • Bernadette Hale as Miss Sherman, the doctor's receptionist; she had a brief TV career from 1961 to 1966 and also appeared in one episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, "The Thirty-First of February."
  • Tom Pace (1934- ) as the man at the bar; born in Yugoslavia, this episode was his first screen credit. He went on to appear on TV and in film until 1976 and had a co-starring role in Blood Orgy of the She-Devils (1973).
Tom Pace?
  • Ottola Nesmith (1889-1972) as the woman who witnesses the board fall and hit the young man on the head; she was on screen from 1913 to 1969, usually in uncredited roles, but she appeared in three memorable episodes of Thriller including playing the zuvembie in Pigeons from Hell.
Ottola Nesmith
  • Andy Romano (1941- ) as the construction worker who offers to help the young man; he was on screen from 1961 to 2003, including an appearance on Batman and parts in eight episodes of the Hitchcock show, including "The Black Curtain."
Andy Romano

Watch "Services Rendered" on Peacock here. Thanks to Peter Enfantino for providing a copy of the short story!


The FictionMags Index,

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


Link, William and Richard Levinson "No Name, Address, Identity."  Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, July 1961, 2-8.

"Services Rendered." Alfred Hitchcock Presents, season 7, episode 10, NBC, 12 Dec. 1961.

Stephensen-Payne, Phil. Galactic Central,

Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation,

In two weeks: Our coverage of Richard Levinson and William Link continues with "Profit-Sharing Plan," starring Henry Jones!

Listen to Al Sjoerdsma discuss "The Belfry" here!

Listen to Annie and Kathryn discuss "Craig's Will" here!


Grant said...

Percy Helton mush have had a knack for playing semi-comical drunk characters. He isn't in the credits, but he's definitely the drunk Santa Claus at the start of MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET. There's no mistaking the voice.

Speaking of COLUMBO, Bert Remsen is very good in the William Shatner episode "Fade Into Murder."

This is another Andy Romano role I've missed. To me he's still mainly a comical biker gang member in the Beach Party movies (though I know him from a decent number of other things).

Jack Seabrook said...

I've grown to love Percy Helton over the years. He is such a delight on screen.

Jon said...

MeTV reran this episode just the other night. While he never appeared on TZ, Steve Dunne appeared on a few Hitchcock eps. I remember him for his later appearances on THE BRADY BUNCH, and he also appeared as a newsman on "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory".

Jack Seabrook said...

Thanks, Jon! I like Steve Dunne, too. He was great at that sort of quizzical expression.