Alfred Hitchcock Presents s03e02 Episode Script

The Mail Order Prophet

Hello, fellow speculators.
I've just made a killing in the stock market, nothing to it.
I simply told my partner we've been wiped out.
He's a very excitable fellow.
Actually I was joking.
We haven't been wiped out.
Actually we have made a tidy profit.
I wish he hadn't done it.
We have a very sensitive elevator man.
He doesn't like it when he brings people up, and then they don't ride down again.
It confuses him.
As for our story, it is called "The Mail Order Prophet.
" And it too is set in the background of stocks and bonds.
And, so begins another day at the old jute mill.
You'd think after 17 years we could be trusted to open our own mail.
That's the trouble with this office, there's no power of decision.
Ronald, there's only one power.
They throw the switch and start the assembly line.
Why do we put up with it, George? Why do we go on year after year being treated like the robots? Because we're not robots.
We're cogs.
Only small cogs in a very large machine.
They feed raw material here, and somewhere down the line money pours out.
Of course, I've never seen any of it, but I do have it on good authority.
Someday I'm going to walk out of here and stall their blasted machinery.
My boy, you are having delusions.
Nobody here is an essential part of the machinery.
They'd slip in a new cog and within an hour, nobody would know you were gone.
It would shake 'em up for an hour anyway.
And we'll all take a collection for a headstone, "Here lies Ronald Grimes.
" You'd starve to death.
I'd get another job.
On another assembly line? The only way to beat the system, my dear friend, is to inherit a million dollars.
And I believe that the base metals are a sound speculation, provided you can liquidate enough of the Peterson Estates.
Oh, good morning, sir.
There appears to be additional mail for you this morning, Grimes.
Since it's marked personal, I assumed it wasn't a business letter.
It hasn't been opened.
Oh, thank you, sir.
I can't understand why it should have been sent here So that's how you're going to beat the system, huh? Marry a rich widow? It's not a woman.
Do we have a client named J.
Christiani? No, of course not.
This is somebody's idea of a joke.
Read it.
"I, J.
Christiani, have been blessed with "supernatural ability to look into the future "and forecast events to come.
"After great consideration and for reasons of my own, "I have selected you to be the sole beneficiary of this power.
" Congratulations, you lucky dog.
This is better than a million dollars.
It's a real crackpot.
Now, don't be so skeptical.
Now, this guy's the answer to all your dreams.
"I can solemnly promise that if you avail yourself of this opportunity, "you will become rich beyond your wildest imagination!" Now, what more can you ask for? A look at his bank account for one thing.
Now, look, he explains that.
"I am not permitted to use this power for my own use.
" Well, that's the way those things are, Ronald.
Everybody knows that.
I wonder who the practical joker is.
This is no joke.
Look, he lays it right on the line.
His Honor Mayor Twiss will be defeated in the election next week.
He's out of his mind, whoever he is.
Hampton has no more chance of being elected than I do.
Ronald, I'm disappointed in you.
Here is opportunity pounding at your door and you won't risk a few miserable dollars.
You realize you can get at least three to one odds.
Here, let me see that.
Of course.
This is some political gimmick.
Hampton has sent these out by the thousands.
Well, here's one vote he won't get.
George? Yeah.
Did you ever hear of anyone who could foretell the future? Are you kidding? Good evening, Mr.
Nasty weather, haven't we? May I help you? Thanks, Tony.
Benedict here? At your table, sir.
Oh, thank you.
You're late.
I was starved, so I went ahead and ordered pork stews.
The storm held me up.
I hate these winter rains.
Well, it's the same every year.
There's nothing anybody can do about it.
Some people go to a better climate, Florida or the Bahamas.
I'd like to go there someday.
That's a dream.
Forget it.
You're trapped just like the rest of us.
I'll order a little later.
Very good, sir.
George, I got another letter from J.
Who? Christiani.
The fellow who says he can foretell the future.
Oh, come on now, Ronald, you're not going to start that nonsense again.
Well, he was right about the election, wasn't he? Hampton won.
It was the biggest political upset in years.
You are right.
The letters he sent out really turned the tide.
No, no, I was wrong about that, George.
It wasn't a political scheme.
Christiani sent me a prediction about the championship fight Friday night.
Well, I can call that one myself.
Booker by a knockout.
Well, I don't know much about fights.
Booker's the champion? Yes.
Well, Christiani says the other fellow, Mathews, will win.
What? Well, I guess the man's entitled to his opinion.
He says I can get very good odds.
I'm sure you can.
But don't do it, Ronald.
Look, I'll admit I don't know anything about politics but I do know about the fights.
Look, this fellow Mathews is a fourth-rater.
That's why he got the bout.
Booker can name the round, he'll knock him out.
Well, Christiani was right about the elections, wasn't he? That was luck, pure and simple.
Oh, don't be an idiot, Ronald.
Nobody can predict the future, it just isn't possible.
Look, you're an intelligent man.
Come on.
Come on, champ.
Keep boxing around.
Sock him on that glass jaw! That guy Mathews will never come out of the seven.
Any takers? Attaboy, champ.
You got it in the bag now.
Some brawl, huh? But wait till the champ nails him.
Will that Mathews hear the birdies sing? But which one is the champ? Black trunks.
Oh, then the other fellow in the white trunks is Willie Mathews.
That's the way it works out.
Thank you.
How does a fellow go about making a bet? It's too late for that, unless you want to take Mathews.
Now's the time, champ.
Hit him.
You got him.
Come on, Mathews.
Let him have it.
Hey! three, four, five Get up.
six Get up.
seven, eight, nine, ten.
Champ, that was just a love tap.
A regular sleeping beauty.
Is it over? Is that the end? What do you think? Lucky for you, you didn't get here in time to lose your money.
But I wanted to bet on Mathews.
Another one? Yes.
What does that make? Four or five.
I don't know.
You know, this is the craziest thing I've ever heard of.
Ronald, when are you going to get some sense? Uh, what did you say? All right, I know it's none of my business.
It's just I hate to see a friend being taken for a chump.
Am I a chump? You've been betting on these predictions, haven't you? Well, yes, I have.
How much have you lost? Only those first two times, because I didn't bet.
George, this man has been right for five straight predictions.
Now, doesn't that prove he can foretell the future? No, it only proves he's had a phenomenal run of good luck and nothing more.
The law of averages has to beat him in the end.
I don't think it is luck.
I believe Christiani knows what's going to happen.
You believe it because you want to believe it.
You're the kind that has to believe that there's a great day coming.
That lightning will strike, or you're gonna find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Well, Ronald, things just don't work that way.
Look, fairy tales went out of style centuries ago.
I'm making money.
It's a chance to escape.
Oh, no, no, there's no escape.
You were lucky so far.
How much have you won? Almost $700.
That's good.
I'm really glad for you.
And you better quit while you're still ahead.
No dessert, just coffee.
Thank you.
All right, sir.
For you, sir? The same thing.
Thank you.
Another Christiani tip sheet? George, I like to ask your advice.
No, thank you.
I tried that once, remember? I'd appreciate it if you'd read this.
Look, I'll tell you how it is.
I wouldn't want to say I told you so, but if I read your letter I'm afraid I wouldn't be able to resist.
Isn't that a new suit? I made some money on an investment.
Seersucker, no doubt.
No, it's wool.
That's strange.
'Cause for every seer there's got to be a sucker.
I'm sorry, Ronald.
I couldn't resist that one.
Excuse me.
Okay, what's the trouble? You remember saying this was a racket, there had to be something in it for Christiani? Oh, now comes the bite, huh? Well, you can't say you weren't warned.
How much is he asking? He doesn't specify.
I'll read it to you.
"As I told you in my first letter, "I cannot use this power for personal gain.
"You, however, are not prohibited from sharing your good fortune.
"My address is Post Office Box 64.
" Well, I must say I'm disappointed in your mail order prophet.
I expected a more subtle approach.
Well, I hope you're not going to fall for this.
Well, it seems only fair.
Even prophets have to live.
And after all, I have made $1,000.
But, look, you haven't subscribed to his service.
It's legally uncollectible.
That's not quite the point.
Let me read you the rest of it.
"As a token of my gratitude "I will send you a stock market prediction "that will return your investment ten-fold.
" It's the old bait.
He's got you hot and eager now, sure.
Cut him in on the take and you'll be rolling in money.
It's an old con game.
But suppose it isn't.
Suppose he does have prophetic knowledge, after all he's been right six times.
Now, you can't put that away as luck.
I know something about the law of averages, too.
Yes, and you know something about the stock market, or you've wasted the last 17 years.
You'll be flat broke.
Well, that's the problem.
I am broke.
I mean, I've spent all the money, except $200, which I've got to send to Christiani.
Ronald, I've got $600 in my savings account.
And if ever you're really up against it, I'm always good for a touch.
But for a hair-brained scheme like this, not one dime.
I wasn't trying to borrow from you.
But if I could just lay my hands on some real money, just for a few days, I'd clear enough to retire.
If you're considering what I think you are, you're not going to retire to the Bahamas, you're going to retire to Sing Sing.
I don't know what you're talking about.
I'm talking about the company funds.
Oh, sure, you can borrow a few thousand over the weekend.
But when the Tuesday audit comes around, you'd better have a good story, because you sure aren't going to have the money.
But I've always won before.
All right.
I'll admit I don't know how he's always been right so far.
But I do know this, that predicting the future is a scientific impossibility! And, Ronald, if you're gonna be sucker enough to believe it, well, I'll try to smuggle a hacksaw into you.
Tony, grab my check.
Right, sir.
Benedict's coat, please.
Here is the Smithfield file.
Thank you.
I'll return it myself.
Fay, please.
Hello, this is Ronald J.
I'd like to get a quotation on Athabaska Mines.
Thirty cents.
I'd like to order Will negotiable bonds be acceptable? All right.
I'll bring them over myself before closing.
Thank you.
"Gentlemen, "when you receive this letter, "you will already know what I have done "and no explanation is really necessary.
"And yet, because I know everyone will say "poor old Grimes simply wasn't the type to end it all.
"I'm writing this so there will be no mystery.
"If you read this letter, "you will know I lost.
" So you really did it? How deep did you go? A hundred thousand shares on margin.
$15,000? You poor stupid slob.
You've really sawed yourself off.
It could go up, George.
Maybe they've made a new strike or declared an extra dividend.
That would send it up today.
It's happened before.
If it drops off three cents a share, tomorrow you'll have a shortage you'll never make up.
Grimes! Your telephone is ringing.
All right, sir.
Thank you Ronald.
The stock market closes in 20 minutes.
I know.
Well? There's no hurry, George, I'll wait until the last minute.
Fay, please? Hello.
This is Ronald Grimes.
What is the last quotation on Athabaska Mines? Yes.
All of it.
Thank you.
I told my broker to sell.
Sell all of it.
At $1.
40 a share.
Do you understand, George? I bought 100,000 shares at 30 cents.
And now they are worth $1.
40 apiece.
Do you understand what that means? That's $140,000.
I don't believe it.
I know you don't.
You never did believe it.
That's what's wrong with you, George.
You don't have any faith.
Fairy tales went out of style centuries ago.
There's no pot at the end of the rainbow.
That's what's wrong with you, George.
You don't believe in anything.
I think I'm babbling.
I want to say this calmly.
When I put back the $15,000, I'll have $125,000 left.
You tell them tomorrow to get a new cog for the machine.
I'm not coming back.
You know, of course, it's contrary to regulations to give out any information on post office boxes.
I understand that, you see, but it's vitally important that I contact this man.
Then I'd suggest you write to him care of his box number.
I've done that but the letters have come back.
He doesn't have a box any longer.
I'm very sorry, Mr.
There's simply nothing I can do for you.
Oh, look, you can check for another address.
You don't have to tell me where he is.
Just forward it.
Yes, I guess I can tell you where he is.
Oh, thank you.
We'll need detailed information from you on your losses.
I don't understand.
I haven't lost anything.
Benedict, I appreciate your reluctance to admit that you were fleeced.
But we'll require all the evidence we can get for a conviction.
Whether you recover any of your money, that's another question.
Look, I don't know what you're talking about.
I'm just trying to locate a man named J.
He's in jail, Mr.
Benedict, for using the mails to defraud.
Do you mean it was just a racket after all? Now you didn't really believe he could predict the future.
But he did predict and they were right.
Of course, they were.
Half of them had to be right.
Oh, it's really very simple.
He sent out thousands of letters to people offering to make them rich.
Half of them he advised to bet on Mayor Twiss to be reelected.
The other half were told that Hampton would be the winner.
Now, suppose he started with 4,000 people.
He couldn't fail to have 2,000 winners.
I see.
His second letter predicted the outcome of the championship fight.
Using the same system.
He now has 1,000 people who begin to believe in his power.
After another four letters he's reduced the number to 125 customers, who are absolutely convinced he's an authentic prophet.
And then he asked for the contribution.
He offers to give them a tip on the stock market that will make them rich.
How many people would be able to resist? None, of course.
Christiani has already demonstrated he's infallible.
So he gets his donations, ranging from $2 to $500 apiece, a total of over $30,000.
But the stock did go up.
It was quite possible.
He gave all 125 persons a different tip.
If even one of them turned out, he could make one final appeal for another donation.
After that, he leaves town and starts up somewhere else.
It was really quite an ingenious scheme, Mr.
I don't wonder a lot of people were taken in by it.
You really shouldn't be embarrassed.
Look, I wasn't taken in by it.
It was a friend.
A friend? Yes, a friend, a man in the office.
I tried to reason with him.
From the start I told him it was a racket.
Any intelligent man knows you can't predict the future.
You think he'd listen to me? No, sir, not on your life.
He still believes there's a Santa Claus.
This is a pretty hard lesson for him.
Next time he may be a little more practical.
No, I'm afraid he won't.
I don't think anybody will ever convince him now.
This concludes our entertainment.
So until next time when we shall bring you another story.

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