Alfred Hitchcock Presents s03e26 Episode Script

Bull in a China Shop

Good evening, aficionados.
Tonight's story is called "Bull in a China Shop," so we decided to indulge in a bit of bullfighting.
An obvious case of mistaken identity.
Originally I was to have appeared in the skintight pants of a matador, however, at the last moment, it was decided that this was a sight for which the television audience was not yet ready.
Television is like bullfighting in one respect.
They both have what is called "the moment of truth.
" In bullfighting, it is the moment the matador faces the bull, before he converts him to hamburger.
Ladies and gentlemen, the moment of truth.
Good afternoon.
I'm Dennis O'Finn.
I'm Miss Hildy-Lou.
Welcome to 909 Lexington.
Oh, thank you.
Good afternoon, ladies.
Good afternoon.
These are my guests.
Miss Birdie.
Miss Bessie.
Miss Bessie.
Miss Samantha.
It was so nice of you to drop by.
Well, it's so nice of you to ask me.
Since we're neighbors, it's high time we became friends.
Yes, that's what we've been thinking.
That's why we called.
Now, what's the trouble? One of you lovely ladies misplace a thimble or a pair of scissors? Oh, no.
Why, we wouldn't bother you for a thing like that.
Well, you're not trying to tell me it has anything to do with my job? You know what I do.
Oh, yes, we know all about you.
You're Mr.
Dennis O'Finn, you're 45 years old, you live across the court, and you're not even married.
And you have a strawberry mark on your left shoulder.
And you do exercises every morning, and you're a detective first class in Homicide.
Well, you've done a thorough job.
You seem to know more about me than my own mother.
Now, what can I do for you? How did it happen? Doesn't she look pretty? Poor Elizabeth.
The lavender hankie is so becoming.
My beaded bag.
And my feather boa.
Poor Elizabeth.
What a shame she couldn't be here to enjoy it all.
Have you called a doctor? There's no need, she's dead.
But your doctor has to sign the death certificate.
I can't tell you how sorry I am.
Oh, Mr.
Aren't you going to ask us any questions? No.
Yes, we thought you would have to investigate.
Oh, now I see why you called me.
But you don't understand.
My business isn't natural death, it's murder.
Oh, I'm sorry.
I didn't mean to frighten you.
Tell me, was she ill very long? No.
She went in a few minutes.
We'd appreciate it if you'd take care of everything.
I'm sorry, but that's not my job.
Of course, we'd be glad to see you again.
I said, "I'm sorry, that's not my job.
" Oh.
I'll send the coroner.
But you will come back? Well, it's nice of you to ask me, but they keep me pretty busy down at headquarters.
Don't bother to see me out.
You sure get stuck with the doozies, don't you? Seems so.
Why couldn't I have been off-duty when those ladies called? Oh, since when have you been one to object to the company of ladies? I felt like a bull in a china shop in that place.
Poor old things.
Just kind of sitting around, waiting to die.
You should have seen the way that corpse was decked out.
Like she was going to a party.
Sounds like she was all ready for her funeral.
I can tell you they gave me the willies.
Hello, Kramer.
Oh, yeah.
Here, it's the coroner for you.
Hello, Bill.
Yeah, the old lady from 909 Lexington.
What? Are you sure? Arsenic? One, two, three, four, five.
Don't you think we might have an extra one? Mr.
O'Finn is such a big man.
Well, he may be a big man, but that doesn't make him a glutton.
Please? Oh, well, since it's for him.
Thank you.
Isn't it nice to have a man coming to the house again? Oh, I can't see it makes much difference one way or the other.
No, no difference at all.
But you haven't worn that apron since the roofers were here six years ago.
I wish I had my feather boa.
I haven't been without it on important occasions like this in the last 30 years.
I know what you mean, dear.
I can't seem to find a safe place for my money now that my beaded bag is gone.
What money? Have you been holding out on us, Miss Samantha? Oh, no.
Just some French coins that I saved from my grand tour.
What a pity we gave all our things to Elizabeth.
She can't appreciate them now.
The dead are never far away.
Besides, she looked so pretty for Mr.
That's why we gave them to her.
One, two, three, four, five.
There, that's just enough.
What about a place for Miss Elizabeth in memoriam? Why, of course we will.
And we'll draw straws to see who sits next to Mr.
Like we do for all important decisions.
Oh! Sakes! He's here! Oh, he's here.
He's here! Ladies.
Good afternoon.
Good afternoon, Mr.
Good afternoon, ladies.
Good afternoon.
I'm glad to see that you're all bearing up so well in your bereavement.
I brought these back.
I thought you might like to keep them as reminders of your departed friend.
My beaded bag! My lavender kerchief.
My feather boa.
I thought I'd never see it again.
We don't need this anymore now that he's here.
Now I see how you know so much about me.
There's a law against peeping ladies, you know.
You won't tell on us, will you? I promise I won't tell.
As a matter of fact, I'm here on much more serious business.
Ladies, I'm sorry to inform you that your dear friend, Miss Elizabeth, did not die of natural causes.
Now, not another word until we've all sat down.
A tea party! Oh, isn't this fun? Something wrong? Yes, you've just sat on Elizabeth.
Oh, I beg your pardon.
Now, about Miss Elizabeth.
You see, the coroner discovered that she swallowed a rather large dose of arsenic.
Oh? Would you like a cup of tea? Don't trouble.
Where do you suppose she got the arsenic? It's no trouble.
Cup of tea? Ladies, I must tell you that I'm here in an official capacity.
How nice.
This arsenic, where did it come from? From the cupboard, of course.
Oh, of course.
You see, it's no trouble, a cup of tea, really.
Look, there's an extra biscuit for you.
What would the arsenic be doing in your cupboard? That's where I keep the rat poison, in an old sugar container.
Elizabeth was naughty, rummaging there.
It's one of the rules of my house.
Well, for that bit of boldness, the poor woman was certainly punished.
Take sugar in your tea? I really haven't the time, and I'm not much for tea.
Do you have tea with all of your meals? Why, yes.
And I suppose the tea canister is kept in the same cupboard with the sugar? I mean, with the arsenic.
Are you trying to tell Miss Hildy-Lou how to run her kitchen? Heaven forbid.
I presume you ladies believe it was an accident? She mistook the arsenic for the sugar? Oh, yes.
It was an accident.
A very fatal accident.
Poor Miss Elizabeth.
What are you going to do now, Mr.
O'Finn? Excuse me, ladies.
Won't you be coming back again? Just in case you find out something more about poor Elizabeth? You mean, in case it wasn't an accident? Won't you be coming back again to find clues? I'm sure the house is full of them, dear Mr.
The boys from the crime lab will be over later.
Oh, dear.
I thought you were handling it.
You mean, we won't be seeing you again? You ladies had better find a more suitable place for that particular canister.
He's gone.
He's really gone.
And he's never coming back.
We'll see about that.
Can you see him? And I can see the strawberry mark on his left shoulder.
What's the matter? What happened? He shut us out.
Oh, dear.
Well, what will we do now? Now, tell me, what happened? Oh, ask Miss Hildy-Lou.
She found her.
Isn't that right? Is that true? Yes, I did.
I It was just before teatime, and I came in here with the tray and found her lying there.
I was so upset, I dropped the whole thing.
Has anyone touched anything? Miss Birdie? When I saw her and I knew you were coming, I gave her my feather boa to wear, but only for a lend.
And I gave her my lavender hankie.
She did like it so much.
I didn't touch anything.
I had nothing to give her.
Oh, yes, I did.
I gave her an extra cup of tea before teatime.
She complained of being hungry.
May I have the cup? Oh, I washed it and put it away.
It was the good china.
Oh, I see, the good china.
Ladies, I'm afraid this time you're in for a thorough investigation.
I'm afraid you're in real trouble.
Oh! Do you think it's murder? Hildy-Lou.
As a matter of fact, I do.
Tea canister, negative.
Arsenic canister, negative.
We've given them every test.
There's not even a single print.
And once again, these led nowhere.
But the medical lab proved that tea was loaded with arsenic.
Oh, it's murder, all right.
There must be a clue somewhere.
What I don't understand is how the murderer knew which one of the ladies would be drinking tea next.
It's a puzzler.
It is, if you consider the murderer was after Miss Samantha in particular.
I have a hunch she didn't care who drank tea next.
She just plops the arsenic in the tea and says first come, first serve.
But why? Why? I wish I knew.
What would they gain by the death of Miss Samantha? She certainly didn't have any money.
From what I've seen, they all live together with the peace and quiet of a band of angels.
Maybe one of them went off her rocker.
One of them.
Which one? They all knew where the tea was and they all knew where the arsenic was kept.
But Miss Hildy-Lou admitted that she was the one who gave the extra cup of tea to Miss Samantha.
She must be the one.
That's too simple.
Don't forget that the pot of tea, as well as the canister, contained enough arsenic to knock off a whole city block.
Well, whoever it is, they're getting a good start right here at 909 Lexington.
Well, that leaves Miss Hildy-Lou out.
She wouldn't want to lose her income as landlady of that house.
Yeah, you're right.
Besides, Miss Hildy-Lou prepared that tea.
If she knew it was poisoned, she certainly wouldn't sit down and drink it herself.
I think I've got it.
I never thought I'd see the day when I'd have a word to say against him, but I don't think Mr.
O'Finn is very bright.
What an awful thing to say.
I think you should be ashamed! You needn't shout.
I'm not deaf.
Well? It's been three days.
We haven't seen him.
He hasn't even come up with a clue.
Solving murder's hard work.
O'Finn will come up with an answer.
You see if I'm not right.
I don't know.
Maybe Bessie's right.
O'Finn has been in Homicide for over 20 years.
They haven't kept him there for nothing.
Maybe he's running down.
Could happen.
Maybe he's met his match for the first time.
I have faith in him.
That forehead of his.
A man with a forehead like that just can't fail.
My fiancé, Jonas, had a forehead like that.
A man of real character.
He got away, didn't he? That's exactly what I mean.
No matter how hard I tried to get him, he always got away.
That showed determination, strength.
I've never stopped loving him for it.
Tell us about Jonas.
I love to hear you speak of him.
Well That's him.
Paperboy, more likely.
Enter, Mr.
Good afternoon.
Won't you come in? Good afternoon, ladies.
Good afternoon, Mr.
Now, you all say nothing was touched after Miss Samantha's death was discovered.
That's right.
No, nothing was.
Not a thing.
I came in and found her and dropped the tray, as I told you.
Miss Hildy-Lou, I arrest you for the murders of Miss Elizabeth and Miss Samantha.
Oh, Mr.
O'Finn, I think you're just marvelous.
See, I told you he was smart.
How did you figure it out? You do understand what I'm saying? Oh, yes.
And I think it was very clever of you to have found out.
It couldn't have been anyone else.
See, when we put the cups together, we found one piece missing.
That gave me a clue.
The cup handle was missing.
The handles were missing on all of the cups.
And that decided you that I had done it? The lady who carried these dishes in is a frugal, hardworking soul who's managed to support herself by running this boarding house.
She's had to learn to scrimp and to save, to take care of her meager possessions.
That's why she used cups like these, without handles, because she knew in advance they would be broken.
She knew there'd be a corpse in this room even before she entered.
Because she couldn't bear to break her one good set of dishes.
Didn't I tell you a man with a forehead like that would figure it out? Now what'll we do? If you'll get your things ready, we'll go down to headquarters.
Oh, certainly.
Either one of us could have done the same thing.
We enjoyed visiting with you as much as she did.
I guess Hildy-Lou had more spirit.
She knew how to bring you back here.
I'm ready, Mr.
You realize anything you say can be used against you? Oh, yes, of course.
I've so much to tell you.
It'll be a nice, intimate little chat, just between you and me.
Goodbye, girls.
Goodbye, Hildy-Lou.
This is the most exciting evening of my whole life.
Come, Mr.
So it was the beautiful body of Dennis O'Finn that was the cause of it all.
Knock it off, will you? How do you think I feel? Miss Hildy-Lou murdering because of me.
Don't feel bad.
She loved the sacrifice.
Sure, those ladies would be willing to endure anything for your sake and just for a glint from your eye.
Oh! And who knows? Maybe one of them will murder again just for the sight of you.
That's what I'm afraid of.
Suppose Miss Bessie or Miss Birdie That's why I asked to be taken off Homicide.
What? Whoever this is, tell them I've been transferred.
To Arson.
Hello? Cars 22 and 23, proceed to 909 Lexington.
Four-alarm fire.
Cars 22 and 23, proceed I hope you weren't too disappointed that our story contained neither a bull nor a china shop.
As for the ending, eventually Miss Bessie became enamored of a fireman, a love which ultimately consumed her.
And now a word from our sponsor, after which I shall flit back.
Now a word from our sponsor.
The poor fellow is just too modest to come out.
We'll have to encourage him with some applause.
That will teach you to encourage someone.
Fortunately, I have no such reticence.
I shall be back next week, whether you want me or not.
But I do hope you'll see fit to join us.
Until then, good night.

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