A poor, loving, farmer's wife discovers just how evil a hired drifter is, and how much of a coward her husband is too.

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(short story), (teleplay) (as Francis Irby Gwaltney)
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Cast

Episode cast overview:
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Alfred Hitchcock - Host
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Stella
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Emery
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Jesse
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Storyline

Stella is serving her peach farmer husband Emery a big breakfast when a squirrel appears on the front window screen. She fondles the rodent and gives it food and water, then spots a tramp walking down the public dirt road near their home. Emery says that he has plenty of peaches to pick, and the going wage in the valley is $6 per day, but he might get this tramp to work for $5/day. Emery invites the tramp inside, and offers him three dollars a day plus board and a place in the back yard. The tramp, who says his name is Jesse with no middle or last name, hires on. Jesse gobbles down his breakfast, using a big knife to slice a tomato and some bread. Stella asks him to put the knife away. Jesse asks Stella whether the fat squirrel outside is a pet. She says that it is. He replies that he could kill it so she could make stew for supper. A few minutes later, she hears Jesse's laughter in the yard, rushes outside to find her pet squirrel lying dead, and screams. Jesse claims the squirrel ... Written by Lewis Amack

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16 November 1964 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Connections

Version of Lonely Place (2004) See more »

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A-Grade Hitch
13 May 2015 | by (Claremont,USA) – See all my reviews

No wonder this entry has drawn more reviews than average. It's a suspenseful chiller that also manages to inject meaningful drama. Stella and Emery (Wright & Buttram) are hardscabble peach farmers out in the middle of nowhere. Her only relief from dawn to dusk drudgery is a pet squirrel, while he cares only about his peaches (never realizing that his wife's a "peach"). Then one day a drifter Jesse (Dern) appears, and is willing to work hard at harvesting for only $3-per day. Trouble is he's got several screws loose as Stella soon finds out. But just how loony is he, and how will things play out between the three on this isolated scrap of land.

It's an uncommonly well acted hour. Kudoes to the producers for realizing that there was more to Buttram than Gene Autry's clownish sidekick, most notably in The Jar (1964). Here his pudgy adding machine is just right. It's still early in Dern's career and he's making his chops with sinister roles like this. No telling what his leering Jesse is capable of, as Stella fears. It's also an extremely deglamorized Wright, befitting a neglected household drudge. Hard to see any of her 1940's ingénue sparkle here, and appropriately so.

Often the best Hitchcocks get us to see the sometimes gap between justice and law. That's because Hitch splits his wrap-up from the on-screen ending. That way his wrap-up can comply with TV's Standards and Practices requiring triumphant endings. On the other hand, the on-screen ending can now be unpredictable in contrast to the wrap-up, as in the shattering The Unlocked Window (1965). Happily, this same concession to reality is on display here. As Lonely Place suggests, there can be a clear tension between poetic justice and what the law requires.


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