Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Season 1, Episode 4

Don't Come Back Alive (23 Oct. 1955)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery
7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 460 users  
Reviews: 7 user | 1 critic

Frank Partridge and his wife plot to cheat their life insurance company by having her hide out for 7 years and declared legally dead, but an investigator believes Mr. Partridge has murdered her.

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Title: Don't Come Back Alive (23 Oct 1955)

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Cast

Episode complete credited cast:
...
Frank Partridge
...
Himself - Host
...
Mildred Partridge
Robert Emhardt ...
Mr. Kettle
Irene Tedrow ...
Lucy - Sister-in-law
Edna Holland ...
Librarian
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Storyline

Frank and Mildred Partridge are struggling with their finances. Frank has just landed a new job, but it won't start for another month. As they try to make light of their situation, Frank gets an idea. He persuades his wife to disappear for seven years, so that she can be declared legally dead in order to collect on their life insurance policy. She reluctantly agrees, and moves away under an assumed name. They plan to meet each other regularly, but an insurance investigator becomes suspicious of her absence, and thinks that Frank has killed her. Left almost entirely on her own, Mildred comes to prefer her new way of life. Written by Snow Leopard

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23 October 1955 (USA)  »

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(RCA Sound Recording)

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1.33 : 1
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Soundtracks

It Came Upon The Midnight Clear
(uncredited)
Music by Richard Storrs Willis
Lyrics by Edmund Hamilton Sears
Sung by carolers outside Vallardi's Restaurant
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User Reviews

 
An Allegory, Not an Essay
24 November 2008 | by (Claremont,USA) – See all my reviews

Nothing remarkable here, just patented Hitchcock programming. Blackmer and Gregg are a penniless middle-aged couple who can't come up with rent money. They're obviously respectable and deeply attached to one another. But where to get the needed money. At this point Hitchcock takes over. They concoct an insurance scam, where she will disappear for seven years after which she will be declared legally dead, and then they can collect a fat insurance settlement. Gregg balks because she fears seven years of independence after decades as a dowdy housewife. But then they are desperate. What mastermind Blackmer hasn't counted on, however, is dogged insurance investigator Emhardt or his mousy wife.

The contest of wills between the wily Emhardt, who suspects murder, and the resolute Blackmer makes an interesting contrast. The series wisely used Emhardt in key roles over the years—even today, that combination of baby-faced menace in a middle-aged man remains truly distinctive. Gregg's role is the demanding one since she has to carry the episode's irony, but then she was one of the great TV actresses of the day. The Hitchcock stamp emerges in showing how larceny lurks beneath even the most ordinary looking people, and, of course, in the twist ending which strikes me, nonetheless, as not very plausible. Couldn't a more plausible motivation for gardening have been concocted.

Of course, subjecting the entire screenplay to logical analysis turns up gaps that admittedly could have been improved upon even in a 30-minute format. But that misses the point, which is the insistent Hitchcockian one—that crime turns up in the unlikeliest places. Add to that the subversive note about the hidden potential of even the most dependent housewife, and you have an interesting allegory (not an essay, which would require filling in the gaps) on middle-class respectability—a frequent Hitchcock target, especially appropriate to the conformist 1950's. No, this is not unblemished Hitchcock, but neither is it a wash-out.


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