Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Season 6, Episode 22

The Horse Player (14 Mar. 1961)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery
8.0
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Father Amion discovers that the large amounts of money turning up on the collection plate come from a grateful horse player who has hit a winning streak.

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Title: The Horse Player (14 Mar 1961)

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Cast

Episode cast overview:
...
Himself - Host
...
Father Amion
Ed Gardner ...
Sheridan
Percy Helton ...
Morton
Mike Ragan ...
Mr. Cheever
William Newell ...
Second Bank Teller
David Carlile ...
First Bank Teller
Ada Murphy ...
Elderly Woman
Kenneth MacKenna ...
Bishop Cannon
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Storyline

Father Amian's church isn't in very good shape and needs an expensive new roof. At a mid-week service, a stranger leaves a $10 bill in the collection plate. The stranger becomes a regular attendee and continues to make generous donations. Turns out the stranger, Mr. Sheridan, has taken to praying for winners and since doing so has had nothing but success at the track, winning bet after bet. Sheridan convinces Father Amian to place a bet on a sure thing and Amian regrets his rash act as soon as it's done. Feelings guilty, he prays for the horse not to win, but with a surprising conclusion. Written by garykmcd

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14 March 1961 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

 
"The Horse Player" a Hitchcock classic
13 June 2013 | by (Los Angeles) – See all my reviews

Despite his reputation for the macabre and the suspenseful, Alfred Hitchcock had a sentimental streak that stretched a mile long. This entry of his "Presents" series was directed by the master himself and the performances are of the highest caliber. The story itself is a gentle yarn about taking chances and casting one's fate to the wind, or in this case, having one's prayers answered by the Good Lord. The plot is as follows: Claude Rains plays an old Catholic pastor for a poor and dilapidated inner-city parish. The roof is leaking badly in his church and he doesn't have anything close to the funds for even a minimal repair. Enter one mysterious stranger to his evening services who begins putting some serious cash into the till. When Rains finally meets this fellow (Ed Gardner in full Brooklyn accent) he finds out that the church has been the answer to this guy's prayers. He's the "Horse Player" of the title and he's been praying for winners at the local race track. Lo and behold, his prayers have been answered and Mr. Gardner thanks Pastor Rains for making it all possible. But Rains tries to convince the man that praying for winners at the racetrack isn't what prayer is for. Gardner listens but is not convinced. He even suggests that the priest follow his latest tip and bet on a sure shot that's bound to hit the jackpot. "It can't miss, father," he tells Rains. So against his better judgment, old Claude, now desperate for cash to keep his church from literally going under water, takes out every dollar he has at the bank ($500) and gives it to the "player." Remorseful as heck after he hands over the money, he soon has an audience with the Bishop of his diocese (Kenneth MacKenna) to relate his awful miscalculation. The bishop promptly and sternly reprimands him for his actions and advises Rains to pray to God that his horse DOESN'T WIN. The bishop is also positive that Rains will most likely never see the man again (win or lose) and that he's been taken for a ride. So Rains reluctantly does what he's told---and prays for a losing horse. He is now ready to learn his lesson the hard way. Yet later that evening, and to Rains' utter amazement, Gardner does show up at the church, but he is downcast and chagrined that his "sure shot" didn't win the race after all. Rains comforts him and tells him not to worry about the $500. But Gardner has a surprise for him. "You know, father, the horse was leading until the final turn and then he just died out there. It was like someone was praying for him not to win. Thank God I put YOUR money on him to PLACE and not to WIN. I didn't think it was right to gamble your cash recklessly like that. So he finished second and paid off pretty good." Then Gardner hands the old pastor $2,100. Rains looks up to the heavens (and his leaking ceiling) and realizes that the Good Lord works in mysterious ways. This good-natured tale was superbly mounted and as well-done as anything the series has ever offered. Rains was an absolute world-class actor and he handled his chores here with one of his grand performances. Character actor Ed Gardner played the title role with considerable aplomb and it would've been impossible to find someone else who could do it better. There was a moral to this story and Hitchcock delivered it on a silver platter to his audience. Alfred did not direct many episodes in his series, but when he did, he showed the public what directing was all about.


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