Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955–1962): Season 2, Episode 11 - The Better Bargain - full transcript

Louis Koster is a middle-aged mobster, now running a more-or-less legitimate business and enjoying a beautiful young wife. That is, until he suspects his wife of having an affair. A mousy little private eye confirms it. Now the only thing Louis "The King" Koster has left to do is hire Harry Silver. Silver is the best hitman in the business, but his price may come too high.

Good evening,
ladies and gentlemen.

A special word to those of you
who have been arrested

while speeding home
to see this show.

I can do nothing
to bail you out.

And I'm afraid the magistrate
is only slightly in my debt.

I shall, however,
do everything I can

to make you
forget your troubles.

Tonight's narrative
is about gangsters.

And I thought I'd best

test some of the props.

I would like to play
The Flight of the Bumblebee.

But we must get on
with the show.




Cutter's here again.

Well, have him come in.

Honest, boss, is that jerk
really an eye?

He's one of the best
in town.

He just don't look bright
enough to tail anybody.

Look, if I want your ideas,
I'll ask for them.

In the meantime,
tell him to come in.

Okay, boss.

Come on in.

How do you do, Mr. Koster?

Hello, Cutter.

Well, it certainly
is a nice day.

Sit down, please.
Thank you.

My assistant outside thinks
you're the kind of man

who isn't bright enough
to make a good detective.

Me? I disagree.

Thank you, Mr. Koster.

You're an insignificant runt.

Yes, indeed I am.

Why, you're like a bug
in a patch of grass.

No one would
look at you twice.

It helps me in my job.

All right, bug. What'd you
find out on this job?

This is my first report.

Let's see it.

Oh, it isn't typed out.
I'll have to read it to you.

My handwriting
isn't very good.

Go ahead. Shoot.

"July 12th.

"Trailed woman to the zoo.
In the birdhouse... "


She seems to like
birds of paradise.

Yeah. She likes birds,
all right. All kinds.

Go on.

"In front of a cage,
she again met the same man

"as she did yesterday
in the bar.

"About 30. Looks like a young
professor or executive.

"Dressed conservatively,
in a dark suit... "

All right.

Skip the coat and tie
and come to the point.

"Followed couple
out of the zoo to taxi stand.

"Woman got into cab
and drove away.

"Trailed man to hotel lobby,

"but lost him
in convention crowd. "

This same man has now been seen
half a dozen times with your wife.

Doesn't prove my wife's
cheating on me.

It's just what the law calls
circumstantial evidence.

True enough, but...

Why shouldn't a woman half
my age have a man as a friend?

You think I can't
face the truth, huh?

Mine is an extremely cynical
profession, Mr. Koster.

We always assume the worst.

It's refreshing to find
a husband who

refuses to make two
and two add up to five.

Now, look, Cutter...

Now, you needn't
try to convince me.

What if she has met this man?
What does it prove?

They went to the zoo
a couple of times?

So, she likes birds.

What if he did buy her
a drink a couple of times?

So, she likes a cocktail.

She didn't want to tell me
about it, that's her business.

Isn't it?


Who is he? What's his name?
What does he do for a living?

Well, I wasn't able to find
out yesterday when I lost him.

But believe me, I'll get a line
on him the next time they meet.

Oh, you do want me to
follow up, don't you?

Of course. Day and night.


Oh. I'm sorry.

Come in, Marian.

Meet Mr. Cutter.

How do you do,
Mr. Cutter?

It's a pleasure,
Mrs. Koster.

Well, goodbye.

Who was that?

Oh, that's
one of my accountants.

He's doing the books.

Oh, well, I hope I'm not
interrupting anything.

Of course not.

You know I'm always happy
when you drop in.

I was just in the neighborhood
and I wanted to ask you...


Well, you remember
Claire Bigelow?

She was my dearest friend

when we were in
show business together.

Yes, I remember.

She married that car
dealer in Cleveland.

Yes. Well, she's been
very lonely since he died...

I didn't know he was dead.
When did it happen?

Oh, I thought I'd told you.
Two months ago.

So, she called me this morning

and asked me if I'd come
and visit her for the weekend.

I said I'd ask you.

Well, how long
will you be away?

Oh, just a couple of days.

But if you don't want me
to go, dear...

No, it's all right.

Have enough money
for the trip?

Yes, plenty. Thank you.

Aren't you going to
kiss me goodbye?

I'm only going to be away
for two days, dear.

Louis, not so rough.

My hat. It cost you $85.

Have I paid for it yet?


Goodbye, dear.


Have a good time
in Cleveland.



Come in here.

What is it?

Pass the word along. I want Harry
Silver to get in touch with me.

Harry Silver?

Yes, Harry Silver, you
dumb ox! Harry Silver!

Sure, but...

But what?

But you've never given a job
to anybody as big as him.

Who said
I had a job for him?

Don't you?

Maybe, maybe not.

But if I do,

I want the best killer
in the business.

How've you been, Harry?

Not bad, King,
not bad at all.

Haven't seen you for a couple
of years. Where've you been?

Here, there.

What's on your mind, King?

I might have a job for you.

Don't your own boys
carry guns anymore?

I know this could be
a very special job.

I wouldn't trust those
morons that work for me.

It would have to be special if
you'd be willing to pay my fee.

Oh, I'd pay.

Would you?

I don't work very often
these days.

But when I do, I come high.

I'll pay you $10,000.

It may go higher.

What do you mean?
10,000 is a lot of money.

And to me,
this is worth...

I'm not interested
in what it's worth to you.

I'm interested in the job.

I fix my fee accordingly.

It may be more than 10,000
or maybe less.

I can tell better
after I hear what it is.

More than 10,000?

Sure, if I think
it's worth it.

So tell me the story
and I'll quote you my fee.

Like a doctor
with an operation.

So much for an appendix,
so much for an amputation.

It'll be a "take it or
leave it" proposition,

because I never bargain.

If you say, "Harry, it's no,"
that's okay by me.

Well, I understand your
setup, but as I say,

there is no job yet.

You mean, this is just a
little social get-together?

Yes. Kind of.

You see, I'm not certain yet
that I want anything done.

Well, that's not
like you, King.

You usually know
who's doing the dealing

and how the cards
are coming up.

Usually, yes.

Well, how come
this time you goofed?

Look, Harry, let's cut out
this shoptalk, shall we?

Let's have a drink.

All right.

For all I know, there won't
be anything for you to do.

So, let's just have a friendly
little chat, shall we?

Fine. You're
looking good, King.

Kept your weight down.

I go to the gym a lot.
Over the rocks?


See any of our
old friends lately?

No, not since I got into
real estate, etcetera.

So, you're a legitimate


Yes, now I'm legitimate.

Since I last saw you,
Harry, I got married.

Heard about it in Detroit.

My wife's 25 years old.


Yes. I'm twice her age.

That could be good
or that could be bad.

I've given her everything.

You were always generous
with young chicks.

I made a will
and left her all I have.

The house, the stocks,
the money in the bank.

It isn't peanuts, Harry.
It's millions.

She can have anything
she wants in the world.

Except one thing.
Another man.

I'm ahead of you now.

Well, don't be. It might be
just a false alarm.

You see,
it's a matter of geography.

What do you mean?

You know a detective
named Cutter?

No, I don't think so.

Well, it all depends on whether
or not Cutter is in Cleveland.

And if he's not
in Cleveland?

Then, I'll have
a job for you.

Painful or quiet?

That's up to you.
You see, it's a guy

and a dame.



I hope that Cutter
went to Cleveland.

So do I.

You know, King, if by any
chance I have to do this job,

the fee is going to be higher
than you want to pay.

Wait a minute.
What do you mean?

Don't get upset.

Well, why are you
boosting your prices on me?

Because I don't like
killing women.

And then, for doing the job
on two people,

that means a knife, no noise.

All together,
for old times sake,

I'll let you have both of
them dead for a real bargain.

Oh? What do you call
a bargain?


Now I have another reason
for hoping

Cutter doesn't have
bad news for me.

Let's hope.

You know where
to reach me, King.


So long.

So long, Harry.

Go on.

Mr. Koster?

I did what you told me.

Well, what took you so long?
She's been home since noon.

Mr. Koster, your wife's
girlfriend's husband...

All right,
let's have it straight.

Well, he isn't dead.

And your wife
didn't go to Cleveland.

All right.
Let's have the details.

Well, they aren't
pleasant details, Mr. Koster.

What happened?
Let's have it!

She met the same man
in a bar on Carroll Street.

I sat in a booth behind them.

May I read what they
said to each other?

I pride myself
on total recall.

What I am about to read to you
is their exact conversation.

All right. Spill it!

Your wife:
"Where will we go?"

The man: "Anywhere, so long as
you are with me, princess. "

Your wife: "I love the word
'princess' the way you say it. "

The man: "But you are a princess,
in the kingdom of love. "

What's the matter with this
fellow? Why is he talking that way?

Well, he is that kind
of a man. Poetic.


Go on.

Your wife moved
closer to him.

And now the man says,

"Shelley expressed
my feeling

"better than
I can ever hope to. "

Who's this
Shelley character?

Well, he's a famous English
poet. He's been dead 100 years.

Oh. Well, lucky for him.
Go on.

So the man quoted
to your wife,

"'The fountains
mingle with the rivers,

"'The rivers mingle
with the oceans... "'

All right. That's enough of
that stuff. Now, get on with it.

Then the man says, "Am I never
to learn who you are, princess?"

Then your wife says, "Let's
not start that again, darling. "

She called him "darling"?

The man: "I'm only human.
I've a natural curiosity.

"You walk into my arms
out of the blue

"like some goddess
from a Greek myth. "

Is this fellow a Greek?

No. He's just
being poetical again.

Shall I go on?

The man: "Why can't I
ever know who you are?"

Your wife: "If I told you
my name, you'd know who I was

"because my father's name
is famous. "

Her old man wasn't famous.
He was a junk peddler.

Well, your wife was lying.

I think that she meant you

Well, you are famous.

And I'm old enough to be
her father, is that it?

Go on, say it!

Your wife:
"Now stop asking questions

"and take me somewhere
where we can be alone. "

All right. What's his name?

Well, he rented a car under the name
of Kenneth Jones, obviously a phony.

From my experience, I'd say that
he's a teacher of English literature

at the state college
or something like that.

But don't worry, I'll get
his name the next time.

There won't be a next time.

I'll take care of
the professor myself.

Here's your fee.

There's a $50 tip.
Now, drop the case.

I don't understand.

I said, "Drop the case. "

Aren't you satisfied
with my work?

Yes, you did fine.

I just don't need you anymore,
that's all.


Goodbye, Mr. Koster.

Let me talk to Harry Silver.

Harry? King.


I'll pay that 20,000.

Oh, hello, Mr. Silver.

Yes, he's waiting for you.
Go right in.

I ordered this last week
to surprise my wife.

Birds are stupid.


Well, I got the report.

What's the story?


Tough. Looks like you're
stuck with these birds.


When do you want me
to go to work?


Where will I find them?

I have one of my boys
tailing them right now.

Wait a minute.



Wait downstairs for her.


That was my boy now.

It seems my wife's
paying me a little visit.

I'd better go.

No. Sit down.

I want you to meet her,

so that you know that
you have the right woman.

Maybe Cutter was wrong.

No, Cutter wasn't wrong.
I was wrong.

I was wrong
to trust that...

Louis, darling,
I... Oh.

Baldy didn't tell me
you were busy. I'm sorry.

It's all right.
Come in, honey.

I want you to meet an old
friend of mine. Harry Silver.

Harry, my wife.

How do you do,
Mr. Silver?

I'm very glad to meet you.

Louis, what beautiful birds.

You like them?

Oh, they're lovely.
I love birds.

What are you doing
with them?

I got them for Baldy's kid.


What's on your mind, honey?


I'll wait outside.

No, Mr. Silver, please stay.
I'll only be a minute.

Darling, I was
feeling a little blue,

so I thought I might
buy myself something nice.

Something extra special.

Like what?

Promise not to scold me?

Buy what?

You know that little red
sports car, the one we saw?

I remember.

Well, I know
it's awfully expensive, but...

It's too expensive.


It's not like going out
and buying a new hat.

I'm sorry.

That's all right.
Just don't buy it.

I got you a new car
only a few months ago.


He's really the most
generous husband in the world.

You're right.
It was just an idea.

Goodbye, honey.

Goodbye, Mr. Silver.

Oh, goodbye.

No wonder you're crazy
about her. She's beautiful.

Most beautiful thing
in the world.


I can't let you kill her.

You've gotten chicken.

I'm crazy about her.

Can't blame you.

I couldn't live without her,
no matter what she does.

You don't care
if I change my mind, do you?


I'd hate to take
something as warm as that

and turn her into
something cold and dead.

She's all I have.

What about the guy?

Let him have it.

Where would I find him?

I'll know by tonight.
I'll call you.




That brings it down to 10,000?

Yeah. 10,000.

Well, so long, King.

So long.

And thanks.

This is Louis Koster.
Who's this?

Look, that red sports car
in the window, I want it.

Well, how much
if I pay cash?

That's all right.

Yeah, send the papers
over to my office

and drive the car to my home.



Sorry to disturb you, King.

But I came back to say
that I've changed my mind.

About what?

I'm not gonna do it.

What do you mean?

I'm not gonna
kill that guy.

Why not?

I'm just not in the mood
to kill myself.

Not in the mood?

What are you talking about?

It's like the way you see a
woman and the way I see one.

I don't follow you, Harry.

It's simple.

You just don't appreciate
the wonders of a woman.

The way she's put together,
the way she can love and hate.

You think that you can
own a woman with money.

Well, it's not enough.

You just never learned the
secrets of a woman in love.

"She walks in beauty,
like the night

"of cloudless climes
and starry skies. "

So, you like poetry, too, huh?

You wouldn't
understand, King.

The only two things that a man
should die for or live for

are a poem
or a woman like Marian.


You shouldn't have told me that
you left everything to Marian.

Because instead of
just $20,000,

I'm going to marry
a rich widow who loves me.

Don't try to reach Baldy.

He's outside
with a broken neck.

No charge.

Listen, Harry...


centuries ago,

there was a French hoodlum
called Francois Villon.

He was just like me.
A no-good crook and a killer.

But whenever he was in love,
he'd turn into a poet.

He wrote some great things.

Just listen to this, King.

"When death, that cheater
of cheats, comes knocking

"and his voice grows near,

"where are
the snows of yesteryear?"

Do you like that, King?



Now I think I'll kill you.

To summarize the next reel,

Harry did as he threatened,

and Marian lived
happily ever after.

She had a rich, full life.

It was too bad Harry was not
there to share it with her,

but, of course,
crime does not pay,

murder will out,
etcetera, etcetera.

And now, good night

until we again bring you
a saga of suspense

and or mystery.

Good night.