Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955–1962): Season 2, Episode 12 - The Rose Garden - full transcript

A book publisher visits two elderly sisters at their Louisiana mansion. One of them has written a murder mystery. And he learns that it may contain more fact than fiction.

Oh, good evening, friends,
Romans and countrymen.

I've just unearthed
some items

which may be of vast
archaeological importance.

Two fig leaves.

And a half eaten apple.

Tonight's play
is not about fig leaves,

but it does have
a scene in a garden.

It is called
"The Rose Garden. "

And it's concerned
with two elderly sisters

in a magnolia scented house
in Louisiana.

You say you come all
the way from New York

to see Miss Julia
on business?

You sure
you ain't got them mixed up?

You didn't come
to see Miss Cordelia?

No, who is Miss Cordelia?

She's Miss Julia's sister.

Why, she even tell Miss Julia
what to eat for breakfast.

That's why
I was kind of surprised

that Miss Julia
got any business

that Miss Cordelia
ain't in charge of.

Well, Miss Julia
has written a book

which my firm
is going to publish.

As far as I know,

it has nothing to do
with Miss Cordelia.

Well, I declare.
A book, huh?

Miss Julia never had a chance
to say nothing.

I guess she just had to
write it down.

How soon do you reckon
I can get a hold of a copy?

It sure will sell out
fast in this town.

Oh, we hope to bring it out
in the spring.

It's so good, we'll probably
rush it through.

Really good, huh?
Well, I'll be.

So there are two
Miss Pickerings, hmm?

No, Miss Cordelia
was married for 30 years.

Then one day,
about two years ago,

Gordon Welles just walked out
and left her.

Never even took
his toothbrush.

I guess he couldn't
stand her no longer.

He only stayed
as long as he did

on account of Miss Julia,
I shouldn't wonder.

Oh? How was that?

Well, he was her beau
to start with

then Miss Cordelia
took him away from her.

I'll bet there's plenty
of times that guy wished

he stuck
with his first choice.

That's interesting.

Well, here we are.

Is this the place?

Could be the house
in the book.

Perfect setting.

You know,
I ain't surprised

that Miss Julia's
wrote a book.

I always thought
she had plenty of wheels.

She just ain't got
what it takes

to stand up to
Miss Cordelia, that's all.

Now, how much
do I owe you?

Two bits. Anywhere in town for two bits.

Only a quarter?

I think I'll move down here.
There you are, thanks.

Well, thank you.

Oh, good afternoon,
I'd like to see Miss...

Good afternoon.

You're Mr. Vinton,
from New York.

How do you do, Miss Pickering.
It's awfully good of you to...

Well, this is Miss Welles,

Thank you, Barney.
That was very helpful,

but we won't keep you
any longer.

Judson can carry
Mr. Vinton's bag in.

Miss Pickering
is my sister.

I am Mrs. Welles.

Oh, I beg your pardon.

Won't you come in?

Thank you.

It's very kind of you
to ask me to stay here,

but wouldn't you find it more
convenient if I went to a hotel?

No, indeed.

We wouldn't think of not
having our guests in our home.

that hotel is a disgrace.

Why, if they
have a fire,

the only escape would be
to come out of the window

on a knotted rope.

Whereas, if there were
a fire here,

there wouldn't
even be a rope.

How do you do,
Mr. Vinton?

How do you do,
Miss Pickering?

Very kind of you
to come.

I'm afraid you'll have
to take potluck, Mr. Vinton.

If I had known sooner
that you were coming,

or even that my sister
had written a book...

Well, I was afraid

my sister wouldn't approve, Mr. Vinton.

That's why I didn't tell her
I was writing it.

Well, I don't think
it very dignified, Julia,

for a woman
of your background

to write one of those
sensational mystery stories.

Come, Mr. Vinton,
I'll show you to your room.

Julia, tell Madie she can
serve dinner in an hour.

And tell her
to stop that noise.

"The old something furniture
with its carved lion's heads. "

Why, I believe
this is the room that...

"The room was old.

"It had been there
before they were born,

"and had housed
their travesty of a marriage

"for 30 years.

"The old, massive furniture
with its carved lion's heads

"stood as if defying
anyone to move it.

"The fireplace,
with its white marble facing

"black inside
with the soot of years.

"And on the mantel,

"a porcelain dairy maid
had stood

"since her grandmother's day,

with two brass cherubs

"which had held candles
to light her to bed.

"In a fury,
Charles turned away,

"Amelia snatched the heavy
brass candlestick from the mantel

"and brought it down
upon his head. "

Amelia. Cordelia.

I hope you like our
Louisiana coffee, Mr. Vinton.

Oh, I'm sure I shall.

So you haven't read your
sister's manuscript, Mrs. Welles.

I have not.

As I told you, I wasn't even
informed that she was writing it.

But you don't like
this sort of story, sister.

I don't consider it

if that's
what you mean.

And you must have wasted a
great deal of time writing it.

Well, I'm going to be paid
for my time.

Thank you.

Do you take cream and sugar, Mr. Vinton?

I'll have mine black,
thank you.

Shall I make a great
deal of money, Mr. Vinton?

I don't know.

I think this book's
going to sell very well.

Certainly we shan't hesitate

to advance you $1,000.

Of course you'll probably
make much more than that.

That part, at any rate,
will be pleasant.

Thank heaven
dear Mama will never know

where it came from.

Perhaps she will, sister.

Maybe Mama's watching over us
in everything we do.

What an interesting house
you have.

So many beautiful things.

Those old pistols.

Why, they're...
They're works of art.

Yes, they belonged
to my grandfather.

He was forced
to use the pistols

several times

to defend
the Pickering name.

I'm enchanted to find myself

right in the setting
of your novel, Miss Pickering.

I don't believe it's ever
happened to me before.

In the setting?

Why, yes, this house
and all the things in it.

Why, you even put me in the
murder room, Mrs. Welles.

And I'll bet
there's a stone bench

in the garden by the rose bed.


Yes. I recognized it at once.

You know, authors should
always have their murders

committed in old houses.

The shadows of the past

surge forward to lend
a doomful atmosphere

to the matter in hand.
Murder most foul.

It's most impressive.

It must have impressed you

for you to make
a special trip down here.

I should have thought these
things were done by mail.

Well, I was coming south

and I had read enough
of the book

to know
we wanted to publish it.

As a matter of fact,

I finished it
on the plane to New Orleans.

Oh, then you have
the manuscript with you?

Oh, I'm sure he didn't bother
to bring it, sister.

If he finished it
on the plane,

it seems likely he
still has it with him, Julia.

Perhaps I might
glance through it

whenever you find it
convenient to get it out.

But you don't like this
kind of writing, sister.

You said so.

What beautiful roses.

Are you interested
in gardening, Mrs. Welles?

I am president
of my garden club.

My roses
always take first prize.

How very gratifying.

You must feel rewarded
for all your work.


You've aroused
my curiosity, Mr. Vinton.

I think I would like
to read Julia's book.

Oh, by all means.

But the only copy
we have just now

is the hand written original,
I'm afraid.

And we'll probably be working
on that most of tomorrow.

Miss Pickering,
may I suggest

the first thing you buy
with the advance on your book

is a typewriter.

And spare
your long suffering editors.

No, of course I'd be
delighted to send you a copy

as soon as we have it typed.

"'Sylvia', Charles urged.

"'All we have to do
is to go away.

"'She doesn't love me,
you know that.

"'She'll be furious, but
we won't be here to see it.

"'You can stay with my
Aunt Therese in New Orleans

"'until I get a divorce.

"'I'll meet you there
tonight. '

"It was very late when Sylvia,
almost in a state of shock

"from anxiety
and disappointment,

"stole furtively
into the house.

"She crept up the stairs
and into her room

"without encountering Amelia.

"Where was Charles?

"Why hadn't he met her
in New Orleans?

"Much later that night Sylvia
found herself at the window,

"half asleep,
pushing it open.

"The room was hot and stuffy

"and she leaned out to
breathe in the cool night air.

"And there below her
in the garden

"by the stone bench
was Amelia.

"What was she doing?"

Ah, there you are.

Why, I thought your sister
was the gardener in the family.

Well, sister enjoys
the garden,

but sister's too busy
to work in it.

I hope they give you credit

when the blue ribbons
are handed out.

Oh, I don't care
about that sort of thing.

Oh, did you want to go in
and work on the manuscript?

Well, if it's all right
with you, we'll work out here.

Well, as you say.

Miss Pickering,
have you thought about

what your sister's reaction
would be to this book?

And the possibly
local reaction?

Yes, I have.

Do you think
I ought to withdraw it?

Not publish it
at all?

Mr. Vinton,
maybe you're right.

Now, wait a minute,
I didn't mean that.

We're very anxious
to publish it.

Well, I should never have made a
special trip here if we weren't.


Of course.

It wouldn't be fair
to withdraw it now

after you've been
to all that trouble.

It's only,
just that...

Mr. Vinton,
to be honest,

I never in the world thought
anyone would publish it.

It was quite a shock.

Yes, but, surely, I mean,
you must have thought about

what the situation would be
if it were accepted.

No. No, I'm afraid
I didn't.

When I actually mailed it,
I'd done all I could.

It wasn't up to me anymore.
It was out of my hands.

Miss Pickering, I don't quite
understand what you mean.

Well, I don't know
what there is to understand.

I don't know what you're
talking about, Mr. Vinton.

I thought you wanted
to talk about

in the manuscript.

Yes, I do.
Forgive me.

I do want to revise
a few pages with you if I may.

Oh. You'll forgive me,
Mr. Vinton.

I'm afraid I'm a little
nervous this morning.

But what was it?

Now, let's see...

Oh, yes, here we are.

Now, the night Sylvia
came back from New Orleans,

when Charles failed
to meet her there,

a little later on
you say

she found herself
at the window.

Now, was she
actually awake or what?

Well, that was it.

She was never
conscious of waking.

She might've been
walking in her sleep.

She just found herself there,
looking out.

And there below
was a deep trench

which had been dug
for compost for sweet peas.

She saw Amelia struggling with
some burden in the wheelbarrow

which she dumped
into the trench.

But she couldn't tell
what it was.

Well, she couldn't be sure.

She... Well, then
she fainted, you know.


"And as Amelia
sank down upon the bench... "

That would be this one,
wouldn't it?

Well, it would be
one like it.


"Suddenly Sylvia's head was
icy and she fell to the floor.

"When she woke up
it was dawn.

"The trench below
was no longer there.

"Rose bushes had been planted
in the newly filled-in bed.

"Or was it newly filled-in?
And why roses?

"Could it be so the bed

"wouldn't be dug up
again next year?

"But Amelia... "

Mr. Vinton.

What... Well, what was it
you wanted to ask me?

Oh, well...
Well, about this really.

After seeing Amelia

dump what looked like
a body into the trench,

and when Charles
never appeared again

and there was no word
from him,

isn't Sylvia sure
it was he?

she couldn't be positive.

It might
still be a dream.

Well, everything was so queer.

And then next day,
Amelia said

that the rose bushes
had been there all the time,

planted the day that Sylvia
went to New Orleans.

Yes, I know.

But in her own mind,

in her heart,
wasn't Sylvia sure?

Well, yes...

But I don't know.

Yes, I suppose she was.

Then why doesn't she
go to the police?

Was it just the prospect
of the disgrace,

the shame
and notoriety?

Well, partly, I suppose.

Mostly because
she was a coward.

You mean
she's afraid of Amelia?

Not physically, perhaps,
though it could come to that.

She's afraid
of her sister's disdain.

Her contempt.

Well, I...
I tried to make it clear.

Mr. Vinton,
if you've never been

really afraid
of another person,

you can't understand this.

Sylvia cannot take the step.

She cannot stand up
and say, "I accuse. "

She's got to go on
day after day

pretending that
she'll do it tomorrow,

that she never will.

I see.

And yet, as a reader,

I can't help feeling
her sister's power over her

exists only
in Sylvia's imagination.

Mr. Vinton, I...

You'll have to
excuse me, please.

I... I have to see
about lunch.

Well, there you are,
Mr. Vinton.

It's all signed.

You have an option
on my next three books,

but I fear
I shall never write them.

Let's not be
too sure, Miss Julia.

One never knows.

Get your hat, Julia.

We'll be late
for choir practice.

Sister, I just thought
I wouldn't go, for once.

It's Mr. Vinton's
last night.


The choir's down to nothing
these last few weeks.

Reverend Samuels is
counting on you.

I'm sure Mr. Vinton
doesn't consider himself

more important than God.

Oh, no, not at all.

Get your hat,

And not that silly thing
you bought for Easter.

I must thank you, Mrs. Welles,
for a very pleasant visit.

I hope you two ladies
will visit New York some time

and let me
be the host.

Thank you.
I doubt that we ever shall.

No member of our family

has been north
for 100 years.

It's changed a good deal,
I believe.

Will you be gone long?

Oh, not long.

We shall be gone
a good two and a half hours.

Put your gloves on,

Well, I'm sorry,
Mr. Vinton.

I just hope
you won't be too bored.

Oh, I'll find plenty to do.

Well, Mr. Vinton?

Oh, Mrs. Welles.

I was just...


I must apologize.
You see, in fact I...

You were looking
for my husband's body,

is that right?

Yes, I'm afraid I was.

Perhaps you would like to
dig a little deeper.

Oh, no. Thank you.

Mr. Vinton, perhaps it's
just as well you've done this.

I left choir practice early

so I could talk to you
in private.

And since Julia's book has
driven you to this extreme,

you must see that
it's quite out of the question

ever to publish it.

Well, it is a very
convincing book, Mrs. Welles.

It convinced me
and I feel sure

your sister believes
every word of it.

Very probably she does.

My sister is a neurotic
and disappointed woman

with a vivid imagination.

And she deeply wishes
it were true.

Why should she wish
a thing like that?

Why, so that I might appear
as the villain, of course,

instead of my husband.

I wasn't the only one
he deserted, you know.

Julia thought
she was going away with him.

But he left her, too.

And she has never been
able to accept that.

So, she wrote her own
sordid ending to the story.

I see, Mrs. Welles.
I feel like a fool. I...

I can only apologize.

And as to Miss Julia's book,
if she wants to withdraw it...

You may leave that to me.
Julia will do as I say.

Well, I'm sorry
to change my mind again,

Mr. Vinton,

but I'm afraid
Cordelia's right.

So if you're willing
to release me

from my contract...

It's treating you
shamefully, I know.

It's quite all right,
Miss Julia.

Please don't give it
another thought.

Well, I...
I think I'll get along now.

There's... There's
a late train, I believe.

I don't wish to appear
inhospitable, Mr. Vinton,

but perhaps it would be best.


I'll walk to the station.

I've got plenty of time.

Good bye.

Good bye.

Good bye, Mr. Vinton.

Well, I'm glad you've
finally come to your senses.

Yes, I have.



In the morning.

In the morning
I'm going to Sheriff Thibault,

and I'm going to
tell him everything.

And he's going to come here

and he's going to dig
in the right rose bed

where the bench used to be.


I would've done it tonight,

only I wanted to spare us
the humiliation

in Mr. Vinton's presence.

Are you out of your mind?

You certainly
are not going to the Sheriff

with any such
insane accusation.

You know perfectly well
I won't allow it.

Nothing you can do to stop me.
I'm not afraid of you anymore.

I guess maybe
now I'm more afraid

of going on being a coward,

lying to myself
and to everyone...

I most certainly
can stop you,

and I will
if you make it necessary.

I killed Gordon
to save us from the scandal

of his running away with you

and I won't hesitate now.

But now...

Now you're being ridiculous,
sister. Why...

Why, you can't kill me
and not be found out.

I'll simply say I was
cleaning the pistol,

and it discharged
by accident.

Nobody will suspect me now

any more than they did
with Gordon.

Very well, then.

I guess
you gotta kill me,

because you can't stop me
any other way.

No, you mustn't
do that, Mrs. Welles.

Mr. Vinton.

Or that. You can hardly
explain my body, too.

What are you doing here?
Spying on us?

Yes, as a matter of fact.

You see, I noticed
this pistol was missing.

Sneaking back here prying
into our personal affairs,

of all the disgraceful
outrageous performances...

Sister, sister.

Don't you call me sister!

Are you all right,
Miss Julia?

Yes, I guess so.

You were grand.

You know,
I really believe

you'd have
let her shoot you.

You know,

I made a decision

for once.

Mr. Vinton, you do understand
about the book, don't you?

I just couldn't bear
to have anybody read it now.

Of course.
Please don't worry about it.

Besides, you'll write me
another one, I'm sure.

Well, perhaps I will.

You know, I've known
about all this for two years.

They'll probably
send me to prison, too.

Maybe I could write it there.

I'm sure they won't.

But if they do,
I shall insist

they don't give you time off
for good behavior.

So much for the literary set.

And now we must interrupt
our program

while we prepare
the next play for production.

I shall see you then.
Good night.