Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955–1962): Season 2, Episode 3 - De Mortuis - full transcript

Professor Rankin's buddies Wally and Bud stop by to take him fishing. They find him in his cellar, filling in a hole with cement. They suspect he may have also filled it with his wife.

Are you wondering how healthy the food you are eating is? Check it -
Good evening,
students of the macabre.

This evening's lecture
has as its text

the short story "De Mortuis"

translated from the Latin.

This means "about the dead. "

At the risk
of being facetious,

I would like to point out

that Latin is a dead language.

Thank you.

It is rewarding to know that
there are still a few students

interested in achieving
high marks.

If you can't hear me
in the back of the room,

please raise your hand
and adjust the volume control.

Regrettably, the author
wrote only his title in Latin,

and did the story in English.

Writers are always compromising
to attain commercial success.

I shall leave it to your
judgment as to whether or not

it would have sounded
better in Latin.

Anybody home?

Hey, Prof!

Prof, fish are biting
right now. What about it?

You in here?

Guess he's not home.

Well, I told you.
Car's not in the garage.

Coffee's percolating. Probably
be back in a minute or two.

You wanna wait?

Sure. Maybe just went uptown
for a couple of minutes.

Let's have a cup of coffee.

All right.

That Irene ain't much
of a housekeeper, is she?

I'll say.

Wonder where she is.

That's a good question.

You know something?

He's gonna find out
about her sometime.

Somebody's gonna tell him.


Wonder what he'll do.

I don't know.

He's an innocent.
He'd never suspect anything.

Such a nice guy that even if he did,
he probably wouldn't do anything to her.

Probably not.

Where's the sugar?




it's just a shame he ever married that
dame to start off with, you know that.


I wonder how come.

Well, she comes from a
good family and all that.

Can't say she ain't a dish.

Nobody told him.

Well, of course, I didn't know
him until after he married her.

Oh, he used to come into the bank and to
my window a couple of times, at the back,

but you couldn't say
I knew him.

You sold him this house,
didn't you?

That's right.

Well, why didn't you
tell him?

I don't know. I just didn't.

Thought about it a couple
of times, but, well...

You know how it is.

It's a funny thing.

You know a fellow's gonna
get stuck in a business deal,

you tell him.

But a woman...

Well, even
if we had told him,

I doubt if it'd
have done much good.

How long they been married?

Well, he came here
to college two years ago...

About a year and a half.

Well, it was last week
I saw her.

No, no, it was the week
before. Anyway, school was out,

and the Prof was down at
Columbus for the convention.

Week and a half ago, yeah.
Yeah, yeah.

Well, I went into Benny's
to get a bite to eat.

He's batting. 342,
can't do any better than that.

Yeah, but wait till the series
with the Giants.

They got a pitcher
he can't hit.

Bring him way down.



Oh, let me have a package
of cigarettes, will you?


And she came in.

This truck driver came in
right behind her.

I'll have to admit,
he was a good-looking guy.

Let me have a beer, will you? Sure.

Uh, Benny, let me have
a cup of coffee, will you?


Is there anything doing
in this town?

I'm supposed to pull out
of here at 4:00.

They haven't even started
loading my truck yet.

Looks like I'm stuck here
with nothing to do.

Well, there's a ball game
on Saturday,

only this ain't Saturday.

Oh, thank you.

What does a guy do
in this town?

Bet he bats. 325
for the season.

Nah. He'll never do it.

But I wouldn't wanna
bet nothing on it.


Prof never did find out
about it.

Hey, Bud, sit down a minute.
Go on, sit down.

I wanna tell you one.

Must've been about
four years ago.

Yeah, it was just before
Marge and me got married.


A bunch of us were going down to
Fowler's Camp on the river, see,

and Irene had a date
with Harry Bell.

Well, something came up, you
know. He couldn't get there.

And there she was,
Irene without any date.

I'll bet that worried the wives
and the other gals something.

We never had it so good, and
they couldn't do enough for us.


it was the last night there.

I woke up about 3:00
in the morning,


So, I eased into the kitchen
to see what I could find.


Hi, Irene.

You hungry, too?

No, not especially.

I'm starved.

Hmm. Now, let's see.
What do we have in here?

Well, there's cheese. You
want some cheese and milk?

No, I don't think so.

I guess I'll have
a sandwich.

Oh, maybe I will have
a glass of milk.

Kind of a hot night,
isn't it?

Why don't we go outside
and have a cigarette?



I don't have any cigarettes.
I better get some.


I'll wait for you
on the porch.

All right?

Don't be long.

I won't.



Oh, I never went out.
I just went back to bed.

Well, I got nervous with
Marge there and everything.

Let's get out of here.

He'll never show up.

Or we could leave
a note for him.

That's an idea.

Prof! Hey, Prof!
You down there?


Hey, Wally, here he is.
He's in the cellar.

He's been there
all the time.

Hey, we've been waiting
for you up there.

Did you hear us yell?

No, I was busy
with this work.

I just didn't hear
anyone come in, sorry.

Hey, Prof.

What are you doing here?

Oh, some water was coming up
through the floor.

I thought I'd fix it, so
I dug down around the place

and filled it up
with cement.

Water? There can't be any water.
This is the best subsoil around here.

It's perfect drainage. I looked it up
on the map before I sold you the place.


Well, maybe some underground
spring opened up.

I expect
this will stop it, though.

I'm afraid I should've called
in a professional, though.

I'll bet I'm sore tomorrow.

Well, I think I did
a nice job, though, don't you?

Very smooth and professional,
wouldn't you say?

Yep, sure is.

Spring? Never been one
in this section before.

Well, what are you
worried about?

You sold him the place
already, didn't you?

Hey, Prof.

We came to take you fishing.

Roy Jacks was out yesterday,

and he says the fish were clobbering each
other trying to get to the hook first.

I better not today. I have
some things to do around here.

Oh, come along.
Irene won't mind.

Oh, it's not that.

Matter of fact,
she isn't even here today.

She's gone visiting

to Evanston.

Catching the 11:00 train.

To Evanston?

What's the matter with me?
I didn't mean Evanston.

It's Franklin.


Friends there?

Mrs. Slater.

She used to live next door to her when
she was a kid over on Sycamore Street.


On Sycamore?

Oh, yeah. She was telling me
about her last night.

Seems Mrs. Slater looked after her mother
when she was in the hospital one time.

I don't remember anybody
named Slater.

Not next door to Irene.

It was a good
many years ago.

There was nobody
next door named Slater.


Well, maybe this woman married again.
Maybe it was a different name then.

Maybe so.

Time to feed the animals.

Hey, now, don't step
on my new cement.

Well, I guess we may
as well be getting on.

Oh, you're not gonna catch
any fish down here.

Say, Prof,

what do you got
over there?

It's a new experiment
of mine.

With rats?

Well, it's very interesting.

What I'm trying to do is to find
out if there's a relation between

disposition and nutrition.

In particular,
certain enzyme factors.

Now, this is
my control pen, here.

They're getting a normal diet.

All the rats in the experiment are
from the same strain, of course.

Well, what does Irene think
about them? Don't they bother her?

No, no.

Well, they did at first,
but they don't anymore.

What did you find out, Prof?
Did you get any results?

Yes, rather spectacular,
in fact.

It's very exciting.

See, what I've done
is withhold or add

some of these different
enzyme factors.

Now, you'll notice some effect
on growth, too, of course,

but it's more than that.

Now, here you see a whole
family. Three generations,

all living together
quite happily.

No fighting, ever.

In fact, they seem to be
quite fond of each other,

and like living in a group.

Now, these are very timid,
very retiring, non-aggressing.

They're frightened
by anything,

noise, light,
sudden movement.

Is that a fact?

Say, they do look scared,
don't they?


This is the interesting cage.

They've become so ferocious that
each one must be penned separately.

Even male and female will
attack each other instantly.

They're completely vicious.

You mean they try
to kill each other?


It's murder.

See, the rats in the smaller
cages get what you might call

more vitamins than those
in the larger cages.

Actually, they all receive
pretty much of a balanced diet.

It's the addition or lack of the
enzymes that makes the difference.

You say Irene left
just before we got here?


We came down Main Street,
we didn't see her.

Oh, I expect she took
a short cut across the field.

She was walking,
the car's in the shop.

That's a tough walk
with a suitcase.

Oh, she just had a couple
little things in a bag.

Oh, pardon me, the phone.

Can you imagine?
The Prof!

I can't believe it.

I know. Me neither.

What are we gonna do?

I don't know.

I hate to turn him in.

But murder?

I know.


Swanson here, at the bank.


Sorry to have to bother you, but I'm
afraid your account is overdrawn again.

Oh, I'm sorry.
How much is it?


It seems Mrs. Rankin cashed
a couple of checks yesterday.

I see.

Well, I'll bring the money
right over to cover it.

Yes, and thank you very much.

Prof, when did you
find out?

What? Find out?

About Irene?

We should've warned you about her,
Prof, before you ever married her.

I know a lot of people
think Irene

hasn't exactly
been a perfect wife.

Then I'm pretty old for her.

I'm 51.

She's young.
She's full of life.

Skip it, Prof. Skip it.

Oh, not all people
want the same things.

I'm a sort of a dry fellow.
I don't open up very easily.

And Irene... Well, you'd say she
was sort of carefree, wouldn't you?

Look, Prof,
you don't have...

We know, see.

You don't have to
pretend anymore. We found out.

And I wish we hadn't.
Puts us in an awful spot.

Darn right.

'Course, he was bound to
find out sooner or later.

You remember what we said,
right here in this room,

while we were
waiting for him?

And do you realize? All the
time he was down there...

What are you talking about?

We never should've let him
marry her in the first place.

Somebody should have told him.

And I thought about it
and I just never did it.

Well, like I said. You know, a fellow's
gonna get stuck in a business deal...

Well, I never thought a thing
like this would happen.

Well, of course not.
Who did? Not with him.

Hey, Prof,

who was it you found out
about, anyhow?

Was it Langley or McCormack?

Or both?


Neither of them.

Listen, Prof, the thing is,
what are we gonna do?

This puts us in an awful
spot, see? What do we do?

I wish we hadn't come here
in the first place.

So do I.

But this business of being
an accessory, that's serious!

Yeah, but he's our friend.
We... Look, Prof, we like you.

We like... We don't want to
see anything happen to you.

Well, I know we don't wanna
turn you in, but murder's murder.

And there's a law.

And if we're accessories...

What are you talking about?

Look, Prof, what happens
if somebody gets suspicious?

What happens if they go down there
and start to dig, what then, hmm?

And you can't be sure
they won't. You can't be sure.

Are you both insane?

What is it
you're trying to say?

Do you actually believe
that I've...

That Irene...

That's fantastic.

It's marvelous.

That's marvelous.

It's not that
we blame you.

Well, we do, but, I mean,

if anybody had good reason,
and you did, I'll say that.

Sure, he knows that. We know
it. The whole town knows it.

But just try and make
a jury believe it.

That's right.

And even if you did, they'd only
say you should've divorced her,

that's all, instead of...

And you should have.

That's the trouble. You shouldn't
have done a thing like this.

But I didn't, I tell you!

Come on!
Go down in the cellar!

Dig up the cement!
Call the Sheriff!

Oh, what's the use?

What am I going to do?

That's right, Prof.

Forget about that
down there. That's over.

The problem is,
what are you gonna do?

And what are we gonna do?

I don't know.

It's up to you, Wally,
I can't turn him in.

I just can't see a nice guy like
him hang for a dame like Irene.

Neither can I.


Maybe we aren't
accessories after all.

We don't know anything.
We don't have any proof.

We don't necessarily have to have
noticed anything, figured anything out.

but that's just us.

But it don't help the Prof any,
if somebody starts snooping around

down there in the cellar,
when Irene don't show up.

That's right. Listen,

when we came up the lane.
It was empty, wasn't it?


And anyhow, nobody knows that
we went down to the cellar.




We never went down
the cellar. Remember.

We came in here, we yelled for
you, and then we cleared out,

but we never went down
in the cellar.

All you have to say is that Irene went
for a walk and she never came back.

And don't give them any of that phony
stuff about her visiting people in Franklin.

We can swear we saw her heading out
of town with some fellow in a truck.

Everybody'll believe that.

Okay, we better clear out.

And remember, now,
stick to it.

We haven't been in the cellar
and you haven't seen us today.

You better get down and clean
up that pile of dirt right away.



I'm back.

Irene, you back already?

I'm down here!

Can you beat it?

I missed the train
after all.


Did you come back
across the field?


Wish our car was working, so you
could drive me over to the junction.

Yes, too bad.

Did you meet anyone
coming back?

No. No, not a soul.

Aren't you finished
with that old job, yet?

No, I'm going to have to
take it all up again.

Come down here,
I'll show it to you.

All right, just a second.

Well, what is it?

And so, just like many
a Hollywood movie star,

Irene Rankin was immortalized
in concrete.

But Professor Rankin
was not so fortunate.

He remarried.

His crime was later discovered
and he paid the supreme penalty.

I have asked one of the actors
to come out after the show,

for I want to congratulate him on a splendid
performance, and I'm sure you do, too.

He played the most ferocious
of the rats,

a characterization that was
quite a departure for him.

Offstage, he's entirely
different, as you can see.

He's a family man,

never seen in the nightclubs.

He's just like the fellow
who lives next door to you.

Thank you.

We have another story.
Oh, here it is.

But I'm afraid there isn't
time enough to present it.

We'll have to do it next time.

Until then, good night.