Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955–1962): Season 5, Episode 12 - Specialty of the House - full transcript

Mr. Laffler invites Mr. Costain to join him for dinner at a private club that he describes as a very special experience. To his disappointment, Laffler is informed that the house specialty, a lamb dish, is not being served. They continue to visit the club and one evening, the famous dish is served. It also happens that a long-time member has resigned. What, if anything, do the two events have in common?

Good evening,
ladies and gentlemen.

A dear friend invited
me to this picnic,

but he doesn't
seem to be around.

I seldom go on safaris
of this kind.

They can be simulated
perfectly in your own home,

thanks to these two shakers.

You just sprinkle these
on your sandwiches.

This one contains sand,

and this one, ants.

Ah, the reason for my
invitation is now obvious.

Rattlesnake steaks.

In the original package.

While I attempt to
unravel this mystery,

we have one for you
to puzzle over.

Here it is.

Shouldn't we go
slower, Mr. Laffler?

Oh, come on, come on.

But you're out of breath. Now, wait
here, I'll try and find a taxi.

Oh, don't make
that disgusting noise!

There are no taxis
here, come on.

And I'm not out of breath. It's the excitement.
It always happens.

It's hard to imagine the office
is only five blocks away.

When I enter this street, the
whole city ceases to exist.

Look, there it is!

You mean, this is the restaurant
you've been telling me about?

You mustn't judge
by appearances.

It isn't only a restaurant.
It's a club.

The only club of its
kind in the world.

Come along.

Beyond this door, we leave behind
us the vulgarity of our times.

Two qualities are missing
from this day and age,

mystery and dignity.

Especially mystery. Inside,
they are both restored to us.

Do I sound pompous?

Of course, you'll say no,
since I'm your employer.

Good evening, sir.

Mr. Laffler and guest.

Let me take your coat.

You make me feel as if
we're going into a temple,

not a restaurant.
In a sense we are.

I hope you're not
being facetious.

You do realize what a privilege
it is to be invited to eat here.

Oh, I do. I'm so sorry if I
gave you the wrong impression.

Good evening, sir.
Good evening.

Ah, Henline. Eating
alone tonight?

Where's Jackson?



But he's just been
elected a life member.

Good evening, sir. Oh,
Costain, come here.

I want you to meet Mr. Lum Fong
Ho, one of our vice presidents.

Mr. Costain, a business
associate of mine.

How do you do, sir?

Mr. Lum Fong Ho
is from Singapore.

I make three visits a year from
Singapore just to eat here.

Bon appetit.

Well, what do you think
of our little club?

Plenty of atmosphere, anyway.
Are there many members?

Exactly 40. No,

only 39, now that
Jackson's resigned.

Can't understand it.
Suppose it must be true.

Yes, there's his
picture, on the wall.

Jackson's the puffy
one, at the end.

Excuse me, sir. Do you
wish to dine now?

Is the specialty of the
house being served tonight?

I am so sorry, sir.
Not tonight.

I've waited so long now.
So has everyone else, sir.

Soon, I imagine, we shall
have our patience rewarded.

Oh, I hope so. Hope so.

Very well. You can start serving.
Yes, sir.

Don't you have menus?

My dear boy, when you have
studied the art of fine eating

as long and as
vigorously as I have,

you won't trouble with menus.

Some printer prints or some
headwaiter writes words on a card,

what do they mean?

Sauce Mornay,
the menu tells us.

Who can say with
what love and care

the Bechamel was prepared, from
which the Mornay is derived?

Who can say with what tenderness
the cheese was grated?

Who can say whether the
result will be a delight,

or a disappointment?

Here, at Spirro's,
we have no doubts,

we ask no questions. We
only know that there is

a genius in the kitchen.

I know good food when I
taste it, Mr. Laffler.

I know you do, my boy.

That's why it's such fun to
introduce you to Spirro's.

What are we going to have?

I can't tell you that.
Spirro offers no choice.

We all eat the same meal.

All I can tell you is that
it will be extraordinary.

Is it different every night?

Always different,
always superb.

What happens if a member
of the club doesn't like

a particular dish being
served on a certain evening?

As my mother used to say "We
eat what's set before us",

"and we like it." Ah.

I'm sorry I can't
offer you a cocktail.

We only drink wine here, you know.
No spirits.

It's not what I'd hoped, I
wanted so much to introduce you

to Spirro's masterpiece.

I don't want to presume
Mr. Laffler, but perhaps

when the specialty of the house is
being served, you'll invite me again.

One never knows when, that's the trouble.
One never knows.

Eat your soup.

Very good. You don't
find it good at all.

You find it flat.
I know, because

when I was first permitted to
join the club a few months ago,

I felt exactly the
same about it.

I just think it could
use a little salt.

No salt. No salt.
Keep the palate pure.

We don't allow any condiments here.
Not even salt.

At Spirro's the taste buds are
refined to the ultimate degree.

Spirro says that...

Here comes, the main course.

Didn't you enjoy your soup?

I must admit, it did
have an unusual flavor.

Very good.

Can't possibly compare to
the specialty of the house.

And what would
that specialty be?

Nightingales tongues
on brochette?

Filet of Unicorn?
Lamb Amirstan.

I've never heard of it.
Of course, you haven't.

Very fine, but not
Lamb Amirstan.

However, perhaps you are
free tomorrow night?

Yes, sir.

Oh, Miss Hinkle, I shan't be able
to make it for dinner tonight.

I'm terribly sorry.

Something unexpected
came up, I suppose.

Yes, Mr. Laffler wants to go
over some new accounts with me.

Oh, yes. I understand.
It's quite all right.

Business before pleasure.

Miss Hinkle, you will
get out the invoice

for the Brussels shipment
before you leave, won't you?

I'm just finishing
it now, Mr. Laffler.

Good, good. And leave
it on my desk.

And you can lock up.

Are you ready, Costain?
Waiting for you, sir.

We don't want to
be late, you know.

Tonight could be the night.

But I'm not at all
disappointed, Mr. Laffler.

This is the most extraordinary
meal I've ever eaten.

It was not Lamb Amirstan.

What is this lamb
you're so keen on?

Keen on! We crave it!
All of us here.

Well, where does it come from?

According to Spirro,

Amirstan is a desolate plateau

on the borders of
Uganda, in Africa.

Here, a small but
superb flock of sheep

graze on the delicate grasses
which are only to be found there,

and which give the lamb
its incredible flavor.

I can't say I've
ever heard of it.

Of course you can't.

This is the only restaurant in
the world where you can get it.

The only one in the world.

And do all these men feel
the same way about it?

Yes. We all feel the same
about Lamb Amirstan.

Sort of an obsession.

I have two other obsessions.

One of them is to become a
life member of the club.

The other, to see the kitchens in
which these miracles are performed.

Oh, why don't you ask Spirro?

I have. Many times. I've
always been refused.

Doesn't like anybody poking about
in his pots and pans, I suppose.

What sort of fellow is he?
Where does he come from?

Good evening. Spirro!
Good evening.

I think we shall be having
the specialty of the house

very soon, my friend.

Spirro, I have a request.

Oh, I couldn't possibly... No, no.
It's about the club.

Our little club pleases you?

That's putting it mildly!
I suppose,

there's no chance of
my becoming a member?

Who can say?

But we have here a
very long period of...



Sometimes months.

I'd be glad to wait.

He has nice manners,
your friend.

Yes, I'm going to put him
in charge of my office.

I must have someone to look
after it, while I'm away.

Mr. Laffler... He
is modest, too.

From the high priestess of our
kitchen, that is praise indeed.

He flatters me.
I merely supervise.

The only dish I prepare
personally is the Lamb Amirstan.

I've been preparing it
now for three days.


There is a marinating
process, you understand.

Ah. I've heard a
great deal about it.

And it lives up to its
reputation, doesn't it?

It does indeed.

I'd really like to
see how you make it.

Costain! You must
forgive my friend,

he doesn't understand.
Don't be angry with him.

I am not too angry.

Will you return tomorrow night?

If I may.

The specialty should be ready.

You invite him? But
he isn't a member!

Your friend is always welcome.

Mr. Laffler.

Go away!

But Spirro said they're serving the
specialty of the house tonight.

I don't want you here! Go away.

Why? Why not? Why should
I share it with you!

There'll be less for me!
Less for the other members.

Then I shall go in by myself.

They won't let you in.

Spirro will let me in.

Costain, I order you to go away.
Go back!

Sir? Mr. Laffler.

Let me in! Spirro! Let me in.

Ah, Mr. Costain.
Mr. Laffler's friend.

Let him in.

First come, first served.

Follow me.

No, no, me first.

No, more, more.

I'm sorry, sir. You
know the rules.

Well, now you know where we
keep the Amsterdam accounts.

Now, in this file, you have
the Far Eastern contracts.

You better ask Miss Hinkle to
give you the address of the firms

in Mexico and Canada
we do business with.

I've already checked
on those, Mr. Laffler.


I'll only be away a month, and
perhaps I'll be back sooner.

I hope you will, sir.

But meanwhile,
I'm sure I can leave

everything safely
in your hands.

Oh, you may, sir.

I trust you completely.

These last few weeks eating
together at Spirro's

seem to have brought
us very close.

Yes, sir. These are the keys.

This is the combination
of the safe.

And how can I get in
touch with you, sir?

You'll find my
itinerary on the desk.

Now then, shall I take
the bags with me now?

No, we'll leave them here and
we'll pick them up after dinner.

Come on, I want to have time to
enjoy my last meal at Spirro's.

Well, my last meal
for a few weeks.

I must get off a memorandum to that
London office about that shipment

of boxide we're getting,
and it must go tonight.

I'll join you
as quickly as I can.

By the way, I haven't told you,

my application for life
membership at Spirro's

has been favorably received.

Oh, congratulations, sir. I've
got another surprise for you.

I've persuaded Spirro,
to make you a member.

I'm really very grateful, sir.

Well, I thought you'd be pleased.
Oh, yes, very.


Well, don't be long.

Goodbye, Miss Hinkle.
Goodbye, sir.

Oh, Miss Hinkle.
There's one more thing

I'd like you to do
for me tonight,

a memorandum to London.

I'll dictate it now and you
can type it in the morning.

Very well, Mr. Costain.

Oh, by the way Miss Hinkle,
I'll be using this office.

Hello, Costain speaking.

Oh yes, Spirro.

No, I haven't forgotten.


He hit his head
on the pavement.

We'd better call the police.
No! No.

No, not the police,
Spirro would not like it.

Spiro wouldn't? Why not?
What happened?

Oh, sir, I don't know. I...

I was hurrying so as not
to be late for work.

This man, he jumped on me.
He wanted my money.

I don't know why.

So, you have saved my life.

Now, you'd better wash up
and get ready for work.

Oh, good evening, Henline.
Good evening.

I hear you're off
on a trip tonight?

Yes, I was going to inspect
our branches abroad.

Oh, we will miss you.

Oh, how kind of you to say so.

Mr. Laffler and Mr. Henline.

My friend, the young man
Costain, will arrive later.

Personally, I'm not looking
forward to the trip,

I always hate eating
in strange restaurants.

Our food here surpasses
anything in the world.

I quite agree. Will
you excuse me?

It's my last evening
before I go,

and I'm sure that Spirro will
have a special treat for me.

Oh, Paul, how you
feeling now, eh?

Oh, I am so grateful
to you, sir.

I will never forget it.

No, nonsense. Don't give
it another thought.

The specialty of the house is being
served again tonight, isn't it?

I am terribly sorry, sir.
Not tonight.

That's monstrous! Send
Spirro to me at once.

Yes, sir.

Good evening, Spirro.
Oh, Mr. Costain.

Good evening.

Oh, you brought it. Good.

Excuse me. Mr. Laffler
wishes to see you at once.

He is very upset.

Excuse me.

What is it, Mr. Laffler?

Spirro, you knew
I was going away.

But you will be back.

That's not the point. You knew I was
going away on this tiresome journey,

you might at least have had the
lamb for me on my last evening.

Oh, it must be an oversight
on the part of the chef.

Come with me into the kitchen.

Let us see what we
can do about it.

I beg you sir, do not
go into the kitchen.

Out of my way, you idiot. I've been
waiting for this chance for months!


Where's the chef?

In there. Oh, it's superb.

Just as I imagined it. May I...
May I look around?


May I?

The chef is waiting for you.

Wouldn't you like to meet him?

Yes, indeed.

I want to offer him my
heartfelt congratulations.

How do you do?


How well he looks there among
our other absent friends.

I shall be expecting you to dine with us
more often now that Mr. Laffler is away.

And perhaps we shall have the
specialty of the house again soon?

Next week, maybe?

It takes time to
prepare, but I think...

I think I can promise you.

I trust you understand,

that having Mrs. Spirro
on our program

does not necessarily constitute
an endorsement of her

or her restaurant.

You know, I'm wondering if picnics
may not be as bad as I imagined.

I haven't even seen any ants.

Until next time, when I shall
return with another story.