Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955–1962): Season 5, Episode 14 - Graduating Class - full transcript

Laura Siddons is a newly hired instructor in Europran literature at a girls college. Initially, she is nervous and ill-at-ease, but over time learns more about her students and is particularly impressed with one of them, Gloria Barnes. She also becomes friendly with her neighbor, Ben Prowdy and finally agrees to have dinner with him. When she sees Gloria entering a night club one evening she imagines the worse but is relieved when Gloria presents her with a reasonable explanation. When she shares Gloria's secret with Prowdy however, she learns there is a heavy price to pay.

Good evening, fellow fans.

I suspect this is a side of
me you never expected to see.

But I feel there is nothing
undignified about following a sport

and rooting for one's side.

Excuse me, my team is
now entering the arena.

By the way,

for the information of those of you
who are unfamiliar with sports,

that was not
the mascot you heard.

He is one of the participants.

Now I see they're
about to throw...


Uh, the other team is about
to come onto the field.

I also see by your chalky faces

that some of you prefer more
intellectual entertainment.

That is why we
offer the following.

And now if you will excuse me,

I must cheer my team on.

This will be fine, Julia.

Now if we just don't have
any late enrollments...

Oh, excuse me.


Oh, ask her to come in, please.

Laura Siddons is here.

Oh, good morning, Laura.

Well, I hope you feel a
little more rested today.

This is Miss Conrad,

our Vice-Principal.

We are so pleased you are going to be
with us at Briarstone, Miss Siddons.

I was just telling Miss Conrad

that yesterday was the first
time we'd met in 25 years.

A quarter of a century.

It sounds far more dreadful,
you are saying it like that!

You know, Laura, your letter arrived
at the most opportune moment.

Yes, we've been looking everywhere for
a replacement in European literature.

And we were beginning to think that we'd
have to start the term without anyone.

I'm glad I wrote.

Oh, you'll get on famously.

And if there are
any questions or problems,

well, that's why Miss
Conrad and I are here.

Thank you.

When one has been out of
this country for so long,

things seem very different from
the way one remembered them.

Even a little strange.

Well, it's nearly time
for my first class.

Thank you for giving me
this opportunity.

Is she going to be any good?

Well, there's no doubt about
her intellectual capabilities

or her knowledge
of European literature.

Yes, but what about her knowledge
of the American college girl?

I am sorry, Dorothy, I know
she was your classmate,

but she seems
so terribly foreign.

Well, what else could I do?

With Miss Martin leaving so suddenly,
we had to find a replacement.

And you saw Miss Siddons'
letter to me.

Yes, it was rather desperate.

We'd be just as desperate
if we'd led her life.

Lost her father
when she was young.

Her mother,
just before we graduated.

Right after,
she went off to Germany,

to visit an only
living relative, her uncle.

Then the war.

She was there
all through it, Julia.

The bombings, the internment.

Then the years right after,

teaching English
where and when she could.

Staying on with her uncle until he passed
on and she came back to the States.

You can imagine what these past few
months have been like for her.

No money, no family,
no friends.

Looking for work,

until she remembered me
and wrote that letter.

I'll tell you
something else, Julia,

if I had turned her down,

I don't know what would
have happened to her.

Good morning, young ladies.

Good morning.

I am your new
homeroom counselor,

Miss Siddons.


I shall also teach you
European Literature.

You will find I insist on
punctuality and on attention.

You will also find at
the end of the semester,

you will have learned
European literature.


Gloria Barnes?


Vera Carson?


Constance Cowell?


Would you care for a lift?

Oh, yes. Thank you.

I was under the impression

that you girls were not allowed
to drive your cars to school.

We're not.

Gloria's a P.C.

Vera, you want Miss Siddons
to get the wrong impression?

A P. C?

Privileged character.

But she's not.
Lollypop's family...


Gloria. Her family are
still at her summer place.

She has to commute
for a few days, so...

Train takes forever.

So I get to use my own car.

Where are you staying?

The Clifton Arms Apartments.

But there is no need for you to...
We go right past it.

It's just a block
from our soda saloon.

Maybe you'd like to
split a calorie with us.

Would you, Miss Siddons?

Their choc shake's
the living end.

Thank you, not today.
Perhaps some other time.

Well, so you're the little lady
just moved into apartment six.

I am number five.
Makes us neighbors.

Proudy's my name, Ben Proudy.

You know, in a big city nobody
ever gets to know his neighbors.

People go for years never so
much as saying good morning

to somebody who lives across the hall
or on the other side of the wall.

Oh, you can hear them talking but all the
same you're not supposed to talk to them.

Well, Ben Proudy
doesn't hold with that.

No, sir.

Tear the walls down,
that's what I say, Miss...


Why should a little plaster
come between people?

Tell me that,
Miss Siddons. Hmm?

I really haven't
thought, Mr. Proudy.

Well, we'll have
to change all that.

There's a fine little bar
down the street,

just neighborhood people,
real neighborly folks.

Some time when you're...
I don't drink.


Well, maybe a movie
some night? Hmm?

Thank you for the invitation. I expect
to be very busy for some weeks to come.

Good day, Mr. Proudy.

It is now generally known that the author
of the classic European horror story,


was the wife of the
English poet Shelley.

To be precise, the full title of
Mrs. Shelley's famous novel is

or, The Modern Prometheus.

Now, do you all know
who Prometheus was...

Vera. Yes, ma'am.

Put your shoes back on.

This is the third time this
month that you have been late.

I'm sorry, Miss Siddons.

Being sorry doesn't help, Vera,

unless you also
do something about it.

Perhaps you will tell me what
Prometheus means to you.

Isn't that one of those funny little
things we studied in zoology?

I presume you mean
a paramecium?

Yes, that's it!


The Ancient Greeks regarded Prometheus
as the creator of the human race and...

I don't see why we
have to waste our time

on a lot of people who've been dead
for hundreds and hundreds of years.

Your presence in this class indicates
your need for an education,

does it not?

Yes, but isn't education
to make one think?

I mean, the brain isn't
just a place to dump

a lot of unimportant
facts and figures.

The brain requires discipline.

Discipline and diligence.

And as long as
I am your teacher

I shall make sure that
you do not forget that.

Miss Siddons.

It's about Mary Shelley.

You mentioned her novel The Last Man,
about the destruction of the human race.

It sounded so timely, even though
you said she wrote it in 1826.

That was the year
it was published.

I'd love to read it, but I've called the
public library and they don't have a copy.

Perhaps I could
find it for you.

Would you, Miss Siddons?
Thank you.


I should like to say something.

I've been so pleased
with your work in class.

If only the other girls
had the same interest.

Well, I'll see what
I can do about the book.

Goodbye, Gloria.
Goodbye, Miss Siddons.

Miss Siddons.

Would you care to come
home with me and have tea?

We can talk about
Mary Shelley and,

anyway, I'd like
you to meet my mother.

I should like that
very much, Gloria.

I wouldn't want your
problems, Miss Siddons.

It's time for
your pill, Mother.

The child's relentless.

Or Mother simply has to stop
charging around like she used to.

She should settle down
to a good book.

Much rather play cribbage with
your father when he comes home.

Such an unchic game.

But he loves it.

He daren't admit it though.

Daddy's in the
State Department.

Most of his colleagues
prefer bridge to cribbage.

And where is he now?

In Iraq.

Thank goodness he'll
be coming back soon.

Oh, Mother.

Perhaps I should go.


No, no, stay and have your tea.

I'm quite all right, really.

It's been so
pleasant to meet you.

I hope you'll be
up and about very soon.

I could drop you home. No,
dear, stay with your mother.

I'm getting so handy
with the buses.

Oh, Mother.

Well, evening, Miss Siddons.
Good evening, Mr. Proudy.

Well, school must be
going great guns, huh?

You're all smiles this evening.

I had a lovely afternoon.

Well, then let's not
break the spell.

There's a nice little
place down the street.

Nothing fancy,
but the food's good.

Why not come and
have a bite? Hmm?

Thank you, I've already
had my supper.

But, another night if you
still feel like asking me.

Oh, you sure don't
know old Ben Proudy.

You bet I'll ask.

Well, good night. Good night.

Good evening, may I help you?

Good evening, I was looking for an
edition of Mary Shelley's The Last Man.

Or a collection of her works
that might contain it.

I'm not quite sure.
Let me go see.


How about that?

I do have one. It's a rare
one though, ten dollars.

Well, do you want it?


Ten dollars? Yes.

Thank you.

Sorry. No ladies allowed
without escorts.

You wouldn't want the club to get
a bad name, now, would you, lady?


who would care to describe
what we mean when we say

the Gothic novel?

Class dismissed.

Gloria, may I speak
to you a minute, please?

Be out in the hall, Lollypops!

Where did you find it so fast?

In the second-hand
bookshop, last night.

You must let me pay you for it!

It's a gift.

Miss Siddons, I'm sorry
about just now in class.

I guess I dozed off, didn't I?

Were you up late? All night.

You see, Mother wasn't feeling well
and I didn't want to leave her alone.

I don't know what's
been wrong with me lately.

It must be the strain of Mother's
illness and Daddy's being away.

I know you're disappointed
in me, Miss Siddons,

but I'm really cracking
my books tonight.

When finals come, you'll see.

That's all I wanted to hear.

Forgive me for being so
rude as to fall asleep.

It won't happen again.

And thanks so much
for the book.

Thank you, Ben.

I enjoyed both the pictures.

They do help you to escape
a little, don't they?

There's nothing wrong
with that, Laura.

No, I suppose not.

You've been very kind.

No, no, no, Laura,
it's my pleasure.

I mean, most men would have stopped
inviting me after so many excuses.

What are neighbors for?

To be neighborly, of course! All
the same, I do appreciate it.

I'm afraid I haven't been
very good company,

but I've had so much
on my mind lately.

Nonsense, Laura.

Say, how about having a...

You look as if
you'd seen a ghost.

Something wrong?

Ben, it's that girl.

She's one of my pupils.

She oughtn't to be in a place like that.
I'm sure her parents wouldn't approve.

Please, please get me a taxi.

I must find out
where she's going.

Well, the car's right here.
I'll drive you.

Oh, thank you. Thank you.

The name on the mailbox is Paul Dunlap.
Apartment 2-K.

How long have they
been up there now?

Oh, now look, Laura, there's
nothing you can do about it.

How long?

Let me take you home. No.


young people have different
ideas about things today.

What was wrong
when we were young...

Is still wrong!


Don't worry. I am not
going to disturb them.

I'm just going to leave
a note under the door.

Who's it? Gloria!

Excuse my appearance
but Saturday morning is...

How dare you trail me?

I had to. Had to?

Had to pry into my life?

What business is it of yours?


to someone your age,

teaching, for that matter,

must appear terribly dull.

And, for the most part,
you're quite right.

Year after year the same facts,

the same words, the same
unimportant dates are repeated.

Year after year, to hundreds
and hundreds of girls' faces.

Just faces.

Rows and rows of smiling,
scowling faces.

And then one day,
if you're lucky,

you may discover a rare and wonderful
thing sitting there before you.

One child who was
born understanding.

One child who seeks more, who
demands more from education.

And in that instant
it all becomes worthwhile.

And you find justification for
all the years of nothing.

And that's why I couldn't
let you be harmed.

It's not what you thought,
Miss Siddons, I'm not harmed.

I'm just married.

blissfully, married.

You see, I don't dare tell
Mother while she's so sick.

So I'm waiting for Daddy to
come home so I can tell him.

She's so excitable and she'd be
convinced I wouldn't finish school.

Paul is such a wonderful
person, Miss Siddons.

I'm so much in love with him.

Connie knows about us
but she's the only one.

And now you.

And all the time I...

I thought he was some
terrible gangster,

taking you to that
dreadful night club.

Seventh Heaven?

His father owns it, Miss Siddons.
And several other clubs.

Paul's learning the business.

I'll keep your secret, Gloria.

Thank you, Miss Siddons.

Good morning.

Well, what'd she have
to say for herself?

It's a secret. You never
know about a woman.

Last night, you were really
steamed up and this morning...

Well, what'd you decide to do about it?

Her father will
be home next week.

He'll know what to do and her mother
isn't up to any kind of crisis just now.

Like I told you
last night, Laura,

there's nothing you can do about a thing like that.
It's up to the parents.

Sometimes the children seem to manage
very well for themselves, Ben.

Good morning, girls.

It's from Gloria.

Miss Siddons.

This is really an open letter
because my friend Connie

read it to the class
before you came in.

I honestly liked you.

I thought it was lucky it was you who found
out about Paul rather than somebody else.

Now I know better.

I know the reason
you spied on us.

You and your loathsome
friend, Ben Proudy.

You were in partnership,
weren't you?

He did the dirty work, you were
too ladylike to do it yourself.

Well, he did it all right.

He tried to blackmail Mother.

He demanded $20,000. Otherwise,
he was going to the principal

and tell her about
what he called "my affair."

The police have him now
and he's confessed.

He says you planned
the whole thing.

Mother is in a coma and perhaps
won't even regain consciousness.

If she dies, it will be
more than blackmail.

The police are coming for you.

They know what to do,
with people like you.

We lost.

Our first defeat.

We shall protest, of course.

I think the policy of allowing
the other team to carry weapons

is definitely
un-sportsman like.

I have already
reported the matter

to the Society for the Prevention
of Cruelty to Animals.

We seem to be
late this evening,

so I must rush through
the remainder of our show.

That concludes our
entertainment for this evening.

Next time we shall be back with another story.
Until then, good night.