Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955–1962): Season 5, Episode 24 - Madame Mystery - full transcript

Steven is working on his novel when into his apartment walks an attractive woman, soaking wet. She's with Steven's neighbour, Jimmy Dolan, who's a bit of a playboy. Jimmy is a PR man for a major studio but has only limited talent so he needs Steven's help to write material about Betsy Blake, a long-time Hollywood star who recently drowned and who has a major movie being released. Steven's work gets Jimmy a big raise from the studio and ensures Betsy's last movie will be a big hit. But it turns out Betty hasn't drowned. What's a PR man to do?

Good evening,
ladies and gentlemen.

I'm making credit cards.

As you can see,

this credit card is cleverly
patterned after the £5 note.

In this way we do away with
such troublesome features

as the monthly statement
or the necessity for solvency.

Furthermore, these are good
in any city in the country

and in any business

Provided the cashier
is near-sighted.

And now you may
watch our play...

If your credit is good.

Can I come in?

I'm Lois.

I just fell in your ocean.

I know you won't mind.

Oh, I don't mind...

I mean, it's not as though we couldn't
find another ocean, if we had to.

Jimmy told me you'd
loan me your blanket.

At least until
we get to his place.

He's getting some things
out of the car.


Jimmy Dolan, you mean?

Mm-hmm. I'm just getting
started in the business.

We came from the studio together.

I see.

Well, you seem to have
been pretty well laundered.

I'm cold.

Look, I own a blanket, but I
think it's out on the line.

Just a minute.

There. How's that? Thank you.

Stevie! Stevie, Stevie, listen,

I gotta talk to ya. Why?

Why? So you can shine like a glow-worm
instead of a schnook, that's why.

And maybe pick yourself up
two, 300 bucks.

How much? You heard me, man.

Maybe I can't guarantee the three, but
there's at least two bills in it for you

if you want
to wade through this.

Another publicity job
for the studio?

My biggest and best.
Well, no thanks.

I'm halfway through my book. Oh,
halfway through your miserable book.

Three-quarters through the soles
of your one pair of shoes.


This is the literary life?

Thirty-five minutes
from Hollywood

with all the comforts
of an abandoned mineshaft.

Jimmy? Look, Lilacs,

go plant yourself someplace until
you're ready to bloom again.

I'm talking with a man.
Can't you see that?

Now look... Not here. My place, baby.
My place. You know the way.

Don't ya, huh? Come on.

And don't brush your teeth
with the vodka again.

Remember what
I told you last time?

That was real sweet, Jimmy.
It gets a fella here.

Come off it. Sentiment's
a waste of time.

Can you do something for her?

What an awful
question to ask me.

Stevie-boy, you're looking at a man
who just spent four solid hours

in the M.P.'s private office.

In whose office? M.P., the
owner, the boss of the studio.

He listened to everything
I had to say,

and he said to me,
M.P. Did, he said,

"Jimmy, this can be the biggest
public relations deal"

"since the invention
of the Easter Bunny."

What can be?

The Betsy Blake thing.
What do you think? Oh.

Well, you know what
happened to her, don't you?

Well, sure. There hasn't been much
else in the paper for the past week.

She got herself killed
in a speedboat accident.

Just out beyond Catalina Harbor, wasn't it?
That's right.

Her speedboat went head-on
into another speedboat,

killing Mr. Louis Fryer, a fairly important
citizen in Pasadena, and herself.

But the most important
thing is this.

Until I had my talk
with M.P. This afternoon,

it looked like Betsy had also sunk
a $6,000,000 Goliath production

in living, breathing color, and
Audacio, the newest dimension in sound.

You mean that picture, Splendor?
That's right.

Well, it's all wrapped up.
No more retakes.

The sets have been struck,
the whole thing's in a can.

Just two days before she goes
out and gets herself killed.

Well, that's kinda tough
on Betsy, I suppose,

but how's it going
to hurt the picture?

I mean, you've had nothing but
publicity for the past week.

It could help the picture.

Help it just great if we were going
into distribution today or tomorrow.

But the important thing is that we're
all set for late autumn release,

around Thanksgiving, to catch the holiday
trade and make a bid for the awards.

Well, that's three months away.

By that time all
the excitement's over.

The public interest is gonna
be as dead as Betsy Blake.

By November you can change the
title to Asleep In The Deep.

She was a real dish in her day.
I'll tell you that.

What makes you think
they'll forget her so soon?

Are you kidding?

I was raised in this business, Stevie-boy.
It's in my blood.

I've got what M.P. Calls
"box-office instinct."

I can't help it. Lights go
on and off inside of me.

You know what I mean?
Oh, save it, please.

Don't start talking like a
Hollywood pioneer to me.

I happen to know you're just a
fresh kid chasing a rapid dollar.

You're 23 years old.

How do you know?

That time two summers ago, when the
waiter wouldn't serve you a drink.

You had to show him
your driver's license.

You were 21 at the time.

You think you're
pretty smart, don't ya?

Well, I can add 21 and two.

You think you're so smart that you have
to sit here in this sun-kissed pig sty,

waiting for some kid like me to bail you
out of hock for a couple of hundred bucks.

You can go now, Jimmy, and
take your money with you.

Nobody asked you
to come down here.

Can't you take a joke?

Look, Stevie-boy, why do
you think I'm here, huh?

Because you have to grind out 90
yards of copy about Betsy Blake

and you haven't got the writing
talent of a backward high school boy.

An equally important reason

is that you don't want the people who pay
you a big fat salary to find it out.

Well, looks like we
understand each other, right?

I wouldn't say that,

but we understand a few things we
mightn't have understood before.

But about Betsy Blake,

her body wasn't recovered
until this morning, was it?

That's right. She
washed up on the shore.

The identification
was positive?

Well, sure. Well...

Naturally, she couldn't have looked
like Miss Palm Frond of 1943,

but the authorities
were satisfied.

That's what I told M.P.
This afternoon. I said,

"That wraps it up. That makes it official.
The mystery's gone."

A month from now people won't remember
whether it was Betsy Blake or Betty Boop

that went for
a ride in that speedboat.

They won't remember unless...

And that's when the
inspiration hit me, Steve.

What inspiration?

I pointed to a picture hanging on the
wall in M.P.'s office, and I said to him,

"There's your solution,
right there."

And it was a picture of Mr. Rudolph Valentino.
M.P. Got the message.

Well, what's Valentino
got to do with it?

Death, man.

Death turned Rudolph
Valentino into a legend.

That's what M.P.
Was able to understand.

Some smart people saw to it that Rudy
had the most sensational funeral

this country ever saw,
up to, but not including,

the burial of Miss Betsy Blake.

What was done for the
screen's greatest lover

certainly can be done
for Madame Mystery.

Madame who?

Madame Mystery, some name they
pinned on her a few years back

when she was... Mysterious?

Yeah, mysterious.

This thing that I'm about
to create, Stevie-boy,

is an ark that's gonna
really be able to float.

We're gonna bury Betsy Blake
like she was Mother Machree,

Sweet Georgia Brown, Cleopatra,

The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi,

Salome, all wrapped
up into one.

I'm going out, boy.
I'm going way, way out.

And it's gonna make me
a big man in this town.

I can just see it.

Then we go into
the spook department.

You'll hear it around
for a little while,

but then you'll see
the first printed rumor.

"Is Betsy Blake Still Alive?"

Now, how can you get away with that
when she's being buried this week?

That's the mystery angle, man.
You've got no imagination.

We know she's dead.

We know she's gone like
an old dropped lemon pie,

but you gotta realize she's been
floating around in the water for a week,

and she didn't look like...
You can skip the details.

I keep forgetting
you're sensitive.

Meanwhile, I'm juggling a couple
of other ideas for this campaign,

The Real Betsy Blake and
The Betsy Blake Nobody Knows.

What do you think of that?


I guess you can get a lot of mileage out
of The Betsy Blake that Nobody Knows.

Did you know her?

Are you kidding?

I handled her
publicity for years.

Oh, at your age?

Look, will you lay off my age!

Maybe Stalzbuck took the bows, as head
of promotion, but it was me, Stevie,

little Jimmy here, that was
digging in there with that spade.

That's what M.P.
Was able to understand.

What do you think he gave me
this big chance for, anyway?

Now does that satisfy you? Look,
it's no skin off my nose.

But incidentally,
how old was Betsy Blake?

Well, let's say she was
no spring chicken,

but she kept her feathers
nice and smooth.

Seems to me she was around
a pretty long time.

Look, Stevie-boy, I've
got to have a prospectus

in M.P.'s hands
by Monday morning.

I'm counting on you, pal, to
help me with the fancy prose.

So he'll think you wrote it?

Okay, I'll level with you.

That 200 bucks comes
out of my pocket.

So what? So who cares?

So it'll take you off the
K-rations for a while

and you can go back to your corny
book with your stomach full.

No. The answer is no.

You know how I feel about razzle-dazzle
promotions of this kind.

Three hundred bucks
on the table.

One, two, three.

Now, there could be a bonus
in this for you, Stevie,

as soon as
the picture comes out.

You might even be able to
get your plumbing fixed.

Now, what do you say?
Last chance.

Tell me some more
about Betsy Blake.

Well, look,
I gotta be knocking off.

I'll leave the tools
inside there for you.

You know it gets dark pretty
early down here in November.

You don't get lonesome down
here all by yourself, do you?

Nah, it's one of those things.

Well, uh-oh,
I forgot about Friday night.

That must be the genius.

I don't see no chorus line
of broads down there.

You think he's sick?

You'll have to ask him.

He's got a convertible out there
as long as a hook and ladder.

Public Relations Manager
for Goliath Pictures, huh?

Well, Steve, tell me
something, will ya?

How does a young punk his age
hold on to a job like that?

You think he knows where
some bodies are buried?

You got me. I'll let you
know if I ever find out.

I'll see ya.

Alfredo, my good man,
how are ya?

What's with him?

His daughter brought home Love
Secrets From Beyond The Grave.

You're kidding?

Hey, you know those phony fan clubs
I organized eight weeks ago?

That I remember. Well,
they ain't phony no more.

I got 50,000
love-sick volunteers

gazing into their tea leaves and
their Betsy Blake voodoo rings.

You think I'm kidding you?

What about your conscience?

My what? Oh, my conscience.

Oh, yeah, I forgot to tell ya,

I swapped it to the Daughters
of Salvation for a bass drum.

We open up nation-wide
next week, Stevie-boy.

No sneak previews or test
patterns for my sky-rocket.

Just solid bookings
right across the nation.

You think M.P. Doesn't know
who wrapped this package up?

I've got a contract in my pocket
that he gave me this afternoon.

I don't wanna shock ya, pal.

But the salary figures read like
the roundtrip mileage to the moon.


Love Secrets From Beyond The Grave.
How do you like that?

And Madame Mystery, no less.

And I Was Betsy Blake's

I'm telling you,
it's killing me.

The best thing that washed-out,
platinum-rinsed old pelican

ever did in her life was to ram her
speedboat into that jerk from Pasadena.

What was... Mr...

Mr. Fryer, of Pasadena, Jimmy.

Mr. Louis Fryer
was the gentleman's name.

I think the next episode should
be the cutest one, don't you?

The Return of Betsy Blake.

Do you have to stare
at me like that?

It's not possible.
You've got no right...

Sure, it was thoughtless of me.
I should have stayed dead.

Old bag comes stumbling
back after 90 days,

with her hair three different colors,
and a poached-egg look in each eye.

Listen, I... Don't say any more.
Just keep your mouth shut!

You've got a kind face, dear.
Stupid but compassionate.

You got a little drink for
little ol' Madame Mystery?

There's some...

Don't apologize
to Betsy, angel-boy.

I spotted it already.

This all you got?
I'm afraid so.

I'm sorry to take
all your vitamins, dear.

Remind me to get you
a case some day.

That's much, much better.

I haven't had a drink
in an hour and a half.

Well, Junior, maybe I can tell
you what this is all about.

Actually, well, the newspapers
didn't have anything right,

except Louie Fryer's name and my own.

I had to laugh!

Laugh someplace else.
Come on, let's get...

No, no, no, let her talk.

You weren't
in a speedboat accident?

Oh, sure! We hit, all right.

I went into Louie Fryer and his
girlfriend like a torpedo.

"The Blonde Torpedo,"
they used to call me.

You remember that, Jim?

Louie Fryer's girlfriend?
What girlfriend?

Well, like I was gonna tell
you, see, there was this doll.

Some floozy that he must've
picked up on the beach.

That was Louie Fryer
for you, every time.

She was blonde, and so I supposed
people figured her for me.

Especially after
seven days in the water.

Go on.

This is gonna kill you, Junior.

There must've been a lot of cork
in the stuff I drank that day

because I just wasn't
easy to sink.

A fishing trawler picked me up.

An old tub out of San Diego
with a new coat of paint.

Must have looked
a little bit like me, huh?

Well, anyway, it was
on its way to Seattle.

A Swede by the name of Eric
fished me out of the channel.

He was sort of a blonde
Humphrey Bogart with muscles.

He mixed his own
booze in an oil drum.

We were the only ones on board.

Best three months I had
in my whole life.

It's not possible.

It's just not possible!

Well, you stick to your dreams,
Junior, and I'll stick to mine.

It was a whole week before we
saw the Seattle newspapers.

Eric brought a stack on board and laughed
and I thought we'd split the deck.

I shouldn't imitate
Eric's accent,

but when he said, "Where
do we go from here?"

I took one look at that
Nordic rooster

and said, "As far away from Goliath
Studios as you can sail this tub!"

So we took off.

For three months?

Why not? First vacation I've
ever had in my whole life.

Nobody around to say,
"Betsy, watch the calories."

"Betsy, lay off the grape."
So what if I did gain weight?

We'd have been gone three years
if he hadn't run out of cash,

and I plan to change that just as
soon as I get to my safe deposit box.

But there's one thing, Junior.
You did a great publicity job!

I especially enjoyed the
accounts of my own funeral.

I like the magazine
articles, too.

Love Secrets From
Beyond The Grave.

Eric liked that one, too.

What's the matter? You don't
look happy, Jim-precious.

Should I? Now?

Come on, I need a drink
more than you do.

Well, anybody's booze is better
than no booze.

I'll see you later, Steve, there'll be
something I wanna talk to you about.

You know what I mean?

So? Looks like a course
built for goats.

Not a goat as old
as this one, huh?

You had to ruin it, didn't ya?

You had to come back and
hog your way into the act?

Well I had it made.
Do you hear me?

I had it all wrapped up at Goliath.
I was man of the year,

until you come in here looking
like something from Halloween.

Thank you. Tell me more.

I'll tell you more, but it
won't be any news to you.

You had to come back
and take your curtain call.

And take the shine off the only
success I ever made on my own.

Well, that's Betsy for you.

Good ol' Betsy Blake.

Well, I worked like a pig in a
pit to put this promotion on.

I went without rest for 90 days

to turn an old crow like you
into a bird of paradise.

And, whammy, right into the tin can
the old crow comes stumbling home.

You are sweet, Jimmy.
Real sweet.

I should have remembered that.

Well, if you don't
believe me, ask M.P.

He told me this afternoon, that
when they talk about legends,

they're not gonna talk about
Valentino or Jimmy Dean,

they're gonna say it all started
with Jimmy Dolan and Betsy Blake.

I turned your rotten picture
into a guaranteed success.

That's who did it! Me! Me!

I made your... Took your
nickelodeon talent

and turned it into the kind of
success that the public would buy...

Listen, you couldn't have gotten into Goliath
Studios with a pistol and a crowbar,

if it hadn't have been for me.

You had the brains of a moth
and the personality of a cobra

when I went to M.P. And told
him he had to give you a job.

What do you want me to do for
you I haven't done already?

Hey, what's
the matter with you?

Where's Betsy?

What makes you think that
old dame was Betsy Blake?

Come on. Come off it. How
many drinks did you have?


Suppose for the sake of an idea
I had, suppose it wasn't her.

Look, I've been to the
movies too many times.

Why, her voice,
the way she talks...

Where is Betsy now?

There was an accident.
It wasn't my fault.

She was hurt?

Is she dead?

Well, is she?

Steve, you've got to help me.
Like I said, it wasn't my fault.

She had it coming to her.

Yeah, Jimmy?

I don't mean that. What I mean...
I mean, she was drunk.

Steve, you gotta help me.
She tripped and she fell.

Why did you kill her? Why?

The greatest publicity job
in the last 20 years,

and she turns it into a farce!

Do you know for certain
that she's dead?

She's dead, all right.

I tried to... I tried to
drag her away from my place,

but I couldn't.

I heard people
walking along the beach,

and I got scared
and I came here.

Steve, you gotta help me! Please!
Sure, I'll help you.

You're such a real nice kid.

I'll call the cops and have them
come and take the body away.

Steve, she's no good.
She's a drunk.

She's a lie. She's no good.

I've got five grand home. $5,000 that
I got as a bonus from this campaign.

It's all yours,
if you'll just help me!

As far as anybody's concerned, Betsy
Blake's been dead for three months!

You could help me. Help me move the
body and put it in the trunk of my car.

Give me the police.

You'd kill your own mother to be a big
man at Goliath Studios, wouldn't you?

My mother?

That's right, Stevie,

but how did you know
that's who she was?

So much for our ode
to mother love.

I must say, it was a pleasant
change to meet Jimmy Dolan.

Here's a boy unsullied
by any Oedipus complex,

not tied by any silver cord,

unfettered by any
sentimental claptrap.

Just a healthy, happy,
well-adjusted killer.

It's all very refreshing.

And now for those of you who are
accustomed to enjoying television,

here is something that is
also refreshingly different.

After which, I'll be back.

By the way, I am no longer
in the credit card business.

Someone was
flooding the country

with exact reproductions
of our cards.

When I discovered the
culprit was the government,

I thought it best
to bow out gracefully.

As for our story,

I must say it was a pleasant
change to meet Jimmy Dolan.

Here was a boy unsullied
by any Oedipus complex,

not tied by any silver cord,

unfettered by any
sentimental claptrap.

Just a healthy, happy,
well-adjusted killer.

However, Jimmy subsequently
had a bit of bad luck.

He met with an accident in his home,
and died as a result of a fall.

He tripped over his grandmother
while he was attempting

to throw her down
a flight of stairs.

Very sad.

Next time, I shall return with
another story equally uplifting.

Until then, goodnight.