Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955–1962): Season 5, Episode 34 - Cell 227 - full transcript

While most of his fellow prisoners on death row spend their time hoping for a stay of execution, the occupant of Cell 227 waxes philosophical about the role of the prison system and the difference between a person murdering another and the State murdering someone. The professor says he's innocent and has told his lawyer not to pursue a stay of execution as he will only accept a full pardon. When the time of his execution arrives, he attacks a guard he's taken a dislike to, just as the Warden arrives with interesting news.

Good evening, ladies
and gentlemen.

And why did it take you
so long to get here?

I've been sitting here
for 10 minutes.

I don't know why everything
is so heavily guarded.

Even if I could
get through this screen,

I couldn't escape without
breaking your picture tube.

All this is to illustrate
to you that

while the television viewer's
lot may be difficult,

the performers is even worse.

Only one half hour visit a week

and in between
nothing but work.

Then, of course, my associates
aren't the best.

Singers, comedians,
news analysts and the like.

But perhaps, we should have our play
before I reduce all of you to tears.

40 minute.

39 minute.

Hang on, boy!
You'll get that stay!

Right, Jorgensen?
Yah, yah! You get it!

Look at me, I got mine!

- It'll come through like Holt said.
- Sure, just like I said.

That phone
will ring any minute!

37 minute.

You listen to me kid!
Now, you'll get that stay!



It's happened before.
In less than a minute to go.

Hey, Professor! Professor, you tell him!
You tell him he'll get that stay!

I wouldn't count
on it, De Baca.

Chances are,
you won't get a stay.

Don't listen to him!

Don't worry, amigo, I can
hear that phone ring now.

That prof is wrong!
Crazy wrong!

What you mean?

I no get stay?

I mean the chances are too
great against it, that's all.

Quiet, Morrison! Keep quiet!

You think you know it all.
Well, you don't!

That's right!

You shut your mouth.
You shut your mouth.

All right, son.

No! It's not time. Four minute.

But we start our walk now.

No stay.
I'm getting... No, wait.

Wait please, don't take me.

We wouldn't want to keep Warden
Elvery waiting now, do we?

A little longer.
A little longer please.

Just a little longer. Just a few minutes.
A little longer.

Please. Don't take...
Please, don't take me.

- Take it easy, son.
- Don't take me.

"The Lord is
my shepherd, I shall not want."

"He maketh me to lie down
in green pastures."

"He leadeth me beside
the still waters."

"He restoreth my soul."

"He leadeth me in the
paths of righteousness."

Save a place for me, amigo.
I'll see ya soon!

Spit in their dirty eyes,
De Baca. You tell 'em.

So long, De Baca.

There's always hope, boy.
Even to the last second.


Morrison! What?

Well, you finally did it, didn't you?
You must look happy.

Did what?

Broke him wide open with all that
jazz about him not getting a stay.

Well, he didn't get it, did he.

No! But he oughta been able
to think he was gonna get one.


I think it was his lying to himself
about getting a stay that broke him.

Oh, nuts!

And on top of that you didn't
even tell him goodbye.

What would be the use in that?

De Baca was already dead.

May I come in? If you like.

Now what would you like
to talk about, Father?

Whatever you'd like.

How about rituals?

Now, you understand all about
rituals, don't you, Father?

Well, there are many
rituals in the church.

I mean outside the church. I'm
speaking of the ritual of sacrifice.

My being here now,
is part of that ritual.

You're a very intelligent man,
Professor, but I don't quite...

You don't understand what I mean.
Let me explain, Father.

In here, you don't just die
suddenly in the gas chamber.

No, there's a long,
carefully worked out plan.

First, to grind a man down
until he ceases to be human.

We're here and
we must all have hope.

That's an interesting point,
Father, but I disagree.

Because in here, there is no way out and
there's no hope of a way out, either.

Is that what you believe?

Well, if you'll forgive me for being
dogmatic, Father, it's what I know.

I've watched these
others waiting, agonizing...

Hoping until they've accepted
their role of scapegoats.

What will you do?

I won't to be their scapegoat,
because I won't accept the role.

I'll live without hope and I'll
fight them as I have a right to.

I'll hate them for what they
do to my dignity as a man.

And I won't take part in their game
of writs and reprieves and stays.

So when I die,
it will be as a man.

Not a sheep that a fat butcher like
Pops Lafferty leads to slaughter!

I heard what you said.

What you got
against Pops anyway?

I don't think you'd like
it if I told you.

Pops is the only right guy who
ever worked this row, Professor.

Good old Pops.

The smiler with the knife.

No, you got him all wrong.

He's the only screw who's
ever given us an even break.

He even puts a shot
in that last cup of coffee.


I'm sure that's
very commendable.

It looks to me as though
he enjoys his work too much.

Somebody's got to work the
row, we're lucky to have Pops.


This is a free country. I'm sure
Pops wasn't drafted for his job.

Now, let me ask you a question, Hennessey.
Sure, shoot, man.

What kind of a man is it that makes a career
out of leading us to the gas chamber?

They won't do it to me.

They won't do it to me.

They won't do it to me.

They won't do it to me.

They won't do it to me.
It's not...

Are you talking
to me, Professor?


What's all that jazz about
them not doing it to you, man?

Did I say that?

You sure did.

You not planning to bust
out, are you Professor?

No. There's no way
out of here, Hennessey.

There's no chance
of a way, either.

Well, you'll get
that stay for sure.

Just to live a little while longer
isn't the most important thing.

What's more important, man?

The way we live and die.

And in that way we're not so different
from the ones on the outside.

They all have death coming
too, but it's a long way off.

Or at least it seems to be.

At least they're spared the
knowledge of when it'll happen.

Where and how.

They can even pretend
it won't happen at all.

But we can't do that.

Why can't we?

Because we shouldn't
play it their way.

We shouldn't pretend like that.

It's just going along with the torture
and that's what breaks us down.

I think you got a head
full of holes, man!

Can you give me
a light, please?

Getting ready for
a new tenant, Lafferty?

Just keep limbering up, Herby.

Oh, I'm in pretty
good condition.

I have 15 hours left and I'm not
apt to get out of condition now.

Oh, you shouldn't
think about that.

Just keep in shape.
Think about that stay.

Oh, he don't want
no stay, Pops.

Hennessey, you
shouldn't talk that.

You worry about
us too much, Lafferty.

Don't you think it's a waste of energy,
considering what's going to happen?

I'll be able to walk all the way and
my respiratory system is quite sound.

Shut up! Come on now,
just shut up!

All right,
jump to it, Morrison.

Get the lead out.
I want to see a little sweat.

Now why bother?

Because I want some life
in those legs, Morrison.

You want us to carry you down the row tomorrow?
You won't have to.

None of your lip!

Herby, you wouldn't want to spend these
last hours in solitary, would you?

Yeah, sure, Morrison.

Maybe you'd like to walk
out of the hole tomorrow.

I'd rather not.

Good morning, Callahan.
A fine day, Father.

Hello, Professor.
Hello, Father.

Well, I think I've cultivated the body
beautiful sufficiently for today.

How are you?

Nothing new here.

Father, I'd rather you
didn't think me irreligious.

No, I don't believe that
you're an irreligious man.

But I would like you to
explain more about yourself.


Why, I'm here under a social
code of retribution, Father.

Professor, do you believe
that murder is morally wrong?

If society considered murder morally
wrong, you and I wouldn't be here.

There couldn't be a death row.

Now, you tell me.

How does one distinguish between
murder committed by an individual

and murder committed
by the state?

We will all be forgiven.

That seems to be
our only chance.

What do you want?
Your lawyer's here, Herby.

This may be your last chance and I got a
feeling that this is a stay for sure.

He don't want no stay,
he wants a pardon.

You got to see him
this time, Herby.

All right, I want to say
goodbye to Berg anyway.

Atta boy, Professor! Maybe your
mouthpiece's got good news for you.

You got to have faith, Herby,
you never know.

Pops, how many of us have you
given the final send-off, huh?

We don't like to think
about that, Herby. No.


Yeah, all right.


Sit down, Mr. Berg.
They're on their way down.

Morrison ought
to be here any minute.

Thank you, Warden.

I appreciate your help.
He wouldn't see me before.

You know, Berg,
your client's a strange man.

But he's been a quiet prisoner.

He's always been quiet man.
But he's not strange.

He's just...

Well, he's just
Herbert Morrison, bachelor.

Professor of English literature
in a small freshwater college.

He's a murderer, Mr. Berg. He killed
a young girl, one of his students.

That's why he's here.

He's not a murderer, Warden.

He's just a man who is caught
up in a legal nightmare.

Alienated from
everything familiar.

Isolated from humanity.

Dropped into an incomprehensible
concrete mixer of jurisprudence.

And started down the belt
to the murder factory!

Every murderer protests
his innocence.

Hello, Maury.

Sorry. No, we're not
allowed to shake hands.

I don't get it, Herbert.

I don't understand
why you wouldn't see me.

And now you've
only a few hours left.

I just came to say
goodbye, Maury.

And to tell you I appreciate
everything you've tried to do for me.

I haven't done anything yet.

You wouldn't even let me try.

I could've gotten writs, stays!

There are both the state and
federal courts. Why...

I don't want to play
their game, Maury.

That's all part of their ritual. I didn't
volunteer and I'm still not playing.

I'm going to get
you that stay yet.

I've seen what it does to a man to
prolong the inevitable that way.

I don't want it.

Just sign this.

I've got the
warden's permission.

Sign it, here. Now!

Oh, you idiot!

You don't know what's going on. I've
got Lou Dutton on this thing now.

Now, who's Lou Dutton?

I'll tell you who
Lou Dutton is.

He's the best private
detective in the country.

He never accepts a case
unless he can deliver.

But he needs
a little more time.

Forget it, Maury,
and forget Lou Dutton.

I told you, I'm not
playing that game.

I want a pardon.

I want a full pardon
or nothing.

I can get you a stay.

Then Lou will have time to uncover
that paid-off perjured witness.

For a famous defense attorney,
you're a miserable liar.

Will you just sign this?

I'm sorry.

I'm sorry I have to spoil your
perfect record of acquittals.

I took this case because
I'm a defense lawyer.

Moral judgments are of no concern to me.
They can't be.

A case, to me, is strictly
a legal problem.

Now, will you please sign this?

Maury, will you understand,
there's no way out of this place.

And hopes and dreams
just make it worse.

There's only your
final exit, dead.

Herby you're not giving
up without a fight!

No. I'm fighting.
I'm fighting all the way.

But when I die
it'll be on my own terms.

As a man.

All right, Professor.

All right, Socrates.

I brought you some
dress-up clothes, Herby.

Oh, I know it's very important to
be well dressed where I'm going.

What surprises me, is you didn't come in
and measure me for them personally, Pops.

Now, now, Herby,
you'll get that stay.

Sure you will, Professor!

You'll get that stay.

You'll get it yet, Prof.

Sure, you will,
sure you will, sure.

What do you want to eat, Herby?

Swiss cheese on rye
and black coffee.

Well, now you know you can...
I know I can get Bombay duck.

I just want Swiss cheese
on rye and black coffee.

He thinks he's tough, Pops.

Too good to order a real meal
and pass it on to the boys.

When their time comes,
they can order their own.


I'll slip a shot
in that coffee.

No shot, just straight
black coffee.

Come on, Lafferty.

Anything I can do?

No, thank you, Father.

I wish I could make
things easier for you.

Well, you can't. There's not
a thing you can do for me.

But you might try for a few
thousand others that'll be along.

I wish I could make it easier.

You remember this, Father?

"And I shall be a fugitive
and a vagabond on the Earth."

"And it shall come to pass that everyone
that findeth me shall slay me."

The Lord didn't
want Cain slain.

He arranged for Cain's passage
into the land of Nod.


You know, they were
kinder in those days.

Even though the human
scapegoat was still demanded,

there was a still
sanctuary sometimes.

You quote very old,
very primitive laws.

The human conscience can be reduced to
something purely primitive, Father.

And there's a point where the only
way a man can defend his pride,

or what he has left of it...

Is to fight like
an animal for his life.

But to fight like a beast in the
jungle is to fight without hope.

How right you are.

Every man here wears a suit
of armor to protect himself.

Each man wears his own kind.

I hope yours is the
right kind for you.

Your eats will be here
right away, Herby.

How come you didn't make them
with your own fat hands, Pops?

What are you always bugging him for? All
he's trying to do is give you a break.

Oh, don't you know
who he is, Hennessey?

That's the Judas goat that
leads the sheep to slaughter.

A sadist with a sunshine smile.

A ghoul, a necrophile.

Lover of the dead, Hennessey.

All right, Herby.

I'm ready.

C'mon, Herby.

You, uh, going
to need some help?


"The Lord is my shepherd.
I shall not want."

"He maketh me to lie
down in green pastures."

"He leadeth me beside
the still waters."

"He restoreth my soul."

"He leadeth me on the paths of
righteousness for his name's sake."

"Yea, though I walk through the
valley of the shadow of death,."

"I will fear no evil,"

"for thou art with me."

"Thy rod and thy staff,"

"they comfort me."

"Anointest my head with oil."

"My cup runneth over."

"Surely goodness and mercy shall
follow me all the days of my life."

"And I will dwell in the
house of the Lord for ever."

Take him back to his cell.

When you attacked Pops, I was
on my way down to tell you

that I'd just talked to
your attorney by telephone.

They uncovered that witness and he's
fingered the guy who really killed the girl.

You know what
this is, Morrison?

This is a stay.

There would have been
a pardon coming to you.

That means you could've
walked out of here, clean.

I'll bet Pops Lafferty
is smiling wherever he is,

because you're back! You're
really back for killing him.

Do you know what it's like in here
after you've bumped a guard, Morrison?

Do you really have any idea?

Well, you will know.

You'll find out!

I have a theory which would account for
the immense popularity of revenge.

Revenge is sweet without
being fattening.

I see the guard is signaling
that our time is up.

I hope you will visit
me again next time.

Until then, goodnight.