Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955–1962): Season 5, Episode 8 - The Blessington Method - full transcript

In the not too distant future (1980, to be exact) life expectancy has increased dramatically and JJ Bunce provides an essential service. He approaches John Treadwell and informs him that his elderly relative, now in her 80's and who lives with him full-time, will live at least another 32 years. Bunce's offer is quite simple: he will dispose of her for a fee. Initially Treadwell rejects the suggestion out of hand but at home, the old lady is becoming ever more demanding. In the end, he accepts Bunce's offer but he does wonder what his own children might do when the time comes.

Good evening,
ladies and gentlemen,

and welcome to
Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

I should explain.
I came down with a cold.

The broken leg was
a later development.

These nurses can become
quite forceful at times.

The National Safety Council
has asked that I remind you

that most accidents
occur in the home.

Therefore, this might be
a very good place to avoid.

If you must be there, now would be an
excellent time to check for those items

that might be lying around or
waiting to produce accidents.

Roller skates at
the bottom of the stairs,

poorly insulated wires
near the bathtub,

ground glass in the sugar bowl,

arsenic in the coffee.

Little things which,
if you don't find,

you may regret
for the rest of your life.

So much for accidents.

Now we come to the intentional
part of our program.

Yes. Hey, there, mister,

you've got my place there.

I come around here every day
at noon, 12:00 sharp.

And I sit right there on that
log, my back to this piling.

Yes. Matter of fact is,
I'm two minutes late now.

Can you beat that?

I'm 93, and I haven't been
more than two minutes late

on any appointment
I've ever had.

Time is a science.

And if you make good use of
it, it'll double your life.

Yes, sir. The only reason I'm
late now, I had to find my pills.

Oh, oh.

Oh, yeah.
Yes, I got them right here.

You ever take these?
No, I never have.

Greatest little
old pill in the world.

Something new.
They call it Think-Ease.

Well, here goes.

Yes, sir, it's a great life
if you don't weaken.

Better get your line in the water,
there's a big one right there.

Huh, where? Right there!

I don't see it.
It's going under the pier.

Under the pier?

Now do you see him? No.

You will.

Mr. Treadwell, please.
Mr. Bunce calling.

This is a recording.

Recent scientific
discoveries prove

that speech is the most common
carrier of the common cold.

Therefore, in the interest
of public health,

we in this office are doing all
we can to eliminate speech.

Well, I do have
to say a little something.

Turn to your right, please, and state
your business directly to the telecam,

holding up any identification
you have simultaneously.

State your business, please, to the telecam.
Time is pressing.

Well... I'm J.J. Bunce.
I'm here to see Mr. Treadwell.


I do have a card
here somewhere.

I'm from the SEG.

State your business, please. You have
not stated your business clearly.

I'm J.J. Bunce from the SEG.
Here to see Mr. Treadwell.

And I do have a card.

You have not
stated your business clearly.

Look, will you just let me see the guy?
It's a personal matter.

In fact, you might say
it's real intimate.

You have
stated your business clearly.

Go through the double doors to
the first door on your left.

It's about time.

We're trying
not to give you a disease.

Why should you give us one?

Walk right in. You are welcome.

Mr. Treadwell. Mr. Bunce.

I'm sorry, I can't shake hands with
you, one of the rules of our firm.

We've made a number of surveys
and we've found

that whenever there is human
contact, there is contamination.

Now, what is this
intimate matter?

Bunce, Society for
Experimental Gerontology.


You've heard of us?


Mr. Treadwell, if you're having this
taped, I'd advise you to cut it off.

Sit down, Mr. Bunce.

I'd like to give you a rough
idea of the work we're doing.

Society for Experimental

You're collecting money
for a hospital, Mr. Bunce?

Please, Mr. Treadwell, don't confuse
gerontology with geriatrics.


Both words have the same Greek
root geras, meaning old.

Whereas geriatrics deals
with diseases of the age,

gerontology deals with the social
problems arising out of age,

especially extreme age.

And I may add, sir, that the
SEG is the most consecrated,

the most dedicated
organization that I know of.

You seem to be something of
a crusader, Mr. Bunce.

Sir, our outfit is the only one
that's facing up to the situation,

the most tragic situation
facing our modern society!

Well, if you let me speak to my secretary,
I'll have her make you out a check.

We're not after money,
Mr. Treadwell.


Our outfit believes
in helping you first.

Helping me?

Then if you agree that you have
been helped, then you pay the fee.

Mr. Bunce, I'm in my 50s.

The way people are living today, I
really don't see how you can help me.

Mr. Treadwell, I have been studying
your case for several months,

and believe you me
you are a serious case.

I've never been a serious case of
anything in my life, Mr. Bunce.

John Treadwell,
college graduate,

lives in the Elysian Fields,
New Jersey.

Likes sailing, owns own home, nine
years of mortgage payments due.

Refrigerator paid for.
Pool's not paid for.

Mother-in-law's face-lifting not yet paid for...
Where did you get this?

Late model car, 18 monthly
payments yet to be made.

Children's education
not yet paid for.

Otherwise, happily married
for 27 years.

Two teenage children, one older
son and a daughter-in-law.

Any errors, Mr. Treadwell? Mr. Bunce,
I have a great deal to do.

You missed the last
paragraph, Mr. Treadwell.

It deals with your mother-in-law, aged 82.
What about her?

She is your problem,
Mr. Treadwell.

When your son married
and moved out, she moved in.

She lives with you
day and night.

And she's driving you mad!

Mr. Bunce...

Mr. Treadwell, according to the latest
gerontological statistical tables,

your mother-in-law
should live, barring accident,

another 32 years, nine months
and six days.

32 years, nine months
and six days?

I beg your pardon, seven days.

That is, of course,
barring accident.

What do you mean?

Well, an old lady might
climb up a stepladder,

she might slip in the bathtub,
tumble off a pier.

I always say, Mr. Treadwell, that
recognizing that we have a problem

is the first step
towards solution.

Now, when you want action,
just let me know.

Mr. Bunce.

I will not pretend I'm in love
with my mother-in-law,

but if you are suggesting that
I have her done away with,

that is the most fiendish
thing I've ever heard of.

I am a man of principle,
a religious man!

I'm sorry you got personal, Mr. Treadwell.
I was hoping to keep this...

Get out.

My card's on your desk,
Mr. Treadwell.

I'll be expecting your call.

We thank Thee
for our many privileges.

We thank Thee for the
comfort of our home...

For the comfort of our home. We thank
Thee for the nourishment of our food.

We thank Thee for one another.

Lord, grant us patience in times of
tribulation, grant us strength...

Who the
heck turned off my intercom?

We turned it off, Mother, because
we were just saying grace.

My TVset's busted.

I want you to come up here
and fix it. Now!

Mother, he can't come now, we're
right in the middle of grace.

Why did he have to buy me
such a cheap set then?

I will come, Mother, just as
soon as we have finished grace.

Hurry up, or I'll miss
the Roller Derby.

Our Father, who art in space...

If you'll excuse me, dear? I think
I'd better fix her television set.

Never mind. I'll serve.

You know what I'd do? I'd get rid of her!
I'd just get rid of her!

We all get old sometime.

Children, it's getting late,
you should get to bed.

I got to finish this,
it's my project.

Boy, people are stupid.

Stupider than you?

Look at this crate. 20 years ago
they thought it was the greatest.

I'm trying to write.

Can you imagine taking four and a
half hours across the country?

How slow can you get?

I said I'm trying to write.

Oh, shut up.

Darling, would you mind
very much not humming?

Yes, of course, I'm sorry.

What's that you're looking at?

It's a graph of the population
growth according to increased age.

It's rather astounding.

Darling, is anything
the matter? You seem so sad.

Just thinking.

If you'll excuse me, dear,
I believe I'll turn in.

Daddy, if you're worried about something,
why don't you take a Think-Ease?

I don't need to think ease,
dear, I need to think hard.

And would you mind
turning off that music?

But Daddy, it's soothing.

Yeah, Dad, don't you know
that studies prove...

I said turn it off!

But, John!

The world needs silence.

Silence, like the
outside of space.

Just imagine how quiet it must
be beyond the last star, hmm?

All right, I say let us live
in that silence, and no music.

And start thinking about
the meaning of life.

Yes, and the meaning
of death, too.

Because death has a meaning.

And believe you me,
it has a function.

Boy, did he goof off.

Maybe he's fallen in love,
or something.

Just be quiet, will you?

Well, remember three years ago when he
went off skiing with his secretary?

He got mad then, too.

Now, why the heck
did you do that?

It's too loud, Mother.

You won't be able to get away
with this for very long, son.

Just as soon as my leg's mended,
I'm gonna be up and about.


My, but you're
getting a paunch.

I've been sitting in this chair for eight
weeks and I look better than you do.

Mother, the noise is not
good for you.

Don't you worry.

I'm going to live to be well
over 100, no thanks to you.

Fine. But could you just manage to
be a little more quiet about it?

Who wants to be quiet?

You'll be quiet a long time
in your grave.

Oh, you young people,
you don't know how to live.

You're too solemn.
You don't enjoy life.

Did you do your setting-up
exercises this morning?

No, I did not.

You look like a rumpled pillow!

You know, things are not the
same as when I was a girl.

Thank goodness they're not.

Change, change, that's the great
thing, that's the secret of life.

Used to be we lived
to be 75 or 80.

Now the life span's gone up
to 125 and no end in sight.

So you just as well
get used to me

and stop
turning off my intercom!

Good morning, Mr. Treadwell,
we hope your work day will be...

Oh, shut up!

Come in, Mr. Bunce.

Well, Mr. Treadwell,
are you with us?

And even if you aren't with us, I
trust you won't turn against us.

You know the attorney general
himself is over 80 years old.

One report about us
and we're liable to end up

in the Atomic Energy Chamber.

Don't worry.

Dear Mr. Treadwell, you still
seem to have some doubts.

My dear sir, the tragic situation
is that by the miracles of science

by sheer number, the old have come into power.
They have the votes.

Mr. Bunce, you don't have to
convince me on theoretical grounds.

Then on what grounds? The point is,
I detest my mother-in-law so much,

I have to make sure that I'm joining
your movement out of idealism,

and not through
personal pleasure.

Yes, I see what you mean.

And have you decided?

How would you do it?

You'll have to
leave that up to me.

Probably some
household accident.

What if you bungle it?

How could I bungle it? I know
her well, I know her habits.

You know her?

How do you think I got all that
information about you, Mr. Treadwell?

I meet her in the park every
Sunday after you leave her there.

No, I couldn't possibly tell you how
I'm going to do it, Mr. Treadwell.

You might feel
some sense of guilt.

Could you at least tell me
when it's going to happen?

How about Sunday morning?

You all go to church,

and she goes to the park because
she hates the preacher.

Yes, I rather think Sunday
morning might be excellent.

That is,
if I have your consent?

It's a deal.

Speaking of deals, Mr. Treadwell.
What's this?

In signing a pledge to our
organization, Mr. Treadwell,

you will be performing one of the
most praiseworthy acts of your life.

"I hereby promise
to pay you $2,000."

You never said anything
about money like this.

The occasion has never arisen
before, Mr. Treadwell.

But may I point out

that a donation to a charitable
organization such as ours...

Is, of course, tax deductable.

Where's Daddy? He's going
to be late for church.

I suppose he's still dressing.

No, he went out.


Yeah, he pushed Grandma
to the park.

My, what a beautiful morning.

Darling, you aren't even dressed.
You'll be late for church.

I'm not going.

You're not going?

Why, John, you haven't
missed church in 20 years.

I'm not going.

Do you mind if I ask why?

I'm going fishing. You're what?

Don't look so alarmed.

But, Daddy, you'll
get arrested.

Don't you know they've passed a
new law, no fishing on Sunday?

Who passed it?

Just last week, the League for
Elderly Democracy passed it.

That's right, and now
everyone has to go to church.

But Grandma doesn't
go to church.

That's because she has
a health certificate!

If you're old enough you can get a health
certificate and you don't have to go.

That's why there is no one
on the streets Sunday morning.


I hadn't noticed that.

Well, of course not,
you've always been in church.

Doesn't matter. It's decided,
I'm going fishing.

Really, Daddy?

Don't all look so alarmed!

You don't have to call a
lawyer and have me committed.

I'm going to eat a big stack
of fresh, fluffy pancakes

drowned in golden
sparkling syrup.

And then, I'm going fishing!

Well, children,
we'll go to church.

It is called
the Blessington Method.

After our founder,
Mr. Ralph Blessington.

He saw the problem arising
way back in the '60s.

Young man, I don't know what you're
talking about, but I like your voice.

Of course, all forms of life

grow, flower, fail and fall.

It's a soothing voice.

Death is the compost of life.

Now what is more wonderful
for this spring's flowers

than last year's rotten leaves?

Death is built right into the
universe for the enrichment of life.

What do you suppose
would happen

if all the fish in the ocean
suddenly had the power not to die?

Why, in two weeks time the ocean
would be so choked with fish

there wouldn't be enough water
left, and all fish would die.

So, when man in his infinite
mischief upsets the order of things,

infinite mischief
is bound to result.

Young man, I don't quite know
what you're saying,

but I know I don't like it.

Turn me around!

Mr. Treadwell.

It's done, death by
accidental submersion.

Oh, dear.

Don't feel too badly,
Mr. Treadwell.

It's in the past. Forget about it,
you must think about the future.

Think about your children.

Now you can have the pleasure of watching
them grow, flower into full bloom.

Think about your daughter.
Someday she'll marry.


Now can't you picture
in your mind's eye

that handsome, strong,
young son-in-law?

Can't you just feel the warmth of
his handclasp as he greets you?

Wait a minute.

Are you trying to tell me that
someday somebody from your group

will come
and give my children ideas?

Honestly, Mr. Treadwell,

can you imagine those affectionate
and devoted youngsters

ever possibly doing you the
slightest harm, the slightest harm?

No. I guess not.

Splendid. Now you hold
onto that thought.

Keep it close to you
at all times. Cherish it.

It will be a great solace
to you and a comfort...

To the very end.

The doctor told me I could
take the cast off anytime.

But I find I receive much
better treatment with it on.

As for Mr. Bunce
and Mr. Treadwell,

even their advanced society
frowned on their activities.

By then, mothers-in-law
were most numerous

and even more powerful
than they are today.

It's something
to look forward to,

provided you're
a mother-in-law.

Now until next time,
good night.