Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955–1962): Season 6, Episode 25 - Museum Piece - full transcript

Mr. Hollister now runs a small museum that is actually something of a shrine to his late son, Ben. He tells a visitor that the human skeleton in the museum is actually that of his son. In a flashback he recounts that his son was hunting a fox for his collection of stuffed animals when he comes across Tim McCaffrey, the son of a wealthy and influential rancher. A fight breaks out and Tim is accidentally shot. Despite his protestations that it was all an accident, he is convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. Once there, he loses all interest in life. But just who is this stranger Mr. Hollister is telling this story to and is he being completely honest?

Good evening.

This object which
looks like a gentleman,

who innocently wandered into
a red cross bandaging class,

is a mummy. This particular
one is an egyptian pharaoh,

and was buried
with all his wives.

A rather extreme
example of togetherness.

A few of his more
progressive colleagues,

subscribed to this custom.
But with a difference,

they buried their wives first, promising
to follow at their earliest convenience.

Appropriately enough the title
of tonight's theater piece is,

Museum Piece. First however
we have an item with no title,

but perhaps after watching it,

you can think of a name to call it.

As near as we can tell
this skull belonged to a,

civilization here in the southwest
that we call proto-pueblo.

Now, one of its marks as you see
is a flattening of the head,

at the rear caused by strapping
the baby onto a cradleboard,

before the skull was
completely calcified.

Let's compare him with
a modern male caucasian.

You see his head is not
flattened in the back at all.

This is essentially a present-day
american very much like you and I.

Grim thought isn't it?

Well that concludes the
tour ladies and gentlemen,

it's about time to close anyway.

-You're welcome.
-Thank you very much.

Come again we're getting
in new things all the time.

-Excellent. -Good
day. -Thank you very much.

-Good day.
-Thank you thank you for coming.

-Don't let me keep you. -Not at all.
-I really need a minute.

-Take your time.
-These knives, fascinate.

-Obsidian aren't they?
-That's right, purely utilitarian.

For skinning hides, fleshing
hides so on that kind of thing.

But made by a totally
different man.

This man was down to earth practical,
but this fella was sensitive.

-An artist.
-But the two men are about a thousand years apart in time.

That's no different.

I haven't changed.

In my field we tried to diagnose
the psyche of ancient man,

from his possessions.

You see, the thing you fellows
overlooking your collecting,

is the internal chemistry of
the men who made these things.

-What is your field mr...?
-Uh, Clovis, Newton Clovis.

-I?m an archaeo-psychologist.
-Dear me.

-Even a man's bones have something to say.
-What, for instance?

Well from the shape of his skull rather
intelligent man, athletic at one time.


Breaking the leg just above the
ankle. It's a typical ski injury.

You too?

Double spiral fracture made my
leg an inch and a half shorter.

-Ah, but this man was a football player.
-No just a guess of course.

-You mean you know him?
-Yes I did.

Very well.

Died not too old.

-Many years ago?
-Many years ago.

-Modern medicine might have saved him.

No medicine would
have saved this man.

Mr Clovis how'd you like to join
me in a drink before dinner?

-After you.

Thank you.

You say you can diagnose ancient
man from his possessions mr Clovis.

How about modern man?

-Who would that be?
-The man all these things belong to.

There's a bucket more of
these in this frezzer, cheers.

Falco mexicana's, prairie falcon.
He tried to gentle him,

kept him in a cage, wouldn't do some
things you can't keep in a cage.

-Everything in this room was his?
-Just about.

-Boy scout?
-Merit badges, over 30 of them.

Bird's nest,

but no eggs. He didn't
believe in collecting eggs.

No heart for it he could take the
nest after the little ones were gone.

Euro Cayenne Canario
Argentius, gray fox.

-I call her cersei.
-Why cerise?

You're supposed to divine
these things aren't you?

Drink up.

Yes, Cersei.

Cerise the temptress. What
do you make of the man?

Gentle, probably full of idealism.

Obviously love the outdoors,


-You were close to him?

He was my son.

-He was?
-That's where Cersei comes in.

Cersei the temptress.

I call her Cerise because
she led him to his doom.

Worked her whiles on him
brazenly let him track her.

Almost as if she knew
what lay in wait for him.

He never hunted for sport, but once
in a while he collected an animal.

In this case he had his
heart set on cerise.

She'd been raiding hen
houses in the neighborhood,

sooner or later some farmer would
trap her or shoot her anyway.

So been decided to take
her for his collection.

He spent several days and
nights learning her habits.

He discovered her
latest port of call was,

an old barn just over
the property line.

He'd invented a foolproof
gadget for night shooting,

a spotlight mounted on
his 22 in such a way,

that his shot would strike the
exact center of the circle of light.


What was that?

It's your father.

Don't be silly you know
he's at a large meeting.

-See that?
-I told you.

-What do you think you're doing here?
-I?m sorry I didn't...

Hollister, oh nature boy Hollister.

I didn't know anybody
else was around here.

-Saw the sign outside?
-Yeah but I didn't think your father would mind.

-You're a liar.
-Stealing pigeons that's what he's up to.

-I wasn't stealing anything all I wanted was...
-You're a liar.

I?m sorry Tim.

If you'll excuse me.

You're a coward too.

if you want to step outside I?d be very happy
to soak your head in the watering trough.

That's not a bad deal Tim.

I?d be giving away 15 pounds.

Tim, Tim...



You don't have to explain my duties
to me mr Hollister they're spelled,

out very clearly in the oath of
office the district attorney tapes.

It wouldn't hurt you to look it
over once in a while mr Henshaw.

There's no need
to be impertinent.

You'll have to excuse me sir
but my boy's life is at stake.

If you have his day in court the law
guarantees him a fair and impartial trial.

That's just the point.

He's being tried right
now in the papers.

-You call that fair and impartial?
-I didn't give out that interview.

The reporters checked it with you, you
didn't deny it you let them print it.

-Take it up with the publisher, all right?
-Statements from you.

You could have stopped it. They're
saying he killed the McCaffery boy,

on purpose like he'd kill a
specimen for his collection.

You know that isn't true
oh look mr Henshaw this,

-town is ready to lynch him.
-They won't lynch him.

-He's innocent and you know it.
-All right.

If he's innocent he'll go
free it's up to the jury.

But what chance has he with this sort
of trash setting the town on fire.

And with your approval.

You probably thought it up.

You want to kill him.

Old man McCaffrey put you in office and
now you're going to deliver for him.

-That's right, isn't it?
-Mr Hollister...

I happen to take my
responsibilities very seriously.

They are not primarily to
convict but to see justices done.

I intend to do everything
in my power to achieve that end in this,

and every other
case in which I am involved.

And that is all I intend to say
on this subject. Good day sir.

Would you try to reach the
mayor again please. Thank you

You'll excuse me mr Hollister.

?Good day!

A badger, a coyote, bobcat,

fox, shot in the eye.

In each case finesse precision.

A mathematically calculated shot in a
spot where it would kill immediately.

Yet, do no harm whatsoever
to the specimen.

I ask you ladies and gentlemen do you
think this man's act was unintentional?

-Stop it. I tell you it was an accident, he
threw the... -?Quite!

-That won't do any good.
-But he's lying.

I?m not a killer I,
I didn't mean it.

Order, order, or I?ll
clear the courtroom.

Man is on trial for his life please
conduct yourselves accordingly.

Proceed mr Henshaw.

I don't have to repeat the medical
testimony, five brain shots,

each of them precisely in
the middle of an eye socket.

The last one, a human being.

I ask you ladies and gentlemen
to reflect on the odds,

against the defendant's contention
that this last shot was accidental.

He threw up the rifle
in self-defense, he says.

The shot struck the precise center
of Tim McCaffery's left eye.

What are the odds? One
in a million, a billion?

Think about that.

Isn't the other explanation
far more plausible?

That Tim McCaffrey
caught him trespassing,

ordered him off
the property.

And he walked off into the
darkness thought about it,

that a cold rage took possession of him.
That he hefted the rifle in his hand,

and then with calculating
precision he turned,

-and aimed and...
-I didn't I didn't do it.

I?m demanding that you do your
duty as citizens of this state.

I demand the death penalty in the case
of the people versus Benjamin Hollister.

Benjamin Hollister
will you please rise

Benjamin Hollister you have been found
guilty of murder in the first degree.

Therefore you will on the
22nd day of this month,

be removed to the
penitentiary at Glenville,

and there be incarcerated for
the rest of your natural life.

It's an old pioneer ranch on
Alamo creek big adobe ranch house,

apache bullet box in the walls, even has
its own well in the courtyard, 14 rooms,

-14 rooms?
-I?m going to turn it into a private museum.

Put a sign on the highway
charge admission,

make this collecting bug pay
off after all these years.

I wish, I could help you.


I?ve got a room plotted
out for your things.

Now here here is an East
window and there's a door.

Now you do the rest.

Do what?
-Design the inside. Cases for your,

books, drawers for your mounted
specimens, display cases.

I?ll fix it any way you want it.

-You'll do it?
-I want it to be yours Ben.

You kidding? I know what
you're gonna say dad.

Have hope. Something to hang on to.

I?m sorry, but...

It's no good, dad.

But we've got 15 minutes.

Goodbye dad.

Goodbye boy.

I?ll see you next month.

He don't belong here.

If he'd only eat that's
the trouble he won't eat.

Oh it's out of the question.
He's been examined by,

a board of psychiatrists
and found perfectly normal.

Medically he's 100%.

Except that he'll die inside of a
year if you leave him where he is

Mr Hollister would you care
to read the medical report?

I?m not talking about his blood
pressure or his respiration or his,

metabolism mr Henshaw. I?m talking about
his soul that boy is dying right now.

-Mr Hollister I understand your concern.
-But it's out of your hands that I know.

I?m only telling you that your signature on
a petition would probably get him a parole.

Mr Hollister...

Please, please hear me out mr
Henshaw the election's come and gone.

You're secure in your job,
you've got nothing to lose.

Old man McCaffrey can't touch you now.
But please please look into your heart,

mr Henshawn ask yourself if you really
believe that boy belongs in prison.

If he really is a
menace to society.

I?ll forgive you
everything mr Henshaw.

I know you're under enormous political
pressures and have to give in to them sometimes.

I?ll forgive you everything if only he
will try to do that boy justice now.

He can't live in prison,
he's like a hawk in a cage.

He won't eat he's
just withering away.

Come now mr Hollister
get hold of yourself.

Two months later he was dead.

He'd lost interest in life.

That was years ago,

but it's all here,
all in this room.

What he had? What he did?

What he was?

How many years?

I don't like to count them.

It doesn't matter anyway.
I have him here with me.

I can feel his presence in this room,
from his books, from his things.

Nothing on this earth
is permanent mr Clovis,

we aren't given title
to anything you know.

Just Elise his was
short mine's longer.

At least he was not the one
to be left behind to grieve.

That's some consolation, isn't it?

I suppose so.

So perhaps you can understand
now why I was a little,

amused at your archaeopsychology.

There's only so much of a man
imprisoned in his possessions and,

the things he makes with
his hands so much no more.

Ben?s spirit hangs
above this room but you,

can't sense it from these
cold inanimate things.

Not unless you knew Ben.

-Well I?d better lock the back door.
You'll excuse me? -Of course.

-Satisfied mr Clovis?
-Now I am, yes.

I have to tell you that I?m not an
archaeo-psychologist I sort of invented that.

You're from the district
attorney's office.

That's right, a murder case
never goes out of date.

You know it took almost
a year to put him there.

I remember the excitement of the
manhunt, the most dangerous game.

Not a game. Murder.

Disagree, it was neither,

it was an execution, the
execution of Henshaw.

The man who murdered my son.

I don't think the law will
look at it in quite that light

Tell me, how
did you do it?

Did you lie and wait for him
outside his house or did you...

As near as we can tell
this skull belonged to a,

civilization here in the southwest
that we call proto-pueblo.

One of its marks as you
see is a flattening,

in the rear of the
head caused by,

strapping the baby onto a cradleboard
before the skull was completely calcified.

Let's compare him with
a modern male caucasian.

You see his head is not
flattened in the back at all.

Notice how an injury
left a mark on the bone.

The same thing here another male caucasian
about 45 years old I?d say from the,

degree of calcification in
certain areas, athletic type.

Double spiral fracture.

Typical ski injury
leaving one leg about,

an inch and a half
shorter than the other.

Unfortunately the priest
took a dim view of the old curator,

personally adding a
new exhibit for the museum.

Sometimes I find the attitude
of the authorities puzzling,

they seem bent on
stifling initiative.

But enough of that. Now we
shall watch while my sponsor,

makes an exhibition of himself.

That is all until next week, when
we return with another story.

Perhaps we should put our gift
wrap friend back in his box.

His last will?


"Listen for dial tone
before depositing money"

Good night.

- Untranslated subtitle -