Nobody epitomizes the perfect actor for Halloween better than Vincent Price. Over the years I’ve seen most (though still not all) of his films, but luckily for me, he also did quite a lot of television work over the years, so I’ve always got new Vincent Price gems to stumble upon. Today, I stumbled upon his one and only (so far as I know) collaboration with Alfred Hitchcock, an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents from October 1957 entitled “The Perfect Crime.” (Not to be confused with earlier AHP episode, “A Perfect Murder.”)
The episode itself, besides the distinction of being the only collision between these two titans of the macabre, is also one of only a handful of Alfred Hitchcock Presents episodes actually directed by the master himself. It’s pretty much a two man show between Price and James Gregory. Price plays a smug detective, who speculates with Gregory’s defense attorney character about the perfect crime, while also bragging a bit about the successful solution of his latest case. It’s a bit like Rope at times, though never as intense, but Hitch does manage to start the tension going early on, and keep ratcheting it up even as the conclusion of events because more and more inevitable. And while Hitchcock provides his usual droll and highly improbable account of how the killer was caught in his outro, it seems a lot more likely that he got away scott free.
I watched the episode on Netflix, where it’s available streaming alongside a number of other episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, but if you’re inclined to see it and don’t have Netflix, it also appears to be up on YouTube for your viewing pleasure. Typically, I prefer my Halloween treats to be a little more spectral, with a little more mist-shrouded moors, decaying churchyards, and the like, but for a mid-October appetizer, or if you prefer your spooks to be of the parlor room murder variety, it’s a definite treat.
Personally, I really liked the element of the detective’s trophy case. I’ve always liked the idea of great detectives keeping souvenirs of the crimes they solved, of Black Museums and the like. It’s always been one of my favorite things about Batman, and one that’s sadly never been used well on film. I love the version of the Batcave that’s got giant pennies and robot dinosaurs lying about. The trophy case in this film isn’t as garish as all that, but I do want to know more about the case involving that creepy little doll…