“The Right Kind of House”, AHP, Season Three: Episode 23 - Don Taylor (1958)

“The Right Kind of House” was an episode on the Alfred Hitchcock Presents television anthology series (Season 3, Episode 23) that was scripted by Robert C. Dennis and based on a story by Henry Slesar.  It stars veteran character actors Robert Emhardt and Jeanette Nolan, who match up well in this clever encounter.  As is typical with many of the episodes of this series, this story involves a duplicitous character whose nefarious plans come awry at the end.

The story begins with a well-outfitted older man, Mr. Waterbury (played by Robert Emhardt), driving his big convertible through a small town and showing an interest in buying an old house that he sees on sale there.  He learns from the local real-estate agent that the house has been on sale for five years, but its owner, Sadie Grimes (Jeanette Nolan), has stubbornly insisted on a selling price of $50,000, which is five times the house’s market value.  So Waterbury decides  to go visit Mrs. Grimes and see if he can negotiate with her himself..

When Waterbury visits Mrs. Grimes, she is cordial but refuses to budge on her price.  Waterbury thinks it over and after reflecting that this is “the right kind of house” for him, finally agrees to pay the full purchase price.  Mrs. Grimes smiles and tells him that she will serve him some lemonade and tell him the story about her house.

Mrs. Grimes tells him (shown in dramatic flashback) how her son Michael (James Drury) returned home from New York City to visit his mother five years ago.  After some time, an intruder breaks into the house and kills Michael.  When the police come to investigate, they report to her that Michael had been part of a criminal gang that had robbed $200,000 from a bank in New York and that Michael had made off with all the money and kept it for himself.  The stolen cash was never found.

Upon hearing this account, Waterbury discusses with Mrs. Grimes the whereabouts of the stolen money.  She tells him that it must be hidden somewhere in the house and that the only person who might know where to look for it would be someone with the guilt-identifying behavior of being willing to buy her house for five times its market value.  And that man, she adds, would be, for sure, the person who killed her son.

Waterbury smiles in his slimy fashion, and tells her she made a mistake in not calling the police before telling him her story and thereby informing him that she now knows that he is the culprit.  But she smiles equally ruthlessly in return and tells him that he made a much bigger mistake – he drank that lemonade!

The story of “The Right Kind of House” is simple, but appropriately crafty.  A trap was set for the villainous perpetrator by the vengeful victim, and he walked right into it.  The effectiveness of the tale’s telling is enhanced by the appropriately dramatic performances of Robert Emhardt and Jeanette Nolan.

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