Desperate for money, Frank Partridge (Sidney Blackmer, Rosemary’s Baby) and his wife, Mildred (Virginia Gregg, Operation Petticoat), think of a plan to cheat their life insurance company: Mildred will hide out for seven years, the time required by law to be declared dead. However, an insurance investigator (Robert Emhardt, 3:10 to Yuma) is convinced that Frank killed Mildred for the insurance money.
Reaction & Thoughts:
Directed by British filmmaker Robert Stevenson (20th Century Fox’s Jane Eyre and Disney’s classics Mary Poppins and The Love Bug), Don’t Come Back Alive is filled with amusingly dark humor. You chuckle because you immediately recognize that there is no way these people are getting away with their crazy plan.
Truth be told, the episode makes absolutely no sense — the couple needs money right away, yet they come up with a scam that requires them to wait seven long years — but the good performances and funny ways the show goes in unexpected directions allow you to forget the plot’s basic flaw. The ending is great.
As I said before, the story has big plot holes, but Hitchcock always sacrificed logic for entertainment value. If you can resist the temptation to be nitpicky, you’ll enjoy the episode’s subversive humor. Don’t Come Back Alive has a blast mocking the idea of American suburbia as a squeaky-clean place. The episode suggests that you can find all kinds of nasty things inside one of those picture-perfect suburban houses.
The three main actors are wonderful. Sidney Blackmer is terrific as the story’s anti-hero. He has some funny scenes with character actor Robert Emhardt, who plays the snide insurance agent. Blackmer and Emhardt engage in a tense and hilarious cat-and-mouse game. Interestingly, Virginia Gregg is best remembered as the voice of Mrs. Bates in Psycho (1960), and the belated sequels Psycho II (1983) and Psycho III (1986).
Conclusions & Final Thoughts:
Don’t Come Back Alive is not perfect, but it’s very Hitchcockian. It’s deliciously mean-spirited, exposing the false sense of propriety in American life. The acting is very good too. I recommend this deliciously wicked episode to fans of The Master of Suspense. The episode was written by Robert C. Dennis. B&W, 25 minutes, Not Rated.