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. The plan backfires when a snide insurance investigator, Mr. Kettle (Robert Emhardt, 3:10 to Yuma), is convinced that Frank killed Mildred for the insurance money.
Reaction & Thoughts:
Don’t Come Back Alive, written by Robert C. Dennis, directed by Robert Stevenson (Mary Poppins and The Love Bug), 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 story makes absolutely no sense — the couple needs money right away yet they come up with a scam that requires them to wait seven years — but the good performances and funny ways the show goes into unexpected directions allow you to forget the plot’s basic flaw. The ending is really great; it’s wicked, funny, and totally unexpected.
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 white suburbia as a squeaky-clean place. The episode — and the TV series too — argues that you can find all kinds of mean nasty things inside one of those picture-perfect houses with a white picket fence.
Blackmer is terrific as the story’s anti-hero. He has some fun scenes with character actor Emhardt. They engage in a hilarious cat-and-mouse game. Interestingly, Gregg appears in a key supporting role in Psycho II (1983), the belated sequel to Hitchcock’s 1960 classic thriller.
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. B&W, 25 minutes, Not Rated.