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De Mortuis 

Professor Rankin's buddies Wally and Bud stop by to take him fishing. They find him in his cellar, filling in a hole with cement. They suspect he may have also filled it with his wife.


Robert Stevens


Francis M. Cockrell (teleplay) (as Francis Cockrell), John Collier (story)

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Episode complete credited cast:
Alfred Hitchcock ... Himself - Host
Robert Emhardt ... Professor Rankin
Cara Williams ... Irene Rankin
Henry Jones ... Wally Long
Philip Coolidge ... Bud
H.M. Wynant ... Truck Driver (as Haim Winant)
Bill McLean ... Benny the cafe owner (as William McLean)


Professor Rankin's two buddies want to take the prof out fishing. But he doesn't seem to be home. They see that coffee is percolating, figure he's about to come back any minute, and wait for him. Meanwhile, they gossip about his wife. Much younger than the prof. A dish, they call her. She's also--though they don't use the word--a slut. Bud tells the story of the time she let a truck driver pick her up. Wally tells the story of the time she hit on him. They're just about to leave when they hear him down in the cellar. He's filling in a hole. The two men begin to suspect there's more in that hole than just cement. Written by J. Spurlin

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis







Release Date:

14 October 1956 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Shamley Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Robert Emhardt playing Professor Rankin states that he is 51, but in spite of how old he really looks the actor was only 42 at the time. See more »


[first lines]
Bud: Anybody home? Eh, prof? Prof, fish are biting right now. What about it? You in here? Guess he's not home.
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Version of Lights Out: De Mortuis (1946) See more »

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User Reviews

Perhaps a Little Overreaction!
9 June 2013 | by HitchcocSee all my reviews

The story is pretty lame and unimaginative. Since there isn't much here one must delight in what Hitchcock often did with his stories. He engaged marvelous character actors to portray the principle figures in many episodes. Here it's Robert Emhardt, the corpulent jealous husband and biologist, the weasel like Phil Coolidge, with his aquiline honker and sharp features, and Henry Jones, who must have had a thousand roles in his career. It's pretty much a case of people just talking too much and having imaginations to match their impulsiveness. It's one of those cases where on mind was fine, but three become destructive. The joy of the episode is the gossipy byplay that goes on between these "regular" small-town guys. They have been in this little town all their lives and have almost too much knowledge of it and its goings on. Suffice it to say, we are prepared for some twists.

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