"Alfred Hitchcock Presents" De Mortuis (TV Episode 1956) Poster

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Archbishop_Laud5 July 2013
For me, Robert Emhardt and the Brit John Williams are the two acting heroes of AH Presents. Here Emhardt gets the lead.

I like how the story is told. We see him lugging cement in his cellar. His friends arrive and can't find him (one friend is played by Henry Jones, who was in 3:10 to Yuma with Emhardt around this time). In conversation with one another, they give us the information we need: our protagonist's pretty young wife is unfaithful to him.

The script heaps a world of suspicion on Emhardt as the murderer of his wife. So much so, we wonder whether it could be that simple. The ending is clever and doesn't go on longer than it needs to.

AH's wrap is characteristically wry and dark.
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Unusual Cast
dougdoepke11 March 2007
The story itself is unexceptional Hitchcock fare-- a faithless young wife, an older husband, and a hole in the cellar. Not exactly cutting edge material for a series that trafficked in domestic mayhem. What is noteworthy, however, is the cast of three villainous characters who for once get to play ordinary, sympathetic folks. A few words are due them.

Perhaps no one of the time was more expert at playing moral degenerates of one type or another than the obese Robert Emhardt. His rotund shape, high-domed forehead, and softly sinister manner, made up one of the most unusual screen presences allowed on 50's TV. In short, he was instantly repulsive. I don't say this to be cruel. Rather it's to pay tribute to a fine actor who lent color and authority to every thankless character he played. Moreover, long after the many pretty-boy leads of the day have faded away, Emhardt remains distinctively memorable to anyone familiar with that era. In this episode, his acting skill shows that despite the off-putting appearance, he could draw a sympathetic response when given the opportunity.

Henry Jones too is immediately recognizable. Short and scrawny, with an overlarge mouth and no chin, he seemed forever bemused by some private joke. More eccentric than repulsive, he nevertheless specialized in characterizations that caused the audience to wonder just what he might be hiding in his own cellar. Despite the many malicious roles, he was expert at droll comedy where his Cheshire-cat grin could inspire uneasy laughter and instant mistrust. There's been nobody quite like him before or since.

The third cast member, eagle-beaked Philip Coolidge, also specialized in off-beat roles, often as a sneaky busy-body of some sort, but he never rose to the heights of a Jones or Emhardt. Seeing all three acting normally in this episode makes you realize how much skill went into their usual off-putting characters. Anyway, this 30 minutes is a rare opportunity to watch a very unusual and distinguished cast in a fairly interesting story.
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Keep your opinions to yourself
sol12181 May 2012
Warning: Spoilers
***SPOILERS*** At first the meek and harmless looking Prof. Rankin, Robert Emhardt, has no idea what his two "friends" Wally & Bud,Henry Jones & Philip Coolidge, are talking about when their hinting about his wife Irene, Cara Williams,and what supposedly happened to her. These two bird brains seem to have mistaken what Rankin is doing in his basement,putting in a cement floor, has criminal overtones without as much as saying but hinting at it.

As for Rankin his mind starts to work overtime in that the two are telling him about Irene flirting with every man in town even themselves. As for Wally & Bud they never let up in their suspicions in what happened to Irene and what Rankin did to her. So much so that what they in fact think what Rankin did is soon to becomes a reality!

****MAJOR SPOILERS**** And the worst fears that Wally & Bud had in covering up Rankin's so-called crime by not reporting it and him to the police in fact are compounded in them actually being far more guilty in him committing it by putting that idea into his head! As for Irene she has a big surprise waiting for her when she came home, after missing her train, to freshen herself up. A homicidal husband who's mind was poisoned by the very people who tried to protect him! Not from a crime that he committed but one he's soon to commit whom they unknowingly programed to commit it.

P.S As expected "The Master" Alfred Hitchcock has to spoil everything in giving us the lowdown to what happened off screen to Rankin after the show or episode was over. And in his summation or epilogue he never mentions what ever happened to the two real scoundrels in this tale or murder and madness Wally & Bud Who were far more guilty then Rankin in them inciting him to commit the crime.
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Perhaps a Little Overreaction!
Hitchcoc9 June 2013
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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Watch the amazing Robert Emhardt playing Professor Rankin
Cristi_Ciopron11 August 2009
Warning: Spoilers
DE MORTUIS, a Teleplay by Francis Cockrell, directed by Robert Stevens, with Robert Emhardt, Cara Williams and Henry Jones, based on a story by John Collier, is distinguished by a very noticeable actor—the one who plays Professor Rankin-- Hitchcock's intro is as funny as usually.

Professor Rankin conducts experiments in rats _etology down in the cellar; he's 51, obese, innocent, clumsy and looks a bit like the old E Waugh. Rankin's wife is the young and hot Irene. The town's gossip revels in talking about her affairs. Two idiots who visit Professor Rankin and suspect him of having killed his wife Irene provide the poor oldster with a … concrete solution to his marital troubles.
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Not bad...not great.
MartinHafer4 September 2014
This is a pretty ordinary episode of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" and this isn't necessarily a bad thing as this anthology show was generally very watchable. The show begins with a couple of the professor's 'friends' coming by the house to take him fishing. However, they cannot find him and do what anyone would do in this situation--they stand around reminiscing about what a slut the professor's wife is! Later, they find the professor in the cellar filling a hole in with cement and they assume the worst. Then, a few moments later, comes the twist.

The best thing about this episode for me is seeing some old familiar faces. Henry Jones and Robert Emhardt did a lot of TV appearances during this era and seeing them was pleasant and familiar. As for the plot, it's not great but was also darkly funny and worth seeing.
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