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The Cream of the Jest 

Broken-down actor Charles Gresham, who has a weakness for booze, demands that playwright Wayne Campbell give him a part. When Campbell refuses, Gresham resorts to blackmail.


Herschel Daugherty


Sarett Rudley (teleplay), Fredric Brown (story)


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Episode complete credited cast:
Alfred Hitchcock ... Himself - Host
Claude Rains ... Charles Gresham
James Gregory ... Wayne Campbell
Paul Picerni ... Nick Roper
Joan Banks Joan Banks ... Lee
Johnny Silver ... Jerry the Bartender
Don Garrett Don Garrett ... Pete
Carol Shannon Carol Shannon ... Mrs. Campbell
Thomas Martin Thomas Martin ... Hood


Charles Hanover Gresham is a broken-down old actor whose bar tab is so steep the bartender won't even serve him another drink. Gresham learns that the playwright, Wayne Campbell, is auditioning actors for a new play. He begs Campbell for a part, but his old colleague has no use for this unreliable has-been. Gresham resorts to blackmail. Since Campbell won't give him a part, he demands an "annuity" or he'll reveal Campbell's secret past. Campbell has another idea. Written by J. Spurlin

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Release Date:

10 March 1957 (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?


Many scenes are set in Sardi's, the famous restaurant in the theatre district of New York which has its walls adorned with caricatures of celebrities. See more »


[first lines]
Jerry the Bartender: [to a customer] Thank you.
Charles Gresham: Hello, Jerry. How fresh and dewy you look.
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User Reviews

Old Actors Just Fade Away
22 June 2007 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

Sub-standard Hitchcock. The only reason to comment is the presence of that fine, dominating actor of the 30's and 40's, Claude Rains. Here he plays a drunken, out-of-work actor, who's reduced to begging for parts from nemesis James Gregory. On this particular day, producer Gregory first refuses and then insults Rains, evicting him from the office. But then, inexplicably, he turns up the next day to congenially offer Rains a part. The only suspense or plot involvement revolves around why this sudden change of heart. Has Gregory sincerely decided to befriend the old actor, or has he an ulterior motive. The answer may keep you hanging around.

Anyway. Rains looks so much the part that I'm not sure he's acting. But the resonant voice, powerful build (of a much larger man), and dominant screen presence are still in evidence. In his prime, Rains could compete with the most dominating actors of the time, including the redoubtable Bette Davis. Too bad he never received the official recognition his talent merited. He may be only a shadow here, but the presence is still impressive.

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