Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Season 1 Episode 7

Breakdown

4
Aired Sunday 9:30 PM Nov 13, 1955 on CBS
SUBMIT REVIEW

Episode Fan Reviews (3)

8.5
out of 10
Average
62 votes
  • A compelling and wonderfully told story which uses role reversal to raise thoughtful points.

    9.0
    When the story opens, William Callew is a powerful businessman on the phone with a worker who was just laid off. When the worker pleads to not get fired, Callew ignores him and hangs up before revealing his disgust at the man's crying.

    While in the car later on, Callew crashes his car and is left paralyzed. While left alone and motionless in his wrecked car, a voiceover begins to relay his thoughts. What starts as fairly logical reasoning quickly escalates to panic as he recognizes the seriousness of his situation.

    When people first come by, his spirits temporarily improve, but he soon learns that these people are just thieves that have come to steal parts from his car. He desperately wonders why they are ignoring him, why they wouldn't care enough to check on him. The next group to happen across him go a step further by stealing his clothes. One man wonders aloud whether he is still alive, but never bothers to check. Suddenly the man that refused to listen to a desperate person finds himself needing the help of others, only to have these needs met with cold indifference.

    It is at this point that he realizes he can wiggle his finger and tap it on part of the car, but the next group to come by can't hear his tapping over the sound of their engines and take him to the morgue. He resolves to tap his finger the next morning when his body is being looked at, but when the morning time comes, he realizes with horror that his hand is trapped under his body.

    At this crucial part in the story, he first accepts his helplessness. Rather than reassuring himself that he can find a way to save himself, he realizes that his fate is out of his own hands. As this feeling of weakness begins to consume him, the men standing over him notice something. Tears are filling his eyes. They Realize he is alive and reassure him that everything will be okay.

    In the end, it is these tears and the weakness that caused them that saved him. I see this whole episode as a refutation of the protagonist's original attitude, that one should not show weakness. As the events of the story illustrate, all of us human beings are feeble and weak. From the original perspective of the thriving businessman, his self-interest got him to where he was, and the loyalty of a kind employee did not prevent him from being fired. Helping others was out of the question; the only thing that mattered was whether one was strong or weak. After the protagonist is paralyzed, the audience can see the same situation from the side of the weaker person. Is it really right for someone to act completely in their own self interests and disregard the needs of others? What about when taking a minute of your time could save a life?

    The original view of weakness and strength is broken, as it is shown that we are all subject to weaknesses. When the protagonist finally accepts this at the end of the story, his humanity is restored, and the good nature of other humans allows him to be saved.
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