Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Season 3 Episode 28

Lamb to the Slaughter

Aired Sunday 9:30 PM Apr 13, 1958 on CBS
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Episode Summary

Lamb to the Slaughter
A woman's police officer husband comes home and announces that he is leaving her and their unborn child for another woman.

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  • One of the best and most memorable episodes of the show.

    One of the best episodes of the Alfred Hitchcock Presents, "Lamb to the Slaughter" was one of seventeen episodes of the series that was directed by host Alfred Hitchcock. The episode was written by British novelist and short story writer Roald Dahl who is best known as the writer of Charlie and the

    Chocolate Factory. Dahl based the teleplay for this episode on his short story of the same name. The episode follows the action of the story quite closely. Although a number of other stories by Roald Dahl were adapted for Alfred Hitchcock Presents, this was the only adaptation that was written by Roald Dahl.

    The direction and the writing of the episode is superb. Barbara Bel Geddes plays Mary Malone, a pregnant housewife who is told by her cheating husband that he wants a divorce. When Mary learns this she sneaks up behind her husband and kills him, in an excellently directed sequence, by hitting him on the head with a leg of lamb. The murder is well set up and excellently directed. Mary Malone, then, cooks the leg of lamb and, in one of the best twist(ed?) endings of Alfred Hitchock Presents, feeds it to the policemen who are investigating the case. Barbara Bel Geddes's performance is excellent as are the performances of Harold J. Stone as Lieutenant Jack Noonan and Allan Lane as Mary's husband Patrick Malone.

    Dahl's teleplay lends an appropriate atmosphere of tension to the piece. The episode could have seriously misfired if Dahl and Hitchcock painted the detectives as fools, but they do not. The detectives correctly note the clues as to what really took place: the victim was struck from behind with a blunt object, he was wearing his coat, he was drinking straight whiskey instead of his usual whiskey with soda and ice, he was seeing other women, he had a gun on him and did not draw it. Though the detectives conclude that the murder was a crime of passion committed by a woman that took a tense Mr. Malone by surprise, they fail to figure out that he was done in with a frozen leg of lab. Though the detectives notice that the roast was cooking for must too long, they fail to figure out that it wasn't burned because it went into the oven while still frozen.

    For their work in this episode Hitchcock and Dahl Emmy nominations for the 1958-1959 television season. In the category of Best Direction of a Single Program of a Dramatic Series (Less Than One Hour), Hitchcock lost to director Jack Smight who won for his work in directing an episode of Alcoa Theatre entitled "Eddie". Roald Dahl, unfortunately, also lost. In the category of Best Writing of a Single Program of a Dramatic Series (Less Than One Hour), Dahl lost out to the writing team of Alfred Brenner and Ken Hughes who won for their work in writing "Eddie" for Alcoa Theatre.

    Dahl's story "Lamb to the Slaughter" would later be adapted for an episode of the British television series Tales of the Unexpected which was hosted by Dahl himself.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (4)

    • [Closing Narration]
      Hitchcock: [in a supermarket] Well that's the way the old meatball bounces. As for Mary Malone, she would have gone scott-free if she hadn't tried to do in her second husband the same way. Unfortunately, he was the forgetful type and had forgotten to plug in the freezer. The meat was as soft as jelly. Speaking of plugs, that is precisely what our sponser wants to do for his product. After which I'll wheel back...[Commercial Break]... And now ladies and gentlemen those of us who work in television have a technical term for this part of the program. We call it 'The End'. Next week we shall be back with another story. [Horn sounds] I must be going. I can't risk another ticket. Good night.

    • Mike: [as the policemen eat] No one's found the weapon.
      Jake: Doc says its probably some sort of a club.
      Policeman: You mean like a sheleighly or something?
      Jake: Well something heavy anyway. It must have weighed about eight or nine pounds.
      Policeman: Whoever did it, is not going to carry a thing like that around longer than they need.
      Mike: Personally, I think its here on the premises.
      Jake: Well for all we know, it might be right under our very noses.

    • Patrick: Now we have to be sensible about it all. Calm and sensible. I'll arrange for the divorce. Naturally, you can have the baby when it comes. You'll have some money. Sorry, I can't give you a lot. But you'll get along alright.
      Mary: I'll get you you're supper.
      Patrick: Get what?
      Mary: Yes, you must have your supper darling. I wouldn't ever let you go without your supper...

    • [Opening Narration]
      Hitchcock: [in a Supermarket with a police officer giving him a ticket] He gave me this ticket for blocking an aisle during the rush hour. I don't understand, I was in the slow lane. I just stopped a moment at the condiment shelf where the store is having a get acquainted sale on [holding up a box] 'Low Calorie Calories'. Tonight's play is not unrelated to this mileau. It is called 'Lamb to the Slaughter'. But before we see it, the store has asked that I direct your attention to their very best bargain...

  • NOTES (3)

    • This episode is based on the short story "Lamb to the Slaughter" by Roald Dahl. This story was first published in Harper's (September, 1953).

    • 1958 Emmy Nomination: This episode garnered Roald Dahl an emmy nomination for Best Writing of a Single Program of a Dramatic Series (Less Than One Hour).

    • 1958 Emmy Nomination: This episode garnered Alfred Hitchcock an emmy nomination for Best Direction of a Single Program of a Dramatic Series (Less Than One Hour).