Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Season 5 Episode 33

Party Line

Aired Sunday 9:30 PM May 29, 1960 on CBS

Episode Recap

Helen Parch shares a telephone party line with her two neighbors, Betty and Emma. She is a busybody, self-important and insensitive to others. She is in the middle of canning one day when she receives a visit from the county sheriff, informing her that a neighbor she once knew by the name of Miller has escaped from prison. Helen is flabbergasted when the sheriff explains that they have concerns that Helen might be a target of the convict's wrath.

Years ago, Helen had shared a party telephone line with Miller and some others. Having eavesdropped on his phone conversation in which he'd placed a bet, Helen had labeled him a ne'er-do-well and a gambler. After confronting him sarcastically in person, Helen had reeled when Miller had insulted her.

One night following this verbal altercation, Miller desperately needed to use the party line, but Helen was gossiping with another woman. After he had begged the ladies to get off the line so that he could call a doctor, Miller's wife and unborn baby had died shortly thereafter of medical complications.

After this tragedy, Miller fell into a life of depravity, eventually getting arrested for burglary. During his imprisonment, he had nursed his wrath towards Helen and his need for vengeance.

When Helen's two busy-body neighbor women, Betty and Emma, try to find out why a man (the police) has visited her, Helen becomes short-tempered and sarcastic, insulting the two women. When she hears a noise coming from her basement Helen then tries to call the police. Unfortunately, Betty and Emma are on the line and refuse to believe that she is in danger. They laugh at her shrieks of terror and stay on the phone as Miller appears, intent on getting his revenge.

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