Monday, November 9, 2020

THE THIRD ANNUAL CLAUDE RAINS BLOGATHON: Alfred Hitchcock Presents The Diamond Necklace, 1959

 


Tiffany and Rebekkah at the Pure Entertainment Preservation Society are hosting The Third Annual Claude Rains Blogathon running on November 9 - 11. Enjoy the contributions HERE.

Talented stage and screen actor, as well as acting teacher Claude Rains took his career to Hollywood in 1933 as the title character in The Invisible Man; a unique film debut for a unique talent. Over the next 32 years Rains would create many equally memorable characters and garner four supporting actor Oscar nominations: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Casablanca, Mr. Skeffington, and Notorious.

Claude Rains also found television to be a fine showcase for his abilities in the Golden Age of television which began in the 1950s with small-screen version of plays like On Borrowed Time, Abby Mann's Judgment at Nuremberg, and the fondly recalled musical The Pied Piper of Hamelin. Episodic television benefited from Rains' guest performances in Naked City, Wagon Train, Rawhide, and Dr. Kildare. Between 1956 and 1962 Claude Rains appeared in five episodes of the anthology series Alfred Hitchcock Presents. The series ran from 1955 to 1965 and was acclaimed with several industry awards.

This is a spoilerish look at The Diamond Necklace written by Sarett Rudley, who wrote nine episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and directed by Herschel Daugherty, director of 24 episodes of the series. It first aired on Sunday, February 22nd, 1959. I guarantee that knowing what occurs will in no way diminish your pleasure in watching the program, and it is all due to Claude Rains. 

We begin with a typically lugubrious and cheeky introduction by our host Alfred Hitchcock who takes us on a tour of an art museum.


"I wonder what this one is called. Nude with Necklace. I don't think this is a painting you should be allowed to look at too closely. So, while I am appreciating it I shall ask you to look at another exhibit. One that may not be a work of art but is wholesome enough for your children to watch." Cue commercial.


Maynard and Co. Jewelers has been family owned and managed since its founding in 1833. All that time, there has been a Thurgood employed with the firm.

Claude Rains

Meet Andrew Thurgood, who has been the link in the tradition for the past 37 years. He is a fussy and somewhat pompous little man. His pride in his position at Maynard's makes him an oddly endearing fellow. The employees under him expect his early morning pep talk of "Let's make it a good day. Let's make it a Maynard day." 

Claude Rains, Alan Hewitt

We can't help but feel Thurgood's pain when George Maynard impresses an early retirement upon him. Maynard is redesigning the store into a sleek and modern affair and Andrew Thurgood is anything but sleek and modern. The end of the week will see his final day. Andrew sadly remarks "So much to do. So little time to do it in. I'll make it a good week, a real Maynard week." George responds that Maynard's will not be the same without a Thurgood, but there is another tradition that only the Thurgood males join the firm, and Andrew's only child is his daughter Thelma.

Claude Rains, Betsy von Furstenberg

Andrew Thurgood has spent the week calling up valued clients and setting sales records. The final afternoon of his tenure with Maynard's he has the chance of a lifetime. An obviously entitled woman with an accent sets her eyes on a necklace of Brazilian diamonds. Mrs. Dr. Anton Rudell (her husband is the famous psychiatrist) is not concerned with the price. "With the tax, Madam, it comes to $181,500." Mrs. Rudell asks Thurgood to bring the necklace to her husband's office which is in their home. He should see what he is purchasing for their anniversary. We can smell a rat, but Thurgood is oblivious.

Dorothea Lord, Stephen Bekassy

Thurgood attends with the necklace and Mrs. Rudell disappears to try it on with the appropriate dress to impress her husband. After waiting a time, Thurgood spills the beans to Dr. Anton Rudell (the famous psychiatrist). He and his wife are astounded by talk of a necklace from the odd little man from Maynard's and Co. Thurgood is astounded to have been the victim of a thief.

Claude Rains

Andrew Thurgood is inconsolable. "I've disgraced the name of Maynard. I've disgraced the name of Thurgood." George Maynard does his best to assuage Thurgood's feelings by assuring him that the insurance will cover the loss, and the police are on the trail of what surely must be a master criminal. They discuss the history of robberies of the firm. There have been only two in its history, and employees are never blamed.

Claude Rains, Betsy von Furstenberg

Andrew Thurgood returns home to his comfortable apartment and the congenial companionship of his daughter Thelma, who spent the day masquerading as the continental Mrs. Dr. Anton Rudell. The Thurgood tradition has two prongs; working for Maynard's and, when their time is through, stealing from Maynard's, once in a generation. The Thurgoods, father and daughter, are proud of their upholding of the tradition begun by Great Grandfather. The necklace shall be broken up and invested to provide a nest egg for Thelma, although she regrets not being able to blow it all on a good time.

Andrew explains "I'm afraid we might be misunderstood. We might be taken for common thieves which we definitely are not. We've all been upright citizens who have only taken their rights. After all, Maynards would never have been Maynards without Thurgoods. The world can never know."

Claude Rains, Alan Hewitt

The celebration is cut short upon the arrival of George Maynard. Andrew had left the store so bereft that he forgot his bonus and gold watch. In fact, George is thinking of going against one of the Maynard traditions and offers Thelma a position in the store beginning next week.

Claude Rains, Betsy von Furstenberg

 The Thurgood part of the tradition (all of it) will continue for another generation!


Hitch finds the painting just as fascinating as he did at the beginning of the episode even though the necklace has slipped off. 












24 comments:

  1. ALAN HEWITT was in seven DISNEY movies. THE ABSENTED MINDED PROFESSOR and its sequel SON OF FLUBBER(playing a different character in the sequel). He played the dean in THE COMPUTER WORE TENNIS SHOES and its sequel NOW YOU SEE HIM, NOW YOU DON"T. He was also in THE HORSE IN THE GRAY FLANNEL SUIT and THE MISADVENTURES OF MERLIN JONES. I think imdb has THE BAREFOOT EXECUTIVE as one of his credits so that would be seven like I wrote at the beginning. Of all the live action Disney movies are there any you haven't seen from the 60s and 70s?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I probably saw most of the Disney live-action movies that came on in the 1960s as our dad would take us to see them. I can't say I remember them all equally well.

      Delete
  2. I checked imdb again. ALAN HEWITT was in eight DISNEY movies. He was also in THE MONKEY'S UNCLE(the sequel to THE MISADVENTURES OF MERLIN JONES). He was in FOLLOW THAT DREAM with ELVIS PRESLEY, ARTHUR O'CONNELL and ANNE HELM. He has almost 100 credits on imdb. Alan had a very impressive career!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think of My Favorite Martian when I think of Alan Hewitt. I thought Mrs. Brown had the coolest life with her own house, interesting tenants over the garage and Det. Brennan (Hewitt) as her boyfriend.

      Delete
  3. Ever wonderful, delightful, and charming Claude Rains! I recall his thoroughgoing charm in this episode and how well he carried off the ending twist. He was a real pro and always the best thing to watch. Thanks for this great post remembering this small-screen gem of a performance!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. The Diamond Necklace is a real treat and Claude Rains casting really made it work.

      Delete
  4. I’ve seen three of Claude Rains’ AHP episodes so far and this is the best one. Rains was often at his best playing characters with a little glint in their eyes. The ending of this episode is obvious (one learns to look for the twists), but that doesn’t detract from enjoying it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed. Knowing where the episode is going doesn't detract from the pleasure in getting to the punchline. The creative minds and the audience are one happy family in the telling of the story.

      Delete
  5. Today is VETERANS DAY. CLAUDE RAINES was a veteran of WORLD WAR I. He served in the LONDON SCOTTISH REGIMENT. He was injured in a gas attack in 1916. He never returned to combat but he continued to serve with the BEDFORDSHIRE REGIMENT. At the end of the war he had obtained the rank of Captain. I give thanks to Mr. Raines and all the veterans!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In Canada we commemorate Remembrance Day (originally Armistice Day). It is humbling to look at the history of Service of so many; some are relatives and some are these actors we admire such as Claude Rains.

      Delete
  6. You warned us at the beginning this was a spoiler-ish review, and I thought, I'll just skip over the "ending" paragraphs, no big deal...but your writing was so engaging, I read it all the way through. I did NOT see that ending coming, because I too busy visualizing how wonderful Claude R. would be in that role. Even so, I'm very keen to see this episode.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for the nice compliment. My hope is that you will enjoy the episode all the more as you anticipate Claude Rains delightful performance.

      Delete
  7. Dear Paddy,

    This is a great article! I really enjoyed reading your description of this episode, which sounds fascinating. I was intrigued to learn how many television shows featured guest performances by Claude Rains. I look forward to seeing many of them, including this!

    Thank you so much for joining our blogathon!

    Yours Hopefully,

    Tiffany Brannan

    ReplyDelete
  8. Are there any eps of the ALFRED HITCHCOCK shows that you didn't particularly like? For example, you thought they were boring or you didn't like the ending? I didn't see it but what did you think of the three-part one with JOHN WILLIAMS?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sure there are, but I haven't watched the show seriously in a long time. So, only the ones I enjoyed stay in my memory.

      Delete
  9. What are some other favorite performances that CLAUDE RAINS did on television shows?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Naked City and Wagon Train are two of my favourite shows on which Claude Rains guest-starred. Dr. Kildare is a show my mom loved. The Pied Piper of Hamelin with Van Johnson was a TV movie made in 1957. I shared it often with my kids when they were young.

      Delete
  10. According to imdb JIMMY HAWKINS is 79 today! (WIKI has his birthday as Nov. 14.) He was one of the children in IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE. Jimmy was in two movies with ELVIS-GIRL HAPPY and one of your favorites SPINOUT. Jimmy was in an ep of ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS which also had guest star...CLAUDE RAINS.

    ReplyDelete
  11. JIMMY HAWKINS was in at least three things with SHELLEY FABARES. Those two ELVIS movies and THE DONNA REED SHOW. Jimmy and Shelley both have long marriages. Jimmy has been married to LARA PARKER(DARK SHADOWS) for 35 years. Shelley has been married to her second husband MIKE FARRELL(MASH) for 36 years. I have been a big fan of SHELLEY's for a long time. When I see her name I first think of ONE DAY AT A TIME where she played FRANCINE WEBSTER who started out as a business rival of Ann Romano. They later became partners in the advertising business. I also really liked Shelley on an ep of THE INCREDIBLE HULK. I thought ONE DAY was the first weekly series that I knew Shelley from so I was surprised to find out years later that she was the one that played the daughter to BRIAN KEITH in LITTLE PEOPLE!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is always heartening to hear of folks making marriage work. Shelley never lacked for work over the years.

      Delete
  12. Another thing I want to mention is that SHELLEY FABARES' aunt NANETTE FABRAY played Ann's mother KATHERINE ROMANO on ONE DAY AT A TIME. I am also a fan of MISS FABRAY. Shelley was on the sitcom COACH with CRAIG T. NELSON and JERRY VAN DYKE. I never saw COACH until the reruns were shown on USA(the network). On one ep Nanette played the mother of CHRISTINE ARMSTRONG(SHELLEY). I remember seeing that in the TV GUIDE way back and said her aunt is playing her mother! (On an EMPTY NEST ep LEE GRANT played the aunt of Carol(DINAH MANOFF). So that time it was a real-life mother playing an aunt!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a treat when we get to see relatives performing together.

      Two of my favourites along that line are Dick and Jerry Van Dyke playing brothers on The Middle, and Harriet Nelson with her granddaughter Tracy on Father Dowling Mysteries.

      Delete

NOIRVEMBER FUN: My Favorite Brunette, 1947

"When I came to I was playing post office with the floor. I had a lump on my head the size of my head. Inside, Toscanini was conduct...