Welcome back to my “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” marathon! The idea of a perfect crime is almost like a myth in fiction and even non-fiction. We’ve seen the idea of a motiveless crime explored earlier this month, but today’s episode touches on how much of a mastermind someone would have to be to get away with a crime. This is “The Perfect Crime.”
Charles Courtney is a detective/prosecutor who prides himself on always getting a guilty verdict for those who deserve it. He collects mementos from his cases as a symbol of that and has one space open for what he consider “the perfect crime.” A fellow lawyer, John Gregory, tells Charles he’s made a mistake and sent an innocent man to jail. Will Charles have to face that his perfect record will be tainted forever, or will he take matters into his own hand?
Going into this episode, I was excited for the main reason I chose it for this marathon: Vincent Price. He plays the very vain and very smug Charles Courtney, and, unlike the “protagonist” in “None Are So Blind,” didn’t feel nearly as insufferable to me. He’s technically the protagonist in this story and no matter how smug he got, I couldn’t help wanting to see what’d happen by the end. It was probably mostly due to Price’s performance, which felt solid overall.
The character of John Gregory was also pretty good, and it’s established near the beginning that as a defense lawyer, he suffers plenty of losses with defending guilty clients. It makes a great counter to Charles being so apparently flawless and a “winner” to the public. You don’t get a huge sense of bitterness from John, but you can tell he takes some pleasure in knocking Charles down a peg with claiming that he sent an innocent man to be executed.
The story is told mostly in Charles’ home, though a few flashbacks occur at random intervals. These are to retell the story of the man in question who Charles apparently convicted by mistake. They follow Charles doing his investigation before switching over to John’s claims of the events happening differently and involving the man’s lover. I found these helpful in painting a picture of what happened (or could have happened) and breaking up the scenes between the two men.
The ending built up to a point where I saw the outcome coming, but I was still caught off-guard by the final conclusion and the payoff to the whole “perfect crime” idea. This was one of those stories where you could predict what might happen, but still not know everything. That’s one of the best things about this show to me. This was one of those episodes that took a simplistic idea, setting and characters and was made intriguing by the performances and outcome.
Overall, “The Perfect Crime” may not be one of my absolute favorites, but it ranks up there as one of the best I’ve seen from this show. Again, for me, a lot of that was thanks to the performances, especially from Vincent Price. He was just engaging to watch and I was a bit satisfied with the ending of the episode. I would highly recommend this one if only for him, especially where it’s the Halloween season.