AHP Marathon: “Lamb to the Slaughter”

lamb to the slaughter

Welcome back to my “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” marathon! As stated in yesterday’s entry, today’s episode marks the final one I’ll be looking at. There are tons of Hitchcock episodes out there, and from what I’ve seen, this story ranks as one of the best (if not the best) from the show. It’s also another story by Roald Dahl, so let’s see if it deserves to be considered one of the best. This is “Lamb to the Slaughter.”

Mary Maloney is the wife of Patrick Maloney, the chief of police. One night, while fighting over the possibility of a divorce, Mary ends up killing Patrick. When his body is found, his colleague, Lieutenant Jack Noonan, goes to question Mary and conduct a search for the murder weapon. However, it seems to have gone missing and can’t be located whatsoever. Will Jack find the weapon and put Mary away forever, or will Mary be clever enough to able to escape a prison sentence?

Of all the Dahl-penned episodes I’ve seen, this one is easily my favorite. I can also see why it’s considered one of the better episodes, at least in terms of a simple murder cover-up plot. In this case, the story actually puts you on Mary’s side and I couldn’t help wanting to see her get away.with her crime.

We don’t get to spend too much time with Patrick before his death, but you quickly learn that he’s a cheater. This coupled with the look of shock on Mary’s face (who’s also pregnant, by the way) immediately made me glad to see him go. Mary herself is shown as a sweet, doting wife initially, but once she snaps, she does everything she can to make sure she’s not fingered as the culprit. This includes making it look like a fight took place and using a murder weapon that can be easily disposed of (no, not spoiling it here).

Since the murder takes place near the beginning, the first half of the episode focuses on Mary covering it up, much like in the first episode I covered, “One More Mile to Go.” I did feel it was paced a little better here, as she at first doesn’t know what to do before establishing an alibi for herself. The second half focuses on her interactions with the police and the tension as they try to piece together what happened. Every single time they’d come close to figuring things out, I was sure they’d finger Mary as the killer.

Overall, “Lamb to the Slaughter” was a really good episode and easily my personal favorite from Roald Dahl. The pacing was decent, the setup and execution of the cover-up was well done, and despite resorting to murder, I liked Mary enough to root for her. Definitely give this episode a watch, even if it’s your first foray into the show.

And that’s it for this month! I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at Hitchcock and hopefully I’ll have something new and spooky planned by next year. Happy Halloween!

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