Submission to "ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS…." (With an Homage to Cinematic Hitch!)
By Susie Duncan Sexton
My Wikipedia googling capabilities seem to be on the fritz, Dear Fabled Master Director, thus I'm unable to recall the evening of and the time -- registered by the chiming of the old grandfather clock in the corner -- for your suspense-inducing broadcasts during television's Golden Age of perpetual marvels. I never missed even one episode. Over a half century later, I wonder how in this world, or any other, did you and your creative co-horts manage to pack into 30 minutes (interrupted by commercials so drolly introduced by yourself) sizzling dialogue, clever black and white film noir caliber photography, a plethora of notable actors and actresses, and surprise-twist O. Henry type conclusions which consistently startled jittery boob-tube viewers 150% of the time. Across the years we regress…backward and time traveling now…due to my reverent revisiting of your monopoly on fright-mongering available through Antenna TV telecasts beaming to me at the post-witching, werewolfish hour of 3 A.M. nightly in this 21st century.
"SQUIRREL'S WINTER TALE (TAIL)" originally starring Roy Sexton, Susan Sexton, Donald Sexton, Richard Bragg, Shirley Bragg and Squiggy…No animals were harmed during this production…based upon a true event occurring in ANYSMALLTOWN, U.S.A. The late eighties. Chauncey Street. Line Street. And all alleys in between. Snow piled high providing a cushioned cover upon treacherous icy pavements beneath. Weather conditions sinister and foreboding. Time: late dreary afternoon on a Sunday. Traditional opening theme song "Funeral March of a Marionette"…
PLOT OUTLINE…(script to be provided upon acceptance of story idea.)
A mom returns from several dull hours spent at local museum preparing an exhibit honoring the historic home's famous 19th century resident noteworthy as Woodrow Wilson's wise-cracking Vice President known as cigar-smoking Thomas Riley Marshall. Sleet causes her automobile to skid now and then. She notices a plump, ginger-colored squirrel very still as it reclines on its pudgy side, its fluffy plume of a tail slowly swishing in the swirls of wind sweeping across the roadway. She swerves to avoid the tiny appealing rodent no doubt previously scampering friskily from bare, stark tree trunk to tree trunk and tight-rope walking among multiple limbs. Grave concern furrows her brow as she steers her vehicle into her driveway and through the remotely-controlled creakily opening garage door. She enters her cozy house, removes her boots, places a roast into the oven (prior to her switch years later to vegetarianism), alerts her adolescent son -- intensively studying for a Monday social studies exam ("The Man Who Knew Too Much")-- to grab a warm blanket, a first-aid kit from the upstairs medicine cabinet, and also a shovel from the garage.
Two uncloaked figures step outside to hasten from their Line Street home one short block back -- to the Chauncey Street location of the possibly injured squirrel--(camera zooms onto street signs)-- mother and son pad along the precariously slick alley ("Slip Slidin' Away" -- apologies to Paul Simon!) connecting the two residential thoroughfares, via about "39 Steps". Susan is barefoot. Roy wears bedroom slippers. Upon arrival at their destination somewhat "North by Northeast", the teensy shivering body has mysteriously vanished into the thin, wintry air. Puzzled, perhaps a bit relieved, the twosome slips and slides quickly homeward to kick in "The Family Plot" looming ahead.
In their frenzied earlier exit from the backporch door of their home, they 'd accidentally locked themselves out, and a check of the front entry revealed the same prickly dilemma. The roast continued to roast…the mother's unshod feet approached frost-bitten status. Would the next-door neighbors be comfortably channel-surfing from football game to football game in their own warm living room while German Shepherd Rhino nestled between Richard and Shirley? Both wayward travelers peered through the neighbors' "Rear Window"…(their anxious breaths freezing onto the fogged-up pane)! Dear God, hopefulness beckoned as Susan and teenaged Roy navigated toward the Bragg's porch. As fate would have it, the relentless doorbell ringing roused both Braggs from their recliners. Thawing out, safety -- only seconds away? But the roast still roasted…and the hour was getting late…and the only house-key available rested in the pocket of self-proclaimed familial chief and "last resort" Donald who labored miles away in a city named Fort Wayne at a War Memorial Coliseum while manning his annual uptight banker's booth at the February "Boat Show". Notoriously tense for these recurring monotonous once-a-year week-ends spent pacing about a cavernous, crowded, humongous, smelly building and usually sprouting varicose veins from hours spent standing upon concrete floors, Donald eerily routinely channeled actor Jack Nicholson's star turn as the villainous, addled papa in Stephen King's "The Shining" (pardon THAT reference dear MASTER OF SUSPENSE HITCH!). An inopportune time to dial up the Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde paterfamilias who without question would become monstrously "Psycho"….
Richard Bragg, grudgingly setting aside further gridiron ogling, retrieves a ladder from previously mentioned garage setting (while complaining of "Vertigo"), checks the Sexton's upstairs door (to a back bedroom) located off a second story sun deck (ah, sweet sunny by-gone memories!) but to no avail -- "The Rope" might come in handy? After imbibing a graciously offered bone-warming hot toddy/highball, the risky phone call must be made, with mixed results, just as in "Dial M for Murder" starring Ray Milland, Bob Cummings and Grace Kelly? Here comes Donny! The surprise ending I am still developing, Mr. Hitchcock, and would welcome your input here; perhaps the risen, revived, vagrant squirrel scampers to Susan's kitchen and is eventually nabbed, nibbling the well-done roast to the tune of the buzzing drone of a timer? "To Catch a Thief"? I do recall that when this precarious circumstance actually reached its eventual crescendo-ing zenith that the character of Don Sexton spoke of being married (hitched) to an absolute NUT and that the boy named Roy had not fallen far from the tree? (The "apple" metaphor would be more accurate I realize, but since this particular narrative hinges upon the body of a missing squirrel, I prefer the "nut" allusion?)
Just this very moment, I realized that perhaps your opening theme song might have been instead "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" which I asked Donald, upon whom this story is based, to sing out loud for me from his bathroom location this morning before work. He indicated, through a partially opened louvered door, that particular melody is difficult to hum or whistle, and he seemed rather threatening in turning down my request. Like Shelley Duvall, I am convinced that marriages can be most tricky…and googling is as I say not a possibility at present.
Should you not express an interest in this concept which I have now offered considering it "for THE BIRDS", I DO have another idea for a script. Recently, over an intensive three day movie marathon, I enjoyed five offerings: "Exodus", "Annie", "Big Eyes", "Into the Woods" and "Four Christmases". After the fashion of the recently filmed Broadway musical "Into the Woods" which involves familiar folk-tale characters -- inhabiting various beloved stories -- all jumbled together into one fine mess, I visualize a 25 minute show to be aired which involves Moses, Daddy Warbucks, a stray dog, orphans, hallways full of posters of children with over-sized saucer-like eyeballs, a witch or two, peasants, princes and princesses, the Red Sea, and pyramids being visited by a couple (Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon) who very much replicate Donald and Susan Sexton at their most vitriolic, turbulent best. Roy Sexton asked that he be excluded from such a production…why, I do not know. He will be greatly missed, as he is my preferred partner in crime!
POSTSCRIPT: Might I suggest one of your much beloved CAMEO appearances -- via your reliably amusing introductions to your telecast masterpieces…where you smoothly stride into and inside of your original pen and ink doodled profile which you formerly created for your family Yuletide card whilst living in the UK, your home sweet home? And that whatever shapely starlet you cast as Susan Sexton will fulfill your stringent requirements for a typically drop-dead gorgeous blonde ingénue? Accept my gratitude for such additions in advance.