Soon, Jimmy professes his love for Maude while admitting that he's "'a pretty rotten guy'" who got in trouble in his youth. Maude falls hard for Jimmy and Dr Cowper notices that she seems happier. Meanwhile, the doctor is worried about a patient of his named Harrison. Jimmy tells Maude that his criminal life is not all in the past, confessing that "'I'm a crook, and a cheap one at that.'" He says that he needs money to marry her and he asks her to bring home some of Dr. Cowper's files for him to review.
After three weeks of resistance, Maude agrees and brings home a stack of files, which Jimmy combs through, settling on one labeled "M.J.H." Maude explains that M.J.H. is Martin J. Harrison, a 54-year-old securities analyst who is married but who is seeing a 17-year-old girlfriend on the side. Jimmy plans blackmail and calls Maude the next day to say that his plan is working.
|Robert Loggia as Jimmy French|
In late 1961, Slesar adapted his own story for television, writing the teleplay for an episode with the same title that was broadcast on Alfred Hitchcock Presents on NBC on Tuesday, January 23, 1962. Robert Loggia starred as Jimmy French and Barbara Baxley was featured as Maude Sheridan. The program was directed by Alan Crosland, Jr.
|Barbara Baxley as Maude Sheridan|
The show opens with a nicely played scene where Jimmy and Maude meet for the first time in an automat. Maude is nervous and shy, unused to being the object of a man's attention, while Jimmy is confident and gregarious. Slesar does a nice job of dramatizing their meeting, which in the story had simply been referred to as having occurred at a party. Automats were popular, inexpensive places to eat in 1962, especially in New York City, and seeing one in this episode provides a window into the past. The last Horn and Hardart's automat in New York closed in 1991.
The second scene shows Maude at work at Dr. Cooper's office (the spelling of his name is simplified for the TV show), where she is confident in her exchange with the doctor but less so when Jimmy surprises her by telephoning her and asking her out to dinner. Barbara Baxley shows Maude's shyness both in her voice and in her mannerisms, as she plays with her hair nervously, reverting to behavior befitting a schoolgirl.
|Maude protects herself with her cat|
Scene four takes place some time later, since Maude is now much more comfortable around Jimmy as they share a candlelight dinner at her apartment. She has fixed her hair in a more flattering style and she wears an attractive dress. Her speech and mannerisms also display an easy familiarity with her companion and she calls him "'darling.'" However, he appears unhappy, confesses that his criminal activity is not just in the past, and tells her that he is in debt for $2000 is at risk of going to jail. He swears that he will change after "'just one more job'" and asks her to bring home the files. When she refuses, he storms out.
|Jimmy looks through the patient files|
The next scene is set in Jimmy's apartment, as he goes through the files. He sees one marked "M.J.H." and the camera dissolves to the office of Martin J. Harrison, where another scene occurs that was only hinted at in the story. Jimmy visits Harrison in his office and blackmails him; this time, Diana--Harrison's teenaged girlfriend--is 18, not 17, surely a change required by the television censors. Jimmy is cocky and arrogant, demanding $10,000 in cash. When Harrison says he needs time to raise the money, Jimmy tells him to bring it to his place at 9 P.M.
|Theodore Newton as Dr. Cooper|
The direction by Alan Crosland, Jr. (1918-2001), is competent, as always, but without any particularly clever or unusual camera setups. This was one of the nineteen episodes he directed for the Hitchcock series; the prior one was "The Right Kind of Medicine."
Robert Loggia (1930- ), who stars as Jimmy, has been on TV since 1951 and in movies since 1956. He appeared in four episodes of the Hitchcock series, including Slesar's "The Money," and his long career continues to this day.
|Richard Gaines as Martin J. Harrison|
Martin J. Harrison, the unfortunate victim of attempted blackmail, is played by Richard Gaines (1904-1975), a character actor who appeared in Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity (1944) and Ace in the Hole (1951), as well as making 14 appearances as a judge on the Perry Mason TV series. "The Case of M.J.H." is listed as his last acting credit.
Henry Slesar adapted this story once more, expanding it to an hour for the CBS Radio Mystery Theater broadcast on August 22, 1974. This radio version may be heard online here. The TV show is not yet available on DVD or online.
"The Case of M.J.H." Alfred Hitchcock Presents. NBC. 23 Jan. 1962. Television.