Thirteen Against Fate: The Suspect 1966
Director: Michael Hayes
Rôle: Monsieur Hire
Broadcast: 4 September 1966 BBCTV
Synopsis: For many years M. Hire has lived a recluse's existence in a seedy Paris lodging house. He has no friends, receives no letters, goes out only to his office or to the cinema. One evening, a brutal killing occurs nearby. A young girl is murdered and her handbag is snatched. When Hire's landlady -- a shrill busybody and gossip - sees a towel in Hire's room, covered with blood from a shaving cut, she jumps to the wrong conclusion and suspects him of the murder. And when she recalls that very late during the night of the crime, she had to pull the cord by her bed to let someone into the house, she is doubly convinced of Hire's guilt. Hardly able to suppress her excitement and self-importance she informs the police of her suspicions. In his isolation, Hire had been in the habit of watching through his window into the room of another occupant of the house, Alice, who helps the concierge with the work. And so when the good-looking young woman, consumed by curiosity, pushes her way into his room on the pretext of delivering an envelope to him, Hire finds it impossible to refuse her admittance. As soon as she sees the arrangement of his room, Alice realizes that Hire can see into her room. In panic, she begins to seduce the lonely man. She tells him that the man he must have seen visiting her, often late at night, is just a casual lover. And, certain that Hire saw the lover Emile visit her the night of the murder and give her the victim's handbag to hide, Alice confesses that Emile is indeed the real killer. She says both she and Hire are in danger for Emile is violent and will kill them both if they talk. Hire is now thoroughly infatuated with Alice and convinced that she loves him. And so when he receives a summons from the police for questioning, he resolves to take Alice away with him. Afterwards he will send a letter to the authorities telling them that Emile is the murderer. He does not know that he, himself, is the prime suspect. But the police have uncovered the prison record which turned Hire into a recluse, and the net is closing around him. Only one piece of substantial evidence is needed to convict him. To keep him quiet and happy, Alice agrees to go away with Hire and, while he is out, she plants the handbag in his room. Now the police follow him on his final errands, see him go to a jeweller's to buy a ring, and then to the railroad station where, just before the arrival of the train which will carry him and Alice away to Venice, he mails a letter. But the train comes -- and goes -- and bewildered, he wanders back to the house in search of Alice, who tries to hide from him. The truth about Alice's deceit slowly sinks into his consciousness. Then, pursued by the police, while a mob of avid, scandal hungry neighbours surround him, he rushes distractedly upstairs, onto the roof, and falls to his death.
Trivia: Film sequences of "The Suspect" were shot on location in the St. Denis area of Paris. Thirteen Against Fate was a series of thirteen hour-long episodes based on the novels of Georges Simenon. Noted for the sound psychology of his characters, Simenon's stories deal with many nationalities and are set in numerous European cities and villages. There are sequences filmed in these locations integrated into the episodes. In each of the novels chosen for this series, Fate plays a leading role in the development of the story and the characters. This story had previously been filmed in France in 1946 as 'Panique', directed by Julien Duvivier and starred Michael Simon as M. Hire and Viviane Romance as Alice. It was remade in 1989 in France as the film 'Monsieur Hire' directed by Patrice Leconte with Michel Blanc in the title role and Sandrine Bonnaire as Alice.
Comment: Very recently we had the great fortune (due to a very kind contact and friend) to obtain a copy of this episode. We were not disappointed as we were sure we would never see it! Marius is so touching in his portrayal of M. Hire. Although he is carrying on a rather dubious business of sending out erotic postcards in the mail by subscription, you can't help feeling so much sympathy for this pathetic, lonely man. He is entirely manipulated by Alice (what a piece of work she is and so is her sleazy, murderous lover) and that seals his fate.
Out of the Unknown:
Season 2 Episode 10: Too Many Cooks 1966
Director: John Gibson
Broadcast: 15 December 1966 BBCTV
Synopsis: Dr Andrew Cook, inventor of a process for making living replicas of human beings, has unwittingly duplicated himself and becomes a secret weapon in the Solar System's struggle for economic survival against a powerful alien culture, the Sentients.
Availability: All surviving episodes of Out of the Unknown were released on DVD by the BFI in November 2014. Unfortunately, this episode is not believed to have survived in the BBC archives or elsewhere. The BBC Archive Treasure Hunt, a public appeal campaign, continues to search for lost episodes.
Director: Gerard Glaister
Broadcast: 28 March 1967 BBCTV
Synopsis: Produced and transmitted by the BBC between 1967 and 1968, the series dealt with cases handled by the Investigation Branch of Customs and Excise such as the illegal import of goods, illegal immigration and business transactions amongst travellers. It was produced by Gerard Glaister.
Availability: The series lasted for three series and 39 episodes in total. In spite of this fact, all of the episodes were later wiped, with no episodes extant in the BBC archives.