Alfred Hitchcock Presents: The Perfect Crime (1957)

Actor Vincent Price and director Alfred Hitchcock, filming "The Perfect Crime" (1957)

Actor Vincent Price and director Alfred Hitchcock, filming “The Perfect Crime” (1957)


Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Perfect Crime” can be seen as a fable showing us how human’s endeavour in attempting perfection turns out to be self-destruction. The proud detective Mr. Courtney’s aspiration of finding “the perfect crime” sounded paradoxical since the beginning. As intelligent and confident as famed detectives can be, logically speaking they can never even be one hundred percent sure whether they have captured the right person, and “the perfect murderer” of “the perfect crime” would never revealed him/herself, otherwise it wouldn’t be perfect.

Contrary to the expected discretion from a successful detective, Mr. Courtney loses himself in listing his “achievements” to the uninvited late-night guest, defence lawyer Mr. Gregory, who is, as we later understand, also his life-long enemy at work. The inevitable tragedy is hinted and contained as natural as a seed in the very beginning of the story (this is what I like about some good short stories). The same mistake is later committed by Mr. Gregory, when he blackmails the conceited detective after relentlessly insulting the later by proving him having the wrong man executed. He should have known better and warned himself against this cold-hearted detective interested in murdering cases as “art”, because a connoisseur can turn into an artist any time, like he is already doing with ceramic art. But unfortunately the hard-won triumph has taken over him.

A convenient joke was added to the end to ensure the TV audience of a “positive ending” – if not “happy”. But the improbability of that happening left me feeling cold, and pondering how many “perfect crimes” had remained unknown in the history.

To end this article with a lighter note, I’d like to quote from the wicked Hitchcock who quoted from someone he claimed to have forgotten: “A perfect crime is exactly the same as a perfect marriage: their being perfect depends on your not being caught.” It is always a treat to watch the cherubic Hitchcock innocently articulate word by word things that only nasty minds can understand.

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