Alfred Hitchcock's Games Killers Play
- Introduction by Alfred Hitchcock (ghost written)
- The China Cottage by August Derleth
- Killed by Kindness by Nedra Tyre
- You Can't Be Too Careful by James Holding
- Murder Delayed by Henry Slesar
- Pattern of Guilt by Helen Nielsen
- Weighty Problem by Duane Decker
- Willie Betts, Banker by Mike Brett
- Bus to Chattanooga by Jonathan Craig
- The Feel of a Trigger by Donald E. Westlake
- Captive Audience by Jack Ritchie
- Room to Let by Hal Ellson
- Double Trouble by Robert Edmond Alter
- Heist in Pianissimo by Talmage Powell
- Wish You Were Here by Richard Hardwick
It's a place where murderers come in every size and shape, from the kindly gentleman next door to the luscious blonde posing in the window across the street.
It's a place where murder flourishes in the most outlandish forms — a place where knives are for nitwits, and strychnine is for sissies.
It's a place where a man never quite knows what killed him.
It's a nice place to visit, but an easy place to die in...
Games Killers Play
I have just spent a pleasant hour leafing through a book devoted to the Academy Awards and to the films which have won the Awards through the years. Great films, all of them — though I'll admit to you privately that I often feel that the people who do the voting show real narrowness and limitation of taste by seeming to overlook certain superior suspense films year after year.
In fact, if there is a consistent fault to be found with the films selected for Academy Awards ever since the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences began its presentations back in 1928, it is that the pictures selected are always so mild, so bland, so tame. I refer particularly to then: endings. Look over the list of Academy Award winners from the first one, Wings, to the most recent, and you'll find that the endings just — well, end, and limply at that. There isn't a really strong surprise or twist ending among them, as there would have been if they'd just once been sensible enough to select — well, never mind about that.
To show you what I mean, I have prepared several examples of the way some of the most famous Academy Award films might have achieved real strength and impact if only their writers and directors had happened to think of these things. Here we go:
- Gone with the Wind. You remember this one, I'm sure. Rhett Butler has found out the kind of person Scarlett really is and is preparing to leave her, and she asks him frantically what will become of her. "Frankly, my dear," says Rhett, "I don't give a damn."
And that, you will recall, is that — curtains down, lights up, and the audience on its way out of the theatre and yawning. No surprise; no shock; just "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." Think how much more shock value there would be if the film ended this way:
"Frankly, my dear," says Rhett, "I don't give a damn."
There is a moment's stunned silence. Then Scarlett says, "You can't use that kind of language to a flower of Southern womanhood!" And, seizing a gun from a nearby table, she shoots him through the head, killing him instantly.
- Or take Gigi, which ends with Louis Jourdan realizing that Gigi, played by Leslie Caron, is delightful and that he is falling in love with her. Not much surprise there, you'll have to admit, as everyone seeing the picture knew from the beginning that that was going to happen. But think how much better the picture would have been if there had been a surprise ending caused by the revelation of something else that Jourdan did not realize: Gigi is really a secret government agent, and the picture ends with her arresting Jourdan for counterfeiting! (That scene would also explain how Jourdan manages to have so much money to spend throughout the picture without ever working.)
- West Side Story comes closest to achieving the proper kind of surprise ending, for the hero is killed at the end, and only people who've seen or read Romeo and Juliet would know that that was coming. And how many are there of those? But you'll have to agree that the ending would have been much more effective this way:
The heroine he's sobbing over the hero's limp body. And then suddenly the hero looks up at her, his eyes glazed with death. "You got me into this, you louse," he says — and he shoots her, too.
I think you get the general idea. And so, having made my point, I turn you now over to the stories in this collection, whose endings need no changes at all.
— Alfred Hitchcock
HOMICIDE — HITCHCOCK STYLE
Murder is nasty. Nice people don't do it. Of course not. That's why the world's so safe. That's why we all live to a ripe old age. So smile. Laugh. Above all, don't get nervous. Because that master of murderous mayhem, Alfred Hitchcock, is about to Introduce you to as convincing a crew of keen killers and mangled victims as you'd never care to meet.