Hitchcock’s Lamb

DATELINE: Lamb to the Slaughter


Reportedly one of Hitchcock’s favorite episodes of his show Hitchcock Presents,  he directed his old friend Barbara Bel Geddes again. She had the thankless role of the loyal and unrequited love of Scottie in Vertigo.For all her dedication to taking care of him, she picks up the dregs at the end (we presume she has little enough self-respect).

In the “Lamb to the Slaughter,” she plays a pregnant woman whose callous policeman husband drops by their quaint little bungalow home to give her his notice that he has found another woman.

This biting irony was written by Raold Dahl who also gave us Willie Wonka. Not quite the factory of Funtime here.

The presumable victim entitled to be more than mousy over this last straw, we have not seen enough to draw conclusions. But, the victim is Barbara Bel Geddes, and she is nice.

However, for those looking for clues, the first few seconds of the show are telling. The pregnant woman tosses a wrapper carelessly over her shoulder, as if she were a slob at heart in her spotless little home.

We know better. She realizes in a few minutes one more piece of trash on the floor will not be noticed by the visitors she expects after she dispatches her husband with a frozen leg of lamb on the noggin.

After messing up the house like a struggle has occurred, she goes out to the local supermarket to pick up a few healthy vegetables. She puts the leg of lamb in the oven and starts cooking it.

Her sly passive-aggressive plan has colleagues of her husband investigate his odd death, though they know he plays around on a pregnant woman. They are in sympathy—and so the audience even when they see a premeditated murder.

Hitchcock has made the fetus an accomplice in the murder. It is Hitchcock’s nasty business at his most humorous.