For Art’s Sake
starring Simon Williams, Sheila McCarthy, Bruce Gray and Michele Scarabelli as Erica Fortune
Then again, if he was, this wouldn’t be an edition of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, would it?
Arthur has a unique artistic style. With the assistance of his wife, he takes plaster casts of his face and incorporates the 3D image of his expressions into his paintings. Due to the gallery owned by art expert Erica Fortune, they’re selling like hot cakes.
“I’m tired of sneaking around… It’s undignified. I’m not the ‘mistress’ type..!”
For some time, Arthur has enjoyed a love affair with Erica and this probably contributes for his paintings selling so well. However, Erica is tired of playing at secrets and wants everything out in the open. She tells Arthur that he either leaves his wife or leaves the gallery. Arthur is shocked at the ultimatum – why should he leave the gallery? Erica explains that if Arthur choses his wife over her then she no longer wants to see him any more. And that means no more paintings on show at the gallery.
Arthur has much to think about. If it had been a simple decision of choosing between the gorgeous Erica complete with art gallery and his less attractive wife, the choice would have been plain. However, life in the Alfred Hitchcock Presents universe is more complicated than that.
With Arthur deep in thought, his wife Sarah becomes suspicious. Even more so when her husband suddenly proposes an around-the-world trip for the two of them. He even suggests that they stock up on the paintings before they go. It turns out that Arthur Hollister is an artist in name only when, in truth, it is his wife who has the artistic talent.
Still suspicious, Sarah pays a rare visit to the gallery whereupon she meets a surprised Erica.
In the meantime, Arthur is having a quiet conversation with top art critic Bryan Holland (Bruce Gray). He makes up some story about Erica filling her gallery with “new talent” so he asks where would be the best place to go if he was to pull out. Holland tells him there is nowhere for him to go. For Erica is regarded as the best and he would need a really good excuse to leave her gallery. The only way Arthur could leave would be if Erica closed the gallery – or if she were to die. As Holland points out, she’s not likely to close the gallery…
Arthur is left with no other option but to kill Erica. Knowing that she has an illness that is treated with drugs, he plans and executes an overdose. With his plan executed, he returns home and continues his work. Sarah tells him that Bryan Holland suggested that the next stage in the Hollister paintings should be a full body cast of Arthur.
As the plaster hardens, a wicked and smiling face emerges from the curtains. Erica lives!
“Oh don’t look so frightened! You’re not seeing a ghost..!”
Struggling with all his might, Arthur finds no way out. Erica takes the opportunity to fill him in on a few facts that he was missing out on. It started with Erica’s ultimatum. Following this she learned of the conversation with Bryan Holland – and so Erica knew what Arthur would do. Especially when his wife turned up at the gallery having been completely unconvinced by his sudden wish to see the world. Erica and Sarah then chose to team up and dispose of Arthur. The plan is that they play at being each other’s alibi following Arthur’s impending death by suffocation in his plaster cast. The theory being that the police might suspect his wife of murder, or even his mistress, but not both together.
At the next gallery opening, many people offer their condolences to Sarah while Erica insists that due to the rarity of the Hollister paintings, the prices have now doubled. Sarah interjects by wishing that her husband could see the popularity of “his” paintings…
Nearby, two eyes flicker beneath the full body cast painting of Arthur Hollister…
THE MICHELE SCARABELLI FACTOR
It is widely known that the series Alfred Hitchcock Presents has little more input from the great man than an intro and outro either side of the episode. Each episode is approximately twenty minutes in duration with little linking them other than the umbrella title of the series and some occasional mystery and suspense. Most episodes failed in the mystery and suspense department but were successful in the entertainment aspect.
Unfortunately, For Art’s Sake suffers from a story that’s been told many times before and so both mystery and suspense are difficult to find. Indeed, the biggest mystery is probably how they got away with such a bad pun for an episode title.
That’s not to say there’s nothing to redeem this episode. All of the three main actors acquit themselves well – even Simon Williams. However, when an episode is just twenty minutes long with no time for any of the characters to define themselves, it’s a crime that it should be left to the actors to carry such a weak story.
There are also some howling discrepancies that leave you wondering if you can believe your eyes. The biggest one being – is every character in this episode a murderer? With Arthur, Sarah and Erica proving themselves capable of murder, the viewer is left with no one to associate with and so ends up not really concerned who ends up dead. Although even that’s suspect considering that one moment Erica and Sarah are revealing their plans to murder Arthur, and yet hours later he’s still alive inside the painting. And how stupid are we supposed to believe Arthur is? Early in the story he says his affair with Erica is not much of a secret and yet a short time later he’s allowing his wife to strap him to a chair and cover his body with concrete-like plaster of paris.
Full marks should go to Michele who shines in each and every one of her scenes (it’s nice to see her as the baddie occasionally!), but her talent goes to criminal waste on such a feeble story combined with a plot that’s full of holes.