PT.2.Thriller in The Lethal Ladies
Season 2 Episode 66 Aired: 4/16/1962
Two separate tales dealing with women who take control of desperate situations. In "Murder on the Rocks", an unhappy marriage results in the couple trying to permanently get rid of each other. In "Goodbye, Dr. Bliss", a librarian does whatever it takes to become the head librarian.
Tags: Anthology Cult TV Jack The Ripper Boris Karloff
Added: 2 years ago
[scene opens in Wharton Memorial Library, as a young female librarian enters the office of Miss Quimby, an older woman with a bun in her hair and thick glasses]
MARTHA FOSTER: Miss Quimby?
ALICE QUIMBY: Oh, hello Martha.
[the younger librarian holds out her hand]
MARTHA FOSTER: Look, look!
[the older librarian looks at the ring on her finger]
ALICE QUIMBY: Oh, it's beautiful! Richard?
MARTHA FOSTER: Uh huh! This morning! Miss Quimby, this is our day! Y'know, I just saw some of the library committee leaving. Mister Jacobson was cleaning and polishing the staff room all morning! Oh, Miss Quimby, I just know they voted you head librarian!
ALICE QUIMBY: Oh ...
MARTHA FOSTER: Let me look at you ...
[she takes some lipstick out of her purse]
MARTHA FOSTER: Here, put some of this on ... "Pink Smoke!"
ALICE QUIMBY: Oh, I don't think so, Martha ...
MARTHA FOSTER: Oh, go ahead! It's almost colorless. Why, everyone uses it these days. Just a little.
[she reluctantly takes the lipstick, as someone knocks at the door]
ALICE QUIMBY: Come in!
[a young male librarian enters the office]
RICHARD SUTTER: Excuse me, Miss Quimby ... Come on honey, we're late!
MARTHA FOSTER: Bye!
[she runs off to join Richard, but turns back to Miss Quimby before exiting]
MARTHA FOSTER: Oh, now don't forget, just a little and I know you'll look wonderful!
RICHARD SUTTER: Come on, honey!
[they leave, when the library secretary's voice is heard over the intercom on Miss Quimby's desk]
JESSIE SWANSON: [from off camera] Miss Quimby? Mister Delevant is waiting for you in the staff room.
ALICE QUIMBY: Thank you, Jessie. Tell Mister Delevant I'm on my way.
[she walks over to the mirror to put on the lipstick (and take off her glasses), then walks down the hallway towards the conference room]
[cut to inside the staff room, where Mister Grant is sitting at a long table looking through some papers, while Mister Delevant sits nearby]
DICK GRANT: Well Charles, I guess that's about all. I have an appointment back in the city, shall I wait for you?
[Mister Delevant looks at his watch]
CHARLES DELEVANT: No no, that won't be necessary.
[there is a knock at the door]
CHARLES DELEVANT: Yes?
[the secretary enters with Miss Quimby behind her]
JESSIE SWANSON: Miss Quimby is here.
CHARLES DELEVANT: Oh, thank you. Send her in, please.
[the two men get up]
CHARLES DELEVANT: Well, I'll call you tomorrow, Dick.
DICK GRANT: Goodbye.
[he passes Miss Quimby as he exits]
DICK GRANT: Good morning, Miss Quimby.
ALICE QUIMBY: Good morning, Mister Grant.
CHARLES DELEVANT: Morning, Miss Quimby.
ALICE QUIMBY: Good morning, Mister Delevant.
CHARLES DELEVANT: Uh, won't you have a chair?
[he pulls out a chair for her to sit down]
ALICE QUIMBY: Thank you.
CHARLES DELEVANT: There we are ... Oh, could I offer you some water?
ALICE QUIMBY: No thank you.
CHARLES DELEVANT: Well uh, perhaps some coffee? I could have Miss Swanson send some in.
ALICE QUIMBY: No, thank you.
CHARLES DELEVANT: Well ... Now, about this matter of chief librarianship. Since the death of Professor Sterling--
ALICE QUIMBY: Yes?
CHARLES DELEVANT: But, of course, you are familiar with the library charter?
ALICE QUIMBY: Yes ... It says university degree or equivalent.
CHARLES DELEVANT: Or equivalent, yes. But Miss Quimby, there's been so many new things ... procedures. Now, in fairness to you, Miss Quimby, when you first came here, a college degree was not needed to be chief librarian. But, that was twenty years ago. It was just a matter of putting books away on shelves.
ALICE QUIMBY: Now it's library science ... Mister Delevant, I've been head librarian in actual fact for over two months now.
CHARLES DELEVANT: I'm sorry, Miss Quimby ... Very sorry. Believe me, it was a most difficult decision to make.
[Miss Quimby begins to break down]
CHARLES DELEVANT: But, you might feel proud. Now, the man we chose is certainly the most brilliant in his field. Doctor Bliss, Doctor Wilfred Bliss.
ALICE QUIMBY: But why ... Mister Delevant, why wasn't I told? Would it have been kind--
[she starts crying]
CHARLES DELEVANT: Please, please Miss Quimby. Now, it is no reflection on you, believe me. Or your work. Now, we certainly want you to continue with us. You have five more years before you get your pension. And we certainly want you to stay with us until then.
ALICE QUIMBY: [softly] Until then? Mister Delevant, I have no intention of ever retiring. This place is my life, there is nothing else. I could never leave. Maybe I could go to the university at night, and get my degree.
CHARLES DELEVANT: I'm sorry, Miss Quimby. The decision on Doctor Bliss has already been made, by the board.
ALICE QUIMBY: [pause] I see.
[she slowly gets up, as Mister Delevant opens the door for her]
CHARLES DELEVANT: Miss Quimby ... I'm very sorry.
ALICE QUIMBY: Thank you.
[she leaves, as Mister Delevant slaps the table with his hand in frustration]
[the conference room is now filled with members of the library staff (including Martha and Richard), as Miss Quimby makes her way in through the receptionist's office]
JESSIE SWANSON: Oh Miss Quimby, go right in.
[she makes her way in (the large table has been replaced by several rows of chairs) and heads for the front of the room, as Richard stands up]
RICHARD SUTTER: Here's a seat right here, Miss Quimby.
ALICE QUIMBY: Thank you Richard.
[Doctor Bliss enters, but first stops to speak with Jessie at her desk]
WILFRED BLISS: Miss Swanson?
JESSIE SWANSON: Yes, Doctor Bliss?
WILFRED BLISS: If that long distance call comes, have it wait, he'll call back.
[everyone turns to look at the new chief librarian]
WILFRED BLISS: I want nothing to interfere with this meeting.
JESSIE SWANSON: Yes, Doctor Bliss.
[Doctor Bliss, an older man with thinning hair and a mustache, takes a folder from her and strides confidently into the room and stands at the front of the room]
[cut to a closeup of Bliss, as he clears his throat and pours himself a glass of water, then looks around at the (concerned?) faces of his new staff members, stopping to fix his gaze upon Miss Quimby before speaking]
WILFRED BLISS: This is our first meeting, ladies and gentlemen. Our first real meeting. The time for shaking hands and learning each other's name is over. Work begins. But first, let me say this about myself. You will not find me diplomatic. I am no diplomat. I step on toes, I irritate, I even harrass ... but I get things done.
[he stops to again stare at Miss Quimby, then slowly starts walking around the room]
WILFRED BLISS: I have been here one week now, and I can tell you quite undiplomatically, I do not like what I find. Wharton Memorial has outstanding resources, I would hardly be here otherwise. Outstanding, yet it is the perfect example of a third-rate library.
[he shoots a quick glance at the group, as Miss Quimby lowers her head]
WILFRED BLISS: Do I shock you? Well, that is my purpose. Let me shock you further. The methods here are old-fashioned, they will be changed immediately.
[Richard stands up]
RICHARD SUTTER: Excuse me, Doctor Bliss.
WILFRED BLISS: Yes?
RICHARD SUTTER: I don't think that's a fair judgment.
WILFRED BLISS: Oh?
RICHARD SUTTER: The methods here are Miss Quimby's, and they're good ones. And I don't think you're giving them a fair judgment. And I don't believe I'm speaking only for myself.
WILFRED BLISS: And who are you speaking for?
RICHARD SUTTER: I think for all of us.
WILFRED BLISS: You're Mister Sutter, in Technical Books?
[he sits down]
RICHARD SUTTER: Yes.
WILFRED BLISS: Allow me to make a statement ... Mister Sutter's evidently not understood me. I have no desire to change this staff.
[he looks at Miss Quimby (who looks back with apprehension), then raises his voice]
WILFRED BLISS: But the library comes first! The procedure's are going to be re-organized, they are obsolete, outmoded! I am not given to unfair judgments, Mister Sutter. If you think that I am, I will be glad to accept yours as the first resignation here.
[both Martha and Miss Quimby look at Richard in shock]
WILFRED BLISS: That will be all.
[he calmly leaves the room]
[Miss Quimby enters Doctor Bliss' office, as he is unpacking some fine china from boxes]
WILFRED BLISS: What is it you wish to see me about, Miss Quimby?
ALICE QUIMBY: I wanted to talk to you about Mister Sutter.
[he stops and admires one of the pieces]
WILFRED BLISS: My, my one weakness ... It delights me to collect unusual china. Beautiful, isn't it? Sit, sit.
[she sits down, as Doctor Bliss continues to stare at the teacup in his hands]
WILFRED BLISS: Exquisite. Hm ... About Mister Sutter?
ALICE QUIMBY: I think his remarks were ill-considered, but he's young--
WILFRED BLISS: And loyal to you?
ALICE QUIMBY: Yes ... no great faults.
WILFRED BLISS: Miss Quimby, I really don't have to discuss this with you. A little out of your department, wouldn't you say?
ALICE QUIMBY: I'm asking you to let him stay. He's been here four years, he's getting married--
[he puts down the cup]
WILFRED BLISS: Miss Quimby, I am terminating Mister Sutter ... not because of his exhibition the other day, but because he is incompetent! A malcontent! And one more thing, he looks to you as head librarian and not to me!
ALICE QUIMBY: I'm not your rival, Doctor Bliss.
WILFRED BLISS: Good. Good. Then we understand one another ... I wouldn't feel too guilty about Mister Sutter, Miss Quimby. There are lots of other inferior libraries where he can get a position. He simply freed my hands, that's all. I suppose I should feel rather grateful to him.
ALICE QUIMBY: Please Doctor Bliss, won't you reconsider?
[he takes out a letter opener]
WILFRED BLISS: I can tell you quite brutally, Miss Quimby. I'm intent upon only one thing. To replace this entire staff with fresh blood. People with degree credits, people who know who the head librarian is. In short, Miss Quimby, as an administrator of standing, I want my own staff ... which reminds me, how many keys are there to the Rare Book vault?
ALICE QUIMBY: There are two.
WILFRED BLISS: And you have one?
ALICE QUIMBY: Yes.
WILFRED BLISS: Regulations state that only the head librarian shall have a key.
ALICE QUIMBY: You want the key?
WILFRED BLISS: I insist upon it.
[with his back turned to her, Doctor Bliss sticks out his hand]
ALICE QUIMBY: You shall have it. It was only a courtesy that Professor Sterling extended to me.
[she hands him the key, and he puts it in his pocket]
ALICE QUIMBY: Will there be other requests?
WILFRED BLISS: Yes, I'm afraid there might be quite a few, Miss Quimby.
ALICE QUIMBY: I shall be here to grant them, Doctor Bliss.
WILFRED BLISS: Possibly ... Possibly, though a new staff might conceivably change the atmosphere. Drive out the dust, you know. Shine up the place.
ALICE QUIMBY: Why do you dislike me so, Doctor Bliss?
WILFRED BLISS: I don't dislike you, Miss Quimby. I'm merely doing my job. It's you who are making it personal.
[she stares at him with contempt]
WILFRED BLISS: [whispering] Come, Miss Quimby. Face it. I know exactly what's in your mind. Shall I name it? It's ... hatred, isn't it? Pure hatred. Isn't that it? Now, you thorougly hate me, don't you? Don't you?!
[contorting her face with rage, she suddenly explodes]
ALICE QUIMBY: Yes! Yes! Yes ...
[she covers her mouth and starts to cry]
WILFRED BLISS: That will be all, Miss Quimby ...
[ashamed, she turns and leaves the room]
[Doctor Bliss is talking to a young female librarian (apparently recently hired to the library's staff) in his office]
WILFRED BLISS: I just wanted to tell you, Miss Martin, what a valuable asset you've been to our staff. Very valuable indeed.
MISS MARTIN: Thank you, Doctor Bliss!
WILFRED BLISS: I can't tell you what a change it was from Miss Benton ... Oh, she was competent enough, but she had her mind on other things. Marriage and so forth. Well, until next fall then, Miss Martin?
[she shakes his hand]
MISS MARTIN: Oh, thank you, Doctor! Have a nice summer!
WILFRED BLISS: Thank you ...
[he leers at her as she leaves, then turns to attend to something on his desk when there is a knock at the door]
WILFRED BLISS: Yes?
[Miss Quimby enters, carrying a stack of folders]
ALICE QUIMBY: Excuse me, these folders go into the vault?
WILFRED BLISS: Come in, Miss Quimby. Yes, are those the Franklin letters?
ALICE QUIMBY: Yes.
WILFRED BLISS: Mm. Sit, sit.
[the phone rings and he answers it]
WILFRED BLISS: [into the phone] Hello? Oh yes, Jim, yes!
[he leans back in his chair and laughs]
WILFRED BLISS: [into the phone] No no no, no forwarding address. That's right ... No, I'm taking a real escape vacation this year! That's right. No, no one knows where I'm going. I'll be where no one can reach me, that's right. Well, I need it! Mm-hmm. Yes, it's been a rough year. Yes, certainly. Well, I'll see you in the fall when I get back. Goodbye.
[he hangs up]
WILFRED BLISS: Where was I? Ah yes, this.
[he hands Miss Quimby a piece of paper]
ALICE QUIMBY: [quietly] What is it?
WILFRED BLISS: Your termination notice.
[she quickly stands up]
ALICE QUIMBY: My termination--?
WILFRED BLISS: Mmm. Let's be realistic, Miss Quimby. You won't resign, no matter what I do or ... might do. You won't resign, you will hang on. Your pension fund benefits ought to be returned to you, at compounded interest. That should be a nice tidy little sum. Also, I've recommended you receive one month's severance check. Mister Sutter got a job with the county library, you shouldn't have any difficulty.
ALICE QUIMBY: I, I ... I don't accept this! I shall protest to the library committee!
[she hands the paper back to Doctor Bliss]
WILFRED BLISS: I advise you to forget about the library committee, I'm sending them this before I leave.
[he holds up a sealed envelope]
WILFRED BLISS: It is my recommendation for your dismissal.
[the phone rings again, and he answers it]
WILFRED BLISS: [into the phone] Hello? Yes, ah! Those letters went out this morning, that's right. Yes, just a moment ...
[he puts the phone down and addresses Miss Quimby, who is still standing there and staring at the letter on his desk]
WILFRED BLISS: [coldly] You'll have to pardon me, Miss Quimby. This phone's been ringing constantly ... Oh yes, the Franklin letters. Would you place them in the vault, please? Here's the key.
[he hands her the key, then goes back to talking on the phone, as Miss Quimby slowly leaves the room with a blank look on her face]
WILFRED BLISS: [into the phone] Yes ... I hope you were able to purchase the Lincoln photographs. Ah, good. Yes, very good. What's that? No no no no no, that was arranged weeks ago. Yes, that's right. Now, we decided upon the sum, that is correct. No no no, I think if you check your records, you'll see that I'm correct. Will you, please?
[after placing the Franklin letters in the Rare Book vault, Miss Quimby suddenly has the idea to fill a cup at the water cooler in the adjacent hallway and "spill" its contents onto the valve of a large pipe in the middle of the vault ... As the audience is left to wonder what she is up to, she runs back up to Doctor Bliss' office and furiously knocks on the door]
WILFRED BLISS: [annoyed] Come in, come in!
[she rushes in and feigns panic]
ALICE QUIMBY: Doctor Bliss?!
WILFRED BLISS: Yes, what is it now?
ALICE QUIMBY: There's water in the vault! I, I think it must be the pipe!
[he stands up in shock]
WILFRED BLISS: What?! This is awful, tsk tsk tsk! Come along, come along!
[cut to the two entering the vault, as Doctor Bliss inspects the "puddle" on the floor]
WILFRED BLISS: Tsk tsk tsk ...
[he tries tightening the valve, then sighs and gives up]
WILFRED BLISS: I don't know much about these things.
[he climbs a nearby ladder to check the joint at the top of the pipe]
WILFRED BLISS: I don't know where it's coming from ... Miss Quimby, get Jacobson! Perhaps he can help, see if he's still here.
[she slowly backs out of the room with a wry smile on her face]
ALICE QUIMBY: Yes, Doctor Bliss ... Alright.
[she leaves and quickly locks the door behind her, then Bliss climbs down the ladder and notices the door is closed]
WILFRED BLISS: Miss Quimby? Miss Quimby ...
[he tries pushing the door open, then (realizing that it's locked) starts banging on the door]
WILFRED BLISS: Miss Quimby!
[cut to outside of the vault (as Miss Quimby stands with her back to the door), then back to Bliss with a panicked look on his face]
WILFRED BLISS: Miss Quimby, open the door!
[cut back to Miss Quimby, as she uses a napkin to wipe the sweat from her face]
[cut back to Bliss (whimpering and gasping for air), when he notices a pair of scissor on one of the bookshelves]
WILFRED BLISS: I know ... I know someone will hear me! They'll hear me!
[he climbs to the top of the ladder and begins banging on the pipe with the scissors]
WILFRED BLISS: Hear me! Hear me!
[cut back to Miss Quimby, as stands like a stone on the other side of the door]
[cut back to Bliss, who suddenly gives up and drops the scissors, then begins to cry]
[he slowly drops off the ladder and begins pounding on the door again, but Miss Quimby simply walks away]
[Miss Quimby enters Doctor Bliss' office and grabs the letter with his recommendation for dismissal, then heads outside where she is stopped by the janitor]
MISTER JACOBSON: Well Miss Quimby, it's you and me every year, always the last ones to leave! Have a good summer! Uh, until September, then ...
ALICE QUIMBY: Until September ...
MISTER JACOBSON: I'll start watering your flowers next week.
ALICE QUIMBY: Thank you ...
MISTER JACOBSON: Goodbye, Miss Quimby.
ALICE QUIMBY: Goodbye, Mister Jacobsen ...
[he walks away, as Miss Quimby turns - with an evil smile on her face - and waves to the library]
ALICE QUIMBY: [quietly] Goodbye, Doctor Bliss ...
[cut to the show's narrator, Boris Karloff, addressing the audience]
BORIS KARLOFF: But for Miss Quimby, September never came. Pity. Unfortunately for her, she chose to spend her summer vacation in a rustic little town called Graniteville. Lost her footing while strolling along a lonely and rather dangerous ridge, and plunged into the pool below ... She was an accomplished librarian, a successful murderess, but a very very bad swimmer.
"Boris Karloff's Thriller" (TV series 1960-1962)
The Lethal Ladies (#2.29)
Original Air Date: 16 April 1962
2 twisted tales of timid people hitting their breaking point. A philandering investor dreams of independence from his wife, a wealthy, bold geologist, but when his latest scheme plummets down the big board, Myron plots murder. Alice Quimby's entire life is her work at a university library, but she's passed over to be chief librarian, in favor of Dr. Wilford Bliss, a martinet who's going to clean house, forcing her out before she can collect her pension.
Rosemary Murphy ... Alice Quimby
Howard Morris ... Doctor Bliss
"Goodbye, Dr. Bliss": At Wharton Memorial Library, situated on a large campus, Miss Quimby (Rosemary Murphy) is passed over as chief librarian in favor of Dr. Wilfred Bliss (Howard Morris). Miss Quimby has five years to go before she will receive her pension. But she has no intention of retiring: "This place is my life," she tells Mr. Delevant (Chet Stratton). "There is nothing else. I could never leave."
Dr. Bliss takes over. He is an authoritarian type, and announces that the methods used by the library are old-fashioned and must be changed. He terminates Mr. Sutter (Henry Brandt) and says he intends to replace the entire staff.
At the end of the school term Dr. Bliss is planning his vacation - he is leaving no forwarding address, so there is no way he can be reached. He hands Miss Quimby her termination notice. When Miss Quimby makes a trip to the vault, to which she has the only key, she splashes water on the floor to make it appear the pipes are leaking, then summons Dr. Bliss. He goes down to investigate and tells her to get the custodian. She goes out, locking him in the vault. As she leaves the college she turns to say, "Goodbye, Dr. Bliss."
"The Lethal Ladies" is based on two short stories by Joseph Payne Brennan (1918-90), one of the most under-rated horror writers of the last 50 years.
As usual with multi-part episodes, one segment overshadows the other. "Murder on the Rocks" is an amusing trifle, but not much more. Director Ida Lupino supplies some clever camera angles to suggest the animal passions that motivate both characters: there are close-ups of stuffed tigers and a moose's head. But the story is slight and the final twist not particularly memorable.
"Goodbye, Dr. Bliss" is more gripping, perhaps because it reflects Brennan's own attitudes towards his profession. Writing was only a sideline for him; he worked as a senior assistant at Yale University Library, and the outrage Miss Quimby feels at being shunted aside reflects Brennan's own antiquarian views.