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The Cream of the Jest 

Broken-down actor Charles Gresham, who has a weakness for booze, demands that playwright Wayne Campbell give him a part. When Campbell refuses, Gresham resorts to blackmail.


Herschel Daugherty


Sarett Rudley (teleplay), Fredric Brown (story)


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Episode complete credited cast:
Alfred Hitchcock ... Himself - Host
Claude Rains ... Charles Gresham
James Gregory ... Wayne Campbell
Paul Picerni ... Nick Roper
Joan Banks Joan Banks ... Lee
Johnny Silver ... Jerry the Bartender
Don Garrett Don Garrett ... Pete
Carol Shannon Carol Shannon ... Mrs. Campbell
Thomas Martin Thomas Martin ... Hood


Charles Hanover Gresham is a broken-down old actor whose bar tab is so steep the bartender won't even serve him another drink. Gresham learns that the playwright, Wayne Campbell, is auditioning actors for a new play. He begs Campbell for a part, but his old colleague has no use for this unreliable has-been. Gresham resorts to blackmail. Since Campbell won't give him a part, he demands an "annuity" or he'll reveal Campbell's secret past. Campbell has another idea. Written by J. Spurlin

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis







Release Date:

10 March 1957 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Shamley Productions See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Many scenes are set in Sardi's, the famous restaurant in the theatre district of New York which has its walls adorned with caricatures of celebrities. See more »


[first lines]
Jerry the Bartender: [to a customer] Thank you.
Charles Gresham: Hello, Jerry. How fresh and dewy you look.
See more »

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User Reviews

Good Cast. Silly Contrived Story!
14 June 2013 | by HitchcocSee all my reviews

It was nice to see a couple heavyweights like James Gregory and Claude Rains on the screen. The problem is that they have nothing to work with. When chronic drunken actor Rains seeks out Gregory for an acting job, he is summarily dismissed and sent packing. Gregory sees him at the local watering hole and feels sorry for him. This is awfully sudden. He offers him a job in his play after sobering him up and providing him with a place to sleep. The part is that of a blackmailer. Rains had previously attempted to blackmail Gregory. Rains then makes a terribly mistake in his effort to get the part. All well and good, but we are left with many unanswered question, including Gregory's participation in the events that ultimately occurred. There's no way that he could have predicted what ultimately happened. Anyway, while the episode is pretty slick, it is really quite unsatisfying.

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