“A mystery novelist sends a series of weird audiotapes to his publisher. On the first tape, the author boasts that the publisher won’t be able to discern if the story he narrates is the history of an imminent murder – or a mere fantasy. The author tells of his brief marriage ending when his wife was killed after he lost control of their car.
They were kissing, making up after an argument over his wife’s staying out all night with a rich old man, the same evening the author was briefly with the man’s alluring, young wife Janet. Janet made a pass at the author, who immediately cut the evening short.
The author says he fell into a severe depression, declined a needed brain operation, moved from France to San Francisco where he changed his name, then became a mystery writer. The tapes relate how the author eventually ran into Janet , and though she’s still married, dived into an affair.
When she and the author begin to plan her husband’s murder, the publisher calls in another of his mystery novelists to determine: are these tapes just an unorthodox pitch of a new novel – or the bizarre confession of a deranged killer?”
From David Stevens
“The Alfred Hitchcock Hour S01E05 Captive Audience”
From Public Domain
Arnold Moss (on the left) plays the publisher of the publishing company that the James Mason character writes books for. Ed Nelson (on the right) is also an author who writes for that same company. The video that this photo is from is not currently available online right now.
The Captive Audience, is about a man Warren Barrow, ( played by James Mason ) who is a mystery writer, who at the very least wants his publisher to believe that he’s going to kill his girlfriend’s husband and then later his girlfriend, Janet West, ( played by Angie Dickinson ) and sends his publisher, Victor Hartman, ( played by Arnold Moss ) what today would be called a cassette book.
Barrow, has written a book on tape about the murders that he wants his publisher to believe that he’s committed. Barrow, at the very least, is unstable, after losing his wife in a car accident and suffering brain injuries that he’s never recovered from.
Victor Hartman, brings in one of his other writers, Tom Keller, ( played by Ed Nelson ) to listen to Barrow’s self-confession tapes, to see what Keller thinks of the tapes. Hartman and Keller, are trying to figure out whether Barrow has just completed his latest murder mystery, or is he serious about murdering these two people. His girlfriend and her husband.
They decide that Barrow is serious about these murders and even talk to him about his book. And give him some constructive criticism about his book. Barrow, being unstable, doesn’t take the criticism well and freaks out about it. And takes it as if Hartman and Keller simply don’t understand the book.
Angie Dickinson, is hardly an angel on this show. Just looks like one, but her character Janet West, is married to a wealthy man whose old enough to be her father and she’s not in love with him. She uses men to get what she wants and uses Barrow as well and doesn’t love him either.
And this is all part of why Barrow is at the very least considering murdering her. He’s very unstable and doesn’t handle rejection and being used very well. They do a very good job with this episode of not making it clear whether Barrow actually murders his girlfriend, or is this simply part of his book. He’s writing a murder mystery that actually doesn’t happen in real-life. And it’s one of the better murder mysteries that I at least, have ever seen.