"Help Wanted" is an episode that has to be appreciated on its own terms. Is it bad? No. Is it badly done? Yes but that adds to its charm.
Mr. Chester Crabtree is an unemployed accountant who is in trouble. He lives on practically nothing and can't pay his rent. What little money he has goes to the sanitarium that cares for his daughter. His landlady is tired of not getting her money, and she tells him that he has two weeks to pay his rent or leave.
She then reminds him that he wouldn't have to go if he would just send his daughter to a state-run mental facility. If he did, he wouldn't have to pay so much for her care. Mr. Crabtree tells her that he can't do that! He will find a way.
Fortunately, an answer to his problems arrives that same morning. A woman comes to his apartment with a job offer. She won't give him her name or tell him who his employer is, but she offers him $100 a week and an office of his own. It is too good to be true! Mr. Crabtree accepts.
When we next see Mr. Crabtree, he is at his new office for the first time. It is a small office on the very top floor of an office building. There is a huge window overlooking the street, furniture that is bolted down, and a cat in the closet with a note stuck into his collar.
Mr. Crabtree is happy in his new job, and he follows all of his employer's strange rules for six months. When we see him again, he is having a laugh with Discretion about the letter they got in the mail from a charity trying to revive Prohibition. Mr. Crabtree admires their optimism, but he throws the letter in the trash.
Then, he finally meets his employer! Mr. X arrives unexpectedly and dramatically. Now, Mr. Crabtree learns why the furniture is nailed down and the window is so big. Mr. X has set up everything on purpose! He wants Mr. Crabtree to commit a murder for him, and if Mr. Crabtree doesn't, he will take away his job.
Will Mr. Crabtree go through with it? Or will Discretion come to his aid?
"Help Wanted" was based on an original story by Stanley Ellin, and was adapted for television by Mary Orr and Reginald Denham. Robert Stevens produced/directed. Otto Kruger starred as Mr. Crabtree. Also appearing were Douglas Clarke-Smith, Peggy French, George Mathews, and Ruth McDevitt. The name of the cat who portrayed Discretion is not given. This episode aired on June 14, 1949.
"Help Wanted" reappeared during Season 1 of Alfred Hitchcock Presents in 1956. Of course, their version makes much more sense, but it lacks the zaniness of Suspense's version. Alfred Hitchcock Present's teleplay was based on the teleplay written for Suspense by Mary Orr and Reginald Denham. Hitchock calls this episode "a brilliant play, sneaky but brilliant."
John Qualen and Lorne Green star. (Radio actor Parley Baer makes a brief appearance as the detective.)