Do Not Fold, Spindle or Mutilate

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Do Not Fold, Spindle or Mutilate
Genre Mystery/Suspense/Comedy
Based on the novel by
Doris Miles Disney
Screenplay by John D. F. Black
Directed by Ted Post
Starring Helen Hayes
Vince Edwards
Myrna Loy
Mildred Natwick
Sylvia Sidney
Theme music composer Jerry Goldsmith
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
Producer(s) Lee Rich (executive producer)
Robert Jacks (producer)
Cinematography Stanley Cortez, A.S.C.
Editor(s) Folmar Blangsted, A C E
Running time 73 minutes
Production company(s) Samuel Goldwyn Studios
Original network ABC
Original release November 9, 1971 (1971-11-09)

Do Not Fold, Spindle or Mutilate[1][2] is an American television film made for the 90-minute series ABC Movie of the Week which broadcast it on November 9, 1971.[3] Directed by Ted Post, it stars Helen Hayes, Myrna Loy, Mildred Natwick, Sylvia Sidney, John Beradino and Vince Edwards,[4] with the screenplay adapted by John D. F. Black from a novel of the same name by Doris Miles Disney.[5]


Four middle class Pasadena ladies in their late sixties (Helen Hayes, Myrna Loy, Mildred Natwick, and Sylvia Sidney) habitually meet for lunch and exchange small talk with their waitress (Dodo Denney). They propose creating a fictitious young woman and submitting her profile to a computer dating service. Several days later, they start receiving letters from potential suitors and derive additional amusement from reading them out loud.

Concurrently, a young woman (Diane Shalet) becomes alarmed by her date's (Vince Edwards) attempts to force himself upon her. She scrambles out of his car but follows and attempts to manhandle her. Tearfully running into her house, as her mother (Margaret Wheeler) calls out through the window "Ruthie" cause the man to gets leave. His audible thoughts reveal that he has difficulty relating to women.

The date recalls reading about the fictitious "Rebecca" submitted to the "Scientific Associates" computer dating agency by the aged ladies. Composing a letter on his portable typewriter, the man provides an introduction, seeming like an accountant. He purchases inexpensive flowers from a European-accented florist (Leonidas Ossetynski) and returns home, dreaming of about "Rebecca" - "five-seven, blonde, blue eyes, twenty-three, great figure, heh, I'd know her anywhere. Hi, Rebecca, these are for you. I'm Mal Weston."

Mal calls "Rebecca" for a date, to meet at "The Velvet Traop." Due to some mixups he mistakenly approaches an attractive young woman in a minidress (Barbara Davis). Moments before, the ladies had arrived and were shown to their table by the hostess (Patrecia Wynand).

The young woman says that she has an appointment at 6:30, but offers to have a drink with him at her place. Once there, she says, "twenty dollars honey, in advance". He calls her "tramp" and she replies, "well, I've been called worse" and threatens to call the police. Mal kills her by smashing a candlestick over her head.

The murder is discovered
Detective Hallum (John Beradino) arrives and asks Sergeant Lutz (Larry D. Mann) the woman's name. "Brenda Bauer. Brenda Ames everywhere, but at the station."

Meanwhile Weston realizes that he neglected to wipe his fingerprints at the murder site, so drives to Brenda's apartment, but sees that her body had already been discovered, and drives away.

At the precinct, detective Hallum questions a man (Paul Smith), "Don't get yourself in an uproar, Mr. Cutter, we really don't care why you went there". Cutter turns to his lawyer, Mr. Jonas (Gary Vinson) and asks, "Do I answer that?" Cutter says, "Well, as a matter of fact, we... we had a standing appointment...uh... every Tuesday at 6:30. we never saw each other any other time, or even talked on the phone. Just... uh... every Tuesday night at 6:30".

The police pursue the killer, but the ladies capture him

The Pasadena Herald has Brenda's photo and the four ladies recognize her as the woman who left with Mal Weston. They proceed to the address given by Weston. His door is open and they go inside.

A man comes in, introducing himself as Tubbs (John Mitchum), the building manager. The ladies say it's a surprise visit to their nephew and leave. Hallum and Lutz arrive at Weston's apartment and learn from Tubbs that the ladies had already been there. Lutz says, "Have to be the same four that were at The Velvet Trap."

The ladies go to the precinct where a handcuffed gum-chewing miscreant (William Sumper) stares at them and, as he is led past them, whispers something into the ear of one of the ladies, Mrs. Saunders (Mildred Natwick) and she promptly faints.

Detective Hallum says to the ladies, "She'll be alright now. Sergeant Lutz was number one in his first aid class." Before the ladies arrive home, Weston has already gone there and hidden in the backyard. After the ladies enter the house, he confronts them and quickly erupts with rage, shouting threatening recriminations about their deceit. Weston trips and is knocked out when the ladies smash a vase over his head.

The ladies call the cops and conclude "It certainly has been one hell of a day, hasn't it, girls?"[6]

Brief continuation in a similar form

On December 16, 1972, thirteen months after the November 9, 1971 ABC broadcast of Do Not Fold, Spindle or Mutilate, NBC presented The Snoop Sisters, a two-hour television film about two aged sisters who write mysteries as well as solve crimes.

Although different characters than in Do Not Fold, they resemble the style of Do Not Fold's Helen Hayes and Mildred Natwick. The roles of one adventurous sister with the other cautious and level-headed was repeated in the 1972 film as well as the additional four ninety-minute episodes (seen between December 1973 and March 1974),[7] with Mildred Natwick who played Helen Hayes' friend and co-adventurer in the 1971 film, taking over from Myrna Loy as the cautious sister.


See also


  1. ^ Punched card readers sense the uniform rectangular holes in cards but damage to a card may make it unreadable. Frequently, office workers organize papers and forms by stapling or folding them together, or by impaling them on a spindle - all damaging to a card. Thus, beginning in the 1950's when punched cards became widespread, manufacturers printed a warning on cards that would be individually handled. IBM's "Do not fold, spindle, or mutilate" was the best known." — Balaban, Naomi E.; Bobick, James E., eds. (April 1, 2011), The Handy Science Answer Book (Fourth ed.), Canton, MI: Visible Ink Press, p. 34, ISBN 978-1578593217
  2. ^ Spindle" refers to a pointed vertical metal pin on a weighted base that many office workers utilized on their desks to hold stray notes and documents; the sheets of paper would be "skewered" on the pin to form a stacked bundle of pierced pages. This device is less in use nowadays because of the injury hazard presented by the sharpened tip.
  3. ^ "Helen Hayes Tops Cast Of 4 Veteran Actresses" (Schenectady Gazette, November 6, 1971, TV section p.19)
  4. ^ "Do Not Fold, Spindle or Mutilate". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved April 24, 2016.
  5. ^ Disney, Dorris Miles (1970). Do Not Fold, Spindle or Mutilate. New York City: Doubleday. OCLC 98757.
  6. ^ Photos, screenshots and other images related to Do Not Fold, Spindle or Mutilate
  7. ^ The Snoop Sisters at AllRovi

External links

  • More complete synopsis of plot
  • Do Not Fold, Spindle or Mutilate on IMDb
  • Do Not Fold, Spindle or Mutilate at AllMovie
  • Do Not Fold, Spindle or Mutilate at the TCM Movie Database
  • Do Not Fold, Spindle or Mutilate at CampBlood Homo Horror Features
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