Escape – Finger of Doom – Suspense

Escape only presented two episodes based on Cornell Woolrich stories, the horror-voodoo classic “Papa Benjamin” and the thriller “Finger of Doom.” Although Escape was an adventure series, the show was adept at handling Woolrich’s noir material on radio. “Finger of Doom” was first published in Detective Fiction Weekly (June 22,1940).

As the episode opens, somewhere in New York City, we meet Kenny and Steffie. They are engaged, and their wedding is only thirteen days away. On this night, Kenny is picking Steffie up from work. They are on their way for an evening on the town, but first, Steffie has to run an errand. Her boss has asked her to drop off a package, and she convinces Kenny that it will just be a brief interruption in their plans. When they arrive at an old brownstone, Steffie goes upstairs to drop off the package but never returns. Kenny waits but then realizes that something has gone horribly wrong.

“Finger of Doom” was adapted for radio by John Brussell and produced/directed by Norman MacDonnell. Harry Bartell played Kenny and Ed Begley played Gilman. Also appearing were Joy Terry, Edgar Barrier, Louise Arthur, Peter Prauss, and Kay Miller. This episode aired on March 19, 1949.

Suspense had presented an adaptation of “Finger of Doom” under the title “I Won’t Take a Minute” five years earlier. Their adaptation is a little different but just as good overall. Lee Bowman starred as Kenny. Also appearing were Cathy Lewis, Wally Maher, and William Johnstone. This episode aired on December 6, 1945.


Escape – A Shipment of Mute Fate

Escape loved stories that involved deadly snakes, and “A Shipment of Mute Fate” was one of their favorites. This radioplay was broadcast four times, each with a different cast. In this story, a South American Bushmaster is accidentally let loose on a passenger ship traveling from Caracas, Venezuela to New York City. The passengers panic and the crew desperately tries to find the killer snake, but in the end, a mother’s love saves everyone from danger. Depending on how sensitive you are, this story may have you in tears.

The Latin name of the South American Bushmaster is Lachesis Muta (also Lachesis Mutus), which translates to “mute fate.” Lachesis was the name of the Greek fate who assigned the length of a man’s life and Muta was the Roman goddess of silence. The designation of muteness is in reference to the snake’s tail, which rattles like a rattlesnake but makes no noise.

“A Shipment of Mute Fate” was written by Martin Storm and appeared in an Esquire anthology of short stories in 1940. It was later adapted for Escape by Les Crutchfield. Of their four presentations of this episode, here is the third. It aired on March 13, 1949, and stars John Lund, Barry Kroeger, and Lois Corbett.