Escape – Snake Doctor

Escape’s “Snake Doctor” was based on a short story by American author Irvin S. Cobb about jealousy, superstition, and water moccasins. “Snake Doctor” was published in 1923 and can be found in The Works of Irvin S. Cobb: Snake Doctor and Other Stories. It is also available online at

The story is set in Cashier Creek, somewhere in the backwoods of the American South. It centers on a reclusive man known as the “Snake Doctor,” who makes his living selling snake oil and capturing the local cottonmouth water moccasins for collectors. He appears to live among the snakes without fear or injury, and for that, most people in the community eye him with suspicion. (He is also said to be a miser who hides a great stash of money in his home.) The only person who is kind to him is Kizzie Morner, the wife of his neighbor. When she risks the wrath of her abusive husband to help the “Snake Doctor” when he is ill, her husband’s jealousy becomes murderous.

Escape chose not to adapt the story exactly, but mostly. They added in the character of the son, Finnie.

“Snake Doctor” was adapted for radio by Fred Howard, who also appeared in this episode. William N. Robson produced and directed. William Conrad played Jafe Morner. Paul Frees played Finnie. Also appearing were Ruth Barret, Barton Yarborough, and Louis Van Rooten. This episode aired on February 8, 1948.

Escape aired this story again on August 18, 1949. Norman MacDonnell produced and directed. William Conrad and Paul Frees again played Jafe and Finnie. Also appearing were: Ira Grossell, Bill Lalli, Ruth Barrett, Wilms Herbert, and Edgar Barrier.


Suspense – Consequence

In “Consequence,” Jimmy Stewart plays a man who escapes his unhappy marriage by taking a dangerous chance.

At their ten-year class reunion, Dr. Phil Martin meets his old college chum, Ted Wolf, and invites him back to his house for dinner. Phil and his wife, Gwen, appear to have a perfect life, but later, Phil admits to Ted that he is trapped in an unhappy marriage and a meaningless career. Later that night, an accidental fire burns down Phil’s house while both Gwen and Phil are out. Everyone assumes that the body found inside is that of Dr. Phil Martin, but it is actually Dr.Ted Wolf. Seizing this unexpected opportunity, Phil assumes Ted’s identity and runs away to Los Angeles.

“Consequence” was written by Vladimir Pozner and George Sklar and was adapted for radio by Robert L. Richards. William Spier produced/directed. James Stewart, in the first of his four appearances on Suspense, starred as Dr. Phil Martin. Cathy Lewis played Jo. This episode aired on February 21, 1946.

Jimmy Stewart appeared in the same role again three years later. Anton M. Leader produced/directed. Betty Lou Gerson played Gwen. This episode aired on May 19, 1949.


Escape – Red Wine

In Escape’s “Red Wine,” a detective travels to a rubber plantation on the coast of Borneo to find a killer. This episode is based on the 1930 short story by Lawrence G. Blochman, but Escape threw in a seductive island girl and, of course, a deadly snake to fill some time. Otherwise, they kept the main elements of the story intact.

Detective Paul Vernier has traveled from San Francisco to Borneo to extradite Jerome Steeks, a man wanted for the murder of his wealthy wife. Vernier arrives in the jungle outpost of Tamjong Samor on a tip that Steeks is hiding there, but he soon realizes that arresting him won’t be easy. There are 3 Americans working on the local rubber plantation, but none of them fit the description of the man he is looking for.

Vernier knows that one of them is the killer. So, he leads the three men into a trap to reveal which one is really Jerome Steeks, a man of sophisticated taste and culture.

“Red Wine” was adapted for radio by Morton Lewis and Les Crutchfield. Norman MacDonnell produced/directed. Jeff Chandler played Vernier and Berry Kroeger played Herr Koert. Also appearing were David Ellis, Lou Krugman, Jack Kruschen, and Lorette Filbrandt. This episode aired on February 26, 1949.

Esc 490226 Red wine

“Red Wine” was presented again on August 11, 1949. Richard Sanville directed. Willard Waterman played Paul Vernier. Also appearing were Robert Boon, Marian Richman, Lawrence Dobkin, Vic Perrin, Wilms Herbert, and Clarke Gordon.

Esc 490811 Red Wine


I think I should have saved this episode for Halloween 🙂

Escape-Leiningen Versus the Ants

“Leiningen vs. the Ants”, a short story by Carl Stephenson published in Esquire magazine in 1938, was presented by Escape, Suspense, Mystery in the Air, and Lux Radio Theater. The story depicts the battle between the owner of a plantation in the Brazilian jungle and an attacking army of soldier ants.

You may already be familiar with this story from the movie version. In 1954 “Leiningen vs. the Ants” became The Naked Jungle starring Charleton Heston. In the film Leiningen has a love interest, a mail order bride played by the seductive Eleanor Parker. Leiningen spends the first half of the film grumbling because the new bride he ordered isn’t a virgin – and he is. Then, in the second half, the ants come marching along to provide tension for the love story. William Conrad, who had previously played Leiningen on Escape, stars as the district commissioner. The movie went in a different direction but the radio versions stayed true to the original work.

The adaptation of this story for radio by Robert Ryf aired three times on Escape and twice on Suspense. For Escape, William Conrad played Leiningen on January 14, 1948 and May 23,1948. Tudor Owen played the role for Escape on August 4, 1949. William Conrad starred as Leiningen for Suspense on August 25, 1957. Luis Van Rooten played the role for Suspense on November 29, 1959.

Of the five different presentations of this same radio play, here are:

Tudor Owen as Leiningen:

William Conrad as Leiningen:
Suspense.08.25.1957.Leiningen vs the Ants.mp3

“Leiningen vs. the Ants” was also the inspiration for an episode called “Trumbo’s World” on the ABC television show MacGyver.


Escape – The Second Class Passenger

Escape’s “The Second Class Passenger” was adapted and expanded from the short story by Perceval Gibbon. The original tale is available online at Open Library and in The Second Class Passenger and Other Stories (1913).

As the episode opens, Mr. Dawson is on a cruise that has stopped for the day in Mozambique. He and Miss Patterson are in town for lunch, along with a couple of the other gentlemen from the ship. On their return, Miss Patterson realizes that she left her souvenir back at the restaurant. Mr. Dawson doesn’t want to retrieve it, but to save face in front of the other gents, he agrees to go.

After he picks up her souvenir, he gets caught in a terrible rainstorm. When he asks for shelter from one of the local residents, he soon becomes tangled in a web of intrigue. With the help of a mysterious woman, he faces one danger after another…but will he get back to his ship?

“The Second Class Passenger” was adapted for radio, produced, and directed by William N. Robson. Harry Bartell played Dawson. Jeannette Nolan played the woman. Also appearing were William Conrad and Cathy Lewis. This episode aired on January 7, 1948.

Escape presented this story a second time on July 28, 1949. Parley Baer played Dawson. Also appearing were Georgia Ellis, Paul Dubov, Ben Wright, Vivi Janiss, John Dehner, Edgar Barrier, and Nestor Paiva.

William N. Robson later presented this story on Suspense on January 20, 1957. Character actor and “Disney Legend” Sterling Holloway, the voice of Winnie the Pooh, starred as Mr. Dawson. This was his only appearance on Suspense. Also appearing were William Conrad and Hans Conried.


Escape – Action

Escape’s “Action” was adapted from the 1928 short story by Charles Edward Montague about a suicidal mountain climber.

Christopher Bell, a man with a creeping numbness on one side of his body, believes that the only future ahead of him is one as an invalid. With nothing left to gain by living, he travels to Zinal, Switzerland, where he plans to end his troubles on a mountain cliff.

As he begins his ascent up the Schallijoch Glacier, a pick axe suddenly comes tumbling down from above. Annoyed at first, he soon realizes there are two people above him who need help. He springs into action, and in doing so, changes his life.

“Action” was adapted for Escape by Les Crutchfield and produced/directed by Norman MacDonnell. To their credit, this is one of those instances where Escape’s adaptation could be considered more enjoyable than the original story. Joseph Kearns played Christopher Bell, Louis Van Rooten played Dr. Gollen, and Joan Banks played Mrs. Gollen. Also appearing were Erik Rolf, Marta Mitrovich, Jeff Corey, Ray Lawrence, and Berry Kroeger. This episode aired on April 4, 1948.

Escape presented this story a second time on July 21, 1949 with the same cast.