480516 – 041 Match

Escape – The Match

Escape’s “The Match” is the story of a Canadian Mountie and the fugitive that he is determined to bring to justice.

The story begins in a logging camp on the southern border of Canada where one of the employees, Billy Loring, has a problem. Billy’s wife, Jeannie, has admitted to him that his brutish boss harasses her. When Billy confronts him about it, the boss pulls a knife. Billy knocks him down and in doing so, accidentally kills him. Convinced that no one will believe it was an accident, he escapes into the backwoods of Canada to hide.

Seargent Brokaw of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is assigned to bring Billy back to hang for murder. The story between the two plays out in the frozen wilderness where Billy has been hiding, waiting for the chance to return to his wife and child.

“The Match” was based on the short story by James Oliver Curwood (1879-1927) of Michigan. The short story is available online at the Short Story Archive. During the 1920’s, Curwood’s wilderness adventure stories, often set in Canada, made him one of the most popular novelists in North America. Many of his works were adapted for film and television after his death. Curwood was also an early wilderness conservationist who served on the Michigan Conservation Commission.

“The Match” was adapted for Escape by Les Crutchfield. It was produced and directed by Norman McDonald. Frank Lovejoy played Billy and Sergeant Brokaw was played by Wilm Herbert. Sam Waxman was the narrator. This episode aired on May 16, 1948.


480509 – 040 Time Machine

Escape – The Time Machine

Escape’s adaptation of The Time Machine takes liberties with H.G. Wells’ famous story, but it is still a good adventure tale.

Unlike the original story, which only had one time traveller, Escape’s version has two, Dudley and Fowler. Dudley is the inventor of the time machine, and he invites the skeptical Fowler to take a trip with him. They travel from the year 1948 to the year 100,080.

When they arrive in the future they find themselves in an unfamiliar, pastoral world populated by a child-like race of humans called the Eloi. The travellers are welcomed, and everything seems pleasant until they realize that their time machine is missing.

Soon they discover that the Eloi are not the only race of humans in the future. The Morlocks, an underground race of humans who live in darkness, are the true masters of this world.

If you want to read the original text, The Time Machine (1895) by H.G. Wells, it is available online at Wikisource. The chapter that was excluded from the book and later published under the title “The Grey Man” is also available.

Escape first presented “The Time Machine” on May 9, 1948. The story was adapted for radio by Academy-award nominated screenwriter Irving Ravetch and was produced/directed by Norman MacDonnell. Eric Rolf starred as Fowler, Jeff Corey played Dudley and Kay Brinker played Weena.

Escape’s second presentation of this radioplay is better than the first. John Dehner played the role of Fowler, Lawrence Dobkin played Dudley, and Georgia Ellis appeared as Weena. This episode aired on October 22, 1950.


Escape – John Jack Todd

In Escape’s “John Jack Todd,” a longshoreman must stand his ground against a sadistic dock boss.

This episode was based on a short story by Robert Simpson but attempts to locate it have been unsuccessful.

“John Jack Todd” is a story about cruelty and cowardice, not Escape’s typical adventure fare, but a good story about the destruction of a bully.

As the episode opens, John Todd arrives at a trading post in Africa where he is to work for the next four years. The dock boss, Captain Brock, is known as a difficult man, and he immediately appears hateful towards Todd.

John Todd makes it known that he is a peace-loving man, but because of that, Captain Brock is antagonistic towards him. He thinks that Todd won’t put up a fight, but when a matter of justice is involved, Mr. Brock gets into a fight that exposes him for what he is.

“John Jack Todd” was adapted for radio by Les Crutchfield and produced/directed by Norman MacDonnell. John Todd was played by Wilms Herbert, Captain Brock was played by Jack Kruschen, and Tony Barrett played Ganson. Also appearing were Don Diamond and Paul McVeigh. This episode aired on May 2, 1948.

Escape 480502 e039 John Jock Todd


Escape – The Fourth Man

Escape presented several episodes based on short stories by John Russell, and among these, “The Fourth Man” was the most popular.

“The Fourth Man” is the story of three French convicts who have just escaped from a prison in Noumea, New Caledonia. The leader of the group, Dr. Dubosc, has made all of the arrangements. First they will be ferried out to sea in a raft and then, when they are safely away from the coast, they will be met by a ship.

At the helm of the raft is a Kanak tribesman who was given the job of taking them out to meet the ship. As the three Frenchmen wait on the raft under the blazing sun, their water supply dwindles and they become increasingly hostile. What they can’t understand is why the Kanak who is steering their raft is not troubled by the elements or the lack of water. As “civilized” men they consider themselves to be superior to the Kanak in every way, but their actions prove otherwise.

The full text of “The Fourth Man” (1917) is available online at Gaslight and The script of the 1947 Escape broadcast is available online from the Generic Radio Workshop.

Escape first presented the radio adaptation of “The Fourth Man” by screenwriter Irving Ravetch on August 18, 1947. This episode was produced/directed by William N. Robson and featured Paul Frees, Joseph Kearns, and Nestor Paiva. William Johnstone was the narrator.

The second presentation aired on April 25, 1948. This episode was produced/directed by Norman MacDonnell and featured Berry Kroeger, Joseph Kearns, and Jay Novello. Eric Rolf was the narrator.

The third presentation aired on July 7, 1949. This episode was produced/directed by Norman MacDonnell and featured Joseph Kearns, Ben Wright, and Barney Phillips. Lawrence Dobkin was the narrator.


Two incorrigible fife and drum boys serving in the British Army on the Afghan frontier hunger for their first taste of combat, despite the reputation of their regiment for cowardice. Story by Rudyard Kipling.

First published as No. 6 in the Indian Railway Library as Wee Willie Winkie and Other Child Stories in 1888 and collected in Wee Willie Winkie and Other Stories in 1895, and in numerous subsequent reprints of that collection.

The story

An untried British regiment is sent to the front in a border war, and finds itself faced by a fanatical band of Muslim fighters, powerful hairy men armed with long knives. The British are driven back and retreat in panic and confusion, but two young drummer boys, Jakin and Lew, are left stranded on the battlefield between the armies. Fortified by blind courage and canteen rum, they decide to shame their regiment into returning to the battle. They march up and down across the front to the strains of “The British Grenadiers”. The regiment turns back and advances on the enemy, this time successfully. The boys are killed, but the battle is won.


It is generally agreed that this story is founded on fact, and that the fight in the story is probably an amalgamation of the disastrous British defeat at Maiwand in July 1880, and the victory at Ahmed Khel on 19 April of the same year, during the 2nd Afghan War (1878-1890)

Lieutenant Colonel R.C. Ayers confirms that there is little doubt that Kipling used the 2nd Afghan War as the setting for “The Drums of the Fore and Aft”, and that Ahmed Khel was the model for the battle he depicts:

As three British/Indian battalions formed up for this battle, a strong force of Ghazis charged from the line of the Afghan regular battalions and initially drove back the 59th Foot who were very hard pressed and giving ground, before the flanking Gurkha and Sikh battalions came to their aid and the charge was repulsed. In the end, with cavalry and infantry support, the Afghan force was driven from the field. There are also echoes of the battle of Charasia from that war, where a battalion of Punjab Infantry, which had previously shown a distinct unwillingness to fight, was brigaded with Highlanders and Gurkhas and another Punjabi battalion to stiffen its resolve.


Escape – The Brute

Escape’s “The Brute” was adapted from the 1906 short story by Joseph Conrad. The story can be found in A Set of Six (1908), a collection of his short stories available online at Wikisource. To read more about Escape’s adaptations of ‘The Brute” and “Typhoon,” click here to read an article published in Conradiana.

As the episode opens in the year 1900, The Apse Family is about to be christened and launched. Young Charley Wilmot and his father go down to the docks to watch, and Charley wishes desperately that he could fulfill his apprenticeship on the beautiful new ship.

As they watch the ceremonies, the unexpected happens. The ship is “launched in blood” and quickly gains a reputation as a murderess, a “brute.” With every voyage, the ship’s reputation for death and trouble increases.

Eventually, Charley does get assigned to The Apse Family as third mate. His older brother, Ned, is first mate and together they hope to break the jinx. Will they, or will “The Brute” continue to cause destruction?

“The Brute” was adapted for radio by Les Crutchfield and produced/directed by Norman MacDonnell. Dan O’Herlihy played Ned Wilmot and Eric Rolf played Charley Wilmot. Also appearing were Nina Codden, Jeff Corey, Wilms Herbert, and Parley Baer. This episode aired on April 11, 1948.


What a better way to enter the new year than with a double dose of ESCAPE

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 – Misfortune’s Isle

Escape’s “Misfortune’s Isle” was adapted from the short story of the same name by Richard Matthews Hallet, which can be found in the November 9, 1929 issue of the Saturday Evening Post. This episode borders on self-parody, but if you read Hallet’s story first, you’ll know why. “Misfortune’s Isle” is a confusing episode based on a short story that probably wasn’t a good choice. The original story has no humor or romance but Escape threw some in.

The episode opens in Manila in the 1790’s, as Captain Arad sails into port. He learns that a band of pirates attacked the city the night before, and though they got away, his first mate knows who they were. Captain Arad talks to the Spanish captain-general, Don Narciso, into letting them go after the pirates hiding on Misfortune’s Isle. The King has offered a large reward to anyone who can rid the islands of pirates, but Arad only wants to get to the island to take advantage of the natural resources, like antimony and edible bird’s nests (for bird’s nest soup).

They set sail and run into a typhoon. Then, Captain Arad finds that Don Narciso’s wife has stowed away.

When Captain Arad and his crew reach the Misfortune’s Isle they find the pirates’ stockade, but also discover that their ship is stuck in the mud, their cannons don’t work, their gun powder is wet, and help is two days away. On the beach, a tribe of Dyaks waits to attack them using poison from the sacred but deadly upas tree.

Can they escape Misfortunes’ Isle?

“Misfortune’s Isle” was adapted by Les Crutchfield and produced/directed by William N. Robson. Paul Frees played Captain Arad, Virginia Gregg played Dona Delfina, William Conrad played Jean Paul, Berry Kroeger played Don Narciso, and Tony Barrett as Mike O’Cane. This episode aired on March 21, 1948.