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 Horrormasters.com.
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.