480307 – e031 Jimmy Goggles The God

Escape – Jimmy Goggles the God

Escape’s “Jimmy Goggles the God” was adapted from the 1898 short story of the same name by H.G. Wells. The original story, written as a narrative, appears to have been too short for a half hour broadcast. Escape kept most of Well’s story intact, but expanded the ending, punched up the drama to make it more exciting, and excluded the outdated racial slang. (The text of Well’s “Jimmy Goggles the God” is available online at Wikisource.)

As the episode opens, George reflects back on the wreck of the Ocean Pioneer forty years earlier. He and two other survivors had joined forces with a fourth man to find the wreck and retrieve a fortune in gold dust.

George was chosen to go down to the Ocean Pioneer in a hefty rubber diving suit nicknamed “Jimmy Goggles.” While he was trying to retrieve the gold, the other three men were attacked and killed by native Papuans. When George finally emerged from water, the natives mistook him for a god.

Having no choice but to continue the impersonation, George looks for a way to escape. One of the natives offers him a deal, but can Herbert trust him? Will the missionary who finds him be any help?

“Jimmy Goggles the God” was produced and directed by William N. Robson. Paul Frees, in one of his best acting roles, played George. Also appearing were Berry Kroeger, Luis Van Rooten, and Parley Baer. This recording cuts off before the credits are given, so the name of the person who adapted this story for radio isn’t certain. This episode aired on March 7, 1948.


Escape – The Grove of Ashtaroth

Escape’s “The Grove of Ashtaroth” was closely adapted from the 1910 short story by John Buchan, First Baron Tweedsmuir (1875-1940). Buchan was a British novelist and politician who is best known for the book The Thirty-Nine Steps.

This is an episode that is helped along by reading the original work, which is available online at Feedbooks. The short story was written as one long narrative by a character who doesn’t give his name. So, in the radio version, Escape assigned the character the name of the author.

“The Grove of Ashtaroth” is not an environmentally-friendly story. It involves destroying an ancient grove of trees to undo the spell it has placed on one man. While this is being done, a goddess begs them to stop. Apparently, they think she is scary and evil, so they don’t stop until they have killed and destroyed absolutely every living thing in the grove.

As the episode opens, John Buchan and his friend Lawson are exploring Africa when they come to a place so perfect that Lawson decides to settle there. John is surprised by his friend’s reaction, but doesn’t believe his idea to be a bad one.

Three years later John returns to find Lawson in terrible condition and in bad humor. He appears to have arrived at a bad time, but Lawson won’t say why. His foreman, Mr. Jobson, knows that it has to do with the grove of trees on the property. The grove summons Lawson in the night…

Can the two of them find a way to release Lawson from the spell he is under? Or, will they destroy a beautiful thing forever?

“The Grove of Ashtaroth” was adapted for radio by Les Crutchfield. William N. Robson produced and Norman MacDonnell directed. Paul Frees played John Buchen and William Conrad played Lawson. Also appearing were Kay Brinker, Raymond Lawrence, and Eric Snowden. This episode aired on February 29, 1948.


480228 – 029 How Love Came To Prof Guildea (west coast)

Escape – How Love Came to Professor Guildea

Escape’s “How Love Came to Professor Guildea” is based on the short story of the same name by Robert S. Hichens. Although the radio-play is well adapted from the original work, this episode does have its moments of being silly instead of suspenseful. The original short story, which was published in 1900, is available online as a Gaslight e-text and is worth reading.

Professor Guildea is an important man of science. He lives in a comfortable London home with servants that he barely acknowledges and a pet parrot leftover from one of his experiments. Professor Guildea detests affection and mocks love. Yet, he does have one friend, Father Murchison, a man who could not be more different than Professor Guildea. Father Murchison is filled with love for mankind and empathy for others.

One night, Professor Guildea calls Father Murchison to his house because he is convinced that there is an entity inhabiting his home. He cannot see the entity, but he feels its presence. The invisible intruder holds a great affection for Professor Guildea, but the affection repulses him. Father Murchison believes his friend is going mad, but then Professor Guildea shows him that the parrot sees and mimics the invisible entity.

“How Love Came to Professor Guildea” was adapted for radio by Les Crutchfield. Luis Van Rooten played Professor Guildea and Parley Baer played Father Murchison. Paul Frees played the parrot. This episode aired on February 22, 1948.



480221 – 028 Ancient Sorceries – West Coast

Escape’s “Ancient Sorceries” is based on the short story of the same name by Algernon Blackwood, a writer who was famous for his tales of horror and the supernatural. The story was adapated for radio by Les Crutchfield, who changed and abbreviated it considerably to fit within a half-hour program. In the radio version, the main character’s name is changed to Arthur Llewellyn, and the setting is a remote part of Wales, rather than France. Escape’s version is good, but it is worth the time to read the short story. The text of “Ancient Sorceries” can be found on the Algernon Blackwood page at

As the episode opens, Mr. Llewellyn is on a train on his way to London. He impulsively decides to get off and spend the night in a small, Welsh village named Malton, despite the warning from his fellow passenger. He takes a room at the local inn, and to his surprise, they seem to have been expecting him. Mr. Llewellyn soon becomes involved with innkeeper’s daughter, Ilse, and discovers the strange world of the townspeople and what they do in their secret lives.

“Ancient Sorceries” starred Paul Frees as Arthur Llewellyn, Kay Brinker as Ilse, Ann Morrison as Madame, and William Conrad as the Doctor and the announcer. This episode was produced by William N. Robson and directed by Norman MacDonnell. It aired on February 15, 1948.



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.


Escape-The Vanishing Lady

“The Vanishing Lady” is an old urban legend about an international conspiracy at a World’s Fair. It is also known as “The Vanishing Hotel Room.”

The setting is the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris. In this urban legend, an Englishwoman and her daughter stop in Paris on their way from India to England. The mother becomes ill shortly after they arrive and the hotel doctor sends the daughter out for medicine. When she returns, her mother has vanished!

Escape dramatized this Victorian horror legend with only a few changes. Their version is taken from the story published by author/critic Alexander Woollcott in his book While Rome Burns in 1934. Woollcott was himself a bit of a horror legend for dying onstage during a radio show, but he is best remembered as the inspiration for the character of Sheridan Whiteside from the play and movie The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942).

In the urban legend the daughter goes insane as a result of the conspiracy and ends up in a British mental hospital, but Escape’s version has an odd ending that leaves you wondering what happens next.

“The Vanishing Lady” was also done for an episode of the television show Alfred Hitchcock Presents under the title “Into Thin Air”. It has also appeared in novels and movies.

This episode stars Joan Banks and Hy Averback in the lead roles. It was broadcast on February 1, 1948, and repeated on January 10, 1950.


Escape’s “Three Good Witnesses” was based on the short story by Harold Lamb, which first appeared in the January 1945 issue of Blue Book. The story can also be found in Midnight Specials: An Anthology for Train Buffs and Suspense Aficionados (1977). Escape’s adaptation is a good one and only small changes were made to lengthen it for radio.

As the episode opens, Humphrey Ward is on his way home to the United States from business in Turkey. He works for an oil company, but wishes that he could be a part of the war.

Ward is booked on the Taurus Express, which will take him from Istanbul to Cairo. As he boards the train, he is overwhelmed by Mary, who is desperate for help. Ward helps hide her from the police, and so does the conductor, Kevorkian. Then, Ward meets Tom Hatfield, a fellow American who is traveling on official government business. Hatfield meets Mary when he finds her in his compartment.

As the train travels through the night, spies steal Hatfield’s briefcase and Humphrey Ward takes it upon himself to get it back. The trouble that results can only be fixed by three good witnesses…Mary, Kevorkian, and Hatfield.

“Three Good Witnesses” was adapted for radio by John Dunkel, produced by William N. Robson, and directed by Norman MacDonnell. Morgan Farley played Humphrey Ward, Jack Webb played Tom Hatfield, Jeannette Nolan played Mary, and Harry Bartell played Kevorkian. Also appearing were Barton Yarborough and Jack Kruschen. This episode aired on January 28, 1948.

esc 480128 Three Good Witnesses (East Coast)


Escape – Papa Benjamin

Escape’s episode “Papa Benjamin” is based on the short story by William Irish (aka Cornell Woolrich). It is set in the French Quarter of New Orleans where a struggling bandleader named Eddie uses a sacred voodoo chant as a gimmick to help save his failing nightclub act. Unfortunately, Eddie doesn’t take the threat of a voodoo curse too seriously.

This is an interesting story that will keep your attention. There is a moral here about what can go wrong when an artist steals a sacred work from its creators. In this case, Eddie steals then exploits a sacred voodoo chant that he does not fully understand and can not control. In the end, it all kind of backfires on Eddie.

The sound effects are good and the music is more impressive than the average episode of Escape. There do not seem to be any actual African-Americans performing in this episode but that is typical of the era in which it was made. This show was broadcast on January 24, 1948.

“Papa Benjamin” was also an episode of the television series Thriller in 1961. The short story also appears under the titles “Dark Melody of Madness” and “Music from the Dark”. The 1965 horror movie anthology Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors used this story as well.