Escape – Habit

Escape’s “Habit” was adapted from the short story by F.R. Buckley, which first appeared in Adventure, April 30, 1923.

As the episode opens, fiesty Captain Weatherfield is in a courtroom in New Bristol. He is being tried for an assault on a man who made insulting jokes about his ship, the Wakeland. Captain Weatherfield admits to assaulting the man–and that it was the right thing to do. The court decides otherwise and sentences him to seven days in jail.

When he is released, Captain Weatherfield is incensed about what happened. Insulted, too! He swears that he will find a way to restore his good name.

A few days later, out on the north Atlantic and on the edge of a hurricane, Captain Weatherby sees an opporturnity to do just that. A distress signal comes in from a helpless ship registered from New Bristol.

Captain Weatherfield decides to rescue the crew so that the town of New Bristol will have to publicly herald him as a hero. However, in order for his plan to succeed, he has to plow his ship in to a hurricane, go out into a longboat to rescue the surviving crew, perform surgery on the injured captain, and smack down a first mate.

In the end, will he get a hero’s welcome and public apology from the town of New Bristol?

“Habit” was adapted for radio by Les Crutchfield with editorial supervision by John Dunkel. Norman MacDonnell produced/directed. Luis Van Rooten played Captain Weatherfield. John Dehner played Mr. Connelly. Also appearing were Berry Kroeger, Wilms Herbert, and Bill Bouchet. This episode aired on July 18, 1948.


Escape – A Tooth for Paul Revere

Escape’s “A Tooth for Paul Revere” tells the endearing story of a Massachusetts farmer who becomes involved with the events leading to the American Revolutionary War. This episode is based on the 1937 short story by Stephen Vincent Benet.

Lige Butterwick has a terrible toothache. His tooth has become so troublesome that it is necessary for him to leave his farm and ride into Lexington for help from the local barber. In Lexington, he finds that there is political unrest all around him, but his concern is his tooth. The barber refers him to a silversmith in Boston named Paul Revere who is known for making excellent artificial teeth. The barber swears that Revere is a wizard!

Lige travels to Boston to get his new tooth, but along the way, his experiences transform him from a farmer to an American revolutionary.

“A Tooth for Paul Revere” was written by Stephen Vincent Benet and adapted for radio by John Dunkel. Norman MacDonnell produced/directed. Harry Bartell played Lige Butterwick, Parley Baer played Paul Revere, and Barry Kroeger was the narrator. This episode aired on July 4, 1948.


Escape – The Country of the Blind

In Escape’s “The Country of the Blind,” a mountaineer, lost in the snowy Ecuadorian mountains, finds a valley, cut-off from the rest of civilization and inhabited only by the blind. The radio play was based on the famous short story by H.G. Wells, which was first published in 1904 and then later given a revised ending in 1939. The short story is available online from Wikisource but not the later revised version. Escape’s version has a different ending altogether, as well as a modified introduction, but otherwise their radio play stayed true to the original work.

As the episode opens, a mining engineer named Ibarra tells the tale of an expedition into the Andes Mountains that ended in tragedy when one of the guides, Juan Nunez, slipped and fell over a precipice. Ibarra then explains that he was stunned when, a year afterwards, Nunez suddenly reappeared! When Ibarra asked him where he had been, Nunez told him the incredible story of his journey into a fabled land inhabited only by the blind.

“The Country of the Blind” was adapted for Escape by John Dunkel and produced/directed by William N. Robson. William Conrad played Ibarra and Paul Frees played Nunez. This episode aired on November 26, 1947.

It was presented again on June 20, 1948. Norman MacDonnell produced/directed and Paul Frees again played Nunez. Berry Kroeger played Ibarra.

Escape presented this radio play for the last time on March 20, 1949. Norman MacDonnell produced/directed. Edmund O’Brien starred and Berry Kroeger again played Ibarra.

Years after Escape went off the air, William N. Robson recycled Dunkel’s script, with a few modifications, on Suspense on October 27, 1957. Raymond Burr starred.

The second presentation of “The Country of the Blind” on Suspense was on December 13, 1959. Paul Roberts produced/directed and Bernard Grant played Nunez.


Escape – Beau Geste

Escape’s “Beau Geste” was adapted from the classic adventure novel of the same name by Percival Christopher Wren, which was first published in 1924. Beau Geste is a long and complicated novel to shorten for a half hour radio program and Escape’s adaptation reflects that difficulty. Beau Gestehas been adapted for the screen several times and has also been parodied in many ways. The full text of the novel is available online at Google Books.

Beau-Geste-Posters The opening scene of the Escape’s version is essentially the same as it is in the the 1926 silent film starring Ronald Colman and the 1939 remake starring Gary Cooper. A squadron of French Legionnaires arrives at isolated Fort Zinderneuf in the Saharan desert. At first there is no response from inside the lonely fort, but then, suddenly, shots are fired! When the squadron comes closer, they find that the soldiers who appear to be protecting the fort…are dead. When they send a man over the wall of the fort…he doesn’t come back. Finally, the commandant and his sergeant climb the wall and search the eerie fort themselves. Inside, they find two more dead bodies. One is a young man, and the other was the commandant of the fort. They also find a signed confession by Beau Geste stating that he was the one who stole the famous sapphire known as the “Blue Water”. Before they can make sense of what they have found, they discover that someone has set the fort ablaze.

What is the mystery of Fort Zinderneuf?

“Beau Geste” was adapted for radio by Les Crutchfield and produced/directed by Norman MacDonnell. Featured in the cast were Berry Kroeger, Wilms Herbert, Jay Novello, Ben Wright, Ramsay Hill, Lillian Buyeff’, and Peggy Webber. This episode aired on June 6, 1948.


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.