Escape – The General Died at Dawn
Escape’s “The General Died at Dawn” was adapted from the 1936 novel of the same name by Charles G. Booth. The central character of this story, Gerald O’Hare, was inspired by a man named Morris “Two Gun” Cohen (1887-1970), who was a gun runner for Chinese warlords in the early 1930’s and lived an all-around colorful life. In 1936, this story was also released as a film starring Gary Cooper that was nominated for several Academy Awards. Booth cowrote the film’s script with Clifford Odets, but the plot differs from that of the novel.
Escape tried to present The General Died at Dawn as it was written, but it was condensed down, down, down, to a manageable size. They dropped the dramatic beginning, dumped two of the younger characters, and though they kept the female lead, Mrs. Mallory, she is reduced to a standard love interest. This atmospheric novel is just too long to fit into a half hour radio format.
As the episode opens, Gerald O’Hare is an adventurer in Shanghai with nothing to his name. He wants to leave China altogether, so he goes to the office of an old acquaintance named Ramsgate to collect a debt. While he is there, a beautiful woman enters and, mistaking O’Hare for Ramsgate, she asks for his help. It is then, that O’Hare becomes involved in a dangerous undertaking to retrieve the stolen funds of the feared outlaw, General Yang.
“The General Died at Dawn” was adapted for radio by Walter Newman with editorial supervision by John Dunkel. Walter Newman produced and directed. William Conrad starred as Gerald O’Hare. Also appearing were Estelle Dodge, Lawrence Dobkin, Ben Wright, John Dehner, Jack Kruschen, and Peter Prouse. This episode aired on April 16, 1949.