In “You Can’t Die Twice,” Edward G. Robinson stars as a milkman who plays dead so that his wife can collect the insurance money.
Robinson-edward-g As the episode opens, Sam Brown wants to explain how it all happened… on April Fools’ Day the year before…
Sam and his wife, Katie, were having breakfast that Sunday morning. While Katie was berating him for not making enough money, she received a phone call. It was the police calling to inform her that Sam had just died in a hit-and-run accident!
At first, Katie thought it was an April Fools’ joke, but then she realized that it wasn’t a gag. Sam’s wallet had been stolen, and the thief had been killed in the accident. So, when their insurance agent called to discuss Sam’s policy, Katie suddenly saw a golden opportunity.
Now, it is a year later. Has their foolproof plan worked? How trustworthy is Katie?
“You Can’t Die Twice” was written by James Ruscoll and adapted by Walter Newman. Anton M. Leader produced and directed. Edward G. Robinson starred. Betty Lou Gerson played Cleo. The name of the actress who played Katie isn’t given. This episode aired on March 31, 1949.
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Suspense – Dead Ernest
In “Dead Ernest” a cataleptic is mistaken for dead and taken to the morgue. Can he be saved before he is embalmed?
Ernest Bower suffers from catalepsy, and if he has an attack, he can appear to be dead. He wears a medical bracelet on his wrist and carries in his pocket a detailed letter about his condition.
So, what happens if the bracelet falls off and the letter isn’t seen by the right people? With his safeguards gone, Mr. Bower is at the mercy of fate.
That is just what occurs the day that Mr. Bower has an attack after nearly being hit by a car…
“Dead Ernest” was written by Merwin Gerard and Cedric Lester. William Spier produced and directed. Wally Maher was featured along with Robert Bailey, Verna Felton, Jerry Hausner, Cathy Lewis, Elliott Lewis, Jay Novello, Walter Tetley, and William Wright. This episode aired on August 8, 1946.
In “Murder Through the Looking Glass,” Gregory Peck stars as a man who does not remember the murder he is accused of having committed.
This episode was based on the 1943 novel Murder Through the Looking Glass by accomplished mystery writer Craig Rice, whose real name was Georgiana Ann Randolph Craig. Known for her surrealistic approach to story-telling, her works were published under a number of pseudonyms. For Murder Through the Looking Glass, the pseudonym Michael Venning was used.
Normally, here at Escape and Suspense!, we always read the original work before posting a radio adaptation, unless that item is particularly hard to get. Such is the case with this novel. Surviving copies of Murder Through the Looking Glass are very expensive, and they are not readily available through interlibrary loan.
The other issue with this episode is that the novel was adapted for radio by pulp fiction writer Ken Crossen. If his adaptation of this book is anything like his adaptation of Graham Greene’s Confidential Agent, for Escape, then he may have completely changed the story to suit his style. Without a copy of the original work to go by, we really don’t know.
So, for now, we just have to take Suspense’s presentation as it is…
“Murder through the Looking Glass” was produced and directed by Anton M. Leader. Gregory Peck starred. The name of the actress playing Rosalie isn’t given. Joseph Kearns played the doctor. This episode aired on on March 17, 1949.
“Three O’Clock” is a Suspense episode adapted from a 1938 short story by Cornell Woolrich. A man named Paul believes that his wife, Francie, is cheating on him. He takes revenge by planting a bomb in the basement of their house, but when he returns upstairs, he finds two burglars. Unaware of the bomb, they tie up Paul and leave him in the basement. He is then trapped, alone and helpless, with the ticking bomb that he had set for his wife.
In the short story, Paul is gagged and can’t make any sound. On radio this isn’t obvious because we are hearing what he is thinking. There aren’t any special sound effects for his thoughts. Suspense’s adaptation is close to Woolrich’s original work, but the ending is slightly changed. The radioplay was written by Walter Brown Newman, who later went to have three of his screenplays nominated for Academy Awards.
“Three O’Clock” was also done for television in 1949 for an episode of Actor’s Studio. It aired on Suspense only once, on March 10, 1949 and starred Van Heflin as Paul.
60 years ago this week Joan Fontaine kept us in Suspense! Joan Fontaine (born October 22 1917) is an Academy Award-winning British actress in American films. She became an American citizen in April 1943. She is the younger sister of actress Olivia de Havilland, also an Academy Award winner. Along with Luise Rainer, Gloria Stuart, Shirley Temple, Deanna Durbin and her sister, Olivia de Havilland, Fontaine is one of the last surviving female stars from Hollywood of the 1930s.
In “Where There’s a Will,” James Mason stars as a man who tries to expedite his inheritance by scaring his aunt to death. This episode was based on a short story by Agatha Christie, which was first published under the title “”Wireless” in the United Kingdom in 1926. Later, in the 1948 publication, The Witness for The Prosecution and Other Stories, the title was changed to “Where There’s a Will”.
As the episode opens, Charles Ridgeway needs money. One of his business associates, Mr. Jebson, wants the money that he is owed–or else. Charles tells him not to worry. He’ll get the money! He is the favorite nephew of his wealthy but sickly aunt, and upon her death, he stands to gain forty thousand pounds.
To insure this will happen, Charles then takes his aunt to the doctor to determine the state of her health. The doctor gravely informs Charles that his aunt’s heart is weak, and she must have no sudden shocks.
Charles agrees, but then devises an elaborate plan to deliver a shock that will solve of all his problems. Will it work?
“Where There’s a Will” was adapted for radio by William Fifeld, and produced/directed by Anton M. Leader . James Mason starred as Charles Ridgeway and his wife Pamelo Kellino (Mason) appeared as Elizabeth. The name of the actress who played the aunt is not given. This episode aired on February 24, 1949.
In “Catch Me if You Can,” Jane Wyman stars as a wife who murders her husband and then unravels while searching for the incriminating evidence he left behind.
As the episode opens, Margo Weatherby and her husband, Phil, are alone in a remote Colorado mountain inn. The hour is late and there is no one around for miles. She has put sedatives in his milk and now waits for him to sleep…so she can…
But Phil doesn’t go to sleep…instead he informs Margo that he took those suspicious pills that she gave him last week and hid them with a note. Then, he called his detective friend, Rocky Rhodes, and asked him to come to the lodge! Margo protests at his lack of faith in her, but Phil is convinced that she wants to kill him to end their marriage. He knows that Margo feels trapped because he is ill. So, Phil asks her for a divorce, and she demurely agrees. Then, when Phil finally falls asleep, she follows through on her plan and kills him. That way, she gets everything!
Margo thinks it will be easy to find those missing pills before Detective Rocky Rhodes arrives, but Phil hid them well. While she frantically searches, a number of unexpected guests show up at the inn looking for shelter. Are they really lost? Or, is one of them Detective Rocky Rhodes?
“Catch Me if You Can” was based on the the 1948 novel of the same name by crime writer Patricia McGerr (1917-1985) and adapted for radio by Sylvia Richards. Anton M. Leader produced and directed. Jane Wyman starred. Also appearing were Frank Lovejoy and Raymond Burr. This episode aired on February 17, 1949.
Suspense – Backseat Driver
“Backseat Driver” is a Suspense story that borrows from the urban legend, “The Killer in the Backseat.” Radio comedians Fibber McGee & Molly appeared twice in this drama about a suburban couple held hostage by a killer.
According to the Encyclopedia of Urban Legends by Jan Harold Brunvand “The Killer in the Backseat” is a classic automobile horror legend in the United States. It is also a cautionary anecdote that has appeared in many articles on crime prevention. In it, the victim usually is a woman driving alone at night. Unbeknownst to her, a killer has slipped into the back seat of her car and is hiding there. The story ends with either a passing car on the road noticing the man in the backseat and following her, or with a gas station attendant noticing the man and asking the woman to step out of the car. Either way, the point of the story is to always check the backseat of your car before driving.
In Suspense’s version, the intended victims are a husband and wife on their way home from a night out in Hollywood. As they are driving, they turn on the radio and hear a story about a murderer from New Hampshire who has been spotted in Los Angeles. Soon they discover that the murderer is in their backseat! The killer threatens that if they don’t do as he says, he will kill the wife. As the three of them drive towards the San Fernando Valley, the husband tries to find a way to communicate their need for help to others on the road.
“Backseat Driver” was written for Suspense by Sally Thorson. Radio Hall-of-Famers Jim Jordan (a.k.a Fibber McGee) and Marion Jordan (a.k.a Molly) starred. Anton M. Leader produced/directed. This episode first aired on February 3, 1949 and it is probably the best version of the three.
Jim and Marion Jordan appeared in this story again on February 22, 1951. Elliott Lewis produced/directed.
Suspense presented this story for the last time on July 19, 1955. Parley Baer and Vivi Janiss starred. Antony Ellis produced/directed.
Suspense’s “If the Dead Could Talk” was adapted from the short story by Cornell Woolrich, which was first published in Black Mask, (February, 1943) and later published in the anthology Dead Man Blues (1948). The French film Obsession (1954) was adapted from the Woolrich story “Silent as the Grave (1945),” but also from “If the Dead Could Talk.”
As the episode opens, Joe explains how all of the trouble started. How he became desperate to killl…
Joe, Tommy and Fran were trapeze artists in the circus. Things were going well for them until one fateful night on the train to St. Louis. It was then that Fran broke the news that she and Tommy were going to be married!
Joe was stunned. He pretended to be happy for them, but he wasn’t. Joe loved Fran, and couldn’t stand to see her married to Tommy.
Instead of telling them how he felt, he bought a gun to kill Tommy. When that idea failed, he decided the easiest thing to do was to create an accident on the highwire…
“If the Dead Coul Talk” was adapted for radio by Larry Marcus. Anton M. Leader produced and directed. Dana Andrews starred. Also appearing were Ted de Corsia, Verna Felton, and Jeannette Nolan. This episode aired on January 20, 1949.
Suspense’s “The Too Perfect Alibi” stars Danny Kaye as man with an obsession for his friend’s fiance.
Danny Kaye plays Sam, the sweetest friend a couple could ever have. Jack and Catherine think he is wonderful, but honestly, Jack thinks Sam is too wonderful. Sam gives them a house for a wedding present, he gives Catherine a high-paying job, and he always picks up the tab when they do things together. All of this annoys Jack because it makes him look cheap.
Sam doesn’t care what Jack thinks. He is consumed with a fairy tale perception of love, and he is determined to get Catherine for himself. The first part of Sam’s plan to win Catherine involves getting rid of Jack, but the first part of his plan goes too well. As a result, the second part doesn’t work out the way it was supposed to.
“The Too Perfect Alibi” was written by Martin Stern and produced/directed by Anton M. Leader. This was the first of two appearances that Danny Kaye made on Suspense. Also appearing were Hy Averback, Wally Maher, John McIntire, and Paul Frees. This episode aired on January 13, 1949.