CBSRMT: The Prisoner Of Zenda

March 26, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Online Audio 

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The Prisoner Of Zenda by Anthony Hope

Anthony Hope’s 1894 novel, The Prisoner Of Zenda, gave rise to a craze for a new sub-genre of romance novels – the “Ruritanian romance” – so called after the fictional European country in which the titular “prisoner” is found. The novel’s plot, in which a visitor from England travels to a fictional European nation and, via an unbelievably convenient coincidence, becomes it’s king, was so popular that it’s echoes were felt well into the 20th century.

The 1933 Marx Brothers film, Duck Soup, takes it’s plot from the Ruritanian romances (it’s set in the country of “Freedonia”), Robert A. Heinlein’s 1956 novel, Double Star, borrows the Zenda plot and takes it to Mars, and the 1988 movie Richard Dreyfuss comedy, Moon Over Parador, places an actor in the role and places the action in a fictional South American country.

This brings us to one of my favourite OTR style radio shows – The CBS Radio Mystery Theater, which had a 1977 adaptation of The Prisoner Of Zenda – this shouldn’t have surprised me as CBSRMT had an adaptation for practically everything (the show ran 1,399 episodes). While their version gives short shrift to many of the novel’s subtleties the 46 minute running time allows for an entertaining, if break-neck, presentation of the story’s highlights.

CBS Radio Mystery TheaterCBSRMT #0639 – The Prisoner Of Zenda
By Robert Newman; Adapted from the novel by Anthony Hope; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 46 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Brodcaster: CBS Radio
Broadcast: April 22, 1977
Source: CBSRMT.com
The coronation of a new king is disrupted when the king’s brother drugs him. A distant relative who closely resembles the king steps in to take his place at the coronation.

Cast:
Lloyd Battista
Leon Janney
Evie Juster
Dan Ocko
Howard Ross

Posted by Jesse Willis

Suspense: Dunwich Horror

February 1, 2014 by · 1 Comment
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The Dunwich Horror - illustration by Hugh Rankin

SuspenseSuspense – Dunwich Horror
Adapted from the story by H.P. Lovecraft; Adapted by William Spier; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 26 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBS Radio
Broadcast: November 1, 1945
Provider: Archive.org
On All-Hallows Eve Henry Armitage, the librarian of Miskatonic University, ascends the summit of Centennal Hill. First published in Weird Tales, April 1929.

Stars: Ronald Colman, William Johnstone, Joseph Kearns, and Elliott Lewis.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The Thing At Nolan by Ambrose Bierce

May 31, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
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Virtually all of Bierce’s tales are tales of horror; and whilst many of them treat only of the physical and psychological horrors within Nature, a substantial proportion admit the malignly supernatural and form a leading element in America’s fund of weird literature.”

-H.P. Lovecraft, from Supernatural Horror In Literature

A 1,500 word horror tale by Ambrose Bierce, typically bundled as the final of seven short horror stories, under the collective “Some Haunted Houses”, The Thing At Nolan was first published on its own. And that’s why I’ve edited up a special The Thing At Nolan from a larger LibriVox version.

The Thing At Nolan by Ambrose BierceThe Thing At Nolan
By Ambrose Bierce; Read by Peter Yearsley
1 |MP3| – Approx. 10 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: 2006
First published in San Francisco Observer, August 2, 1891.

And here’s a |PDF|.

There’s also a CBS Radio Mystery Theater adaptation, adapted by actor Arnold Moss! It fills in a lot of the details from the very sketchy sketch of Bierce’s original story. Moss also takes a role!

CBS Radio Mystery TheaterCBSRMT #0920 – The Thing At Nolan
Adapted from the story by Ambrose Bierce; Adapted by Arnold Moss; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 44 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBS Radio
Broadcast: November 20, 1978
Source: CBSRMT.com
When a father vanishes while digging a ditch in frontier Missouri, suspicions fall on the rebellious son who recently threatened him with bodily harm. His mother believes his claims of innocence, but the rest of the townsfolk do not.

Cast:
Court Benson
Russell Horton
Arnold Moss
Bryna Raeburn

Posted by Jesse Willis

The Grove Of Ashtaroth by John Buchan

November 13, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
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“In a remarkable short story, ‘The Grove of Ashtaroth,’ the hero finds himself obliged to destroy the gorgeous little temple of a sensual cult, because he believes that by doing so he will salvage the health and sanity of a friend. But he simultaneously believes himself to be committing an unpardonable act of desecration, and the eerie voice that beseeches him to stay his hand is unmistakably feminine.”

-Christopher Hitchens (The Atlantic Monthly, March 2004)

The Grove Of Ashtaroth was written by the fifteenth Governor General of Canada, John Buchan. Despite that high position, he was the viceregal representative of the Canadian monarch for five years in the 1930s, Buchan is probably better known today as the author of The Thirty-Nine Steps. Buchan’s novelette has been described as a “weird story” (by the makers of Escape) or as “high fantasy” (in The Fantastic Imagination) by editors Robert H. Boyer and Kenneth J. Zahorski, a 1977 anthology).

I’m not sure exactly what it is, except very interesting and certainly within the vague borders of the Fantasy genre. The Grove Of Ashtaroth reminds me of a short story by Philip K. Dick, Of Withered Apples.

You can judge for yourself what you think it is most like.

There’s a hurried, but unabridged, reading available |MP3|. It’s read by Libby Hill for the TV On The Internet podcast (beginning shortly after the twenty minute mark).

I myself have made a |PDF| from the original publication in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, June 1910.

But your best bet, in audio, for the moment at least, is to listen to the 1948 Escape radio dramatization!

EscapeEscape – The Grove Of Ashtaroth
Adapted from the novelette by John Buchan; Adapted by Les Crutchfield; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 31 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBS
Broadcast: February 29, 1948
Provider: Archive.org

Cast:
Paul Frees as John Buchan
William Conrad as Lawson

And if you were wondering, the only major difference between the original story and the dramatization is that the unnamed narrator is named (after Buchan himself) in the dramatization.

[Thanks also to Escape-Suspense.com]

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #185 – ESCAPE-SUSPENSE

November 5, 2012 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Audio Drama, Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastEscapeSuspenseThe SFFaudio Podcast #185 – Jesse, Tamahome, and Christine A. Miller (of Escape-Suspense.com) talk about the two CBS radio drama anthology series, Escape and Suspense. But first we play two shows: From the series EscapeTreasure, Inc., and from SuspenseAlways Room At The Top.

Talked about on today’s show:
Escape-Suspense.com, adapted scripts vs. original scripts, Escape vs. Suspense, John and Gwen Bagney, layer upon layer of double-cross, the hopeless ending, what is Clive’s motivation?, a femme fatale, exotic locales, these shows still work 50+ years on, Christine is an episode historian (not a radio historian), Pursuit, Romance, are you looking for Three Skeleton Key?, the use of radio drama in middle schools, The Most Dangerous Game, Archive.org, Edgar Allan Poe, The Hitchhiker, Lucille Fletcher, the Mercury Theatre, Sorry, Wrong Number, running out of shows, San Francisco, the Field Trip app, a lonely workplace is great for radio drama, “don’t think about it at all, just do it”, bad episodes, the movie star connection, Vincent Price, Lux Radio Theater, anthology series, an anthology mystery vs. Law & Order, the format, killing characters, ripped from the headlines, Earth Abides (was done as a two part adaptation), George R. Stewart, The Scarlet Plague, Jack London, San Fransisco as a setting, Man Alive, the Ferry Building, is Always Room At The Top set in New York?, La Mirada, “it could only happen in the world of Suspense?”, Jack Webb, Wally Maher, Anne Baxter, pacing like The Front Page, “business workplace episodes”, mistreated employee episodes, reaching for the 47%, An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge (Ambrose Bierce), remakes remakes remakes, appointment radio, The Country Of The Blind (H.G. Wells), Favorite Story, Plunder Of The Sun (David F. Dodge), Hard Case Crime, Treasure Of The Sierra Madre, The Rim Of Terror, The Killer Mine (Hammond Innes), “Nancy Drew with adults”, those impossible to get books, The Quick And The Dead by Vincent Starrett (Arkham House), Cornell Woolrich.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Wired For Books: Interview with Judy Oppenheimer (Shirley Jackson biographer)

October 2, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

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Online Audio - Wired For BooksWired For Books is a terrific online resource. Recorded by Don Swaim as material for a long running CBS radio segment, these lengthy interviews are a treasure brought to us by Ohio University.

Take this 1988 interview, with Judy Oppenheimer, who talks to Swaim about her research into the life of Shirley Jackson.

Fascinating stuff |MP3|.

Posted by Jesse Willis

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