Lux Radio Theatre: Panic In The Streets

Aural Noir: Online Audio

Panic In The Streets


Even looking at it now the truth sounds like an April Fools day joke.

Had you asked me: “How many ‘uniformed services’ does the United States of America have?”

I would have said: “They have only five uniformed services, Army, Air-Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.” I would have bet you cash money on the fact. I could have even given you great details about all five – detailing for instance when the USAF split off from the Army (1947).

But I would have lost that bet.

I might even have hedged a little, asking: “Are you including the Merchant Marine?” But even had I said, “It has 5 plus the merchant marine” I would have lost the bet because, apparently, the United States of America has:


That fact blew my mind.

I found out about this by watching, disbelievingly, an old Film Noir movie called Panic In The Streets. In it a doctor, played by Richard Widmark, gets a phone call from the New Orleans coroner’s office. It seems there is a corpse presenting some very disturbing symptoms – one that requires Widmark’s expertise. As he complains about having to come in on his day off he dons what looks like a tan Navy officer’s uniform. His epaulets seemingly indicating his holding the rank of a Lt. Cmdr.

“That’s weird,” I said to myself as he put on the clothes. “Why would they have called a Navy doctor?” I paused the movie and broke out Wikipedia. Two or three clicks later…

Uniformed Services Of The United States

United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps!

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps?

Yeah, I was stunned too. It has a feeling of unreality.

I’ve slowly come to the realization that the USA is, like the Roman Republic, loathe to abandon any institution or tradition it creates (typically requiring either a civil war or a sustained public demonstration). I had no idea the USA had founded either the USPHSCC or the NOAACC. This is all à propos to Aural Noir due to a recent podcast…

Lux Radio TheatreLux Radio Theatre – Panic In The Streets
1 |MP3| – Approx. 53 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBS Radio
Broadcast: March 5, 1951
Provider: Relic Radio
An illegal immigrant carrying pneumonic plague is found murdered on the New Orleans waterfront. It’s up to Lt. Cmdr. Clinton ‘Clint’ Reed M.D., of the Public Health Service, to prevent a national epidemic. Reed must find and inoculate the murderer and anyone he’s come into contact with. He has 48 hours. The movie, released June 12, 1950, starred Richard Widmark, so does this radio version.

For a similar, but Science Fiction, adventure try Alan Nourse’s Star Surgeon.

Posted by Jesse Willis

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