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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Suspense Sundays (48) Banquo's Chair

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
Suspense was a radio series from 1942 to 1962.  I have a fondness for "Old Time Radio" as we call it now, and Suspense is my favorite show.  It sets up weird, dark, scary, or intriguing stories with a plot twist in the end, and all in half an hour.  For Suspense Sundays I'll give a short review of an episode.   {My archive list of episodes}


"Banquo's Chair"
Air date: June 1, 1943
Starring Hans Conreid, John Loder and Ian Wolfe
This is such a great episode, it's like a perfect ghost story!  Sir William Brent of the Yard is a brilliant detective who has never failed to catch his man.  Except in the case of the murder of Mrs. Ferguson.  Brent knows that the nephew murdered her for her money, but he has an airtight alibi.  He was in jail. But Brent is determined to get a confession out of him, so after two years, (two!) he comes up with a cunning plan.  He rented the manor home Mrs. Ferguson lived in and invited the nephew and a few friends for dinner on the anniversary of Mrs. Ferguson's death.  Brent tells his friends that he's hired an actress to play the ghost of Mrs. Ferguson and during dinner, the lights will go out and they will have to light candles.  And then "Mrs. Ferguson" is going to come out and everyone must pretend they don't see or hear her.  Guess how long it takes for the nephew to confess.

So if I was invited to a dinner party, and the host says - "Make sure you're armed." I'd say, "No thanks, I'll have dinner at home."  That's just me though.  While I've certainly been spoiled when it comes to how many ghost stories I've read and watched in my life and I saw the twist of this episode coming a mile away, I think the set-up and execution of the episode is so well done that I can forgive that, and appreciate the craftmanship of the story.  Just as much backstory as is necessary, the perfect amount of dialogue to show the nephew is a heartless, arrogant criminal, and the friend narrating the story, so Sir William Brent doesn't have to toot his own horn too much and we can appreciate what a fine detective he is.  I just don't know the explanation for the nephew's airtight alibi?  Presumably he had someone lie for him.  I guess.  Overall, a really great suspense story!

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