I now blog over at The Eyre Guide! This blog is an archive of my past posts.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Suspense Sundays (9)

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,

Suspense Sundays

Suspense was a radio series from 1942 to 1962, claiming to be "radio's outstanding theater of thrills."  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.  And many of them had very famous stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood.  I love the old-fashion story-telling and I thought it would be fun to give a short review of an episode every Sunday.  I'll have some fun with it too, since the stories can be silly and over-the-top to modern audiences, but I hope you, dear Reader, will give it a listen sometime if the story seems interesting.

Hey! It was Gene Kelly's birthday this week, so I picked an appropriate Suspense story:

"To Find Help"
Air date: January 6, 1949
Starring Gene Kelly and Ethel Barrymore

Gene Kelly plays a young man by the name of Howard who is hired by kindly Mrs. Gillis to do some handy work around her house for the day.  Good help is so hard to find during the war.  Unfortunately nice looking Howard (well he is played by Gene Kelly!) has "something wrong with his mind", which is why he wasn't drafted into the war.  And he also seems to think Mrs.Gillis blames him for that.  This episode is mostly a slow building of tension as Mrs. Gillis realizes Howard isn't very nice at all, and Howard just wants to do his job without Mrs. Gillis always watching him.  So he locks her up.  And makes sure her dog stops bothering him.  And cuts the telephone line...

Gene is very against type in this radio series - menacing, unpredictable, his tone of voice slightly unemotional as he vacillates between anger and confusion and his insistence to finish the job he was given.  It's like he doesn't even realize that what he is doing is scaring Mrs.Gillis sometimes.  Ethel Barrymore does a fantastic job as well trying to hold herself together as she tries to find a way out of this nightmare.  This is such a great episode!

Note: This radio play was first performed by Frank Sinatra a couple years earlier - basically the same script, but Frank and Gene had a slightly different approach to the material.  Very interesting to listen to both and compare!  You can probably guess which one I liked best. :)

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  1. You had me at Gene Kelly lOL Sounds awesome!

    1. LOL, it's true, anything with Gene Kelly would get me too! But this ep really is good!