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The best of Suspense. A collection of the best Suspense shows with the most prestigious actors and actresses:
Agnes Moorehead, Alan Ladd, B Grant, B Lipton, Bernard Grant, Burt Lancaster, C Bauer, C Benson, C Laughton, C Lawrence, Cary Grant, Chris Carey, Cornell Wilde, Dame Mae Whitty, Dan Dailey, Dan O'Herlihy, Dana Andrews, Dane Clark, Deborah Kerr, Dennis Day, Dick Powell, Dolores Costello, Don McLaughlin, E Eric, E Everett, E Juster,
E McCrea Adams, E McVey, Ed Gardner, Elaine Ross, Everett Sloane, F Mellano, Faye Bainter, Frank Lovejoy, Fred Mac Murray, G Matthews, Gregory Peck, Harry Bartell, Herbert Marshall, Howard Duff, Hume Cronyn, Ian Martin, Ivor Francis, J Alderson, J Beck, J Blaine, J C Naish, J Cotton, J Havoc, J Kearns, J Lorring, Jimsey Summers, Joan Crawford, John Dehner, John Hodiak, John Stevenson, Joseph Cotten, Joseph Kearns, Keenan Wynn, Kermit Murdock, L Haines, L Janney, L Thor, Larry Dobkin, Lawson Zerbe, Lee Patrick, Lena Horne, Leon Janney, Lloyd Bridges, M Forbes, Mark Stevens, Maureen O’Sullivan, Merle Oberon, Michael O'Shea, Miriam Hopkins, Neal Fitzgerald, Orson Welles, Ozzie & Harriet Nelson, P Meader, P Winslowe, Parker Fennelly, Parley Baer, Paul Stewart, Paula Winslowe, Peter Lorre, Phil Harris & Alice Faye, Phillip Sterling, R Camargo, R Dryden, R Hill, R Osborne, R Readick, Ray Milland, Raymond Burr, Raymond Lawrence, Richard Ney, Richard Widmark, Robert Readick, Ronald Colman, Rosalind Russell, Rosemary Rice, S Grey, S Harris, S Mitchell, S Ortega, Sam Edwards, Sheldon Leonard, T Brown, Tony Barrett, V Gregg, V Perrin, Vincent Price, W Renfield, William Bendix, William Holden, William Redfield
Suspense was and is still known as “Radio’s Outstanding Theatre of Thrills” and has been considered as one of the most popular and exciting radio anthologies in the realm of the mystery-thriller genre. How could along-running radio show that ran for twenty years be such a classic today as it was in the Golden Age of Radio Drama? To begin with its origin was from a surprising and remarkable personage who is no stranger with mystery and suspense….Alfred Hitchcock! In 1940, on a audition show called Forecast Hitchcock managed to propose the idea of a mystery series by doing a radio version of the novelette The Lodger by Marie Belloc Lowndes which in turn he directed a film version of it in 1926. In the radio play, it starred two wonderful British character actors Herbert Marshall and Edmund Gwenn (both of whom appeared in Hitchcock’s espionage thriller Foreign Correspondent).
Marshall played Mr. Sleuth, the lodger as well as the narrator of the story while Gwenn played Robert Bunting, Ellen Bunting’s husband. Also in the play Noreen Gammill was Ellen Bunting, Lurene Tuttle (famous later on as Effie the secretary to Howard Duff in The Adventures of Sam Spade, Detective) played Daisy Bunting, the stepdaughter and finally a certain radio actor who would become a well-remembered figure on Suspense as well as in other radio shows and on television….Joseph Kearns who played in a slightly unusual vocal inflexion Alfred Hitchcock himself in this episode.
The story has a very bizarre twist ending that would soon make listeners write to CBS begging to do a suspense-type radio show and eventually on June 17, 1942 Suspense would become a classic staple in American radio drama which according to the announcer (played by Berry Kroeger) describes it as”
“Suspense…Stories from the world’s great literature of pure excitement. A new series frankly dedicated to your horrification and entertainment. Week by week from the pick of new material, from the pages of best-selling novels, from the theatres of Broadway and London, and the sound stages of Hollywood will parade the most remarkable figures ever known”.
As its premier episode, the series did an excellent and yet terrifying adaptation of The Burning Court written by one of the most famous mystery writers of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction, John Dickson Carr. The guest star of the story was the comic actor Charlie Ruggles who may be familiar to film fans in such works as Bringing Up Baby (with Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn), The Invisible Woman (with Virginia Bruce and John Barrymore), and Murders in the Zoo (with Lionel Atwill and Randolph Scott) just to name a few. From then on Suspense would become a hit. Now in all fairness there were other radio thrillers that were on the air at that time mainly The Whistler, Inner Sanctum, and Lights Out but these shows pale in comparison with Suspense in terms of story quality, emotional tension, effective mood music, and wonderful top-notch Hollywood stars. Also important to the show were the talented directors and producers starting of course with William Spier who later become the director of the popular detective drama, The Adventures of Sam Spade, Detective. What made him different and great to work with from other radio directors of the time was that he knew how to evoke dramatic strains of tension that would grip not only the radio listeners but also the radio players behind the cold and unflinching microphone over the airwaves each evening. He wanted the listener to feel and hear: “the thrill of the night time, the hushed voice and the prowling step.
The crime that is almost committed. The finger of suspicion pointing perhaps at the wrong man. The stir of nerves at the ticking of the clock.
The rescue that might be too late or the murderer who might get away”.
He also wanted the stars to play a role that he or she would either enjoy or those that they would never get the chance to play on the silver screen.
It was once commented that: “To get the very best out of an actor give him a part that he will feel at home in”. Of course the wonderful choice of great Hollywood stars that were able to appear gave the program an extra-nice touch. It was almost like a exciting version of the Lux Radio Theatre but without relying on radio adaptations of classic films of the time. Practically every major star managed to make at least one appearance on the show. From leading ladies like Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, and Marlene Dietrich to tough guys like Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Alan Ladd, Edward G. Robinson, Robert Mitchum, and Kirk Douglas to comic stars like Danny Kaye, Bob Hope, Milton Berle, Red Skelton, Fibber McGee and Molly, Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, and Ed Gardner to horror stars like Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Vincent Price, and Peter Lorre. To musical celebrities like Lena Horne, Ethel Merman, Frank Sinatra, and Gene Kelly.
Could you imagine seeing on the screen Bela Lugosi playing a demented and manipulative psychologist trying to prove a deadly theory for a book? Or Bette Davis after being drugged and tied up in the home of a lunatic?
Edward G. Robinson playing a henpecked husband who decides to kill his nagging wife? Fibber McGee and Molly playing an ordinary couple who are held captive in their own car by a desperate and dangerous killer? Charles Laughton as the head of a respectable British family who tries to blame an unsuspecting neighbor for a murder his daughter actually committed? Edmund Gwenn as a dishonest businessman who kills his partner? Ronald Reagan as a young worker who plots with the boss’ wife to kill the boss? Or Lucille
Ball who not discovers a large sum of money but is also being followed by possibly dangerous crooks?
Another aspect of the show’s popularity was its choice of great exciting literary material from John Dickson Carr, James M. Cain, Cornell Woolrich, Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler, Edgar Allan Poe, Dorothy L. Sayers, John Collier, Ray Bradbury, Dashiell Hammett, Curt Sidomak, Nicholas Blake, Charles Dickens, and even William Shakespeare!
Also what’s intriguing about Suspense is that it even strayed off the field of mystery and thriller tales. In later years it dabbled into science fiction, Westerns, horror, and also did episodes based on folk songs/ballads and on historical actual events. Where else could you hear of Barbara Allen, Tom Dooley, Frankie and Johnny, and the St. James Infirmary Blues.
As for the stories based on actual events you could hear about the notorious hangman known as Jack Ketch, the tragic results of reckless driving, Neil Cream, a infamous British doctor who was skilled in the art of poisoning, a so-called monster killing certain people in Occupied France, or about a tragic and bitter Texas feud.
The music on the show is memorable and chilling to hear considering it was composed and conducted by Bernard Herrmann for most of the show’s run. He managed to evoke a sense of brooding, sinister foreboding, and absolute shock and tension.
Lastly, the creepy sounding Man in Black who sounds sinister, mocking, and seems to know what will happen is superb.
To sum up what the show is about is simply this:
“Suspense is compounded of mystery, suspicion, and dangerous adventure.
In this series are tales calculated to intrigue you, to stir your nerves, to offer you a precarious situation and then withhold the solution until the last possible moment..”
Text by Cameron Estep
Text by One's Media ©2013 World Memories, LLC - All Rights Reserved. Reproduction is prohibited.
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Suspense 1942-09-23 Passage to Benares w Paul Stewart
Suspense 1942-10-27 Lord of the Witch Doctors w Joseph Kearns
Suspense 1942-11-24 The Body Snatchers
Suspense 1943-01-19 The Devils Saint w Peter Lorre
Suspense 1943-08-28 The King's Birthday w Dolores Costello
Suspense 1943-09-23 Most Dangerous Game w Orson Welles
Suspense 1944-02-17 Life Ends at Midnight w Faye Bainter
Suspense 1944-04-20 The Palmer Method w Ed Gardner
Suspense 1944-05-04 The Dark Tower w Orson Welles
Suspense 1944-06-29 Walls Came Tumbling Down w Keenan Wynn
Suspense 1944-07-27 The Black Shawl w Maureen O’Sullivan
Suspense 1944-09-21 Bluebird of Bellac w Merle Oberon
Suspense 1944-11-09 You Were Wonderful w Lena Horne
Suspense 1945-02-01 Most Dangerous Game w J Cotton & J C Naish
Suspense 1945-04-05 A Guy Gets Lonely w Dane Clark & Howard Duff
Suspense 1945-05-17 Two Birds With One Stone w Dana Andrews
Suspense 1946-01-24 My Dear Niece w Dame Mae Whitty
Suspense 1946-03-07 Black Path of Fear w Cary Grant
Suspense 1946-04-11 The Name of the Beast w Vincent Price
Suspense 1946-07-11 Feast Of the Furies w Sheldon Leonard
Suspense 1946-08-29 Blue Eyes w Hume Cronyn
Suspense 1947-01-02 Tree of Life w Mark Stevens
Suspense 1947-09-11 The Twist w Michael O'Shea
Suspense 1947-10-09 The Man Who Liked Dickens w Richard Ney
Suspense 1948-09-09 The Big Shot w Burt Lancaster
Suspense 1949-09-01 Nightmare w Gregory Peck
Suspense 1949-09-29 Blind Date w J Havoc & C Laughton
Suspense 1950-02-23 Slow Burn w Dick Powell
Suspense 1950-04-20 Pearls Are a Nuisance w Ray Milland
Suspense 1950-09-14 Over The Bounding Main w Dan Dailey
Suspense 1950-09-21 The Crowd w Dana Andrews
Suspense 1954-10-07 Chicken Feed w Harry Bartell
Suspense 1955-10-18 Life Ends at Midnight w P Winslowe & S Harris
Suspense 1955-12-06 When The Bough Breaks w S Hrris & V Gregg
Suspense 1956-01-31 Arctic Rescue w John Stevenson
Suspense 1956-04-03 Game Hunt w Raymond Lawrence
Suspense 1956-05-15 The Death Parade w Paula Winslowe
Suspense 1957-01-06 Shipment Of Mute Fate
Suspense 1957-04-21 Chicken Feed w Lloyd Bridges
Suspense 1960-01-10 The Long Night w E McCrea B Adams & S Grey
Suspense 1950-09-28 Fly By Night w Joseph Cotten
Suspense 1950-10-05 Rose Garden w Miriam Hopkins
Suspense 1950-10-26 Too Hot to Live w Richard Widmark
Suspense 1950-11-23 Going, Going, Gone w Ozzie & Harriet Nelson
Suspense 1950-12-14 A Killing in Abilene w Alan Ladd
Suspense 1950-12-21 Christmas For Carol w Dennis Day
Suspense 1951-02-08 Windy City Six w Fred Mac Murray
Suspense 1951-02-15 The Death Parade w Agnes Moorehead
Suspense 1951-03-01 Gift of Jumbo Brannigan w William Bendix
Suspense 1951-03-08 Vision of Death w Ronald Colman
Suspense 1951-03-22 Three Lethal Words w Joan Crawford
Suspense 1951-05-03 When the Bough Breaks w Rosalind Russell
Suspense 1951-05-10 Death on my Hands w Phil Harris & Alice Faye
Suspense 1951-06-28 Case for Doctor Singer w J Kearns & L Thor
Suspense 1951-08-27 Report on the Jolly Death Riders w William Holden
Suspense 1951-09-10 Evil of Adelaide Winters w Agnes Moorehead
Suspense 1951-09-17 Neal Cream Doctor of Poison w C Laughton
Suspense 1951-10-29 The Hunting of Bob Lee w Richard Widmark
Suspense 1951-12-31 Rogue Male w Herbert Marshall
Suspense 1952-03-31 The Lady Pamela w Deborah Kerr
Suspense 1952-10-13 How Long is the Night w Richard Widmark
Suspense 1952-10-27 Allen in Wonderland w Cornell Wilde
Suspense 1953-01-19 Gold of the Adomar w John Hodiak
Suspense 1954-06-29 Too Hot To Live w Sam Edwards
Suspense 1954-11-18 Blind Date w S Mitchell & V Perrin
Suspense 1954-12-23 Premonition w Larry Dobkin & C Lawrence
Suspense 1955-02-03 A Killing In Abeliene w Parley Baer
Suspense 1955-02-17 Man with the Steel Teeth w John Dehner
Suspense 1955-05-10 Going, Going, Gone w T Brown & E McVey
Suspense 1955-05-17 Lily & the Colonel w R Hill & J Alderson
Suspense 1955-06-21 Over the Bounding Main w Tony Barrett
Suspense 1955-09-20 The Stool Pigeon w John Dehner
Suspense 1957-10-27 Country of the Blind w Raymond Burr
Suspense 1958-03-16 Game Hunt w Everett Sloane
Suspense 1958-07-13 The Long Night w Frank Lovejoy
Suspense 1958-11-16 My Dear Niece w Lee Patrick
Suspense 1959-05-31 The Man Who Would Be King w Dan OHerlihy
Suspense 1959-12-13 Country of the Blind w Bernard Grant
Suspense 1960-02-28 Lt Langer's Last Collection w M Forbes & F Mellano
Suspense 1960-04-03 A Shipment of Mute Fate w Bernard Grant
Suspense 1961-06-25 Call Me at Half Past w B Grant & E Eric
Suspense 1961-07-02 Night of the Storm w Rosemary Rice
Suspense 1961-07-16 The Man Who Knew How To Hate w Leon Janney
Suspense 1961-07-30 You Can Die Laughing w E Juster & L Haines
Suspense 1961-08-06 Bells w Bill Lipton & Rosemary Rice
Suspense 1961-08-20 Murder is a Matter of Opinion w P Meader
Suspense 1961-08-27 Sold to Satan w Kermit Murdock
Suspense 1961-09-03 Juvenile Rebellion w Jimsey Summers
Suspense 1961-09-17 The Green Idol w Parker Fennelly
Suspense 1961-09-24 Man in the Fog w R Dryden & E Everett
Suspense 1961-10-01 No Hiding Place w C Benson & G Matthews
Suspense 1961-10-08 Dreams w Phillip Sterling
Suspense 1961-10-15 Seeds Of Disaster w Bernard Grant
Suspense 1961-11-12 The Imposters w R Osborne & C Bauer
Suspense 1961-11-19 The Black Door w R Readick & R Camargo
Suspense 1961-11-26 Man Trap w Don McLaughlin
Suspense 1961-12-03 Luck of the Tiger Eye w L Janney & J Lorring
Suspense 1962-01-14 Feathers w Lawson Zerbe
Suspense 1962-02-04 Friday w Ivor Francis
Suspense 1962-02-11 Man Who Went Back to Save Lincoln w C Benson
Suspense 1962-03-11 Heads You Lose w William Redfield
Suspense 1962-04-01 You Died Last Night w S Ortega & R Readick
Suspense 1962-04-22 The Curse of Kamashek w Ian Martin
Suspense 1962-04-29 Blackbeard's Ace w Elaine Ross
Suspense 1962-05-06 Second Door w Robert Readick
Suspense 1962-05-13 Hide & Seek w J Beck & W Renfield
Suspense 1962-06-10 Formula for Death w Ivor Francis
Suspense 1962-08-05 Run Faster w B Lipton & J Blaine
Suspense 1962-09-30 Devilstone w Chris Carey & Neal Fitzgerald