The time-honoured thriller’s first two-part episode (aired originally in 1944) receives a sort-of rerun: an hourlong performance that is no less chilling in the translation . . . and no less a tour de force for John McIntire, playing the multiple roles Orson Wells played in the original two-parter.
He plays Dr. Patrick Cory working on an experiment the goal of which is to keep a human brain alive, but the project is riddled with setbacks until an air crash near his facility brings him William Horace Donovan, a Wall Street wheel who requires emergency surgery . . . and won’t get it, thanks to Cory’s removing the brain and attaching it to his apparatus in a bid to keep it alive and even allow it to communicate. The problem is, Cory’s experiment may prove only too effective—his wife (Jeannette Nolan) is missing, and the question becomes whether its Cory’s workaholism or Donovan’s brain (also McIntire) controlling him that prompts her disappearance.
Additional cast: William Johnstone, Wally Maher. Host: Robert Montgomery. Announcer: Truman Bradley. Music: Bernard Herrmann. Director: William Spier. Adapted from the novel by Curt Siodnak.
FURTHER CHANNEL SURFING . . .
Lum & Abner: Lum Says Abner’s Arms Aren’t Broken (Mutual, 1935)—He has to, just about, since Abner’s (Norris Goff, who also plays Dick Huddleston) wife was fool enough to call the insurance company to put in a claim, and since Abner blames Lum (Chester Lauck) for starting the events that led to the ruse in the first place. Announcer: Carlton Brickerd. Writers: Chester Lauck, Norris Goff.
The Jell-O Program Starring Jack Benny: Jack’s Violin is Stolen (NBC, 1937)—“They should have nominated the thief for the Nobel Peace Prize,” is what Fred Allen might say about it after hearing of the theft—which Jack himself discovers after proclaiming he’ll play “The Bee” this very night to show him and everyone else. Additional cast: Mary Livingstone, Kenny Baker, Phil Harris, Don Wilson. Music: Phil Harris Orchestra, Kenny Baker. Announcer: Don Wilson. Music: Mahlon Merrick, Phil Harris Orchestra. Writers: Bill Morrow, Ed Beloin.
Fibber McGee & Company: Fibber Builds a Fireplace (NBC, 1938)—McGee (Jim Jordan) wins a prize from the ladies’ club—a box of marshmallows, which inspires the Sage of 79 Wistful Vista to build a fireplace to surprise Molly when she returns home from the hospital. (Or, so it is implied, in McGee’s chat with Myrt the operator, one of the few allusions to missing co-star Marian Jordan’s illness on the air.) Silly Watson: Hugh Studebaker. The Old-Timer: Bill Thompson. Announcer: Harlow Wilcox. Music: Billy Mills Orchestra, Donald Novis. Writer: Don Quinn.
Fibber McGee & Molly: Waiting for an Ice Cream Delivery at Kremer’s (NBC, 1944)—McGee (Jim Jordan) is struggling with the crank freezer making homemade ice cream, but he may have a bigger problem when he surrenders and go to the drugstore to buy some. Molly/Teeny: Marian Jordan. Alice: Shirley Mitchell. Beulah: Marlin Hurt. Mr. Wellington: Ransom Sherman. Doc: Arthur Q. Bryan. Announcer: Harlow Wilcox. Music: Billy Mills Orchestra, the King’s Men. Writers: Don Quinn, Phil Leslie.
Fibber McGee & Molly: Molly is Asked to Run for the City Council (NBC, 1950)—The First Lady of 79 Wistful Vista (Marian Jordan) is urged to run for an unexpected vacancy on the city council, which thrills her squire (Jim Jordan) while unsettling her just enough. Wimpole/Boomer: Bill Thompson. La Trivia: Gale Gordon. Doc: Arthur Q. Bryan. Olly: Richard LeGrand. Announcer: Harlow Wilcox. Music: Billy Mills Orchestra, the King’s Men.
The Marriage: Ben’s Father Comes for a Three-Week Visit (NBC, 1954)—Retired and presumed overactive, Marriott pere (Edwin Jerome) impresses the children (Denise Alexander, David Pepper) but wanting to be “no trouble at all” proves troubling to Ben (Hume Cronyn) and Liz (Jessica Tandy). Writer: Ernest Kinoy.
Our Miss Brooks: Foreign Teachers (CBS, 1954)—They’re visiting Madison High, and their rude criticisms prompt reactions that may cost Connie (Eve Arden), Boynton (Jeff Chandler), and Conklin (Gale Gordon) their jobs, inspiring the trio to a desperate gesture when a major national education figure follows up. Walter: Richard Crenna. Harriet: Gloria McMillan. Additional cast: Unknown. Music: Wilbur Hatch. Writer/director: Al Lewis. (Repeat of a 24 January 1954 broadcast.)
The Whistler: In the Dark (CBS, 1943)—So involved in his shipbuilding work that he alienates his wife, a magnate discovers he’s losing his eyesight and thinks he’s stumbled upon evidence that she’s having an affair, leading him to turn doctor’s orders into a fateful—and fatal—cruise among friends. The script tries too hard in small places to keep things smooth, but those are minor complaints. Cast: Unidentified, but possibly including Cathy Lewis. The Whistler: Joseph Kearns. Announcer: Bob Anderson. Writer/director: J. Donald Wilson.
Dragnet: The Big Honeymoon (NBC, 1952)—Friday (Jack Webb) and Jacobs (Barney Phillips) try to solve the death of a would-be bride whose sister (Virginia Gregg) suspects her now-missing husband-to-be—and just about anyone who ever courted the sisters—to be nothing more than a fortune hunter taking aim at the sisters’ inheritance . . . a fortune hunter who turns out to have had long experience with such sham marriages. Additional cast: Unidentified. Announcers: George Fenneman, Hal Gibney. Music: Walter Schumann. Director: Jack Webb. Writer: Jim Moser.
Suspense: Variations on a Theme (CBS, 1956)—The best laid plans go to waste even for someone such as a man (Parley Baer) who thinks planning equals the perfect murder when he fashions a vacation from which he has no intention of allowing his overly demanding wife to return. Additional cast: Paula Winslowe, Sam Edwards, Barbara Fuller, George Walsh, Peter Lee, Helen Klieb. Writer/director: Antony Ellis.