" This is The Man in Black É here again to introduce Columbia's program: Suspense.
Suspense is compounded of mystery and suspicion and dangerous adventure.
In this series of tales, calculated to intrigue you, stir your nerves,
to offer you a precarious situation and then
withhold the solution until the last possible moment"
Suspense was quite simply the peak of dramatic radio:
É genuine noir drama on the air É
And it was all through the incredible efforts of producer William Spier: he personally guided every aspect of the show, moulding every story, voice, sound effects and music into audio masterpieces.
Each week Spier, musical director Bernard Herrmann and sound effects man Berne Surrey conferred and plotted an irresistible combination that seemed to almost transcend the medium, deeply involving the listener in a well constructed tale.
Suspense was radio's glamour showcase and Hollywood's biggest stars lines up to perform on it because they knew they were contributing to a superior product that would enhance their reputations. Award winning actors and actresses appeared each week in stories that were fined tuned to their talents. Spier became known "as the Hitchcock of the airlanes" and he had a great rapport with the stars, for whom he required little rehearsal - he wanted them tense at the microphone and they rewarded him (and the listener) with uniformly outstanding performances.
Said screen legend Cary Grant in 1943:
"If ever I do anymore radio work, I want to do it on Suspense,
where I get a good chance to act"
Screen legends to appear on Suspense included:
Orson Welles, Humphrey Bogart, Fredric Marsh, Ronald Colman, James Stewart, Claire Trevor, Kirk Douglas, Burt Lancaster, Edward G. Robinson, Ray Milland, James Cagney, Charles Laughton, Joan Fontaine, Bette Davis, William Powell, William Holden, Myrna Loy, Marlene Dietrich, Gregory Peck, Cary Grant, Joan Crawford, Tyrone Power, Olivia de Havilland É..
Popular Noir performers consisted of:
Dana Andrews, Glenn Ford, James Mason, Edmund O'Brien, Fred MacMurray, Cornel Wilde, Alan Ladd, Dick Powell, Robert Taylor, Joseph Cotten, Van Heflin, Victor Mature, John Garfield, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Robert Ryan, Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Paul Muni, Gene Kelly, Mary Astor É.
Spier also featured comedy performers in dramatic roles, garnering praise from the dramatic efforts of stars who would normally not be associated with such gripping stories:
Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Judy Garland, Donald O'Connor, Red Skelton, Phil Silvers, Danny Kaye, Mickey Rooney, Ginger Rogers, Dan Dailey, Jack Benny, Jack Carson É
One episode, The Red-Headed Woman (1949-11-17) even combined the then husband & wife "I Love Lucy" team of Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz!
Some wonderful Suspense shows even begat movies such as Lucille Fletcher's "Sorry, Wrong Number" and Cornell Woolrich's "The Black Curtain" (as Street of Chance) & "The Black Path of Fear" (as The Chase).
In fact both of these authors contributed a number of "legendary" Suspense episodes:
Whilst Sorry, Wrong Number gained notoriety for the scintillating radio performance of Agnes Moorehead, conventional wisdom suggests that it Moorehead's performance in Lucille Fletcher's The Diary of Sophronia Winters (1944-08-17) was superior and resulted in a more "suspenseful" result! Lucille Fletcher also contributed the disturbing Search for Henri Le Fevre (1944-07-06) starring Paul Muni, whilst further Cornell Woolrich efforts included The White Rose Murders (1943-07-06) starring Maureen O'Hara, You'll Never See Me Again (1944-09-14) starring Joseph Cotton & Three O'Clock (1949-03-10) starring Van Heflin.
Interesting "sundry guests" would also provide the freshness so important to this long running program:
The legendary screen-writer Ben Hecht (he did psycho-dramas for Alfred Hitchcock, including Spellbound & Notorious) wrote the radio-play and appeared in person as the narrator on Actor's Blood (1944-08-24) starring Fredric March.
Another "guest" appearances occurred in Blood on the Trumpet (1950-11-09) starring William Holden where Ziggy Elman was heard on the trumpet.
Several Suspense episodes were associated with then-current films:
The episode Murder Goes for a Swim (1943-07-20) tapped into the popularity of The Lone Wolf Movie Series by casting Warren William as Michael "The Lone Wolf" Lanyard & Eric Blore as Jamison - it was an excellent who-dun-it and William & Blore really had a ball playing their screen roles on the air!
Richard Connell's The Most Dangerous Game has been filmed many times (for the big screen and on TV in various forms). Whilst it was the subject of several radio dramas (including Escape), the definitive version belongs to the Suspense episode from 1943-09-23. Orson Welles was absolutely chilling as General Zaroff as he hunted the hapless Sanger Rainsford (Keenan Wynn) - riveting!
John Loder & June Duprez recreated their screen roles Reginald Parker / Edward Grey and April Manby Carson respectively for Suspense's excellent take on The Brighton Strangler (1944-12-21).
Marie Belloc Lowndes' novel The Lodger and its film adaptation scared and enthralled readers and film-goers alike in the mid 1940s - but listeners had to wait until Robert Montgomery did an hour long Suspense version on 1948-02-14. Chilling!
Famous novels were also dramatized by Suspense, with Herbert Marshall starring in two notable British spy stories: Geoffrey Household's Rogue Male (1951-12-31) & John Buchan's The Thirty Nine Steps (1952-03-03).
Agatha Christie's The ABC Murders (1943-05-18) & Philomel Cottage (1946-12-26) resulted in two well-staged and intriguing plays. Charles Laughton & Elsa Lanchester starred in the former whilst Lili Palmer guested in the latter.
America's top "hard-boiled detective" writers also provided stories:
Dashiell "Sam Spade" Hammett's Two Sharp Knives (1945-06-07) starring John Payne;
Brett "Michael Shayne" Halliday's Big Shot (1948-09-09) starring Burt Lancaster;
Raymond "Philip Marlowe" Chandler's Pearls Are a Nuisance (1950-04-20) starring Ray Milland.
The Sam Spade character even turned up in two Suspense programs, both times voiced by Howard Duff who was currently playing Sam Spade in his own regular weekly radio show: Spade was heard briefly (and uncredited) at the start of The House in Cypress Canyon (1946-12-05) starring Robert Taylor and then in his own specially written mystery: The Kandi Tooth (1948-01-10) - a fabulous sequel to Hammett's The Maltese Falcon! This latter program was one of just a few one hour presentations (most were a half hour).
Now to whats on oFFer here É.
Assembled here in this collection on 4 CDs are 126 episodes of which all but 4 are of 30 minutes duration - there are 4 one hour entries and they occur sequentially on the 2nd CD:
The Kandi Tooth (1948-01-10), The Lodger (1948-02-14),
Beyond Reason (1948-02-21) & The Blind Spot (1948-05-01)
All 126 episodes have been carefully chosen for the strength of the story and the "star power" of the performing cast.
The collection leads off with an edited 32 minute Documentary from The Golden Age of Radio series (November 1970) in which William Spier and actress wife June Havoc discuss the making of and performing on the Suspense Radio program. Excepts from the following Suspense episodes are also included (and discussed):
August Heat (1945-05-31) starring Ronald Colman,
Blind Date (1949-09-29) starring Charles Laughton & June Havoc
The House in Cypress Canyon (1946-12-05) starring Robert Taylor
A Note from Trev: In the course of this restoration project, the commercials (for Roma Wines & AutoLight) have been removed - so too the "whats on next week" has been excised
All 126 programs are of excellent audio quality and have (each & all) been re-recorded for maximum fidelity (and to allow enthusiasts to move programs onto 80 minute audio CDs, if they require it, without loss of sound quality)
Want to check out a few Suspense programs?
Why not download a few these 30 minute productions?
They can be freely downloaded to your computer - just right button click on any link below and chose "Download Linked File" (or words to that effect). The file is on an average about 40Mb - download time will depend on your (broadband) speed.
Lucille Ball in:
Loretta Young in:
Cary Grant in:
These 4 MP3 CDs consist of 126 episodes of Suspense
All elements of this collection have been carefully restored - beautiful sound with no hiss!
1. 1970-11-xx Talking with William Spier & June Havoc
B. Suspense Episodes:
1. 1942-09-02 The Hitchhiker - Orson Welles
2. 1942-12-15 Till Death Do Us Part - Peter Lorre
3. 1943-02-02 The Doctor Prescribed Death - Bela Lugosi
4. 1943-02-16 In Fear and Trembling - Mary Astor
5. 1943-04-20 A Moment of Darkness - Peter Lorre
6. 1943-05-18 The ABC Murders - Charles Laughton & Elsa Lanchester
7. 1943-07-06 The White Rose Murders - Maureen O'Hara
8. 1943-07-20 Murder Goes for a Swim - Warren William & Eric Blore
9. 1943-08-21 Sorry, Wrong Number - Agnes Moorehead
10. 1943-09-23 The Most Dangerous Game - Orson Welles & Keenan Wynn
11. 1943-11-16 Thieves Fall Out - Gene Kelly
12. 1943-12-02 The Black Curtain - Cary Grant
13. 1944-01-06 One Way Ride to Nowhere - Alan Ladd
14. 1944-01-13 Dime a Dance - Lucille Ball
15. 1944-03-09 The Defense Rests - Alan Ladd
16. 1944-04-27 Death Went Along for the Ride - Gene Kelly
17. 1944-06-22 The Ten Grand - Lucille Ball
18. 1944-07-06 Search for Henri Le Fevre - Paul Muni
19. 1944-07-13 The Beast Must Die - Herbert Marshall
20. 1944-07-20 Of Maestro and Man - Peter Lorre
21. 1944-08-17 The Diary of Sophronia Winters - Agnes Moorehead
22. 1944-08-24 Actor's Blood - Fredric March (Ben Hecht as narrator)
23. 1944-08-31 Black Path of Fear - Brian Donlevy
24. 1944-09-07 Voyage Through Darkness - Olivia de Havilland
25. 1944-09-14 You'll Never See Me Again - Joseph Cotten
26. 1944-12-21 The Brighton Strangler - John Loder & June Duprez
27. 1945-03-08 Love's Lovely Counterfeit - Humphery Bogart
28. 1945-05-24 My Own Murderer - Herbert Marshall
29. 1945-05-31 August Heat - Ronald Colman
30. 1945-06-07 Two Sharp Knives - John Payne & Frank McHugh
31. 1945-08-09 Murder for Myra - Lloyd Nolan
32. 1945-08-30 Nobody Loves Me - Peter Lorre
33. 1945-09-20 Library Book - Myrna Loy
34. 1945-10-11 Beyond Good and Evil - Joseph Cotten
35. 1945-10-25 A Shroud for Sarah - Lucille Ball
36. 1946-01-17 The Pasteboard Box - Joseph Cotten
37. 1946-02-21 Consequence - James Stewart
38. 1946-04-11 The Name of the Beast - Vincent Price
39. 1946-05-16 The Plan - Claire Trevor
40. 1946-09-12 Hunting Trip - Lloyd Nolan & Vincent Price
41. 1946-10-31 Lazarus Walks - Brian Donlevy
42. 1946-11-21 Drive-In - Judy Garland
43. 1946-12-05 The House in Cypress Canyon - Robert Taylor
44. 1946-12-26 Philomel Cottage - Lili Palmer
45. 1947-02-06 End of the Road - Glenn Ford
46. 1947-04-03 The Swift Rise of Eddie Albright - Phil Silvers
47. 1947-08-14 Smiley - Donald O'Connor
48. 1947-09-04 The Argyle Album - Edmund O'Brien & Ann Blyth
49. 1947-09-18 The Visitor - Donald O'Connor
50. 1947-10-02 The Story of Markham's Death - Kirk Douglas
51. 1948-01-10 The Kandi Tooth - Howard Duff (Note: 1 hour duration)
52. 1948-02-14 The Lodger - Robert Montgomery (Note: 1 hour duration)
53. 1948-02-21 Beyond Reason - Robert Ryan (Note: 1 hour duration)
54. 1948-05-01 The Blind Spot - Edmund O'Brien (Note: 1 hour duration)
55. 1948-07-22 Deep into Darkness - Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
56. 1948-09-09 Big Shot - Burt Lancaster
57. 1948-10-07 Night Cry - Ray Milland
58. 1948-10-14 A Little Piece of Rope - Lucille Ball
59. 1948-11-04 Death Sentence - John Garfield
60. 1948-11-11 Muddy Track - Edmund O'Brien & Ann Blyth
61. 1948-12-16 No Escape - James Cagney
62. 1948-12-30 Break-Up - William Bendix
63. 1949-01-13 The Too Perfect Alibi - Danny Kaye
64. 1949-01-20 If the Dead Could Talk - Dana Andrews
65. 1949-03-03 Lovebirds - Joan Fontaine
66. 1949-03-10 Three O'Clock - Van Heflin
67. 1949-03-17 Murder Through the Looking Glass - Gregory Peck
68. 1949-03-31 You Can't Die Twice - Edward G. Robinson
69. 1949-04-07 Noose of Coincidence - Ronald Colman
70. 1949-05-05 Death Has a Shadow - Bob Hope
71. 1949-05-12 The Light Switch - Claire Trevor
72. 1949-09-08 Chicken Feed - Ray Milland
73. 1949-09-29 Blind Date - Charles Laughton & June Havoc
74. 1949-10-20 Good Night Mrs Russell - Bette Davis
75. 1949-10-27 Momentum - Victor Mature
76. 1949-11-03 The Search for Isabel - Red Skelton
77. 1949-11-17 The Red-Headed Woman - Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz
78. 1949-11-24 The Long Wait - Burt Lancaster
79. 1949-12-08 For Love or Murder - Mickey Rooney
80. 1949-12-29 The Bullet - Ida Lupino
81. 1950-01-12 Four Hours to Kill - Robert Taylor
82. 1950-01-19 The Escape of Lacey Abbott - William Powell
83. 1950-02-16 Murder Strikes Three Times - Marlene Dietrich
84. 1950-02-23 Slow Burn - Dick Powell
85. 1950-03-02 The Lady Killer - Loretta Young
86. 1950-03-16 Motive for Murder - Alan Ladd
87. 1950-03-23 One and One's a Lonesome - Ronald Reagan
88. 1950-04-13 Six Feet Under - Dan Dailey
89. 1950-04-20 Pearls Are a Nuisance - Ray Milland
90. 1950-05-18 Angel Face - Claire Trevor
91. 1950-09-21 The Crowd - Dana Andrews
92. 1950-10-19 The Wages of Sin - Barbara Stanwyck
93. 1950-11-09 Blood on the Trumpet - William Holden (Ziggy Elman on trumpet)
94. 1950-11-16 On a Country Road - Cary Grant
95. 1950-12-07 After the Movies - Ray Milland
96. 1950-12-14 A Killing in Abilene - Alan Ladd
97. 1950-12-28 A Ring for Marya - Cornel Wilde
98. 1951-01-11 Vamp Till Dead - Ginger Rogers
99. 1951-03-22 Three Lethal Words - Joan Crawford
100. 1951-03-29 Death Pitch - Jack Carson
101. 1951-04-19 The Rescue - James Stewart
102. 1951-05-17 Another Man's Poison - Charles Boyer
103. 1951-05-31 Overdrawn - Dick Powell
104. 1951-06-07 Tell Ya Why I Shouldn't Die - Richard Widmark
105. 1951-06-21 The Greatest Thief in the World - James Mason
106. 1951-10-08 Betrayal in Vienna - Herbert Marshall
107. 1951-10-22 The Log of the Marne - Ray Milland
108. 1951-12-31 Rogue Male - Herbert Marshall
109. 1952-02-18 The Track of the Cat - Richard Widmark
110. 1952-03-03 The Thirty Nine Steps - Herbert Marshall
111. 1952-04-21 The Diary of Captain Scott - Herbert Marshall
112. 1952-05-19 The Flight of the Bumble Bee - Fred MacMurray
113. 1952-06-02 A Good and Faithful Servant - Jack Benny
114. 1952-12-22 Arctic Rescue - Joseph Cotten
115. 1953-02-02 Plan X - Jack Benny
116. 1953-04-13 The Great Train Robbery - Fred MacMurray
117. 1953-06-01 A Vision of Death - Ronald Colman
118. 1953-11-02 Ordeal in Donner Pass - Edmund O'Brien
119. 1953-12-28 The Queen's Ring - James Mason
120. 1954-01-18 The Face is Familiar - Jack Benny
121. 1954-03-01 The Barking Death - William Powell
122. 1954-03-08 Circumstantial Terror - Ronald Reagan
123. 1954-03-22 The Guilty Always Run - Tyrone Power
124. 1954-04-12 Parole to Panic - Broderick Crawford
125. 1956-11-11 Three Skeleton Key - Vincent Price
126. 1956-12-16 Eyewitness - Howard Duff