The Forecast is. . . Murder

Posted in Hitchcock, Radio Drama on April 13, 2010 by pfmurphy

Following up on the Nick Ray post, another little note about Forecast and the many links between radio drama and classic film. The most famous episode was the audition for Suspense, the famous anthology show that ran for over 900 episodes and was one of the last two dramas on the air, at the end of the period when, as silken-voiced actor Larry Haines put it, radio shows were being “taken outside and shot.” But this adaptation of the Lodger was also an indirect pilot for Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

The original idea was for Hitchcock to host the show and present stories that were, you know, Hitchcockian, but negotiations fell through, and the show wound up achieving great success under director William Spier, who had a facility for self-promotion that rivaled AH’s own. He even got the media to call him “The Hitchcock of the Airlanes,” at a time when radio directors and producers were even more anonymous than filmmakers.

So here’s Herbert Marshall as the Lodger in the first Suspense tryout. Amusingly, “Hitchcock” is played by an actor, Joe Kearns, who acquits himself well even though he has to compete with our memories of Hitch playing Hitch in so many shows, trailers, and records.

Forecast 1940 July 22 Suspense

Nick Ray on Radio

Posted in Nicholas Ray, Radio Drama on April 13, 2010 by pfmurphy

One of the blogs that inspired me the most is Shadowplay, where a learned Scotsman named David Cairns writes about film with a mixture of wit and severity all his own. In the comments to a discussion of Cornell Woolrich, I mentioned how often and well Woolrich was adapted for radio in the classic days of network radio drama. David asks if any of Nicholas Ray’s work on radio is in circulation.

Since Ray is my favorite director on those days when Altman or Lubitsch are not, I had an answer. One program survives. It’s an episode of CBS’s Forecast, a sort of tryout series, a weekly anthology of what TV folks call pilot episodes and radio referred to as “audition programs.”

It’s only known today for giving us the first tastes of both Suspense, longest running of all anthologies, and of the phenomenally successful comedy Duffy’s Tavern. But some of the shows that failed to find a permanent home were no less fascinating, and one of them was Ray’s effort, a folk music show that gives us a taste of those days when a relatively clean and accommodating version of American vernacular music was an indispensable part of every stylish leftist’s cultural wardrobe.

Give a listen:

Forecast 1940 August 19 Woody Guthrie

Are you ready, Hezzie?

Posted in General Business on April 12, 2010 by pfmurphy

Everyone’s blog needs a first post, and this one is mine.

This is going to be a place to talk about writing, movies, and contemporary music. I also plan to post some of my poems and excerpts from a novel-in-progress called THE CRAVE. If everything comes up boxcars, I’ll find time to touch on some older sonic experiences that I find indispensable, like classic radio drama and old blues and jazz.

I expect to use foul language quite a bit.

Don’t get me started on politics.


(The post title is a phrase used at the beginning of every tune by The Hoosier Hot Shots, a zany washboard-driven country band big in the 1930s)