Suspense Upgrades

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Re: Suspense Upgrades

Post by jb_steele on 11/30/2017, 1:35 pm

Suspense_1944-08-24_ActorsBlood_wFredricMarch

Ben Hecht (author/actor)

Frederic March

Invite the suspects to a dinner party.... how novel.  Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy
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Re: Suspense Upgrades

Post by ghemrats on 11/30/2017, 3:15 pm

I'm sure a slew of people are enjoying your posts, Greybelt. I'm enjoying everything you post, and will continue to do so.
Many thanks.
Jeff

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Re: Suspense Upgrades

Post by greybelt on 11/30/2017, 8:23 pm

So far the only people who have indicated they are following this thread are:

  • otrhead
  • artatoldotr
  • bojim1
  • kdmarket
  • Tom-In-Ohio
  • Wildcat44
  • JBSteele
  • BobbyP
  • ghemrats


If anyone else is, please send me a private message or send an email to [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] so I can get an idea of how many of us there are.

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Re: Suspense Upgrades

Post by Harlow Wilcox on 12/1/2017, 12:15 am

Hi greybelt! I'm still hanging around the ol' club and have been downloading the shows. Thank you very much!
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Re: Suspense Upgrades

Post by greybelt on 12/1/2017, 8:39 am

We've heard from Harlow and I've also heard from Geezer... so that's two more Cobaltians of honor lurking in the shadows... but it's only 12 of us? Sheesh!! What has happened to Cobaltia?

Suspense_1944-08-31_BlackPathOfFear_wBrianDonlevy UPGRADE-5 EC Thursday.mp3
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Hollywood stars were important to Suspense, and the announcement of the signing a big star to appear in an upcoming broadcast was part of the show’s publicity campaigns. I can’t find an indication that this was done for every performance, so Donlevy must have been considered to be a big deal at that time. Or... was this based on a press release from Donlevy's agent?

1944-08-11 Circleville OH Herald


1944-08-31 Belvidere IL Daily Republican


1944-09-03 Santa Cruz CA Sentinel



1944-08-31 local newspapers customized national ads sent to them with the station information for their area


This is a strange one: from the 1944-11-06 Sitka Alaska Daily Sentinel about the programming on WVCX... yes, November, not August! Alaska wasn’t a state yet, and its broadcasting infrastructure was quite limited. When I found this in a larger newspaper article, I thought it was odd that they were also playing “GI Journal”!

Sitka was tiny coastal town that served as Alaska’s capital until 1906, and they had an AFRS station! That explains the date discrepancy – the station was playing AFRS releases. Details about Alaska’s role in the history of AFRS are at [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

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Re: Suspense Upgrades

Post by hotmix99 on 12/1/2017, 9:49 am

Thanks for all you provide greybelt

Count me in

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Re: Suspense Upgrades

Post by artatoldotr on 12/1/2017, 10:20 am

Thanks greybelt

It's too bad that the number of downloads doesn't show how many people have downloaded an episode. That would be an accurate count.

Best regards

Art
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Re: Suspense Upgrades

Post by kschriever on 12/1/2017, 11:02 am

Still lurking in the shadows...
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Re: Suspense Upgrades

Post by jb_steele on 12/1/2017, 1:11 pm


Cornell Woolrich at work

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Re: Suspense Upgrades

Post by Harlow Wilcox on 12/1/2017, 5:30 pm

I have to agree with ghemrats, i think there are a lot more than a dozen people that are downloading these shows. Smile
By the way... I always thought the same as you greybelt, that the 1948-49 episodes were the best of the series run! I thought it was just me until I read that you thought the same thing.
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Re: Suspense Upgrades

Post by greybelt on 12/1/2017, 8:56 pm

This is the Suspense Roll Call as it currently stands:


  • otrhead
  • artatoldotr
  • bojim1
  • kdmarket
  • Tom-In-Ohio
  • Wildcat44
  • JBSteele
  • BobbyP
  • ghemrats
  • kschriever
  • Harlow Wilcox
  • Geezer
  • HotMix99
  • mstevens90


15 including yours truly
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Re: Suspense Upgrades

Post by greybelt on 12/2/2017, 7:57 am

Just heard from "hovea" one of our Cobaltians from "down under"

Suspense_1944-09-07_VoyageThroughDarkness_wOliviaDeHavilland UPGRADE-2 EC Thursday.mp3
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1944-09-10 Santa Cruz Sentinel


1944-09-07 Orlando FL Evening Star
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Re: Suspense Upgrades

Post by artatoldotr on 12/2/2017, 10:25 am

Thanks again greybelt

Best regards

Art
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Re: Suspense Upgrades

Post by jb_steele on 12/2/2017, 2:24 pm

Suspense_1944-09-07_VoyageThroughDarkness


Olivia de Havilland

Reginald Gardiner

Also in the cast.... Herbert Rawlinson, Joseph Kearns
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Re: Suspense Upgrades

Post by greybelt on 12/3/2017, 8:30 am

Suspense_1944-09-14_YoullNeverSeeMeAgain_wJosephCotten UPGRADE-3 EC Thursday.mp3
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This is an interesting one – with two lessons. First, you can’t rely solely on newspapers for compiling logs. Second, the reason you can’t count on newspapers for logs is a window to the sometimes chaotic nature of producing a big network radio program with big Hollywood stars. Today’s post is a great example.

Today was supposed to be the broadcast of “The Man Who Couldn’t Lose,” starring Frank Sinatra!
Variety 1944-08-23

Remember – Suspense is on twice a week, Thursday and then a repeat on Monday. Don't forget the rehearsals! For someone like Sinatra, that could be a real problem for a music performer with a hot career, with his own show, and appearing on Hit Parade.

Sinatra had been in California since the Spring, part of which was to film “Anchors Aweigh” for its 1945 release. During that time, it seemed that Frank was not a big fan of Hollywood, and he vented to a reporter around Labor Day that he was done with the film business.

1944-09-09 Salt Lake Telegram - Sinatra says he is through with films

He walked back those comments. I cannot find any information about what was going on, but it may have been a rough schedule and his growing dissatisfaction that led to pushing a Suspense appearance to a future date. (Don't you love the comments by the writer: "big eared crooner, whose off-key groans have earned him a sizeable fortune." Whatever happened to this Sinatra guy? Did he ever get work after this article?)

1944-09-19 Oakland Tribune - Sinatra walks it back (typo in headline)
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Joseph Cotten was announced as the lead for “The Man Who Couldn’t Lose.” I have not found any documentation about this, but it seems that whenever Suspense had a scheduling issue, Cotten was the first person they would call. At least that’s what Greg Bell, host of SiriusXM’s Radio Classics channel, said in his introduction to a Suspense episode recently.

So newspapers started to carry ads for the show which would have Cotten as its star. The time required to get ads ready and out to newspapers make me think that they knew by early August that Sinatra would not be doing the show. That’s well before his complaining about films and Hollywood. He could have been dissatisfied well before his venting to the press. From looking at radio schedules, that would have been quite a week for him for both Suspense broadcasts. He was in process of getting ready to head back to New York, too. This could have all related to his schedule and had nothing to do with his comments about working in Hollywood. But it certainly is colorful... and makes one wonder...

Here are some of the newspaper items that mention “Man Who Couldn’t Lose” and Cotten.

1944-09-14 Belvidere IL Daily Republican - Man Who Couldn't Lose (Cotten)

1944-09-14 Hartford CT Courant - Man Who Couldn't Lose ad (Cotten)
Notice how they spell Cotten's name incorrectly. Perhaps this is a sign that the ad was prepared in a rush.

1944-09-14 Miami FL News - Man Who Couldn't Lose (Cotten)

1944-09-14 Palm Beach FL Post - Man Who Couldn't Lose ad (Cotten)
Since it was a national ad, the spelling would be wrong everywhere. Publications were not allowed to make changes to ads unless specified by the advertiser. In this case, they could only drop in the local broadcast information.

But some newspapers start showing some different news... the script is being changed to “I’ll Never See You Again.” Gene Kelly will do “The Man Who Couldn’t Lose” two weeks later. Kelly was a co-star in “Anchors Aweigh.” Did Frank say “Hey Gene... can you do me a favor?” By the time Kelly would be “The Man,” Suspense would be back to a one-night schedule with a Pacific Time performance at 5pm for the Eastern and Central time zones (8:00pm and 7:00pm respectively) and a 9:00pm performance for the Western time zone (it’s hard to tell sometimes which feed the Mountain time zone stations would pick – Arizona stations seemed to pick the Pacific feed at 6pm Mountain time). So it would be one night of work, rather than two, plus all of the necessary rehearsals. With Sinatra’s radio schedule and New York plans, combined with his Hollywood unhappiness, two separate nights may have been too much. He would not be in town long enough for Suspense to start its new Thursday-only schedule.

1944-09-13 Circleville OH Herald

Here’s another newspaper with the same change, but they got the date wrong for “Man Who Couldn’t Lose.” At the time of the press release, things were still in flux back at Spier's office.

1944-09-14 Louisville KY Courier-Journal - Cotten and "I'll Never See You Again"

And here’s the listing that has the final title of the program: “You’ll Never See Me Again.”

1944-09-14 Indianapolis IN News


So there you have it.. a cast change, a script change, and a date change, all rolled into one.

But the story’s not over... in an upcoming post, there will be a clip from the end October that Sinatra was signed to appear on the November 30, 1944 performance of “To Find Help.” That one didn’t happen, either! Instead, Cary Grant did a reprise of “The Black Curtain.” Sinatra’s sole Suspense appearance did not happen until January 18, 1945. Did the Suspense emergency list read "If you can't get Cotten, call Grant!"? This might be the reason why they chose to perform "Black Curtain" again because they did not have a new script at the ready. "Curtain" was the first Roma-sponsored program a year before, and its new production could come together quickly. Tying it to the anniversary of the Roma sponsorship could make it seem "planned," like it was supposed to be that exact way all along; what brilliant programming acumen! That's the way they wanted it to look! This is one of those frustrating situations where things take forever... or longer... to happen. It's a reminder that in a big production like Suspense and all of its moving parts and personalities, its biggest enemy was fighting against the clock and the calendar, and that flexibility was the order of the day. This was the downside of the anthology format, and it took great skill to make it work every week.

How fitting the title of the 1944-09-14 performance became "You'll Never See Me Again." Was that Spier sending Sinatra a message? Smile

And this is a funny PS -- who is slotted to make an appearance on Frank Sinatra's show in NY? Joseph Cotten!
1944-09-30 Harrisburg PA Telegraph



Last edited by greybelt on 12/3/2017, 9:16 pm; edited 7 times in total
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Re: Suspense Upgrades

Post by artatoldotr on 12/3/2017, 11:32 am

Very Interesting reading greybelt

Thanks

Best regards

Art
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Re: Suspense Upgrades

Post by greybelt on 12/4/2017, 8:42 am

Suspense_1944-09-21_BluebeardOfBellac_wMerleOberon UPGRADE-3 'Next Thurs Ladies & Gentlemen'.mp3
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This is the first show with the one-day-per-week schedule. It is likely that the Pacific Network did run a show on Monday of this week.

There are two versions of “Bluebeard,” presumably an East one done in the studio at 5pm and the West done at 9pm (Pacific times). We have no clue which is which. This one ends with “Next Thursday, Ladies & Gentlemen,...” in their tease for the next episode, while another one that is not being upgraded at this time ends with “Next Thursday, same time,...”

1944-09-18 Bakersfield CA Californian


1944-09-20 Circleville OH Herald

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Re: Suspense Upgrades

Post by shadowsmom on 12/4/2017, 9:48 am

Shadowsmom occasionally prowls around too. Thank you for posting these.

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Re: Suspense Upgrades

Post by artatoldotr on 12/4/2017, 1:14 pm

Thanks greybelt

Best regards

Art
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Re: Suspense Upgrades

Post by greybelt on 12/4/2017, 2:53 pm

Updated roll call

artatoldotr
BobbyP
bojim1
Geezer
ghemrats
Harlow Wilcox
HotMix99
JBSteele
kdmarket
kschriever
mstevens90
otrhead
scoopsimons
shadowsmom
Tom-In-Ohio
Wildcat44
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Re: Suspense Upgrades

Post by jb_steele on 12/5/2017, 3:48 am


Merle Oberon
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Re: Suspense Upgrades

Post by greybelt on 12/5/2017, 8:58 am

Suspense_1944-09-28_ManWhoCouldn'tLose_wGeneKelly UPGRADE-2.mp3
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Finally! The much delayed script is performed. The story is outlandish, so it can’t be taken seriously, but it can be happily enjoyed as “what unlikely thing can happen next?”

1944-09-28 Miami FL News


1944-09-24 Shreveport LA Times
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Re: Suspense Upgrades

Post by kdmarket on 12/5/2017, 9:36 am

is the show ec thursday?
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Re: Suspense Upgrades

Post by artatoldotr on 12/5/2017, 12:23 pm

Thanks greybelt

Best regards

Art
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Re: Suspense Upgrades

Post by greybelt on 12/5/2017, 1:40 pm

Bluebeard of Belloc was the first time the Roma Wines sponsored Suspense was on a single night (Thursday) for the entire network. The recording we have for Man Who Couldn't Lose was probably the East coast recording. Laborious details below...

The Suspense crew would do two performances on the same day. It is reasonable to assume that the 5pm Pacific performance for the East coast was always recorded, and dominates the Suspense recordings we have in our collections. It is possible that the 9pm Pacific time performances were not always recorded.

The two performances are often so identical that it is difficult to discern which is which. The timing of the direction and the nature of the acting in terms of intonation and nuance are almost always spot on. I have played some side by side in Audacity. Of course, the playback speed might be slightly off unless each recording is played on the same turntable and were recorded on the same turntable. The differences can only be measured in fractions of seconds. The performances are so close you can convince yourself that the East and West designation is a hoax. That's how good the Suspense productions were.

I have wondered if the fiasco with the first Sorry, Wrong Number production (when Suspense was only performed once at that time in its history, and not for East or West, despite the legend) put such fear of making a mistake in their minds that the attention to detail and timing was raised several notches to levels that might be considered obsessive compulsive so it would never happen again.

The only way to know for certain that you have East and West coast recordings at this stage of Suspense history is to have files from reliable sources and verification in some way from images of disc labels.

Another was is an aircheck that includes the station's ID or some kind of local announcement. There are very few of these in circulation. There are some recordings that have a different commercial tacked on at the end of the show. For those, unless the file name includes EC or WC from a reliable source, knowing which is which is not possible.

We do have some instances where we have two different recordings, such as we have with Bluebeard where the closing announcements are different but we have no idea which performance each is. There are other times where there are dialog differences. There are two recordings of 1947's Three Blind Mice that have different dialogue after the middle commercial. There was obviously a re-write between performances, but again, we have no clue which was which. There's also an instance where the performance was running late and the closing announcements are done at a faster pace over the signature music. This was found in the East and West recordings of 1947's Elwood that are now in the collection, but the files were named by someone who had the discs.

Once Suspense became a transcribed show, all of this ended. I have to research when that occurred. It was still live in 1949 because a big deal was made with the performance with Joan Crawford in The Ten Years. Crawford refused to perform live, so if you listen to that performance, it's only 26 minutes long. Somewhere along the line, a collector eliminated the silent gaps in the disc. But if you have an unedited version, there are timed gaps in the transcription for live music and the ads. There is no aircheck of that actual broadcast. If there were separate East and West coast transmissions, they used the same studio recording for each.

Trivia: The Suspense episode "The Doll" was the first produced by William Robson and was the first to use recording tape. It's announced on the show.
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