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Suspense Upgrades

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Post by artatoldotr 8/28/2020, 8:53 am

Thanks greybelt

Best regards

Art
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Post by greybelt 8/29/2020, 3:57 am

Can you spot a difference?

This is an east-west pair and there is a difference in the timing of the network ID after the final announcement. There's no break in one copy, and there's a 22 second one in the other. Sometimes there are differences in dialogue and in other announcements. Sometimes there's a small flub. Any and all help finding differences beyond the network ID timing is greatly appreciated.

This is a repeat of the script of 1943-09-02; Keenan Wynn was planned to star with Van Johnson, and was replaced by Wally Maher

Suspense_1944-11-02_The_Singing_Walls_wVanJohnson (22sec to ID).mp3
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Suspense_1944-11-02_The_Singing_Walls_wVanJohnson (direct to ID) UPGRADE-6.mp3
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Newspaper clippings were posted earlier... but this is a new one.

1944-10-29 Shreveport LA Times
Suspense Upgrades - Page 11 1944-131

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Post by artatoldotr 8/29/2020, 8:51 am

Thanks greybelt
Best regards
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Post by greybelt 8/30/2020, 10:58 am

This is another unidentified coast copy. The one in common circulation goes direct to the ID with no pause. Help detecting other differences is greatly appreciated. The AFRS recording is also in circulation.

Suspense_1944-11-09_YouWereWonderful_wLenaHorne (5sec to ID).mp3
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Spier caused a bit of a stir inside CBS when he booked Lena Horne to appear as guest star; CBS executives pressed him to add a guest star with the same level of billing with Horne, and Spier refused. Horne was very popular and in a big MGM musical at the time (implying a tie in with then-wife Kay Thompson, MGM's musical 'coach' who aided Spier in recruiting guests from the studio). The musical starred Van Johnson, who was on Suspense the prior week in Singing Walls, posted yesterday.

1944-10-23 Shreveport LA Journal
Suspense Upgrades - Page 11 1944-132

1944-10-22 Charlotte NC Observer
Horne's career was rising, and whatever problems her growing celebrity
had among some of the populace was balanced by support and curiosity elsewhere.
Suspense Upgrades - Page 11 1944-133

1944-10-27 Circleville OH Herald
When Suspense booked singers as stars there was always increased
interest in the press. The Sinatra date in November did not work out with his
schedule, so they repeated The Fountain Plays on that date. It was
rescheduled again for November 30, and got postponed again, replaced
by another repeated script, a favorite of Spier's, The Black Curtain.
They did not do the long awaited Dinelli play 'The Man' starring Sinatra until
a few weeks later in January as To Find Help.
Suspense Upgrades - Page 11 1944-134

1944-11-04 Harrisburg PA Telegraph
Suspense Upgrades - Page 11 1944-135

1944-11-09 Sacramento CA Bee
Suspense Upgrades - Page 11 1944-136

1944-11-09 Shreveport LA Times
Suspense Upgrades - Page 11 1944-139

1944-11-08 Circleville OH Herald
Suspense Upgrades - Page 11 1944-137

1944-11-09 Miami FL Herald
Suspense Upgrades - Page 11 1944-138

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

According to an interview with sound effects artist Berne Surrey, Sinatra was paid $12,000 for his appearance, which caused some grumbling among the Suspense regulars. That was almost $174,000 in today's US$. Sinatra and two "guys," likely bodyguards to avoid crowds, and also to keep him busy, would show up with him.


Last edited by greybelt on 8/30/2020, 2:15 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by chasedad 8/30/2020, 1:06 pm

"You Were Wonderful" is a fascinating episode; there's some very frank talk about race relations in the script that no movie studio would have ever considered coming anywhere near in a screenplay. Not only does the Nazi agent make some pointed remarks about America's dismissive treatment of "your people" (said to Lena Horne's character), but Horne intimates that money is the only thing that allows her to live "like a human being"....but that she still isn't afforded all the privileges that white people are. Of course, she's putting on a sardonic front for the benefit of her boyfriend at the time to keep from blowing her cover (she's secretly working with the Americans trying to root out Nazis), but in both cases the remarks aren't coming out of nowhere. And, again, try to cite even one WWII-era film that touches on these topics.

Horne's films during this era---like "Two Girls and a Sailor"---featured her only in specialty numbers that could easily be edited out of the prints that played down South without interrupting the continuity of the rest of the film. Wonder how this week's episode of "Suspense" fared down South? (And how do like that "dusky singer" sobriquet in the Ohio newspaper item?)

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Post by greybelt 8/30/2020, 3:19 pm

I added an ad from the Shreveport, LA paper for the episode. It was placed by the local Roma distributor. The most common thing I found in the newspapers in the South was -- nothing! Except for Florida, there was no mention of the episode in their listings or listening advice for that week, just the listing of Suspense with no title or guest name in the timetables. Despite the historic nature of her appearance, I could find no post-broadcast comments in any newspapers with one exception. Other than reporting upcoming singing appearances, and her divorce, Radio Life, Variety and Billboard did not have any reporting on the appearance. So few publications have been digitized compared to what can only be found in libraries and archives. This is an interesting topic for much further study as digital newspaper collections expand.

I did find these reaction clips from The Pittsburgh Courier, the only historically Black newspaper in newspapers.com covering these years.

1944-11-18 Pittsburgh PA Courier
Suspense Upgrades - Page 11 1944-140

1944-11-25 Pittsburgh PA Courier
Suspense Upgrades - Page 11 1944-141

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Post by greybelt 8/31/2020, 6:54 am

This is one of an east-west pair and is the only version in circulation... unless you find the other! There is no delay to the network ID in this copy.

The original title was "Dead of Night" and may have been "Dead of the Night" prior to the settling on "The Dead of the Night." Brighton Strangler was originally planned for this date but would be presented in December.

Suspense_1944-11-16_TheDeadOfTheNight_wRobertCummings (direct to ID) UPGRADE-7.mp3
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1944-11-16 Orlando FL Evening Star
Suspense Upgrades - Page 11 1944-142

1944-11-16 Shreveport LA Times

Suspense Upgrades - Page 11 1944-143

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Post by artatoldotr 8/31/2020, 8:32 am

Thanks greybelt
Best regards

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Post by greybelt 9/1/2020, 9:30 am

This is a "rare" version of The Fountain Plays that completes an east-west pair. We don't know which is which. It's easy to hear why this fell out of circulation as it is in low quality. This is 30 seconds to ID the other is just 2. Any identification of other broadcast differences would be greatly appreciated.

This was an intended date for To Find Help. As mentioned earlier, it was moved to the next week, and then moved again to January 1945 as Sinatra's schedule kept changing. Cary Grant is already mentioned as appearing in the next week's program, a repeat of Black Curtain. Spier always pulled scripts from the past when schedules changed, and some of his favorite actors, like Laughton, Grant, Bowman, and Cotten would fill in when they could, on short notice.

Suspense_1944-11-23_TheFountainPlays_wCharlesLaughton (30sec to ID) LQ.mp3
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Newspaper clips were posted earlier.

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Post by Gordon Johansen 9/1/2020, 12:48 pm

Thanks again Greybelt. It's fascinating reading your comments. I had no idea about studios cutting out parts of movies so they could play in the South for example or how they dealt with famous stars changing schedules/

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Post by greybelt 9/1/2020, 1:53 pm

That news bit was from a comment by chasedad who has been so supportive of this thread. There were times when some individual stations would run test patterns or otherwise interrupt broadcasts for "problems" when certain entertainers were on the network. It was the same kind of advertiser fear that was drummed up during the Red Channels period -- Elliott Lewis would often refer to "scared executives" at CBS and advertisers and how he and others did their best to ignore them. Boycotts and feared disruptions almost never happened. Courage was rarely the hallmark of broadcast executives at that time. Fear of the audience tended to rule the day rather than respect of it.

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Post by greybelt 9/2/2020, 4:37 am

It wasn't what they wanted, but they made it sound that way. Since there was juggling in the schedule for To Find Help, and there was the Thanksgiving holiday the week prior, Spier pulled repeat scripts to cover November 23 and 30, which made it easier for the stars and the production staff.

A year earlier, Grant starred in Black Curtain, the first of the Roma episodes, so they made it sound like they were celebrating the anniversary of Roma sponsorship with a returning guest star. Far more listeners were tuned in this time as the audience for Suspense grew considerably over the year as the series became a weekly habit, growing its Hooper rating from about 8.5 to 13.2, a 50%+ rise (ratings are for the nearest months that I could find).

They couldn't get what they wanted, but they made it sound like it was precisely their original plan. Those sneaky radio producers...

This recording is not usually in circulation and goes straight to the ID. The one in common circulation has a five second wait. There is no indication of east or west broadcast. Assistance in the detection of other in-show differences is greatly appreciated.

Suspense_1944-11-30_TheBlackCurtain_wCaryGrant (direct to ID) UPGRADE.mp3
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Newspaper clippings were posted previously.

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Post by greybelt 9/3/2020, 7:56 am

The script for this episode was a "correction" of the one used in the 1940 pilot episode for Suspense that was part of the CBS Forecast series. The Lodger was one of the films that brought Alfred Hitchcock to prominence and began his association with the Marie Belloc Lowndes story that would be used in the pilot. His 1927 film was a silent movie, and he tried to buy the rights for the story in the early 1940s, but was unsuccessful. There was an unsuccessful British film in 1932, and in 1944, a more successful US production, released in January. This 1944 Suspense production was about 11 months after the film release.

The Hitchcock influence in the Forecast production was minimal in time, but producer Charles Vanda made it clear in an interview that the short time Hitchcock was in the rehearsal had insights and changes that were very significant. He changed some of the interpretations of the actors and Vanda felt they were excellent. He also changed the nature of the music at the end. The Forecast production was quite good and Vanda was pleased. There were two problems...

1) Hitchcock's planned appearance in the program could not occur because he had to be in New York, and
2) the ending of the Forecast version of the script did not work with the audience, and more importantly, potential sponsors and their ad agencies.

Hitchcock left for New York after the pre-dress rehearsal. Alton Cook of the New York World Telegram was assigned to listen and review the broadcast. The evening of the broadcast, Hitchcock went to the NY CBS offices to listen to it. Cook was there and heard the performance with Hitchcock sitting next to him. Knowing that recordings were not being used in such broadcasts, Cook realized that Hitchcock was obviously being played by an actor. The model for producers appearing in broadcasts was Cecil B. deMille, who made all his own appearances. The idea of a producer being "imitated" was new. Cook’s column mentioning of Hitchcock’s absence limited the sales appeal for the program. His reporting created suspicion about the depth of Hitchcock’s commitment to the effort should it become a series.

After all these years, we finally know the actor who imitated Hitchcock: Edmond Stevens. He was one of many bit-part British actors in Hollywood who had also appeared on Broadway and other theatrical productions. He also voiced characters in Disney animations. When Hitchcock's travel plans became known, they hired Stevens. He kept listening to a recording of Hitchcock’s lines. Hitchcock had made the recordings the day of the rehearsal he visited. It is possible that Stevens was hired at the suggestion of Herbert Marshall, star of the Forecast broadcast.

As far as the ending, the Forecast ending was very open ended, and became a gimmick for the program to stimulate speculation and interest among the listeners. Vanda admitted years later his thought that this great idea would create a more interesting program was completely wrong. CBS sales people found that potential sponsors and their ad agencies hated the idea and could not envision a program that could differentiate itself from any other mystery program, especially if the gimmick was used again. Aside from WW2 beginning and disrupting the lives and plans of all involved in broadcasting, the problems with the pilot stayed in the backs of the minds of advertising executives until the breakthrough of Sorry, Wrong Number when it seemed Suspense could set itself apart from other programs. Colgate was the most likely sponsor, but that never happened, and eventually Roma Wines brought the series to prominence.

For this 1944 broadcast, the original 1940 Harold Medford script was used and changed to have a more definitive and satisfying ending. There is still an opening for some doubt, but it avoids the confusion of the original broadcast.

This is one of the east-west performances, and the other seems to be missing. If you have one, please check the time to ID. Here it is 14 seconds. An AFRS recording that had disc damage was found a couple of years ago and was previously posted.

Suspense_1944-12-14_The_Lodger_wRobertMontgomery (14sec to ID) UPGRADE-3.mp3
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Newspaper clippings were posted previously.

HELP!! Variety reviewed the Forecast production positively, and I have a copy of that. I have not been able to find the Alton Cook review anywhere. His New York World Telegram work seems to be exclusive to that paper and its archives are not available online. The only reference I have to the Cook involvement is the audio recording of an interview with Vanda.


Last edited by greybelt on 9/3/2020, 8:36 am; edited 1 time in total

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Post by artatoldotr 9/3/2020, 8:26 am

Thanks greybelt. Your research is amazing and always interesting.
Best regards
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Post by greybelt 9/4/2020, 2:28 am

This episode was planned to promote The Brighton Strangler film in production and its impending 1945 release. It was originally scheduled for 1944-11-16. It's likely that delays in film production of some sort pushed it to this date. After all, what better way to celebrate the Christmas season than a story patterned after Jack the Ripper? The Suspense cast included the film's stars as part of its promotion.

This is almost certainly the east broadcast. It has longer music and no CBS ID compared to the other, which is the most common one in circulation. At the end of the broadcast, the cast and crew are thanked for their year-long efforts and the list leaves out Milt Stark, Spier's right hand person. The west copy includes Stark and has shorter music and full network ID. Stark's omission in the east broadcast was an error, and corrected in the west broadcast. It's hard to envision the broadcasts occurring in the opposite order, that is, making an error of omission of a key person after properly including them in the first broadcast.

Suspense_1944-12-21_BrightonStrangler_wJohnLoder EC.mp3
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Newspaper clips were posted previously.

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Post by artatoldotr 9/4/2020, 8:09 am

Thanks greybelt

Best regards

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Post by greybelt 9/5/2020, 7:08 am

This is another episode where we have one of a pair of east-west recordings. This one goes directly to the ID at the end. We also have an AFRS recording of this broadcast.
Suspense_1944-12-28_AThingOfBeauty_wJuneDuprez (direct to ID) UPGRADE-3.mp3
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Newspaper clippings were posted previously.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

A generous Cobaltian searched for more clippings about Lena Horne's appearance. The exceptional member researcher understood foraging for this information in data bases of historically Black newspapers was important to the Suspense cause. Seven cheers for Cobaltian generosity!

Atlanta Daily World November 19, 1944
Suspense Upgrades - Page 11 Atlant11

Jackson Advocate Newspaper Archives November 18, 1944
Suspense Upgrades - Page 11 Jackso11

Jefferson City Lincoln University Clarion Newspaper Archives November 17, 1944
Suspense Upgrades - Page 11 Jeffer11

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Post by artatoldotr 9/5/2020, 8:34 am

Thanks greybelt

Best regards
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Post by greybelt 9/6/2020, 3:21 am

This is another one-of-a-pair for which we don't know the targeted region. If you have access to an older collection, please check if there are different characteristics, such as a different time to the closing network ID.
Suspense_1945-01-11_Drive_In_wNancyKelly (2sec to ID) UPGRADE-3.mp3
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Newspaper clippings posted earlier.

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Post by artatoldotr 9/6/2020, 9:03 am

Thanks greybelt

Best regards

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Post by greybelt 9/7/2020, 3:27 am

This is another sole recording for which its geographic pair is missing. And... through the generosity of disc collector Pete Sengler we now have an AFRS recording of this episode. The strange numbers in the file name are those found in the matrix of the AFRS disc.

It is not known which broadcast the AFRS recording is drawn from. Though the drama portions of Suspense are almost exactly the same when east and west are compared and the show differences are usually in the time to ID and announcements, sometimes the drama portions do have differences. It would be appreciated if these recordings could be compared to determine if there are characteristics that could identify the AFRS we now have as the same or different than the network recording and note the approximate timing of those instances. Is there a Cobaltian volunteer who can do this?

Suspense_1945-01-25_Drury's_Bones_wBorisKarloff (direct to ID) UPGRADE-4.mp3
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Suspense_1945-01-25_Drury's_Bones_wBorisKarloff AFRS#88 (SS-2-8-5 A' 0-1-25-45 C-583).mp3
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Newspaper clippings were posted previously.

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Post by artatoldotr 9/7/2020, 8:27 am

Thanks greybelt
Best regards

Art
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Post by greybelt 9/8/2020, 3:31 am

It's obvious why one of the east-west recordings fell out of circulation -- it's awful! But as completists, we keep a copy in our back pocket in the hopes that a better one surfaces.

Cary Grant was the originally planned guest star.

Suspense_1945-02-01_MostDangerousGame (35sec to ID) SEVERE DISC PROBS 25m-27m VLQ.mp3
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Suspense_1945-02-01_MostDangerousGame_wJCotten&JCNaish (31sec to ID) UPGRADE-3.mp3
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Newspaper clippings posted previously.

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Post by greybelt 9/9/2020, 8:04 am

Cary Grant was intended guest star of this episode, and Bowman stepped in. Bowman did not have a high-profile movie career, but he was part of radio's last gasp, working behind the scenes in ABC's Theater Five in 1963-1964. Grant had such a high profile and relationship with Spier, in contrast, that he was able to cancel and Suspense would keep rescheduling him shortly thereafter. Others would never be scheduled again or it would be a long time before their next planned appearance.

Suspense_1945-02-15_Sell_Me_Your_Life_wLeeBowman (24sec to ID) UPGRADE-3.mp3
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Newspaper clippings posted earlier.

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Post by artatoldotr 9/9/2020, 9:04 am

Thanks greybelt

Best regards

Art
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