Monday, January 1, 2018

Your World Adventure Awaits On Old Time Radio: A Passenger to Bali from Escape (1950)

I had the great opportunity to travel a great deal over the past two years and it has given me the adventurer-bug for sure.  I have little planned for 2018 - but I hope that I can fix that on the sooner side.  That all being said, this year, I want to highlight a series of Old Time Radio programs that feature adventure - especially world travel.  Hopefully this will be lots of fun to create and to listen to.  And for my first adventure - I thought I would ask three simple questions:

Tired of the everyday routine? 
Ever dream of a life of romantic adventure? 
Want to get away from it all?

With that, I offer you ESCAPE! This was one of the most famous shows on the CBS Radio Network.  It ran from 1947 to 1954 and, along with Suspense, Gunsmoke and various programs led by Norman Corwin (that will be covered later in this series), cemented the place for CBS to be at the Pantheon of the Golden Age of Radio.  Escape featured many adapted versions of short stories that placed the characters in difficult, if not impossible adventures.

Empress of the Seas - In Port at Cozumel (October 14, 2017)

Empress of the Seas - In Port at Cozumel (October 14, 2017)

As part of our travels this past year, we took a cruise of the Caribbean including stops in Key West, Cuba and Cozumel.  Our waiter on the Royal Caribbean's Empress of the Seas was named Indra - or IN (as he liked to say).  He was from Bali and every evening when I ordered fish, he added that it was freshly arrived from Bali.  That was not likely the case, but it is in Bali that my adventures start for this series.  (BTW - We had a great cruise)!

In 1936, Ellis St. Joseph wrote a play called "A Passenger to Bali."  St. Joseph was a well known and respected writer who would later make a name for himself on television.  In 1938, Orson Welles's Mercury Theater produced a one hour version of the program which I might feature down the road (here is the broadcast from November 13, 1938 starring Welles).  I just found out that the play had a very brief life on Broadway as well - only playing four shows in 1940 (here is the playbill).  It opened on March 14th and closed on March 16th.  It seems that they not have to heed Caesar's warning to beware the ides of March - but every other day!

The version I am showcasing today for my first adventure comes from Escape and was broadcast on December 10th, 1950.  As the radio play opens, we find ourselves in Shanghai on a a bustling dock as the freighter Roundabout is seeking to leave for its next cargo.  Captain English (played by the great John Dehner) is busy barking orders to get everything ready for their voyage.  They are approached unexpectedly by Rev. Mr. Walkes (played by Lou Merrill).  The Reverend understands they are headed to Bali and presents his passport and offers twice as much as should be expected for the trip to Bali.  Captain English has little choice but to accept - a decision he would come to regret.  On the voyage to Bali, a young stowaway - who followed the Reverend onto the ship - is met with an untimely demise.  Captain English realizes that his passenger is not at all a man of God.  As they approached Bali, they were informed by the customs officer that they would not be allowed to let their passenger leave the ship.  He started as their passenger, but he became their burden.  So it is like having family for the holidays - only 350x worse.

The production was produced and directed by Norman Macdonnell and featuring Lou Krugman, Michael Ann Barrett, Wilms Herbert, and Bruce Payne.  I hope if you have travels planned for this new year of 2018, that yours go more smoothly!  And I hope you enjoy this new series of Old Time Radio programs.

A Passenger To Bali (Escape - December 10, 1950)

Here are some links to Escape:
Your World Adventure Awaits On Old Time Radio

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