Friday, October 17, 2014

31 Days of Suspense: "To Find Help"

The "home invasion" plot which has become so popular with today's audiences is nothing new - you can find plenty of thrillers rooted in the same fears expressed in those films.

On January 6, 1949, Suspense played the episode "To Find Help," with Ethel Barrymore as an old woman who hires the seemingly-nice young Gene Kelly to do some chores for her. Unfortunately, Kelly ain't quite right in the head. You may download the episode from archive.org here.

When the episode was first performed on Suspense on January 18, 1945, Agnes Moorehead played the woman with Frank Sinatra as the young man. I think Sinatra's performance was stronger than Kelly, but I much prefer Barrymore's to Moorehead's. Still, it's worth hearing both versions so you can find the original at archive.org here.

Another aspect of Suspense which changes between the two performances is their commercial sponsorship; the first version occurred during the days of Roma Wines, while the second debuted in the days of Auto-Lite. I have to say, I much prefer the rich, warm, velvety Roma Wines commercials - they never clash against the tone of Suspense, while all too-often Harlow Wilcox's noisy Auto-Lite ads dissipate the tension of the surrounding program. Still, Auto-Lite commercials remain much more palatable than Lucky Strikes'.

Tomorrow: "Nothing like ketchup, I always say."

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