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Suspense - January 16, 1947 - Version B

January 14th, 2010

We continue to double our pleasure and double our fun with "twin" versions of the same "Suspense" episode.  In the previous post, I outlined the questions behind this mysterious disc set.

transcription label

In this post, what I'm calling "version B" of "Overture in Two Keys", a "Suspense" episode originally broadcast January , 1947 on CBS, sponsored by Roma Wines and featuring Joan Bennett and Howard Duff.  As I mentioned in the last post, I'm unsure if these two versions of the same program represent "East" and "West" coast broadcasts of the program or if one or both are rehearsal recordings.

If you listen closely, or open up the two files in the left and right channel in an audio editing program, you can easily hear that they are different performances.  In version A, heard in the previous post, the actors perform the dialogue at a slower pace - listen to the difference in the pause between the two versions after Bennett's opening dialogue and the scene at the train station around the 2:00 mark.  At the end of version A, you heard a promo for "The FBI in Peace and War" at the end of the show - this is missing from version B.  In addition, in version B, listen to the strange sound (like a baton hitting against a music stand) at the end music, just after the announcer says "keep you in suspense" and the coughing by someone in the background after the CBS network id.

Version A, in the previous post, sounds like the performance heard on an mp3 of the show that's been floating around the web - you can download it for comparison from the Internet Archives.  That recording appears to have been made from a later generation tape copy, since the sound isn't quite as clear and there's some cross-channel cross talk on that version.  Of course, we don't know what transcription that version came from.

Our mp3 of Version B of the program was transferred from an original Radio Recorders lacquer transcription set cut for the Biow Company, an advertising agency that produced "Suspense" at the time.  The file has undergone editing to eliminate skips and click reduction to improve the sound since the disc set is deteriorating and starting to crack.

Please note that I'm offering this file up in a higher bit rate than normal for posts to the blog because of the wide interest in the "Suspense" series in the otr community - be patient if you're on a slower Internet connection.

Please post your comments if you know something of the ins and outs of production practices of the time or similar "Suspense" transcriptions and might have some thoughts on what these two versions of the program might be.

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  • Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.

    You are the recipient of a Kreativ Blogger Award. Details can be found at http://thrillingdaysofyesteryear.blogspot.com/2010/01/k-is-for-kreativity.html

    Jan 15, 2010 at 11:24 am
  • Martin Grams

    Judging from listening to it, Version B is a rehearsal recording. Too many things in the recording to believe it was broadcast.

    Jan 15, 2010 at 9:39 pm
  • Walt Santner

    B is the “Rehearsal Final Take”. It was used, to ascertain how the actual broadcast would sound as well as timing it. A is the “As Broadcast” copy made “live on air” for the advertising agency (Biow) to prove that the commercials were aired. This was standard network legal practice.

    As to The Biow Agency:

    TIME MAGAZINE Monday, Apr. 16, 1956 ADVERTISING: Biow Bows Out

    With no warning at all, one of Manhattan’s biggest ad agencies last week hung up its grey flannel suit, wrapped the draperies of its couch about it and lay down to pleasant dreams. Milton H. Biow, 63-year-old founder, chairman and president of Biow Co., Inc., announced that he would liquidate the company at the end of June. His explanation: “After 40 years of intensive application, I feel that I can now pursue other interests.”

    Thus ended a spectacular career. Biow founded his company during World War I at the age of 25, and quickly proved himself a nimble idea man. For his first big account he coined the phrase “Bulova Watch Time.” For Eversharp, Inc. he invented radio’s $64 Question, saw the sum of money gain such renown that TV’s current $64,000 Question pays him a royalty. He found a midget bellhop, assigned him the $20,000-a-year job of shrilling “Call for Philip Morris!” By 1952, with an annual billing of $50 million, Biow Co. ranked as the eighth biggest U.S. advertising agency. . . .

    Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,808374,00.html#ixzz0cmnhugS4

    Jan 16, 2010 at 10:46 am
  • Christopher

    It would make sense that the “b” version is the rehearsal as usually the cast goes too fast in the earlier run throughs, and they have to slow it down to make the proper length. However, the rehearsal version is much more compelling as it speeds along at a more interesting clip. The “a” version is plodding and slow. Maybe my 21st century ears prefer the faster speed, and the slower speed was more acceptable in the 1940s.

    Jan 16, 2010 at 12:48 pm
  • Mark Cooper

    Regardless of what is the explanation. It’s great to have two versions of the same show full of subtle and not-so-subtle variations.

    Jan 20, 2010 at 8:46 pm
  • Dr. OTR

    I just got around to listening to both of these. In version B, both Lucian Morawek and Lud Glusken are credit as conducting. This is an apparent error — I suspect Morawek composed the music. Neither are mentioned in version A. (Perhaps cut for time reasons?)

    As Suspense shows go, this one isn’t a classic. I guessed how the plot would unfold halfway through the show, and I was correct down to the last detail. However, it’s impressive how much effort went into even a fairly middling script like this. Just pay attention to the music. Not only did Morawek have to compose an overture (or at least the opening of one), it was scored (and performed) separately for piano and then orchestra. That’s a lot of effort for what is essentially a throwaway detail. It just shows how much they were willing to put into A-level shows in the Golden Age — even for B-level scripts.

    Feb 17, 2010 at 3:31 pm
  • Martin Fass

    Thank you for all your great work and audio treats. Am I correct that Lucian Morawek later became Lucian Morrow, and that one of his brothers, Bill Morrow, was the partner of Murdo Mackenzie in producing such radio programs as Bing Crosby?

    Or am I confused?

    Thanks again.

    Mar 1, 2010 at 10:35 pm