Helen Hayes Theater had a good run on radio from 1940-48. It aired "Angel Street" on December 8, 1945. It was titled Gaslight for the 1944 film starring Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman, and Joseph Cotten (Boyer and Bergman at left). Hayes (1900-1993) was one of only 11 actors to win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony award. She was dubbed the "First Lady of the American Theatre," and among other accolades has an annual award and theater named in her honor. Along with the incomprable Boris Karloff (1887-1969, at right), she stars in "Angel Street" with another famed broadway and film actor, Sir Cedric Hardwicke. Hardwicke (1893-1964, lower right)) is no stranger to the SF and horror genres. Among his outstanding performances in films such as The Ten Commandments (1956) and Alfred Hitchcock's 1941 classic Suspicion (starring Cary Grant and Joan Fontaine) and others, he also played memorable roles in any number of SF and horror films, among them Things to Come (1936), King Solomon's Mines (1937), The Invisible Man Returns (1940), The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), and was the narrator of the 1953 classic The War of the Worlds.
In "Angel Street" (I prefer "Gaslight" from the original 1938 British play), Helen Hayes plays Bella Mallen, wife of Paul Mallen, played by Karloff. Hardwicke plays former detective B. G. Rough. Years previously, a woman had been murdered by an unknown assailant in search of her valuables, including some fabulous rubies. Neither the rubies nor the killer were ever found. New tenants to the murdered woman's large old house are the Mallens. Strange goings-on begin to happen and Bella is convinced she is going mad, though in reality it is the subtle mental torture inflicted on her by her malevolent husband. Pictures go missing, then replaced...sometimes. Is she seeing ghosts? The gaslights in the old manse dim unexpectedly, footsteps and creaking doors inflame Bella's imagination, frightening her half to death. It's all just too spooky, and Karloff plays his part to the hilt. And there's a great twist to this little morality play of murder and psychological terror making the ending quite satisfactory indeed.
"Gaslighting" has now become a slang term for manipulating someone into believing they are going insane.
Next week: Our final entry before Halloween will tell the tale of a family of werewolves in a 30-minute broadcast, and as a bonus we will offer 6 (!) 5-minute vignettes of horror from Boris Karloff (a couple of which might not be suitable for the very young for their descriptive violence; these will be rated as PG so parents can decide for themselves whether to let the little ones listen).
Play Time: 29:35
(Left: Sir Cedric Hardwicke in The Ghost of Frankenstein, 1942 -- Right: Charlton Heston & Sir Cedric Hardwicke in The Ten Commandments, 1956)
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