Rocky Jordan -- "The Coward of Mutakahn"

Saturday, 26 April 2014 16:00 Dave Truesdale

Rocky Jordan aired "The Coward of Mutakahn" on July 24, 1949 as its 38th episode. The show ran from 1945-53 (though some of the post-1953 air dates are confusing, as there were a few later attempts to revive it, with minimal success, and CBS was even reported to have "been in preparation" for a TV show) and it was no secret that it was capitalizing on the popularity of the now classic 1942 film Casablanca, and its expatriate cafe owner Rick Blaine, played in the film by Humphrey Bogart. Rick's Café Américain is now given a new name (Café Tambourine), owner (Rocky Jordan), and is set amidst bustling post-World War II Cairo, Egypt. The main cast of characters is small; there's Rick, his bartender Chris, Captain of the Cairo Police Sam Sabaaya (a devout Egyptian Muslim), and police Sgt. Greco. Sam and Rick find themselves often at odds when Rick ends up in the middle of trouble, but Sam (more soft-hearted than he can outwardly admit) works with Rick when he can, and they have an "understanding," whereas Sgt. Greco dislikes Rick intensely, giving the American saloon owner no quarter and who would gladly lock him up at the slightest provocation, hint of mischief, or untoward activity...which he does on occasion.

The exotic, colorful locale is one of the show's draws, for it promises danger and adventure set amidst ancient Cairo's "backdrop of antiquity," where all is accented by this crossroad city's alien customs and cultures. It was ready-made for an American audience.

Tantalizing points of interest in this episode involve a whodunit assassination, an ancient hieroglyph, a ruler's dying wish, a mummy, a pyramid one cannot observe from above ground, and a secret no one desires to be made public. And of course Rocky finds himself somehow right in the middle of it, as usual.

Play Time: 29:40

{Jazzed after listening to this Rocky Jordan episode set in mysterious Africa, in Cairo, Egypt, erstwhile young fans of the fantastic sought further tales of danger and ghoulish adventure from their favorite drugstore magazine racks, several examples of which are showcased below.}

[Left: Avon Fantasy Reader #10, July 1949 - Center: Jungle Stories, Summer 1949 - Right: Weird Tales, July 1949]