Inner Sanctum -- "Flame of Death"

Saturday, 22 August 2015 16:00 Dave Truesdale

Inner Sanctum (1941-52) aired "Flame of Death" on February 21, 1949 as its 410th episode out of over 500. Unfortunately, only around 140 of the shows are known to be "in circulation," and unless digitally remastered many of these have scratchy, muffled, or otherwise poor sound quality. Raymond Edward Johnson hosted the show until he left for the Army in mid-1945, and was then replaced by Paul McGrath (April 11, 1904 – April 13, 1978, photo at right) who, along with the perky Lipton Tea co-host Mary Bennett, would carry the show, with McGrath continuing the tradition of Johnson's habit of awful puns and Bennett's role as tireless Lipton Tea (and soup) promoter. Their fun byplay was one of the show's attractions (especially for adults).

Himan Brown (July 21, 1910 – June 4, 2010) created, produced, and directed Inner Sanctum Mysteries, and would go on to produce over 30,000 programs over his seventy-year career for various radio networks, winning several awards along the way. He was a staunch believer in the power of radio, witness the quote below:

Ed Adamson and Robert Sloane scripted this episode, which is the taut tale of a woman at her wits end. She visits her psychologist doctor and friend when she is convinced the ghost of her dead husband--killed in a fire--is back to haunt her for not being able to save him. She is beside herself and seeks help. Ere long we are drawn into a complicated web where the listener must decide if she really is going crazy, someone is trying to drive her crazy, or who of several suspects is trying to murder her, and why. Plot twists abound, and just when you think you've got it all figured out the writers throw you a curveball and you have to start over with new evidence. It's all well done and fair play by the writers and makes for a dandy mystery, especially if you place yourself in the distraught widow's position. The poor frightened woman places her confidence in one person and then another, but if her instincts betray her it could lead to her death. As you listen, ask yourself who you believe to be the woman's true friend, and who is lying to her.

Play Time: 25:06

{The morning after listening to this thriller the heavily-bundled up neighborhood gang would meet at the end of the block, then brave the cold February wind and trudge to the corner drugstore to warm their imaginations with their favorite escape. Astounding was the only monthly of the trio of magazines shown below, both of the others being bi-monthly. And what a treat these young SF fans were in for with this batch. Startling Stories showcased cover stories by Murray Leinster and future SFWA Grand Master Clifford D. Simak, and Thrilling Wonder Stories published one of the most famous SF stories of all time from another future SFWA Grand Master, A. E. Van Vogt, with his classic The Weapons Shops of Isher.}

[Left: Astounding, Feb. 1949 - Center: Startling Stories, March 1949 - Right: Thrilling Wonder, Feb. 1949]


To view the entire list of weekly Old Time Radio episodes at Tangent Online, click here.