Robert Nathan (1894-1985) is best known in genre circles for his 1940 fantasy classic Portrait of Jennie. It was filmed in 1948 to critical acclaim and starred Jennifer Jones and Joseph Cotten. His 1928 novel The Bishop’s Wife was filmed in 1947 and starred Cary Grant, David Niven, and Loretta Young.
Nathan wrote “A Pride of Carrots” especially for the CBS Radio Workshop (1956-57) and his voice provides the narration, a rare treat.
“A Pride of Carrots, or Venus Well-Served” is the radio play’s full title, and was Nathan’s one and only foray into radio. A broad satire, it reminds one of Jonathan Swift or even Lewis Carroll, such are its political and surreal elements. It takes place as Man first lands on Venus and a radio reporter (working for CBS) sends his reports back to a waiting Earth. Higher life forms as we know them on Earth are reversed on Venus. Instead of intelligent omnivores, Venus is ruled by educated vegetables and plants (and other bizarre creatures, such as a talking griffin). The two major warring countries are comprised of the Onions and the Carrots–the Onions representing the evil Socialist empire (the Soviet Union), and the Carrots representing the good West (the United States). The role reversals on Venus lend themselves not only to wry political commentary, but to hilarious dialogue as well (vampire marigolds even get a cameo appearance). Hang around for the closing scene back on Earth with one of the astronauts’ wives. It’s worth the wait. “A Pride of Carrots” is a minor gem.
The CBS Radio Workshop was an experiment in radio, producing shows blind to any genre boundaries. “A Pride of Carrots” aired on September 14, 1956. Movie buffs will note that the musical score was composed by Jerry Goldsmith, who would go on to become one of the most prolific, talented, and respected composers for film and television in the decades to follow.
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