Inner Sanctum – “Judas Clock”

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Inner Sanctum aired “Judas Clock” on April 17, 1945 as its 224th episode. Inner Sanctum ran a highly respectable eleven years, from 1941-1952. No one knows for sure how many original episodes were broadcast, though one estimate claims 500, though this may be a bit high. What is known is that there are currently (but subject to change as sporadic episodes come to light) around 140 in general circulation, not counting the estimated 6-10 housed in the Library of Congress that are not made available to the public for some reason. Inner Sanctum has been treated poorly by the Old Time Radio community at large, mostly by unscrupulous collectors who have in a number of cases stripped the opening and closing of episodes and retitled them, then claiming they are recently found episodes and have included them on discs of legitimate shows to sell to unwary buyers. Approximately half of the shows in circulation owe their salvation to the AFRS (Armed Forces Radio Services) who rebroadcast the originals for our servicemen overseas. However, despite this plus, AFRS stripped out the originally sponsored commercials for their rebroadcasts so as not to favor any set of products over another. So while the original shows are otherwise intact (and thankfully so), they are not the pristine versions, replete with the original national and local commercials.

“Judas Clock” is not an AFRS rebroadcast episode but the original program in every way, with the cheery and perky Lipton Tea hostess sparring with the host, Raymond Johnson (1911-2001, photo top right), as he makes horrible puns and she trying to slide into Lipton Tea commercials at every break in the action. Their banter became famous and one of the highlights of the show. In this episode a clockmaker and repairer has come into possession of the cursed “Judas Clock.” It is known among collectors for its spring balancing mechnaism, purportedly constructed in part from the 30 pieces of silver Judas Iscariot received in recompense for his traitorous act against Jesus Christ. One side of the spring mechanism is balanced with 15 pieces of Judas’ silver while the other side is balanced with the other 15 pieces. How the curse plays itself out is an interesting story, for one never quite knows how it will work out until the end. The audio quality and acting are superb, the writing tight, and the storyline an intriguing one (given the hardly unique theme of the cursed object). It stars radio icons Barry Kroeger (1912-1991, at left) and Santos Ortega (1899-1976, at right), and is directed as always by Himan Brown, who directed many other popular radio shows, most notably Flash Gordon and CBS Mystery Theater. Kroeger would go on to appear in numerous films, usually as some slimy character actor. Ortega was known as one of the hardest working and most respected radio actors of them all, voicing roles in literally dozens of radio shows encompassing all genres and styles.

Minor piece of trivia:  Inner Sanctum‘s first episode aired on January 7, 1941, eleven months to the day before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, thrusting America into World War II’s Pacific theater. The current episode aired just short of four months before the end of the war, when the United States would drop two atomic bombs on Japan in early August of 1945, thus making these two episodes loose bookends to the war — one months before it began and the other a few months before it ended.

Play Time: 29:13

{April of 1945 was a mixed bag for our closely-knit neighborhood band of young SF readers. The bad was that they had come down with chicken pox, had to stay in bed, and couldn’t leave the house. The good was that the kindly older sister (age 13) of one of them agreed to make the short trip to the corner newsstand to buy them their SF magazines, so that while bedridden they could read of strange worlds and adventures (and missing school to do so wasn’t a bad thing either). The only catch was that Kindly Older Sister would buy their magazines if they would pay for one of hers, which they gladly chipped in for. Following the magazines they told her to get for them–as shown below–is the one she chose for herself and had been a loyal reader of:  Street & Smith’s Love Story Magazine. Begun in 1921 (nine years before Street & Smith would launch Astounding Stories of Super Science in 1930, soon retitled just Astounding SF and now Analog) and running until 1954, for many years the magazine was so popular it published bi-weekly–that’s two issues a month. When WW II hit it cut back to a measly monthly schedule when many other magazines either cut back to a few issues per year or folded altogether. In 1945 it was a solid monthly and would remain so until its final issue in February of 1947. After a five-year hiatus a revival was attempted in 1952, but the magazine again closed shop for good after only 10 issues, in September of 1954.}

[Left: fantastic Adventures, April 1945 – Center: Thrilling Wonder Stories, Spring 1945 – Right: Weird Tales, May 1945]


[Love Story Magazine, April 1945]

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