Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday's Favorite OTR

Suspense: “St. James Infirmary Blues” 2/23/53

Rosemary Clooney stars in this episode—set during the Roaring ‘20s—about a girl who loves not wisely but too well.

It was broadcast at a time when radio veteran Elliot Lewis was directing/producing Suspense. Lewis wasn’t afraid to experiment with different storytelling methodologies. In this episode, he used Miss Clooney remarkable singing voice and the Jazz Age standard “St. James Infirmary Blues” to help advance the plot, with verses from the song being used as bridges between the scenes. (The lyrics used are, I believe, written specifically for this episode.)

Miss Clooney plays a lady who falls in love with a mob triggerman, enamored by what she perceives as his exciting and glamorous lifestyle. But, not surprisingly, things go awry when her boyfriend tries to double cross his boss and gets taken for a ride. But when he turns up at her apartment, badly wounded but still kicking, she agrees to help him get revenge. By this time, she’s clearly disillusioned with the mobster lifestyle, but she still loves her man all the same.

The story plays out as tragedy, with good dialogue and good acting giving it real bite. Rosemary Clooney proves to be a good actress, while William Conrad is particularly notable as the head gangster. (I love the way he abruptly switches from being a tough guy to begging for his life when the wounded triggerman gets the drop on him.)

Click HERE to listen or download.

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