Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Quiet, Please

Quiet, Please was a radio fantasy and horror program created by Wyllis Cooper, also known for creating Lights Out. Ernest Chappell was the show's announcer and lead actor. Quiet, Please debuted June 8, 1947 on the Mutual Broadcasting System, and its last episode was broadcast June 25, 1949, on the ABC network. A total of 106 shows were broadcast, with only a very few of them repeats.

 Earning relatively little notice during its initial run, Quiet, Please has since been praised as one of the finest efforts of the golden age of American radio drama.

Quiet, Please was produced at WOR in New York City, and began on the Mutual Network on June 8, 1947. Beginning in September, 1948, it was syndicated by ABC, though CBS executive Davidson Taylor expressed an interest in the show, writing in a memo in March 1948,

 Each episode began with Chappell intoning the show's title, followed by a long pauseCésar Franck's 1899 Symphony in D Minor. The introduction established the sparse, understated tone of the show, and has inspired collectors and reviewers to remark upon Cooper's use of the dramatic power of silence.
(sometimes up to seven seconds), before repeating the title. Then, the show's theme music was played, a dirgey, funereal organ and piano version of a portion of the second movement of

Though the general thrust of the stories were fantasy, horror and suspense, Quiet, Please scripts covered a broad thematic range, including romance, science fiction, crime, family drama and humor (some of it quite self-deprecating).

"The Thing on the Fourble Board"

Probably the most highly regarded episode of Quiet, Please is "The Thing on the Fourble Board" (August 9, 1948), about an oil-field worker who encounters a mysterious subterranean being hiding on the derrick's catwalk. The unusual title is a bit of oil worker argot: the "fourble board" of an oil derrick is a narrow catwalk that is as high up as four lengths of drilling pipe placed vertically (two lengths of pipe are a "double", three are a "thribble" and four are a "fourble.")

 The story effectivness has led some fans to label the episode one of the best radio horror programs ever broadcast. Richard J. Hand of the University of Glamorgan notes that "The Thing on the Fourble Board" is not only cited as the finest example of radio horror, but occasionally cited as one of best examples of radio drama as a whole. Especially effective was Cecil Roy's vocal performance as the creature. Though she performs only very briefly, Roy's vocal (barely recognizable as human) was cited as still startling and chill-inducing even after decades.

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