Archive: The Whistler – The Shrunken Head
Have you heard The Whistler? So begins every episode of this classic radio drama that managed to run for well over a decade on the Columbia Broadcasting Station (CBS). Last week I posted an episode to the blog and gave it a review as well. Then, it occurred to me that it would be great to do a new episode every week, just like it was done back in the day. This week, I bring to you The Shrunken Head. Just as last week, you will find my review of the episode and, at the bottom of the page, an embedded mp3.
SERIES: The Whistler
EPISODE TITLE: The Shrunken Head
AIR DATE: June 13th, 1942
WRITTEN BY: Joseph Kerns
DIRECTED BY: J. Donald Wilson
PRODUCER: George Allen (uncredited)
MUSICAL DIRECTOR: Wilbur Hatch
SOUND EFFECTS: (uncredited)
WHISTLING BY: Dorothy Roberts (uncredited)
THE WHISTLER PLAYED BY: Bill Forman (uncredited)
OTHER CAST: (uncredited)
Marie Medford waits at a train station where she meets young Clay Alden who takes her to Medford Manor to visit with her wheelchair bound uncle Peter. He greets her warmly even though Clay and Victor, the butler, seem to resent her. It is revealed that Marie’s parents were killed in an accident and she has come here to live. Not long after, Uncle Peter shows her his macabre collection of shrunken human heads. Disgusted and shocked, Marie retires to her room.
As Marie sleeps she is assailed by nightmares of one particular head that starts whispering to her. She wakes, but the whispering continues and she is unable to fall back asleep. The next morning she feels uneasy as she converses with Clay and Victor when Peter comes down. He informs her of a job cataloging one of his friend’s libraries. We also learn that Marie has inherited $1,000,000 which she will receive once she marries.
For some unknown reason her employer fires her after a short time. As she looks for more work she in continuously fired from each one. She discusses it with Uncle Peter and we learn that she has been having recurring nightmares about the shrunken head. Peter decides to make her face her fears. When they enter the head room, they find the head missing.
After several days the head has not turned up. Heavily sedated Marie hears the whispering again. She opens her eyes and finds the head in her heads. When Clay rushes to aid her the head is gone. She runs to Uncle Peter. It is revealed that their branch of the Medford line has fits of insanity running through it. She is convinced that she is going insane, but her and Uncle Peter decide to keep it a secret.
That night Clay comes to her urgently. He has found that the head is back in the case but he did find a piece of the head in the room where she’d seen it. He is convinced Marie is in danger and urges her to leave. Peter rolls into the room and in a dramatic climax that really did surprise me.
This episode of The Whistler I find to be much better wrapped than last week’s. At the end they still go into a little too much detail concerning Clay Alden, but it in now way makes the episode clunky. This was a very enjoyable listen. ☠☠☠☠