Listening to “The Thing That Cries in the Night”; (Chapter Fourteen): Desperation Is a Clash by Night

Well, if prices had plummeted as rapidly as city temperatures, I’d be enjoying some terrific bargains today. Yesterday, I went downtown to my favorite electronics store and went hunting for a few old movies. I am not prepared to pay $25 or more for a copy of, say, Queen Kelly; nor am I eager to get my hands on $5 DVDs that turn Hollywood entertainment into headache-inducing eyestrainers. I always keep abreast of what’s in the stores by reading the notes and reviews posted by fellow bloggers like Brent McKee and Ivan Shreve; so I pretty much knew what to look our for while in town.

I had my eye on The Doris Day Show and the Ann Sothern sitcom Private Secretary, both of which I turned down for the reasons just stated. This time, I walked away with The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection, a set of seven DVDs containing most of Lloyd’s best films, some shorts, stills, as well as episodes from his Old Gold radio program. With prices for this anthology as high as $100, I was pleased to have snatched it up for the relative bargain of $63. Today I will head downtown again to have a browse at the best second-hand bookstore in town (you know, the one featured in Absolutely Fabulous). Now, on with the show . . . I Love a Mystery that is.

On this day, 17 November, in 1949, creator-writer-director Carlton E. Morse opened the penultimate chapter of “The Thing That Cries in the Night,” the fifteen-part radio thriller I have been following for nearly three weeks now. Compared to the previous installment, today’s 10-minute segment is a decidedly noisy affair. It is the equivalent of a car chase sequence in an otherwise not uninspired detective story. For all its excitement, it is something of a cop-out.

Only yesterday, Morse was demonstrating how terrifying and mysterious a voiceless presence can be when the ambiguities of silence are introduced to challenge the sound-equals-life dynamics of radio drama. Silence, however, was dreaded by none more than the broadcasters, who filled the air with words, noise, and music to prevent listeners from twisting the dial or questioning the soundness of their receivers.

In Jack’s dialogue with death, Morse had found an ingenious way of giving silence a voice. Now, in a desperate attempt to crank up the thrills, his storytelling is in danger of being reduced to a frantic mess of juvenile tumult and shouting, a nocturnal free-for-all during which the stuffy air of the Martin mansion is filled with much mindless clamor and sense-numbing chloroform (the weapon of choice for Morse’s unseen and supposedly ethereal adversaries).

I Love a Mystery was always introduced as an “adventure-thriller”; and in episode fourteen, it is adventure that prevails. If silence is the stuff of mystery, adventure plays itself out in loud noise and boisterous speech. Will “The Thing” shut up when the mystery concludes tomorrow? Time for me to take a break from blogging and signal-hunting. The town beckons.

2 Replies to “Listening to “The Thing That Cries in the Night”; (Chapter Fourteen): Desperation Is a Clash by Night”

  1. I enjoyed listening to the whole serial. I think the tie-up at the end was a little shakey, but for the most part it held together. Certainly the air of mystery and the suspense that Morse created worked through out the serial. A lot of fun, but not my favorite of the longer I Love a Mystery shows.

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  2. Which one is, Bill? Thanks for staying tuned and for your comments. Yes, the conclusion is contrived; I think Morse had more fun keeping you in suspense than solving his puzzles–which is why I refer to the serial as neo-gothic.

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