Classic TV: The 40s : 40's tv - SUSPENSE - Post Mortem

40's tv - SUSPENSE - Post Mortem

I picked up the box set of SUSPENSE dvds a while back and love it. Here is one of the first episodes i watched.



This early "live" episode of the anthology series, SUSPENSE, hit the airwaves on May 10th, 1949.

Richard Coogan plays an investigator for the Royal Life Insurance Company. He is telling his boss that he thinks there is something fishy about a recent accident policy payout.

It seems that the doctor who signed the death certificate has now married the widow, Peggy Conklin, of the dead man. Digging deeper into the records, Coogan discovers that the doctor, Sidney Blackmer, has collected on several polices over the last 20 years.

Coogan would like to do a post mortem on Conklin's first husband. He knows though, that without any solid evidence of a crime, he will never get a court order.

He decides to pay Conklin a visit and sound her out. Is it possible Blackmer knew about her husband's insurance policy? Did Conklin also know that Blackmer had taken out a $50,000 policy on her? Coogan tells Conklin that several others close to Blackmer have had some rather unpleasant accidents over the years.

Conklin tells Coogan that Blackmer loves her and that just the other day had bought her a sun lamp as a gift. Conklin does not believe a word of Coogan's and fires him out the door.

However, the seed of doubt Coogan has planted in Conklin's mind starts to take root. Several days later, Conklin calls Coogan and requests a meeting. It seems that Conklin had just escaped getting fried when Blackmer, "accidentally", knocks over the sun lamp while she is in the bath.

Coogan tells her they would like to exhume her late husband and do a complete post mortem. But they can't do it without permission. Conklin says that Blackmer would never allow it. Coogan says he believes he has a plan to get Blackmer to do it.

A couple of days later a telegram arrives at the house addressed to Conklin. Blackmer opens the envelope and starts smiling. He shows Conklin the telegram. It is a note saying that Conklin had won $150,000 on the Irish Sweepstakes. She needs to bring the ticket to claim the cash. Conklin says her late husband must have bought it for her as a gift and hid the ticket.

Blackmer turns the house upside down looking for the ticket without any success. Conklin says that her departed husband was always hiding things in his favourite blue suit. "Where is the suit!" Shouts Blackmer. "He was buried in it," responds Conklin. "We could have him exhumed and searched". Blackmer calms down and says that it would not be right to disturb the dead.

That evening, Blackmer slips out and hits the local bar. He hires several unsavoury types for a spot of digging. Just as they get the coffin dug up, and open, who should show but Coogan and the Police. Blackmer and his boys manage to escape capture with a quick dash into the dark woods.

Now back at the house, Blackmer knows that if they do an autopsy, they will find that Conklin's husband really expired from an overdose of arsenic.

Blackmer calls up the stairs to Conklin and asks what she is doing. "I'm having a bath and a bit of the sun lamp," she answers. Ever the quick thinker, Blackmer forges a suicide note from Conklin admitting to killing her husband all on her own. He then goes upstairs and kicks the bathroom door. He hears the lamp fall over, a loud zap, followed by a scream.

Smiling, he heads down the stairs just as the door-bell rings. He opens the door to Coogan and the Police. Blackmer says. "I was just going to call you. I found this note from my wife. It seems she has killed herself. " From the top of the stairs we hear Conklin. "That is not true my dear." "I was not in the bath when you knocked over the lamp. It was all part of the plan to catch you". A stunned Blackmer is speechless as the boys in blue slap the cuffs on.

All this in a 25 minute runtime.

Screenplay was by TV vet Frank Gabrielson and is based on a Cornell Woolrich short story.

The director is another early TV vet, Robert Stevens.

Re: 40's tv - SUSPENSE - Post Mortem

I saw most episodes, from 1950 on, when they were originally aired.
Do the DVD episodes include the commercials? Specifically, I am
looking for those of sponsor Autolite, with host Rex Marshall
acting as spokesman. In particular I would like to find those
which include early animation of auto parts marching around to
Schubert's "March Militaire."

Re: 40's tv - SUSPENSE - Post Mortem

Most of ones i've watched have the AUTOLITE ads you mention.

Re: 40's tv - SUSPENSE - Post Mortem

I remember Suspense on radio but not TV. Good story, thanks.

Re: 40's tv - SUSPENSE - Post Mortem

Quite a few of the radio scripts were reused for the tv show.

Re: 40's tv - SUSPENSE - Post Mortem

A huge batch of the episodes have been released on DVD on two separate volumes. Quite a few episodes from 1949 are included in the sets. They are fascinating from the "early TV" standpoint because they are riddled with technical foul-ups. That series also seemed to have serious timing issues; they were always running very short (and kill time by having the end credits go on forever) or long and the episode ends with no time to spare. Do a search and you'll find them. Worth a watch.

Re: 40's tv - SUSPENSE - Post Mortem

The radio series had a small orchestra providing the music - the TV version merely had an organ.