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The Best of Old Time Radio: Alfred Hitchcock

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The Best of Old Time Radio: Alfred Hitchcock

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The Best of Old Time Radio: Alfred Hitchcock
8 Complete and Unedited Radio Shows
From Radio Spirits
ISBN: 1-57019-283-9
4 audio cassettes - 6 hours of play time
Genre: Mystery - Suspense

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - October 31, 2001

Without doubt, Alfred Hitchcock is the perennial king of suspense. Although most people are more familiar with Hitchcock's theatrical and screen works, he also directed many outstanding old-time radio shows. This collection was compiled by the Smithsonian Institution and Radio Spirits. It offers the listener a selection of stories directed by Hitchcock himself, as well as radio adaptations of many of Hitchcock's most famous films.

This four cassette collection contains a wealth of Hitchcockian drama, including: The last story in this collection, Strangers on a Train is unique in that it is the only show which has not been reproduced from the original broadcast. The reason for this is that no known copy of the original broadcast exists. Rather, the copy presented here is actually a recording made of the rehearsal that took place the day before the actual show aired.

The stories in this collection are all suspenseful, all well written, and the acting is superb - as is the sound quality of these recordings. Interestingly, I found that some of the radio adaptations of Hitchcock's films to be more intriguing than the actual film. For instance, Foreign Correspondent was a thrilling film. Yet a great deal of its suspense was garnered from visual elements, rather than from the dialogue. An example of this is the great 'umbrella' chase scene.

In this scene the main character is chased by a gun totting bad guy through a huge crowd, all carrying large umbrellas. During this chase you can not actually see the characters. Rather you merely see the movement of the umbrellas as they push their way through the crowd. The radio adaptation of this film not only managed to captured the same sense of suspense that was engendered by the film, but they did it by relaying solely upon the dialog and the use of sound effects. I found that the radio adaptation had the effect of focusing your attention more on the story line and the dialog, rather than on Hitchcock outstanding directing ability.

In their own unique ways, both versions of the story are fabulous. However the radio adaption truly highlights the skill and talent required to translate a movie into pure sound, while still projecting the sense of suspense and drama that was depicted in the visual version. In short, this is a wonderful collection full of fabulous stories that truly highlight Hitchcock's amazing directorial talents, and the marvel that was, old-time radio.

This collection includes a 54-page booklet written by Anthony Tollin and William Nadel, with a foreword by Leonard Maltin. This booklet offers an overview of not only Hitchcock's directorial works, but is also provides general biographical information. This short history traces Hitchcock's real life birth, his early life, his first forays into the theatrical world as a title card artist for a silent film, to his ascendancy to the title "Master of Mystery". Moreover, this booklet is chock full of tidbits of information about Hitchcock's films and radio shows. This booklet is also resplendent with photos of Hitchcock at work and at play, as well as photos of movie posters. This booklet also provides detailed historical information about the radio shows contained in this collection.
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