Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 197 – The Fountain Plays

Edmund Gwen From the Dorothy L. Sayers collection of short stories – Hangman’s Holiday – this adapted version of “The Fountain Plays” on the Suspense radio program from August 1943. Adapted by Robert L. Richards, well respected radio scripter of horror pieces such as “The House in Cypress Canyon,” comes this fair translation of the Sayers’ story starring Edmund Gwen as Mr. Spiller.

Music under is called “Old Folks” performed by Ron Helman.

2 Responses to Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 197 – The Fountain Plays

  1. Cameron says:

    Hi Jim,
    I’m glad you did a podcast on Sayers’ The Fountain Plays. I read the original short story and found it a very interesting and intriguing read. I heard the Suspense radio versions of this story before. Besides Edmund Gwenn there was a 1944 version with Charles Laughton as Spiller. I thought Gwenn did a great job as a man who is being blackmailed and is forced into killing a man. As the Man in Black says in the 1943 version: “It is Mr. Gwenn’s pleasure to embody on the stage and the screen the eternal middle-class Englishman, the common man of Britain and proud of it”. Now while most of us have a hard time picturing the same man who played Kris Kringle in Miracle on 34th Street you might want to go back and watch the Alfred Hitchcock spy thriller Foreign Correspondent where he plays a hired killer named Rowley who tries to push a reporter (played by Joel McCrea) from the top of a church tower and in the end Rowley falls to his death. As for Dorothy Sayers I find her short stories such as this one as well as Suspicion, Blood Sacrfice, and The Man Who Knew How much more intriguing than the Lord Peter Wimsey stories. I like how in the Fountain Plays there is the element of not only the endless cycle of life however shady but also the butler manages to rise above his station in life. I know Sayers is supposed to be more literary than Christie but her works are just too wordy for me to handle. Also I find her murder methods not too believable. While she focuses on the current issues of the world in the 20’a and 30’s I confess I am more concerned with the mystery story and the crime. Of all of her novels that you have read which ones are worth reading for someone who is not really a Sayers fan. I would be interested in your response

  2. jwidner says:

    Hi Cameron,
    Good thoughts all around. Foreign Correspondent is one of my favorite thrillers especially with its tie to radio news, one of my interests.

    You have to approach Sayers carefully because some of her novels are indeed a bit light and “cozy.” I would look for the early Wimsey novels in which Harriet Vane first appears. Most likely Strong Poison or Gaudy Night. Keep in mind as a fan of Dickson Carr that you are, this is a different plane of detection/character development. The character of Vane adds a little more punch to the storyline.

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