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the genre's premiere review magazine for short SF & Fantasy since 1993

The Haunting Hour -- "The Old, Old Man"

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"No... No... stay where you are. Do not break the stillness of this moment.
For this is a time of mystery. A time when imagination is free, and
moves forward swiftly, silently.... This is -- The Haunting Hour!"

The Haunting Hour (1945-46) aired "The Old, Old Man" on April 7, 1945 as the third episode of its 52, the program running initially from March 23, 1945 to May 26, 1946, though it was aired in syndicated reruns for a short time in 1968 and 1975. Comparatively little is known about the cast or crew of The Haunting Hour. Only 52 episodes were produced, of which it is estimated 41 have survived. About the only thing radio historians can agree on is that there were no more and no less than 52 verifiable shows transceibed for syndication. Along with several others, NBC tried a new marketing strategy with this  show. Rather than selling the show for the standard (at the time) rate of $56, it sold The Haunting Hour and others for $9.60 per market, figuring that volume sales would make up for the cheap price, some radio markets still recovering from the hard times World War II had thrust upon the entire country.

"The Old, Old Man" is the story of a very rich, retired old man who has left the city where he has lived with his stepdaughter and her husband, and has, without letting them know, secreted himself from their home and loving care to return to an old, out-of-the-way hotel where he once lived. The old hotel is now occupied by a few other very old men who wish to see all of the others dead. For you see, they have each signed a will stating that the last survivor among them is heir to the combined fortunes of the others. The kicker to the whole plan--now that their newest member has moved in, the above-mentioned rich old man--is that before his arrival the combined fortunes of the other 7 old geezers amounted to but a paltry $20,000, but with his new money the fortune awaiting the last to die is now well over a million dollars. Quite an incentive for murder, wouldn't you say? Soon enough the stepdaughter and her husband have tracked her stepfather to the hotel and beseech him to leave, but he resists their entreaties forcefully, offering to them that he has beaten or come out ahead in everything else in his life and he now wishes to beat the price of Death by playing this little game with these fellow old men. But then, right on cue, bodies begin to be murdered and then go missing, with naught but a blood trail leading to a corpse-laden back room in the cellar of the hotel, highlighting the disturbing out-of-character, frightening behavior on the part of the stepfather. But what would he have to gain but a miniscule $20,000 by murdering all of the other old codgers? Several clues point to one or the other of the old men along the way, but this traditionally incorporated script misdirection keeps the listener guessing as to the identity of the murderer, and to the man who eventually executes a plan to ensare him. Listen now to this morbid tale of serial murder most foul and learn what makes one man succomb to the evil buried deep within his soul and which all men possess, but allows it to escape to the world of the living in "The Old, Old Man."

Play Time: 25:00

{Having purchased all of their usual pulp SF magazine favorites for April of 1945, the neighborhood gang, being obsessed with stories of adventure, danger, and derring-do devoured them wherever they could be found, including the selections below. Adventure (1910-1971) guaranteed adventure and danger in many an exciting tale set in various locales. It was a solid monthly until mid-1958 when it slowed to a bi-monthly schedule which it maintained until its final issue in April of 1971. Doc Savage (1933-49) also offered adventure and danger as Doc and his stalwart crew fought evil and global menace in diffierent guises all over the world. The magazine's audience was so faithful that it remained a monthly until early 1947, when it switched to a bi-monthly print schedule. This change lasted for but 10 issues, with 1949 seeing the schedule reduced even further to four issues per year, with a last gasp in 1949 when it saw but three issues, folding with the Summer 1949 issue. Speed Adventure Stories (1934-46) also catered to a young male audience with quickly pounded out tales guaranteed to keep pages turning as the good guys fought the bad guys wherever they were found and, again, like Adventure, Doc Savage, and countless other magazines of the period, with stories geared to the times--in this case World War II--which would end with a literal bang a few months hence. Many pulp writers banged the typewriter for different genres to keep bread on the table during the 1930s and 40s, as did noted fantasy "fictioneer" (as he referred to himself) E. Hoffmann Price (1898-1988) who wrote many a story for Weird Tales and other genre pulps, witness his cover story for Speed Adventure Stories.}

            [Left: Adventure, Apr. 1945 - Center: Doc Savage, Apr. 1945 - Right: Speed Adventure Stories, Apr. 1945]

         

To view the entire list of weekly Old Time Radio episodes at Tangent Online, click here.