The Tell-Tale Heart
WM. ESTY AND CO., INC.
1537 NO. VINE ST.
"MYSTERY IN THE AIR"
NBC - Studio A
Program Number 1
6:00 - 6:30 PM, PST
Thursday, July 3, 1947
Produced by Don Bernard
Directed by Cal Kuhl
Adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell Tale Heart"
Written by Frank Wilson
Creaking lantern handle
Creak of stairs
Boots climbing stairs
Two walking sticks
Echo is needed
SOUND: HEART BEATING...INCREASING IN TEMPO AND VOLUME UNDER FOLLOWING:
LORRE: I could hear it -- the low, dull, quick sound...the sound a
watch makes when covered with cotton. I knew that sound, and it beat me into a
rage...like a drum beating a soldier to courage!... (MUSIC SNEAKS IN)
And it grew louder and faster...louder and faster...louder...louder...louder
-- it was the beating of his hideous heart!
MUSIC: (SWEEPS INTO CLIMAX AND HOLDS IN SHIMMER UNDER:)
VOICE: "Mystery In The Air" -- starring Peter Lorre in which Mr. Lorre shares
with us the excitement of the great stories of the strange and unusual -- of
the dark and compelling in his collection culled from the four corners of the
world of literature. It's "Mystery In The Air" -- starring Peter Lorre.
ROY: "Mystery In The Air" -- brought to you by Camel Cigarettes!
MUSIC: (UP TO CLIMAX)
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MUSIC: (A NEW MOOD THEME TO ESTABLISH FEELING OF THE SERIES AND ESPECIALLY
TO SET MOOD BACKGROUND FOR THE VOICE OF THE SERIES)
VOICE: (CALMLY AND DIGNIFIED) In the dim reaches of the early Nineteenth
Century -- a dark genius spoke darkly in the language of literature -- of
things and shapes horrid encountered in the labyrinthian ways of the soul.
Generations who read Edgar Allan Poe wondered as they closed the covers of his
books whether they would ever be done with his masked and misty visitors.
LORRE: Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door
Only this and nothing more.
VOICE: In our time there has risen a genius of interpretation -- an artist who
in one tremendous characterization served notice that book ends could no
longer keep the mighty terrors of man's mind. He is Peter Lorre. Tonight we
hear Mr. Lorre in Edgar Allan Poe's magnificent study of a deranged mind --
"The Tell Tale Heart."
MUSIC: (SEGUE TO INTRODUCTION, THEN FADE UNDER FOR BACKGROUND)
LORRE: Yes, it's true...I am nervous...I am very nervous... I have been and I
am. But why do you say that I am mad? Oh no -- what you mistake for madness --
it's only the extreme sharpness of my senses. Yes, and now they are even
sharper than ever before. Now I can hear all things in heaven and earth.
(SUGGEST WEIRD REMOTE EFFECTS HERE IN MUSIC SCORE). And I can hear many
things in hell. (MUSIC CHORD...AND OUT) How then am I mad? Just observe
how calmly I can tell the whole story. Could a madman do that? Only: it's
impossible to say how the idea first entered my brain...but once conceived it
haunted me...It haunted me day and night...Motive? I had no motive. No, I
loved the old man. He had never wronged me. I felt sorry for him. Poor, sick,
old man. He could not make one move without me...And I had to carry him...And
feed him...and bathe him...I always had to wait on him...like a dog! You know,
I didn't want his gold. No, I think it was his eye.
Yes, it was his evil eye. One of them was like that of a vulture -- a pale
blue eye with a film over it. And whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold!
Then I knew -- I must kill him and get rid of that terrible eye -- forever!
MUSIC: (PEAKS AND DOWN AND OUT UNDER:)
LORRE: (SOFTLY) But every night at midnight, I turned the latch of his door
and opened it -- oh, so gently! (SOUND: FOLLOW LORRE:) And then, when I had
made an opening for my head, I put in a dark lantern, all closed, closed so
that no light shone out, and then I thrust in my head. Oh, you would have
laughed to see how cunningly I thrust it in! I moved it slowly -- very slowly,
so that I would not wake the old man. Ha! -- would a madman have been so
clever as this? And then I undid the lantern cautiously -- oh, so cautiously.
I opened it just so much that one single thin ray fell upon the vulture eye.
And this I did for seven long nights -- but I found the eye always closed; and
so it was impossible to do the work; for it was not the old man who vexed me,
but his Evil Eye!
MUSIC: (PEAKS AND DOWN QUICKLY)
LORRE: And then came the eighth night.
SOUND: TURN LATCH ON DOOR VERY QUIETLY
DOOR CREAKS SLIGHTLY AS OPENED
OLD MAN: (BREATHES HEAVILY FOR A WHILE...THEN STOPS AND GASPS) Who's there?
MUSIC: (EFFECT...AND UNDER FOLLOWING:)
LORRE: So -- he's awake -- at last! ---- He is awake -- Now you may think that
I drew back --- but no. Never -- Never before had I felt the extent of my own
powers. For one whole hour I did not move a muscle. I knew he was listening
--- listening to the death watches in the wall as I had done night after
OLD MAN: (GROANS)
LORRE: That wasn't a groan of pain -- oh, no -- that was the cry of terror
that came from the deeps of his soul. I know well what he feels...I know
exactly what he feels. And so, we waited and waited -- both of us -- in the
blackness of the room. (PAUSE)
He knew that some thing was wrong -- he [could feel something in the room].
But, he tried to reason it away -- tried to reassure himself:
OLD MAN: No -- no -- it's nothing -- nothing but the wind in the chimney --
nothing but a mouse running across the floor.
LORRE: Wind -- mouse -- (A SNEER) But I waited and waited -- and then I opened
the lantern --- just a little -- oh, so little, until one single dim ray shone
out -- it fell right upon his vulture eye! It was open -- like the thread of a
spider -- wide open, and I grew furious as I gazed upon it. I saw it with
perfect distinctness -- that dull blue, with a hideous veil over it that
chilled the very marrow of my bones. I couldn't even see his face -- I could
not see his body -- nothing, nothing but that terrible eye for I had directed
the ray as if by instinct, precisely upon that terrible spot.
MUSIC: (PEAK AND OUT)
LORRE: I did not move a muscle...I held the ray direct upon the eye. See -- I
can hold it there forever.
SOUND: HEART BEATS SOFTLY
LORRE: But, suddenly, I began to feel something -- his fear reaching out at
me. And then I began to hear something. Oh, I told you what you mistake for
madness is but the extreme sharpness of my senses. Yes, I could hear it! --
the low, dull quick sound -- the sound a watch makes when covered with cotton.
I knew that sound, and it beat me into a rage -- like a drum beating a soldier
MUSIC: (PEAKS SHORT AND CONTINUES UNDER:)
LORRE: I tried to keep quiet -- tried not to move -- to keep the ray of the
lantern on the evil eye -- but his fears grew worse and his heart beat faster
and louder -- faster and louder -- louder -- louder -- they will hear it
beyond the walls -- the neighbors will hear his heart beat beyond the walls! I
must stop it -- stop it -- stop it!
OLD MAN: (SCREECHES)
MUSIC: (FLARES OUT)
SOUND: (ON CUE) HEART BEATS SLOW AND SLOW...FAINTER AND FAINTER...ALMOST
STOPS...PICKS UP ONCE...TWICE...THEN... PAUSE...NOTHING)
LORRE: He is dead -- His terrible eye will trouble me no more -- no more
SOUND: (WAY OFF) CLOCK STRIKES FOUR
LORRE: Almost dawn and it is done. See -- It was so easy to put him under the
three planks in the floor. No eye -- not even his vulture eye could find him
now! (LAUGHS SOFTLY) Mad? Me? (LAUGHS) Oh, no, I was clever (SOUND: (MOVE
CHAIR) -- I even pulled the old man's chair over the spot -- see -- even the
dust is sprinkled back on the floor. Yes -- It is done -- and now, I am free
-- I am free forever --- (LAUGHS)
SOUND: THE HEART...BEATING SOFTLY...SLOWLY BUT INCREASING IN VOLUME AND TEMPO
LORRE: What is that?
MUSIC: (JOINS IN HEARTBEAT...THEN CRASHING CURTAIN)
VOICE: In a few moments, Mr. Peter Lorre will bring us the climax of
tonight's "Mystery In The Air" when Camels presents Act Two of Edgar Allan
Poe's great masterpiece "The Tell Tale Heart." (PAUSE)
ROY: Do you know what these people have in common? Mildred O'Donnell...Cecil
Smith...Dorothy Newstead? (SLIGHT PAUSE)
MAN: (AS FROM AUDIENCE) They're all champions of some kind, aren't they?
ROY: That's right. Mildred O'Donnell...diving -- Cecil Smith...polo -- Dorothy
Newstead...fishing. And they all say:
CHANDLER: (FILTER) Experience is the best teacher!
ROY: Yes...both in acquiring their great skill...and in selecting Camel as
their cigarette...these champs agree that experience is the best teacher.
Millions of other Camel smokers also agree. The experience of smoking any
brand they could get during the wartime cigarette shortage...of comparing many
brands...made smokers everywhere experts on judging the differences in
cigarette quality. The result...
CHANDLER: (FILTER) More people are smoking Camels than ever before.
ROY: Experience is the best teacher. Try a Camel yourself.
MUSIC: (PLAY-ON TO RE-ESTABLISH MOOD FOR SECOND ACT...FADE UNDER VOICE...)
VOICE: The dark, shuttered, ancient house on the old cobbled street. Within,
faint light of coming dawn casts pale shadows upon the ancient staircase and
the only sound is the creak of its elderly boards under the boots of the
house's only living occupant.
SOUND: SLOW CREAK OF STAIRS
LORRE: Oh, I'm tired -- so tired. Yes -- but now I'm free. I'm alone and I
don't have to get up in the morning. Yes, it's nice to go up these stairs
slowly -- so slowly, because there's nobody waiting -- nobody asking --
wanting -- waiting! I'll lie on my bed and I'll sleep and sleep and sleep. But
-- look -- I don't need this candle -- it's day -- and the sun is coming and
soon it will be bright and warm and...
SOUND: KNOCKING AT THE DOOR
LORRE: What's that?
SOUND: KNOCKING IS REPEATED
LORRE: Some one at the door!
SOUND: RUNS HEADLONG DOWN THE STAIRS AND HALTS SUDDENLY
LORRE: (PAUSE) Why must I be afraid now?
SOUND: FOOTSTEPS...KNOCKING REPEATED AT HAND
LORRE: There is nothing to be afraid of. I'll open the door. I'll open it --
and let them in.
SOUND: ONE KNOCK AND DOOR IS OPENED SWIFTLY
LORRE: (PAUSE...THEN HAPPY AND BROAD) Good morning -- good morning. It is a
beautiful morning to be up and on your way.
I don't believe I know you gentlemen and -- the lady? The sun is in my eyes
and I cannot see your face -- OHHH! -- of course -- of course -- the lady who
lives next door -- my good neighbor -- come in -- come in -- come in --
SOUND: STEPS IN AND THE DOOR CLOSES
LORRE: Come this way, good people -- Sit down -- sit down, please -- I will
sit in the old chair -- see? It is rickety and uncertain. Good lady you sit
there -- and gentlemen -- take the wooden chairs -- they are stout oak and you
are so big.
MAN: I don't believe, sir, that you know who we are.
LORRE: I don't. I don't -- but I know the lady. She is my neighbor next door.
MAN: It is strange that you don't recognize us -- we are members of the Watch
-- we patrol this street every night.
LORRE: Oh, of course -- gentlemen of the Watch. Yes -- such good men who keep
us safe. At night when I can't sleep I hear your boots on the cobbles and the
sound of your truncheons on the pavement and your cries of "All's Well."
(LAUGHS) How stupid of me not to know who you were -- you are my friends.
MAN: You are alone here, Sir?
LORRE: Oh, yes -- yes. But, I do not mind it. I am used to being alone.
MAN: Were you awake last night?
LORRE: Oh, no -- no -- I was sleeping -- sleeping like a baby.
MAN: You heard nothing?
LORRE: No -- how could I hear anything?
MAN: Sometimes we are awakened by loud cries.
MAN: Like the cry of a cat.
LORRE: Oh, no -- cats never bother me -- I like cats.
WOMAN: I was awakened last night by a loud cry -- it was more of a shriek --
MAN: This lady came to us and told us of what she had heard.
WOMAN: It was a shriek and it came from close by -- It seemed to come from
LORRE: From here? But, how could it come from here?
MAN: Then you heard nothing?
LORRE: I --- Well, I -- but wait a minute -- maybe it was me.
MAN: You, Sir?
LORRE: Yes -- that must be it. It was me that screamed -- I must have been
dreaming -- I have terrible dreams. No one else could have screamed -- who
else could have screamed? The Old Man isn't here. The -- Did you think the Old
Man was here? He went to the country he's been gone for weeks and weeks. It
was me that you heard screaming. (LAUGHS) Don't you see -- it was me. (PAUSE)
Don't you believe me? Don't you -- But that's so silly -- how could anything
have happened to him!
(LAUGHS SOFTLY) How could -- Why are you looking at me?
(PAUSE) You can search the house -- nothing has been disturbed -- everything
is the same and if someone had screamed like that they must have had some
reason -- something was happening to them -- something terrible -- Of course
-- of course and if it was me -- If I should be guilty of something -- I
should not be so calm. (LAUGHS A LITTLE)
MAN: I'm afraid we've made a mistake, Sir, and we are very sorry to have
disturbed you over nothing.
WOMAN: He is pale -- look at his face.
LORRE: Pale -- Am I pale?
MAN: You don't look well, Sir.
LORRE: I -- don't feel as well as I did when you came.
WOMAN: Why does he sit there -- while we have stood?
LORRE: Sit here? Why shouldn't I sit here -- in this old chair? I like this
chair -- I like to sit in this chair. What are you looking at?
There is nothing wrong -- nothing has been disturbed -- See -- the dust is
still on the floor.
MAN: Yes, we're quite satisfied and we shall be going now.
SOUND: STEPS ACROSS THE ROOM
SOUND: HEARTBEATS SOFTLY BUT BUILDING SLOWLY...AS THE VOLUME OF THE BEAT
INCREASES, HIS VOICE SEEKS TO RISE ABOVE IT
LORRE: You are satisfied now. You see if I was guilty of something, I should
not be so calm -- I should not be here at all -- should I? It is very funny --
is it not?
WOMAN: Wait -- please wait -- There is something about this man that -
SOUND: STEPS BACK
LORRE: No -- No -- there is nothing -- It is my head -- I was shaking my head
because I've got kind of a headache. It's too bad you had to come today -- I'm
sorry I can't see you to the door -- but there's something in my head...
(MUSIC ACCENT AND UNDER:) -- a ringing -- a ringing. And you are staring at me
-- looking at me and you can hear it, too -- You can hear it and you are
laughing at me -- shaking your heads in time with it -- mocking me -- hearing
it louder -- louder -- louder and you are laughing -- laughing at my horror --
you can hear it beat -- beat -- beat -- beat!
MUSIC: (IMITATES "BEAT-BEAT-BEAT"...DROPS SUDDENLY AND BUILDS)
LORRE: (SOBBING...GASPING) Stop -- stop (SCREAMS SHARPLY) -- it is true --
true -- I admit it. Tear up the planks -- under this chair. It is the beating,
the beating of his hideous heart!
ROY: Peter Lorre will be back in just a moment for CAMEL Cigarettes.
Each week the makers of Camel cigarettes send free Camels to servicemen's
hospitals from coast to coast. This week the Camels go to Veterans' Hospital,
Castle Point, New York...U.S. AAF Station Hospital, March Field, Riverside,
California...U.S. Naval Hospital, Newport, Rhode Island...U.S. Marine
Hospital, Norfolk, Virginia...and Veterans' Hospital, Hines, Illinois.
ANDERSEN: Among the millions of smokers who enjoy Camels are many doctors.
When three leading independent research organizations recently asked one
hundred thirteen thousand, five hundred and ninety-seven doctors: "What
cigarette do you smoke, Doctor?" the brand named most was Camel.
CHANDLER: (FILTER) According to a recent nationwide survey, more doctors smoke
Camels than any other cigarette.
MUSIC: ("MYSTERY IN THE AIR" THEME ... FADE ON CUE TO:)
VOICE: And now here is Mr. Peter Lorre.
LORRE: I just have time for a few words while I'm out on bail. I hope you
remember that earlier tonight we tried to give you an idea of the kind of
stories you could expect from now on in this corner - sort of a fielder's
choice - or one man's meat -- the great thrill stories from world literature
that made me keep the light burning all night while I sat up with a police
whistle in my hand. You remember we didn't say "classics". That's because we
know a little boy who was once frightened by a classic and grew up to use his
books only to hold the front door open on hot Summer nights. Yet I'm sure
you're going to end up with us at the end of this series with the conviction
that every story we bring you has been not only a classic, but a great
classic. It might be one that has lain under dusty covers for a century or it
might come fresh and ink-stained from the front page of our newspaper. We hope
our classics will leave you chilled and thrilled for days after. Or, would you
rather have a hot foot? Goodnight.
MUSIC: "MYSTERY IN THE AIR" THEME .. FADE OUT ON CUE
VOICE: Next week, "Mystery In The Air" -- starring Mr. Peter Lorre in a great
modern classic -- "Leiningen versus the Ants."
CHANDLER: More pipes smoke Prince Albert than any other tobacco; Why is Prince
Albert so well liked? Because P.A. is made specially for smoking pleasure --
for your smoking pleasure -- for your enjoyment. The flavor of
Prince Albert is rich and full...and P.A. is crimp cut to burn slow, smoke
cool. Yes, and specially treated to insure against tongue bite. No wonder
Prince Albert -- so mild -- such a joy in your pipe -- is called the National
Be sure to tune in on Prince Albert's "Grand Ole Opry" this Saturday night --
you'll hear Red Foley, Minnie Pearl, Rod Brasfield and the rest of the Opry
gang in a half hour of music and laughter -- (and as Red's special guest --
Salty Holmes! Remember Prince Albert's "Grand Ole Opry") Saturday night over
MUSIC: (THEME UP AND FADE FOR:)
ROY: Next week at this same time the makers of Camel cigarettes will again
present Mr. Peter Lorre in "Mystery In the Air" - next week's play will be the
great modern classic, "Leiningen versus the Ants".
This is Michael Roy in Hollywood wishing you all a pleasant -- good night, for
MUSIC: (THEME TO FINISH)
NBC ANNCR: THIS IS N.B.C....THE NATIONAL BROADCASTING COMPANY.
Originally broadcast: 8 July 1947