GOOD EVENING: Alfred Hitchcock on Radio

by Charles Huck and Martin Grams, Jr.

Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Americans were glued to their radio sets as often as we today sit in front of the television.  Whether it was comedy or drama, radio became the means by which listeners could turn a dial and discover the world.  In an age when the Internet and television didn't exist, radio influenced anyone who was willing to take time and listen - including the preeminent Alfred Hitchcock.

During the era, mystery and horror programs were broadcast across the country, both locally and coast-to-coast, and programs like Inner Sanctum Mystery gave listeners the chance to hear grizzly tales of murder and madness.  Boris Karloff, for example, in Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart" for Inner Sanctum Mystery, broadcast on August 3, 1941, evoked enough chills to keep audiences breathless.  Another series of mystery tales was The Whistler, whose format resembled the television series Alfred Hitchcock Presents by offering weekly tales of murder and embezzlement with twists of fate acting as judge, jury, and - on great occasion - executioner.  But the granddaddy of these suspenseful radio programs was titled appropriately enough -Suspense.  Each week, listeners heard highly paid Hollywood actors star in leading roles that made them out as villains or innocent victims, depending on the circumstances.

In July of 1940, CBS began looking for a replacement for The Lux Radio Theatre, which was scheduled to go off the air for the summer season.  In view of the fact that radio programs were broadcast live at the time, there rose a dire need for a small, short-run program to take the series' time-slot until its return in the fall.  There was no such thing as "reruns," as we are today familiar with, and it was during those small tenures that radio stations presented episodes of new programs as trial runs.  If the listening audience wrote in, asking to hear more, the stations knew they had a program of infinite potential.  Likewise, if the audience did not favor such proposals the broadcasting studios pulled the plug.

William S. Paley, in charge of the Columbia Broadcasting System, built a reputation that "quality, not quantity, means a larger listening audience."  During this particular summer, CBS (thanks to a little influence on Paley's part) came up with an idea for a series entitled Forecast.  On July 15, 1940, Forecast premiered in Lux's place as an hour-long pilot playhouse.  Each week, for a full hour, two thirty-minute episodes of varied entertainment were broadcast, with the announcement to the audience that if they liked what they heard they should please write to CBS.  The second presentation broadcast July 22, 1940 offered a mystery/horror show titled "Suspense," and Alfred Hitchcock was the main course.  (See the article about Forecast on this same web-site.)

Walter Wanger, the producer of Hitchcock's second American picture, Foreign Correspondent, arranged for Hitchcock's name to be used over the air, but interestingly not the man himself.  This condition was agreed upon on condition that a pitch for Foreign Correspondent is mentioned sometime during the broadcast.  To add some flavor to the deal, Wanger threw in Edmund Gwenn and Herbert Marshall, both of whom had considerable roles in the film.  According to Herbert Marshall, he and Hitchcock decided on "The Lodger" by Marie Belloc-Lowndes as the story to bring to the airwaves, a chilling gothic tale about Jack-the-Ripper that happened to be a favorite of both Marshall and Hitchcock.  The director, of course, directed a movie version of the story for Gainsborough Studios in 1926. Marshall portrayed the mysterious lodger whose actions at night (such as walking the streets alone) went unexplained.  Co-starring were Edmund Gwenn and Lurene Tuttle as the rooming-house keepers who start to suspect that their new boarder might be the notorious "Saucy Jack." Wilbur Hatch, whose music would later be featured (stock music, mostly) on television's Alfred Hitchcock Presents, composed and conducted the music for the program.  Gwenn was actually repeating the role taken in the 1926 film by his brother, Arthur Chesney.  Lurene Tuttle would work with Hitchcock twenty years later in Psycho (1960).  Adapted the script for radio was not a technical challenge, but a slight alteration to the story was made. 

The true identity of the mysterious lodger would not be given away. Instead, the story ended rather abruptly and the entire cast, including Alfred Hitchcock, spent the last remaining minutes discussing the possible conclusions.  Since the purpose of Forecast was to present experimental dramas, and to test the listening audience's reaction, why not give the eavesdroppers something to write in about?

Keeping in mind that Hitchcock himself would not become a familiar figure in American living rooms until the 1950s, most of the listening audience was unaware of how his voice sounded.  With this notion in mind, character actor Joseph Kearns with a British accent played the role of Hitchcock; indeed, the famed director wasn't even present during the program's drama.  A recording of this episode does circulate among collector and upon hearing the program it is evident that Hitchcock merely lent his name to the show and nothing more simply for the sake of publicity.  Such a conclusion leads to the suspicion that Herbert Marshall was less than candid when he mentioned that he and Hitchcock both decided on The Lodger as the story of choosing.

Although the network did receive a small volume of mail regarding Suspense, CBS did not act too quickly.  It wouldn't be until two years later, in the summer of 1942, that Suspense returned to the air as a prime-time program.  But more important, Suspense would influence countless radio programs, become the recipient of a considerable number of awards, and remain part of the CBS prime-time line-up for more than twenty years, until the program bowed out in September of 1962.  Hitchcock himself became one of millions of fans who would tune in each week to hear Suspense, and the one episode, "Death on My Hands" (broadcast May 10, 1951) gained Hitchcock's attention to writer John Michael Hayes, who would eventually write four of Hitchcock's films.

Perhaps the most important trivia regarding this episode is that the Forecast presentation of Suspense was not initially a pilot episode of just any radio thriller - and not the popular Suspense program best remembered by old-time radio fans.  As reported by announcer Thomas Freebairn during the closing announcements, this Suspense proposal would originally feature dramatic offerings of Hitchcock's previous motion pictures.  Had Suspense received a considerable amount of interest (and if Hitchcock would have continued to allow the use of his name for such a series), future productions would have presented an adaptation of his other pictures including The Thirty-Nine Steps (1935) and The Lady Vanishes (1938).

Possibly swayed by the production standards of radio broadcasting, Alfred Hitchcock personally made his own attempt to have his own mystery/horror series in 1945.  On May 11, with the assistance of a few sound technicians and radio hands, Hitchcock arranged to have an audition show recorded, and presented it to the American Broadcasting Company (ABC). The program was entitled Once Upon a Midnight, taken from Poe's poem "The Raven." The initial proposal was for Hitchcock to host, narrate and supervise each offering a different story based on a previously published short story, personally chosen by Hitchcock. Felix Mills was hired as the chief musician, and at Hitchcock's insistence the music was used more for emphasizing verbal and physical actions than for forming musical bridges between scenes.  The music was also used to make plot points and to add impact and
sharpness to the dialogue.

The story brought to life for the pilot was Francis Iles' "Malice Aforethought," which Hitchcock confessed to director Francois Truffaut in 1968 was one of his favorite stories.  The program began with Felix Mills' opening theme that featured bells tolling twelve, symbolizing midnight.  Then came the opening monologue:

"Suspense, shock, murder.  All the makings of a spine-tingling mystery drama, in the hands of a past master of theatrical illusion, Alfred Hitchcock.  We of the American Broadcasting Company believe this new series has the opportunity of becoming the most important and distinguished of its kind in radio.  Mr. Hitchcock will appear in every program as the narrator and will personally supervise the writing and direction of each highly dramatic tale.  It is our good fortune that Alfred Hitchcock has an enormous interest in radio.  In fact, the idea of this series originated with him.  This is important because it means we have the great asset of a star, with a personal enthusiasm in making the series a true milestone in radio."

This time, unlike Forecast, Hitchcock himself hosted with Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy in unbilled roles.  Cronyn, a friend of Hitchcock's who had appeared in Hitchcock's two recent films, Shadow of a Doubt (1943) and Lifeboat (1944), took the lead as a murderous doctor.  Hoping to convince ABC to broadcast Once Upon a Midnight, Hitchcock applied the same trick used in the Forecast broadcast; the story ended abruptly and the announcer told the listeners that the conclusion would be given the week after.  But to Hitchcock's sorrow, ABC did not buy the idea, and the project was scrapped.

On the pilot, recorded for the purpose of acquiring a sponsor, Hitchcock himself explained that, "Murderer are serious people.  You know, one thing that has always fascinated me about criminals is that when you walk down the street, any passerby might be a murderer.  They don't all wear black moustaches.  I imagine most murderers behave just like mild, ordinary people until suddenly one day they turn and stab you in the back."

This same "next-door neighbor" policy was the type of murder stories producers Joan Harrison and Norman Lloyd would route through and choose for television's Alfred Hitchcock Presents.  A short time after the recording of Once Upon a Midnight in 1945 - internal evidence suggests 1947 - another radio audition was recorded this time entitled The Alfred Hitchcock Show.  This second production was again an adaptation of the same Iles' story, "Malice Aforethought," but the script was different: The opening scene took place in a courtroom and the story was told through flashback.  The setting was in the United States instead of England.  Moreover, the cast was different; Hume Cronyn was replaced by actor Joseph Kearns as the murderous doctor.  The supporting cast included Jeff Corey, Edmund McDonald, Janet Waldo, Norman Field, Tom Holland, Margaret Breighton and John Dehner. 

Once again, Hitchcock participated but as narrator as well as host.  In the same fashion as The Whistler, Hitchcock played the role of a guilty conscience, urging the doctor to kill, kill, kill.  Hitchcock even apologized to the listening audience, promising not to get in the way of the story.  In fact, his remarks included morbid jokes and awful puns - similar to what he would accomplish as host on television's Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

The series began with announcer Owen James identifying the program was The Alfred Hitchcock Show, and followed with "Every week at this same time, you'll hear thirty minutes of sheer excitement.  From the man who makes the movies everyone remembers, the famous director who gave you Spellbound, Suspicion, Rebecca and The Lady Vanishes.  The gentleman they call the 'cavalier of the macabre,' Mr. Alfred Hitchcock."

In grand fashion, Hitchcock then uttered, "I'm a little worried about mysteries these days.  I think we're getting altogether too many sinister looking butlers, hands coming through sliding panels and such.  You see, I'm interested in people, in characters . . . horrible characters.  I like to crawl inside a man's mind if I can possibly do so, and find out what makes him behave like a madman - or an imbecile.  That's why I took fancy to this story by Francis Isles called 'Malice Aforethought.'  The shutter Isles doesn't tease you. He comes right out and tells you what happens.  But he doesn't tell us why.  He leaves that up to us . . . up to you and me.  Well, let's have a listen and see what we can make of it.  What do you say?"

Although it is not clear who directed or produced the 1945 Once Upon a Midnight, the Alfred Hitchcock Show featured complete production credits, read by the announcer after the drama: Jerome Lawrence was the producer, and Lawrence co-wrote the script with Robert E. Lee, another established writer for radio and later television.  Original music was composed and conducted by Claude Sweeton, and arranged by David Stress with Dr. Samuel Hoffman at the theremin (the same instrument Hitchcock used for the opening of Spellbound).  Owen James was the announcer.  No director credit was given, but it can be "assumed" that Hitchcock directed the 1947 recording.

Reasons why neither programs aired on ABC remains to be seen.  No broadcast date is known for the two recordings (though many mistake the May 11, 1945 recording date as the broadcast date).  It has been assumed by any researchers that both Once Upon a Midnight and The Alfred Hitchcock Show never aired over any major network.  The programs were purely Hitchcock's since he was present during the recordings, and it can be certain that Hitchcock's already-growing celebrity status was the major factor used to pitch the program.  It can also be assumed that ABC was not in favor of the proposal because without approval of the network the show could not have been heard over the air.  On a long stretch, ABC was later the only network of three not to broadcast Hitchcock's television series - could there have been a dispute between Hitchcock and the American Broadcasting Company? 

With two failed attempts at having his own mystery anthology series, Hitchcock was not discouraged.  He would try again for a third time in the mid-1950s with television, which welcomed him with open arms and critical (and favorable) reviews.  As a footnote, many collectors' catalogs and listings identify both Once Upon a Midnight and The Alfred Hitchcock Show as "Malice Aforethought" instead.  Anyone searching for copies of these recordings should keep an eye out for anything listing "Malice Aforethought."

With the exception of trade magazines and newspapers, radio was considered an excellent medium for producers and directors to "pitch" their film projects to a mass audience.  Hollywood actors were paid big money to appear on half-hour radio broadcasts, and the producers of Hollywood movies would contractually arrange for a mention of their latest picture - thus free publicity.  Hitchcock was not immune to publicity appearances on radio - both dramatic and comedic.  Such guest appearances on Fred Allen's Texaco Star Theater on January 24, 1943 and The Charlie McCarthy Show on March 21, 1948 were Hitchcock's rare comic appearances.

On June 18, 1949, the Mutual Network premiered a mystery/detective anthology series entitled Murder by Experts.  David Kogan and Robert Arthur served as producer/directors, and Arthur would later become a ghostwriter and editor for numerous paperback and hardcover anthologies that bore the Hitchcock name.  Moreover, a few of Arthur's short stories were dramatized on Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. 

The hosts of Murder by Experts, known as the "masters of mystery," were writers John Dickson Carr and Brett Halliday, but during the last few months of 1951, Alfred Hitchcock became a temporary, weekly host.  Supposedly, the "master of mystery" chose the stories, which involved tales by leading mystery writers of the day that were described by scholar John Dunning as "highly-charged plots of crime
and passion that turned on emotion rather than gimmicks."  In reality, Arthur and Kogan chose the stories, not Hitchcock.

For ZIV's syndicated (circa 1948) Favorite Story, Hitchcock chose Robert Louis Stevenson's "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde."  Each week Favorite Story presented an adaptation from a classic work of literature, and the announcer would chose a certain Hollywood celebrity and explain to the audience that the week's presentation was their story.  Knowing full well that Hitchcock publicly confessed his favorite stories year later, it seems all too obvious that the "Dr. Jekyll" choice would not have been Hitchcock's choice.  Rather, it was probably his favorite among a list of already-selected short stories and novels that were feasible for radio.  Another possibility would be that the stars were asked to choose two or three favorites, and among them, chances are that one would be feasible, performed and labeled as their favorite.  It is also possible that each star was handed a list of titles and the star had to choose one from the list.

On January 22, 1943, Alfred Hitchcock became a panelist for a radio quiz program of intellectual exercise entitled Information Please.  Faithful listeners were encouraged to submit a question and answer wherein a board of editors chose the best ones.  If a question was asked and the guest panelists were stumped, a prize was awarded to the listener who submitted the question.  On the 1943 broadcast, Alfred Hitchcock was asked, "In which famous case was the guilt fixed by the purchase of hyacinth?"  Hitchcock answered by describing the case in detail; he noted how an American dentist living in London, married to a musical performer, gave the potion to his wife.  Hitchcock went on to explain how the dentist stashed her body in the house so he could run off to Canada with his secretary.  Clifton Fadiman, the moderator of the panel, having listened to Hitchcock's every detail, asked him: "How was the tide running at the time?" 

Even with his guest appearances on radio, Hitchcock's name was more associated with the motion pictures than any other entertainment medium.  Since many of his films were later re-created as condensed dramas on such programs as The Lux Radio Theatre and The Screen Directors' Playhouse, Hitchcock established a reputation as being a "master of suspense" even among non-moviegoers.  Disabled people who would not normally attend a movie theater found front row seats by merely tuning in, and even though Hitchcock was not directly involved with the actual production on most of these radio dramas, his name was associated with the broadcasts.

Whenever possible, at least one member of the original cast was brought to the microphone for the radio adaptations.  Producers insisted on this, but more often such stars were unable o appear because of prior commitments.  Studio contracts restricted their leading actors to a specified number of radio appearances, and some actors avoided invitations because they were terrified of appearing before a "live" microphone (commonly known as "mike fright").  Joseph Cotton was under contract with David O. Selznick and was often called upon as a last-minute casting solution by radio directors because Selznick saw the advertising potential that radio had to offer; as such, he was always glad to lend his star to any radio production as long as an announcement was made about an "up-coming motion picture produced by David O. Selznick."

This sort of arrangement as quite common among broadcasting and Hollywood studios.  For any star to appear on any radio program, a pitch or mere mention - usually by the announcer before or after the drama - of the star's latest picture had to be made over the air.  When radio began to grow in popularity during the early 1930s, Hollywood studios were not in favor of it and even banned some of their contract players from appearing behind a microphone.  But, soon after they discovered the "power of on-air advertising," contracts were made, signed and exercised, allowing stars to freely pick the programs of their choice.

The Lux Radio Theatre was probably the most successful of Hollywood's radio programs, with a broadcast history stretching back almost twenty years.  One of the earliest programs was "The Thirty-Nine Steps" (December 13, 1937) starring Robert Montgomery and Ida Lupino in the lead of Richard Hannay and Pamela.  The Lux production was clearly based on the Hitchcock movie, while other radio productions were more or less based on the book yet employing key scenes from the movie to heighten the drama.

Radio proved to be an influence on Alfred Hitchcock, whose radio appearances were seemingly kept to a bare minimum.  As an omnivorous reader of court room and mystery stories, Alfred Hitchcock became a weekly listener to such programs as The Whistler, Inner Sanctum Mysteries, and Molle Mystery Theater.  The long-running anthology series Suspense provided more grist for the Hitchcock mill.  Many original Suspense scripts also became teleplays for the Hitchcock show.  "Alibi Me," the story of a young man in search of an alibi to cover up a murder he committed, was originally broadcast on Suspense on January 4, 1951.

"The Long Shot" was an original Suspense play that became a classic Hitchcock television episode, and another Suspense drama, "The Long Wait," was the basis of the Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode "Salvage." "The Evil of Adelaide Winters," a story about a fake medium who profited from victimized families who lost their children during the war, became an episode of television's The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.

On September 30, 1957, the Hitchcock-directed episode of NBC-TV's Suspicion featured an adaptation of Cornell Woolrich's short story, "Three O'Clock."  Although Van Heflin gave a grand performance in the 1949 broadcast on radio's Suspense, Hitchcock had the story retitled "Four O'Clock" with a different twist to the ending.  The tale concerned a watch repairman who set a bomb to go off in his basement at four o'clock thinking that it will kill his unfaithful wife, while he is away establishing an alibi.  In the end of the Suspense version, the protagonist suffered a fatal heart attack.  In the Suspicion version, the watch repairman goes insane.  The comparison between the two is worth the attention of any mystery/suspense fan.

Patricia Hitchcock, daughter of the famed American director, even played roles on radio, which, she confessed, was her favorite medium.  She acted in "masses of radio shows, all different kinds," both in New York and Los Angeles.  One of them commonly circulating among collectors is an adaptation of Wilkie Collins' novel The Moonstone, adapted as a two-part presentation for radio's Suspense.  Patricia played a small supporting role in the first of the two broadcasts, aired over CBS on November 16, 1953.

The chilling story of The Birds, directed by Alfred Hitchcock for the release on the big screen in 1963, was dramatized on radio once previous, on CBS' Escape program of July 10, 1954.  Daphne de Maurier's short story about a feathered attack against the human race was brought to life with the use of trick camera shots, has become one of the most popular movies ever directed by Alfred Hitchcock.  Hitchcock admitted that he first read the story in one of the short story anthologies that bore his name.  "Actually it was one of those 'Alfred Hitchcock Presents' books," he explained.  "I found out that there had been attempts to do The Birds on radio and television, but they weren't successful." 

There were only two such attempts on radio.  The Lux Radio Theatre was the first, broadcast on July 20, 1953, with Herbert Marshall in the lead. This of course, was one of the few times that the Lux program presented an hour-long drama that was not based on a movie, because Hitchcock's film would not be filmed and released till 1963.  The second was almost a year later when the CBS program Escape featured Ben Wright and Virginia Gregg in the leads.  (Gregg's voice, incidentally, was that of the ventriloquist dummy in the Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode, "And So Died Riabouchinska").

"My memory," Hitchcock confessed once with boyish modesty, "is rather valuable."  Hitchcock was a man with a long memory when it came to his kind of stories.  On one rare occasion he went to London to successfully scour for a certain book he had recalled titles A Century of Creepy Stories, which had been out of print since 1932 and which he himself hadn't seen in decades.  While listening to Louis Pollack's short story "Breakdown" dramatized over the Prudential Family Hour of Stars on May 15, 1949, Hitchcock recalled the performance Joseph Cotton gave in the drama, and recast Cotton for the same role for his television series ten years later.

But, along with the influence radio played on Hitchcock, and vice versa, many of his films were re-created as condensed dramas.  Few productions actually featured Hitchcock, who for a brief moment paused to make personal comments about the productions or the film itself.  And with the possible exception of Once Upon a Midnight and The Alfred Hitchcock Show, Hitchcock never directed any radio productions.

In 1958, Alfred Hitchcock co-starred with Peter Lorre and Boris Karloff in an episode of As Easy as A.B.C. entitled "O is for Old Wives' Tales."  The series was the work of the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), and broadcast over United Nations Radio.  Among all the hosting and narrating of radio dramas, this would mark Hitchcock's only acting job on radio.

Sometime during the early 1980s, an anthology series produced in South America titled The Hitchcock Half Hour aired over numerous radio stations.  Hitchcock had nothing to do with the show any more than he did with the mystery magazine that bore his name; in fact, he was dead by the time the show was produced.  Only a few copies of this show circulate among collectors.

Over the years, transcription discs were cut to advertise movies for the purpose of advertising over local radio stations, and in the hallways of the movie theaters, a method of publicity for movie producers.  On occasion Hitchcock himself commented about key scenes and narrated these short air spots ranging anywhere from fifteen seconds to fifteen minutes.  These recorded commercials contained sound tracks from the films, with sound clips of conversations with the actors and on occasion an announcer making a sales pitch for the reasons "so stop on by your local movie theater and catch this movie!"  Radio spots to advertise commercials still go on today.

HITCHCOCK'S RADIO APPEARANCES

(circa, 1938)  Hitchcock was interviewed by critic Otis Ferguson upon his arrival to the United States.

April 13, 1939, The Royal Gelatin Hour hosted by Rudy Vallee.
June 27, 1941, Information Please
January 22, 1943, Information Please
January 24, 1943, The Texaco Star Theater starring Fred Allen.
March 21, 1948, The Charlie McCarthy Show
March 26, 1948, Information Please
January 30, 1949, Screen Directors' Playhouse  "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" with Robert Montgomery. Hitchcock commented about one of the
scenes in the movie.
November 11, 1950, Screen Directors' Playhouse  "Lifeboat" with Tallulah Bankhead. Hitchcock commented about the movie.
August 15, 1954, Sunday with Garroway, Hitchcock was guest to promote Rear Window.
September 18, 1955, Monitor, hosted by Dave Garroway, Hitchcock and Shirley MacLaine was guest to promote The Trouble With Harry.
April 27, 1958, As Easy as A.B.C. "O is for Old Wives' Tales" with Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre.

HITCHCOCK'S MOVIES ADAPTED FOR RADIO
The Lux Radio Theatre (December 13, 1937)  "The Thirty-Nine Steps" with Ida Lupino and Robert Montgomery.
The Campbell Playhouse  (December 9, 1938)  "Rebecca" with Orson Welles and Agnes Moorehead. 
Many radio fans insist that Orson Welles dramatized adaptations of novels, not movies, and with such reasoning some would consider this broadcast an adaptation of the novel, rather than the movie.  After all, production for Hitchcock's movie had not begun yet.  Still, David O' Selznick sold Welles the radio rights to "Rebecca," as long as a mention of the up-coming movie was made.  There is a possibility that Selznick wanted to hear Welles' solution to complications within the plot, for his own use.  This in turn, is probably one of the first adaptations of a movie not-yet-filmed.

The Lux Radio Theatre (March 2, 1941)  "Rebecca"  with Ronald Colman and Ida Lupino.
The Lux Radio Theatre (June 9, 1941)  "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" with Bob Hope and Carole Lombard.
Philip Morris Playhouse  (Deember 19, 1941)  "The Lady Vanishes" with Flora Robson and Errol Flynn.
The Gulf Screen Guild Theater (February 8, 1942)  "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" with Errol Flynn and Lana Turner.
The Lux Radio Theatre (May 4, 1942)  "Suspicion" with Joan Fontaine and real-life husband Brian Aherne.
Philip Morris Playhouse (November 6, 1942)  "Rebecca" with Herbert Marshall.
The Lady Esther Screen Guild Theater (December 14, 1942)  "Mrs. and Mrs. Smith" with Joan Bennett.
The Lady Esther Screen Guild Theater (January 4, 1943)  "Suspicion" with Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce and Joan Fontaine.
Philip Morris Playhouse (January 22, 1943)  "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" with Virginia Bruce.
Philip Morris Playhouse (May 21, 1943)  "The Thirty-Nine Steps" with Madeleine Carroll.
The Lady Esther Screen Guild Theater (May 24, 1943)  "Shadow of a Doubt" with Joseph Cotton.
The Lady Esther Screen Guild Theater (May 31, 1943)  "Rebecca" with Joan Fontaine and Brian Aherne.
Philip Morris Playhouse (October 15, 1943)  "Suspicion" with Madeleine Carroll.
Philip Morris Playhouse (November 12, 1943)  "Shadow of a Doubt" with Orson Welles.
The Lux Radio Theatre  (January 3, 1944)  "Shadow of a Doubt" with William Powell and Teresa Wright.
The Lux Radio Theatre (September 18, 1944)  "Suspicion" with William Powell and Olivia DeHavilland.
Matinee Theater (November 26, 1944)  "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" with Victor Jory and Gertrude Warner.
The Lady Esther Screen Guild Theater  (January 1, 1945)  "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" with Louise Allbritton, Joan Blondell, Stuart Erwin and Preston Foster.
Matinee Theater (January 21, 1945)  "Rebecca" with Victor Jory and Blanche Yurka.
Theater of Romance (July 17, 1945) "Suspicion" with Anthony Quinn and Judith Evelyn.
The Lady Esther Screen Guild Theater  (January 21, 1946)  "Suspicion" with Loretta Young and Nigel Bruce.
Theater of Romance (April 9, 1946)  "Jamaica Inn" with Louise Albritton.
Theater of Romance (April 30, 1946)  "Shadow of a Doubt" with Brian Donlevy.
Hollywood Startime (July 20, 1946)  "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" with Robert Montgomery.
Academy Award Theater (July 24, 1946)  "Foreign Correspondent" with Joseph Cotton.
The Hour of Mystery (September 1, 1946)  "The Thirty-Nine Steps" with David Niven.
Academy Award Theater (September 11, 1946)  "Shadow of a Doubt" with Joseph Cotton and Joan Fontaine.
Hollywood Players (October 1, 1946)  "Rebecca" with Joseph Cotton and Joan Fontaine.
Academy Award Theater  (October 30, 1946)  "Suspicion" with Cary Grant and Ann Todd.  Nigel Bruce was originally scheduled to reprise his screen role in this radio broadcast, but was forced to bow out because of illness.  His role was replaced by another actor.
The Lux Radio Theatre  January 26, 1948)  "Notorious" with Joseph Cotton and Ingrid Bergman.
The Lux Radio Theatre (March 8, 1948)  "Spellbound" with Joseph Cotton and Alida Valli.
Studio One (March 23, 1948)  "The Thirty-Nine Steps" with Glenn Ford and Mercedes McCambridge.
The Camel Screen Guild Players (June 21, 1948)  "Shadow of a Doubt" with Vanessa Brown and Joseph Cotton.
The Screen Guild Theater (November 18, 1948)  "Rebecca" with John Lund and Loretta Young.
The Screen Guild Theater (January 6, 1949) "Notorious" with Ingrid Bergman and John Hodiak.
The Ford Theater (February 18, 1949)  "Shadow of a Doubt" with Ray Milland and Ann Blyth.
The Lux Radio Theatre (May 9, 1949)  "The Paradine Case" with Joseph Cotton.
Prudential Family Hour of Stars (July 24, 1949)  "Rebecca" with Audrey Totter.
The Screen Guild Theater (November 24, 1949)  "Suspicion" with Cary Grant, Nigel Bruce and Joan Fontaine.
The Lux Radio Theatre (November 6, 1950)  "Rebecca"  with Vivian Leigh and Laurence Olivier.  Oliver, who starred in the original Hitchcock production, was against Joan Fontaine being cast as the leading lady.  Instead, he had asked that his real-life wife, Vivian Leigh to play the role.  She never got the opportunity.  In this Lux production, Leigh finally got her chance to play the role of the second Mrs. DeWinter, as she originally wanted back in 1939.
The Screen Directors' Playhouse (November 9, 1950)  "Shadow of a Doubt" with Cary Grant.
The Screen Directors' Playhouse (January 25, 1951)  "Spellbound" with Joseph Cotton and Mercedes McCambridge.
The Lux Radio Theatre  (December 3, 1951)  "Strangers on a Train" with Ray Milland and Frank Lovejoy.
Stars in the Air (December 27, 1951)  "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" with Jane Greer and Fred MacMurray.
Hollywood Sound Stage (January 10, 1952)  "Shadow of a Doubt" with Ann Blyth and Jeff Chandler.
Philip Morris Playhouse on Broadway (May 25, 1952)  "Rebecca" with Melvyn Douglas.
The Lux Radio Theatre (September 21, 1953)  "I Confess" with Phyllis Thaxter and Cary Grant.
The Lux Radio Theatre  (April 12, 1954)  "Strangers on a Train" with Dana Andrews and Robert Cummings.

Note: There were many radio broadcasts based on published works in which Hitchcock based his movies from.  Lowndes' "The Lodger" had been performed on literally dozens and dozens of radio programs, but those were omitted from the list above because the majority of those were adaptations of the novella, not the movie.  (Check out Jack the Ripper: His Life and Crimes in Popular Entertainment by Gary Coville and Patrick Lucanio, published by McFarland for such a list.)  Same goes for other broadcasts such as the March 3, 1952 broadcast of Suspense, which featured Herbert Marshall in an adaptation of "The Thirty-Nine Steps" because that production was based on the novel, not the movie.

Martin Grams, Jr. is the author of numerous books about old-time radio, television and movies. Excerpts used for this article originally appeared in the July 2001 issue of SPERDVAC's Radiogram and
Martin's highly-acclaimed The Alfred Hitchcock Presents Companionbook.  Reprinted with permission from the author.

 

 

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Copyright 2003 by Martin Grams, Jr.  All rights reserved. Printed in the United States Of America.  No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author.