Friday, March 27, 2015

HIGH ADVENTURE: Series Three

Maurice Tarplin, cast member
High Adventure was a dramatic series based on the ever-familiar mystery and detective theme, with an occasional supernatural angle. The dramas presented, a different one each broadcast, concerned the weird experiences of people who were propelled from more-or-less routine lives into unusual circumstances that led to “high adventure.” While this is mere speculation, it’s more than likely NBC’s attempt to cash in on CBS’ Escape series. The program was announced as the offering of the “High Adventure Society,” with the announcer as “the presiding officer, your host, welcoming you to the weekly meeting of the High Adventure Society…” The yarns broadcast were supposedly based on experiences of the members of the fictitious Society. Different radio actors and actresses were featured in the broadcasts and some faithful radio listeners might have recognized a few of those voices, realizing that the Society ploy was simply that. Occasionally, a name guest star was added to the presentation.

The stories were still written and directed by Bob Monroe. Musical bridges and background were performed by Arlo (Arlo Hults, organist). Because the series was no longer sponsored, the cost of having an orchestra was too much for the network, hence one organist. Effective with the broadcast of September 17, 1950, John Winters, organist, replaced Arlo. Ron Rawson was no longer the announcer. Instead, Ray Barrett was the new man who referred to himself as the “host.” Later, Barrett was replaced by Mel Brandt and others. Sadly, I have not yet found out who the others were, or which episodes they did. After the first four episodes, Robert Monroe was no longer contracted by NBC to do the series (his initial contract was for 26 episodes, even if the sponsor backed out). Elliot Drake took over as the author and director beginning with episode #5, but on a rotating basis as Monroe continued to contribute both writing and directing. (Beginning with episode 5, those I was able to identify who directed and wrote are credited accordingly.)

Episode #1  “RETURN TICKET”
Broadcast Date:
July 2, 1950
Cast: Mary Ashworth, Don Douglas, Ross Martin and Jack Orrison.
Plot: The story of Jack Regan (Ross Martin) who went to work at a lumber and logging camp and found that he had a double look-alike named Benny. Even Benny’s girl, Sal, a dance-hall girl, refused to believe that Regan was not her man. Ultimately, Benny gets a crooked idea that involved the attempted murder of Jack.

Trivia, etc. The premiere episode was delayed due to a short news bulletin regarding the recent Korean situation. Same happened for the broadcast of July 9.

Episode #2  “LOCK STEP”
Broadcast Date:
July 9, 1950
Cast: Mort Lawrence, Jeff Morrow, Jack Orrison, and Allan Stevenson.
Plot: This is the story of Tim Roark (Allan Stevenson), a young boy who is sent to prison. Without his knowledge, his own father is his cellmate and shows the boy what true “friendship” can mean. The old man loses his own life saving the boy from making a jail break that would have ruined his chances of early parole.

Episode #3  “THE BLACK CORD”
Broadcast Date:
July 16, 1950
Cast: Connie Lembcke and Ross Martin.
Plot: A young, attractive woman masquerades as a widow about to inherit a large sum of money. Posing as the wife of a murdered man, she is befriended by the husband’s best friend, Fred Stevens (Ross Martin), who suspects her of being an imposter but whose love for her is so great that he offers to protect her from the police. Connie Lembcke plays the role of the imposter, Ree, who finally turns out to be a policewoman who had been assigned to the role of the “widow.”

Episode #4  “HIS BROTHER’S KEEPER”
Broadcast Date:
July 23, 1950
Cast: Maurice Dorflin, Beryl Firestone, Joyce Gordon, Jack Orrison and Phil Sterling.
Plot: A suspense story about two brothers, Ward Collins and his “big brother” Red. The two brothers have only one thing in common: they both fall for the same girl. Red is a braggart who takes what he wants; Ward is unselfish but he can’t get over the complex of being overshadowed by his brother. Then comes the test: Red is caught in a burning tempering room and Ward is the only person who can save him. Ward saves his brother and also turns in the alarm that saves the lived of other workers at the plant. Joyce Gordon is cast as Alice, the girl who makes her choice between the two brothers and chooses Ward.

Episode #5  “THE HILL”
Broadcast Date:
July 30, 1950
Cast: Jim Boles, Jack Orrison, Al Patterson and Jim Stevens.
Plot: Dave Wilson, army staff sergeant, found that an old savage ma who wanted to rebuild the city of his ancestors was a “pretty right guy” for Dave and his lieutenant owed their life to such a man.

Trivia, etc. Elliot Drake is the author and director for this broadcast.

Episode #6  “THE GREENFIELD BOY”
Broadcast Date:
August 6, 1950
Cast: Joyce Gordon and Ross Martin
Plot: Probably the best script of the series, written by Robert Monroe. The story of a baseball player named Joey, but better known simply as “the Greenfield Boy,” because Greenfield is his home town. Joey had a terrific batting average and this leads to a feud between him and a left-handed pitcher named “Lefty,” who decides to court the same girl Joey loves. The Greenfield Boy faces death when Lefty deliberately tries to hit him in the head with a pitched ball but Joey refuses to register a complaint that would ban Lefty from the Leagues. Joyce Gordon plays the girl, Evie.

Episode #7  “COINCIDENCE”
Broadcast Date:
August 13, 1950
Cast: Joyce Gordon and Ross Martin
Plot: Written and directed by Elliot Drake. A young man named Sammy Bowen (Ross Martin) from the wrong side of the tracks is found guilty of a murder he did not commit. The youth is convicted on circumstantial evidence plus the bias of the Court caused by the boy’s juvenile delinquency record. A detective finds a small piece of evidence and saves the boy from electrocution. The boy’s girlfriend, Donny, daughter of the slain man (Joyce Gordon), remains loyal to her sweetheart.

Episode #8  “THE FIFTH DOOR”
Broadcast Date:
August 20, 1950
Cast: John Larkin
Plot: A sea story about three men who were trapped in a locked cabin aboard a sunken ship at the bottom of the sea. The three men know that one of them is a killer but only the guilty man knows who the murderer is. John Larkin plays the role of Kip Allen, the man who tells the story as he lived it. Kip and one of the other men, Bill, escape from the sunken ship: Petie, the third man, does not get out.

Episode #9  “SPECIAL DELIVERY”
Broadcast Date:
August 27, 1950
Cast: Inge Adams and Ross Martin
Plot: Written and directed by Robert Monroe. The story of John Rhodes (Ross Martin), diplomatic courier, who fulfills his mission in getting a pouch to the correct destination by the required date. During his mission, Rhodes meets Lauraine, the beautiful girl with whom he falls in love.

Episode #10  “WOMAN IN THE WOODS”
Broadcast Date:
September 3, 1950
Cast: Inge Adams, Jim Boles, Ross Martin and Nat Polen.
Plot: A mysterious woman (Inge Adams)with a fatal attraction for men and how she proves a stumbling block to two engineers assigned to build an air field in South America.

Episode #11  “SECRET THURSDAY”
Broadcast Date:
September 10, 1950
Cast: unknown
Plot: A story about flying and an accountant named George Stradley who had spent 25 years working for the Harlan Fire Hose Company, but who had wanted always to fly. When George gets a Thursday off work, he heads for the airport and finds that he can fly a plan just because he read every book on flying that he could find.

Episode #12  “BARRIER”
Broadcast Date:
September 17, 1950
Cast: Mary Ashworth
Plot: Three people learn the true value of one another’s characters when they for on a trip together: two men and a girl. The girl, Grace (Mary Ashworth), is promised in marriage to John Rockwood, one of the men. The other man, Ward Delcamp, is also in love with the girl. Through death, John binds the girl to him for always, as she chooses to live with his money.

Episode #13  “EAST SIDE BEAT”
Broadcast Date:
September 24, 1950
Cast: Don Douglas, Wendell Holmes, Mort Lawrence, Ross Martin, Bryan Raeburn and Linda Watkins.
Plot: Written and directed by Elliot Drake. A serious dramatic public service drama concerning juvenile delinquency. Bill Harrigan, a cop, faces retirement just when he wanted to solve a very special care. He found strange crimes committed by a kid because “nobody likes him” -- one by one, the kid hurts and even kills other boys and girls and finally a pet monkey.

Episode #14  “WHO WALKS LIKE A MAN”
Broadcast Date:
October 1, 1950
Cast: unknown
Plot: Written and directed by Robert Monroe. The story of Brad Orcoff who once thought that money was everything and went to Africa to make more of it. There, he encountered the gorilla, “who walks like a man.”

Episode #15  “METAMORPHASITE”
Broadcast Date:
October 8, 1950
Cast: unknown
Plot: Written and directed by Robert Monroe. The story of a man name Van Marola, who lived a dream of hope -- and destruction. This was the final broadcast of the series.

George Sanders, host of High Adventure
When the network was unable to pick up a new sponsor for High Adventure during the summer run, the series was cancelled. Elliott Drake and Robert Monroe eventually took the series back to Mutual, where the series originated in 1947. The program premiered on January 6, 1953 at 8:30 p.m. (now referred to as Series Four), and beginning with the broadcast of October 13, 1953, George Sanders became the series regular as both the host and narrator. Sanders remained until the program concluded on the evening of September 21, 1954. Only four episodes are known to exist in recorded form of the final series, and there is evidence to suggest that most of the 1954 broadcasts originated from the West Coast and not New York. 

From 1972 to 1985, a radio program of the same name was produced in South Africa. At present 32 different episodes are circulating in collector hands of the 655 that were broadcast. It has been reported that 204 episodes have been preserved. It remains unknown whether this is the same program or a completely different one with the same name. 

This is part two of a two-part article/episode guide on High Adventure. For part one, click here.

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