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CBSRMT Episode Information
Title:
Berenice
('Edgar Allan Poe classic')
Plot:
A young man falls in love with his young sister-in-law while his wife lies on her deathbed. The last distressing smile of his wife taunts him day and night, and he goes crazy when he sees the same smile on his new beloved.
Episode:
0200
Air Dates:
First Run - January 9, 1975
Repeat - March 11, 1975
Repeat - July 29, 1979
Writer:
Listen:
Rating:
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19 Responses to Episode 0200


My favorite episode to listen to at Halloween!

Totally creepy!!!

A man's cantakerous wife is about to die when she learns he is interested in her younger sister. On her death bed, she sends him a wish that will haunt him for his days to come.

One of Poes shortest, ghastliest tales concerned with tragic, obsessive, necrophilic love... Not a particularly promising subject for CBSRMT. Still, despite having to write the story almost from scratch, around the slight original; this is not a bad episode. Merely mediocre.

A woman lay dying a horrible slow death. At one time she had such a charming and beautiful smile that her husband could not resist her charms. Once married, the charm and delight left her and the smile turned to a condescending sneer. Even then, her perfect lips and milk-white teeth were the image of pure beauty. In her death throes, she turns into a churlish and horrible woman with whom no one can bear to spend a moment. Her younger and beautiful sister is the polar opposite: she is kind and gentle and loving beyond reproach. She also shares the affection of her brother in law but restrain themselves and maintain a platonic relationship, at least until the cruel sister/wife has died. But even in death, the smile, in all its’ horrible beauty, continues to haunt the widower, and leads him to drastic action.

"Berenice": another winning EAP-RMT combination. Joan Banks has surely got one of the greatest evil laughs I have ever heard. A few tidbits that may be of interest: * The Poe story "Berenice" is quite short, and it's worth reading as a comparison (well, obviously it's worth reading on its own too). (An odd detail included in a footnote to the Society's version of the text is that in Poe's time the name "Berenice" was pronounced to rhyme with "very spicy." It took me a minute to wrap my tongue around that one.) * The RMT adaptation of the story interpolates elements of Poe's stories "The Fall of the House of Usher" and, particularly, "Ligeia." I hardly need say that these tales are also worth reading. * The Payton/Grams guidebook to the CBSRMT includes this quote from the scriptwriter, George Lowthar: "Edgar Allan Poe was a genius. There's no doubt about it. His language ranks among the most beautiful in the world, with its imagery, its color. The man holds you from the very first line until the very last. He was a storyteller, a master of prose. A dramatist must take the seed of his stories and fertilize it, at the same time retaining the poetic ambiance of Poe and the horror that is in his stories." This episode represents some first-rate fertilizer by Mr. Lowthar.

Well . . . I expected Chris to have a bit more to say on this rendition of a Poe classic. (Follow the "lighthouse" from last week's tale to see why I say that.) Chris can blow us all out of the water when it comes to Poe. I reread the original short story. RMT has developed a tale which stands well on it's own, but it differs greatly from the original. Poe has no dialogue; rather the story is an extended monologue. RMT adds several characters that don't occur in the original; in fact most of the characters don't appear in the original. Gone is the monomania; a tendency for psychological obsessions. Introduced is a second character who is haunted or possessed by a shrewish ex-wife. Also the protaganist's best friend is wholly a RMT creation. The RMT version feels a bit padded and stretched out . . . since you can read the original story in half the time it takes you to listen to this tale. I have to admit that the maniacal laughter of Bernice is chilling on the ear! Despite all the differences in the two stories, they do have many similarities as well. In fact the two tales have exactly 32 details in common. 32 perfect, flawless, unblemished, pearly-white, details. The horror of "the deed" when it is accomplished in act three carries all the horror of the original I think. Never go to a dentist. Don't associate with dentists yourself. In fact, avoid all contact with people who like to talk with or about dentists. I mean, if you want to avoid this horror in your own life. That's my plan anyway. Also, discard all pliers from your toolbox. I reccomend burying them. And as above, avoid talking with or associating with people who have, use, or talk about pliers. I only say these things so that you may enjoy a happy life, unmarred by an episode such as the one Bernice endured. In fact, be careful who you smile openly to; a happy grin may be safer than a hearty laugh in the long run. Thank goodness that monomania is a relatively rare disorder.

funny stuff. i enjoyed this one, though admittedly, it did a fine job of creeping me right out. never listen to the RMT when you're alone in your house and cleaning out the darkest part of your basement. it's just not wise. ugh!!

Thank you so much for making the show available. I recently had my interest in old time radio renewed by my new Sirius Saleltie radio and its radio classic channel. I clearly remember my father taking us for rides around New York in the 1970's so that we could listen. As soon as i heard the opening of CBS Mystery Theater i was transported back to my fathers car and 1974. If i only knew then that my Father was creating memories that would still pull 30 years later. Thank You so very much. Sirius by the way does not carry CBS mystery Theater.

"Berry Nice-y"? Fascinating.

I liked this one very much. It did indeed creep me out when I was listening. An excellent production. Though I understand that it differs from the original, I really liked this story the way it was presented in rmt. I'll be sure to read the original as it has been so highly recommended. Two notes on this particular encode. I liked the advertisement for the buick. 25 mpg on the highway and 16 in the city. lol. Also the announcer who is signing off the show for the local station at the very end is very much "into" his job.

When Anthony told Constance that she shouldn't smile like that at Earnest, her response, "But..... I didn't smile" did give me a few goose bumps. Also, when Anthony said their was only a pair of pliers there I quickly realized what they were used for .... Yuk. I agree that the sentimental journey is the best part of these shows.

While I have not read the original story.. I thought this show was well done. The acting was well done. The sound quality is good on this encode... I get the willies when stories have dental things like this in them.... EWWWWW!! I also like the advertisements and on some of these shows the recordings include the news at the top of the hour... Watergate, Oil embargo, etc... more things change the more they stay the same. One of the early programs of rmt even had news commentary saying we only had best case 30 years of oil left.. 1974 plus 30??? hmmmm?

I enjoyed this episode. I thought the music in the background was perfect for this episode when the younger sister Constance was riding the horse. Pulling Berenice teeth out with the pliers at the end gave me the creeps. A fitting end for this episode. A must listen. I gave this episode five stars.

When you read the original story by Poe make sure you are reading the uncensored version. Poe removed several paragraphs towards the end due to complaints that it was to horrific. He even apologized and agreed that perhaps it verges on bad taste. This website owned by the Poe Society has the complete version. While reading it remember that Poe was starving in Baltimore and yet this starvation he created a masterpiece. Enjoy!

"The Finger of God" is another good story, check it out. Heard someone once say that the pronunciation back then would really have been something like "Berry-nice-y".

Not only this is my favorite CBSRMT episode ever, this is my favorite story by Edgar Allan Poe! In Poe's version, the main character Egaeus acted gloomy and spent a lot of time in the mansion library. Both Egaeus & Berenice are cousins and were set to be married. He never cared about the way she looked or the way she dressed, but her teeth became his dark obsession. He analyzed her more than admiring her. In George Lowthar's version, he extended the story with 2 more characters and more development to make it compelling, which was nicely done. Both the music & the sound effects were terrific as always. Even though the main character's name was changed from Egaeus to Ernest (played by Michael Tolan), it's still entertaining. Both the original & the CBSRMT versions were perfect with their shocking endings on what happened to Berenice and her 32 teeth. And Joan Lovejoy did an awesome job for playing Berenice, especially with her haunting laughter. Sink your teeth into this one, everybody, because it's worth listening to!

This story was written by Poe for the Southern Literary Messenger (where he was employed) in 1835. The readers back in that era were horrified by the story's violence and complained to Thomas Willis White the editor of the Messenger. Poe later published a self-censored version of the work he believed he should be judged solely by how many copies were sold. That doesn't surprise me at all people were a lot more superstitious back then than they are nowadays. Had this story been written one hundred years earlier and published he probably would have been burned at the stake.

A pretty good adaptation from a VERY short story to a radio drama. For some reason it still reminded me of the same section of The Dark Eye (PC game from the 90's that had segments from several of Poe's stories ... in Claymation). I do admit you don't get the same feeling of craziness from the main character in this adaptation, but it's still a good story (and I agree that it borrows from a few other of his stories as well).

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