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CBSRMT Episode Information
Jimmy Valentine's Gamble
('O. Henry classic')
A professional thief goes on the straight and narrow after finally tiring of a life on the run. However, an unexpected crisis surfaces in his life and he must exercise his old skills to perform one last heist.

Air Dates:
First Run - January 16, 1977
Repeat - August 7, 1977
Repeat - September 22, 1979
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4 Responses to Episode 0586

CBS RADIO MYSTERY THEATER, “Jimmy Valentine’s Guilt,” starring Robert Dryden and Paul Hecht, with E.G. Marshall, host. O. Henry’s classic story about the reformation of America’s most famous safecracker, Jimmy Valentine. Jimmy Valentine, whom O. Henry met while both were serving time in an Ohio penitentiary, is released and returns immediately to his chosen profession -- safecracking. Pursued by the feds, he lands in the small town of Elmore, Ark., and prepares to rob its only bank. But when he meets the bank president’s daughter, Annabelle, Jimmy decides to go straight. He opens a shoe store and becomes engaged to Annabelle, hoping, mistakenly, the feds will never find him. CAST: O. Henry.................ROBERT DRYDEN Mike.........................Court Benson Jimmy Valentine............PAUL HECHT Ben Price..................Ken Harvey Annabelle Adams...............Catherine Byers ADAPTED BY: Sam Dann

A safe cracker on the lamb goes straight and becomes a leading citizen. He risks it all when a crisis makes him exercise his old skills for one last operation.

Sam Dann did an outstanding job on adapting a classic story by O. Henry: the master of twisted endings. I've read O. Henry's version of this story before. The original title of it is called "A Retrieved Reformation." Same characters, same plot points, same twisted ending. Job well done! For the music and sound effects, not so well. The sound effects of the letter opening, piano playing in the saloon, hotel bell, birds chirping, townspeople murmuring in the bank, drilling the safe, turning the knob, clicking of the safe, and the horses neighing at the buggy were fine, but there wasn't enough for each Act. At the 33-minute 54-second mark, there's an unusual clanking sound and it's a total mystery as to what it is. In ACT-1, there was music that had a humble theme to it. At the 15-minute 10-second mark, it sounded like there was going to be a comical situation coming up. But in ACT-2, there was music with a theme of sudden changes, including love. That's when the music got a little bit better when they added romantic tracks in ACT-3. Not passionate, but suitable. As for E.G. Marshall, his job as Host was good, but his narrations, I think, weren't in the right places. In his Prologue, he asks if people can really change their destiny. In ACT-1, not only he mentions that O. Henry's original name was William Sydney Porter, but also mentions that no one was alien to the man, which made it easier for him to write stories for so many years. In ACT-2, he asks what is a man's essential nature? In ACT-3, he explains that some people have a change of heart/plan/life in the middle of their careers when things don't go accordingly. Then in his Epilogue, he briefly mentions that O. Henry was in prison for 3 years for embezzlement at the bank he worked at in Texas and ends the CBSRMT episode right there. I think his Prologue & Epilogue should've switched because the beginning would present what kind of a Writer we're dealing with and the ending has to finish with a good remark on what we have learned from this tale. But more importantly, the cast members in this were outstanding and entertaining. Robert Dryden (as O. Henry & Mr. Powell), Paul Hecht (as Jimmy Valentine A.K.A. Ralph D. Spencer), Catherine Byers (as Annabel Adams & Magnolia Mercy), Court Benson (as Rudolph Adams & Mike Dolan), and Ken Harvey (as Detective Ben Price). Paul Hecht as the confident safecracker and Catherine Byers as the bank president's daughter brought these characters to life, as if this atmosphere of fondness and idolization was growing as the story progressed. This story made not be as magnificent as his famous story, THE GIFT OF THE MAGI, but it does have a twisted ending that will satisfy the listeners. Check it out for it has mystery & romance.

I rate this episode ★★★★☆ for GOOD. Elspeth Eric wrote a great romantic story involving the supernatural, part of it reminds me of THE GHOST & MRS. MUIR. Only, instead of one human talking to a ghost, there are three humans. What started out as a peculiar love triangle, but then ended with a pleasant twist. Excellent work, Elspeth Eric! And speaking of excellence, I'd give a round of applause to our cast: Beatrice Straight (as Alice Emory: the widow), Paula Trueman (as Connie Lawrence: the friend), Joan Loring (as Dorothea: the maid), and John Baragrey (as Charles Emory: the ghost). Each of these actors brought their characters to life with their chirpiness, wittiness, zaniness, and quirkiness. At the 40-minute mark when Dorothea says to the ghost, "Do you mind if I call you...'Chuck' ?", you can hear how Joan Loring's voice was so heartfelt and tender. The sound effects of the footsteps, clock dinging, birds chirping, rotary phone ringing, wine glasses clinking, bottle of wine pouring, and moving furniture were all the necessary bits for this "ghastly" tale. There were bumbling, yet comical tracks in ACT-1, amiable tunes in ACT-2, and mystique themes in ACT-3. E.G. Marshall was on point with his narrations. In his Prologue, he states that seeing isn't believing, but believing IS believing. In ACT-1, he quotes English Playwright John Dryden of 1679 by saying, "With how much ease believe we what we wish." Then he quotes Roman Emperor Julius Caesar by saying, "Men freely believe that which they desire." Both quotes: Notable. In ACT-2, he explains that this love triangle has an apex, meaning the ghost IS the apex. At the end of ACT-3, he wishes the best of luck to all of these characters, which is a fine climax, but there's no resolution. There was no Epilogue! Everything in this CBSRMT episode was terrific except for that one missing part. Other than that, this was an amusing story. If you're searching for a Fantasy-Mystery filled with affection, flirtation, and fondness, this is the one you should listen to! =0]

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