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Catch the Smallest Devil


A cantankerous and horrid old man perishes after heart surgery. He is denied entrance into Heaven, even as a timid young nurse is admitted into the Pearly gates despite her self-deprecating remarks. Now the self-serving man must confront his wicked ways and the devil makes sure he does so.



Air Dates

  • First Run - January 1, 1981
  • Repeat - January 1, 1982





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21 Responses to Episode 1141

One of my favorite episodes...kind of "A Christmas Carol" for New Year's Eve. Depending on your beliefs it can be quite uplifting. Fred Gwynne didn't appear in many CBSRMT episodes but when he did, he always created memorable characters. He's terrific here. Never mind that you can see the finish a mile away; this one is a lot of fun and it will make you feel good.



Cash Harris

Ummmm...Fred Gwynn was in like a gazillion episodes.


No, Don, just 82. He was outstanding in every episode he was in, too. He was so gifted as an actor who appeared in comedies, dramas, even musicals, but, sadly, so many people know him as Herman Munster. That's not to denigrate a Sixties TV icon, but this man was so much more. He wrote some very clever children's books, which are very hard to find now. I'm not sure what your remark means, Don, but I treasure his performances, even in episodes I'm not fond of. RIP, Fred Gwynne.


Fred Gwynne. Full on rockstar.


This is an excellent episode to listen to on New year's Eve. Fred Gwynne was again great in this episode. I give this episode 5 Stars!

Don Heiland, Jr.

I rate this episode 4 stars for GOOD. Here’s what I liked the MOST. First, the cast: Fred Gwynne (as J. Barnabus Whitney), Teri Keane (as Nurse Lydia Mae Stewart), Court Benson (as Dr. Fowler and the Devil), and Norman Rose (as Chaplain Peterson and Saint Peter). All 4 them did a splendid job, especially our leading actor Mr. Fred Gwynne. Second, our Host when he discusses on dreaming in his Prologue. In ACT-1, our main character is introduced and his shred of dignity is fading. In ACT-2, E.G. Marshall informs us that our main character has faced the pearly gates and also a “fowl fiend.” At the end of ACT-3, he informs us about psychologists’ definition about dreaming. In his Epilogue, E.G. Marshall informs the CBSRMT fans about the origin of the pearly gates from the 21st chapter of the Bible’s Revelations. Our Host was informative on dreams defined and informative on spiritual circumstances. What I like the LEAST was the music and sound effects. There were less music tracks played in this episode, not many tunes to change scenes or make the scenes feel “holy” or “demonic.” The sound effects we only heard were creaking doors, bells chiming, shaking of the pearly gates, unrolling the scroll, and pearly gates closed shut. Some were repeated in the 2nd and 3rd Act. As for the script, Nancy Moore wrote a good mystery tale, fitting for a New Year’s Day story, but the ending was predictable that our main character got a second chance at life; kind of like Ebenezer Scrooge from #0402-A CHRISTMAS CAROL. I think the storyline would’ve been better if our main character, J. Barnabus Whitney, also met the Grim Reaper other than Saint Peter and the Devil. He met someone from Heaven, met another person from Hell. But how about the Grim Reaper where he meets him at the Crossroad of the afterlife? Anyway, the Title of this is suitable, but another way to call this would be, “Reap What You Sow” because that’s exactly what our main character has done. A rare mystery tale for New Years, but entertaining to listen to if you’re a fan of Fred Gwynne’s work. Also, check out episode #1231-LET NO MAN PUT ASUNDER for it is a mystery tale that takes place on New Year’s Eve. Until next time…pleasant dreams. =0)


Like this one! Hard to not like one with Fred Gwnn in it. Excellent story and acting. Check it out!


The writing by Nancy Moore is the real gem in this episode

Edward Hayes

Mr. Gwynne's performance in this one was great. Well worth a listen.


Wealthy, tight-fisted J. Barnabus Whitney, hospitalized for heart surgery, wakes up New Year’s Day in typical fashion: He insults his nurse, scorns his doctor and turns the visiting chaplain out of his room. But under sedation, he has a troubling dream and wakes up full of resolutions to do good before it’s too late.


One of my favorite episodes!


This is one of my favorite episodes to


Apart from his excellent and versatile performances as a visual actor (TV's ‘The Munster's’ and movies ‘My Cousin Vinny’ and ‘Pet Cemetery’), I usually find Fred Gwynne's radio performances quite wooden and sniffing of an overarching arrogance. Gwynne's performance in CATCH THE SMALLEST DEVIL however, is ONE OF HIS BEST in the Mystery Theater series. His performance as protagonist J. Barnabus Whitney, an aging and bed-ridden ungrateful crank, is overplayed but works very well in how it contrasts Teri Kean’s equally wonderful performance as Whitney’s gentle and selfless nurse. Writer Nancy Moore’s recycled Dickensian premise is actually unique and fresh, and Moore excels in developing the characters and thus the listener's interest in them. The play’s predictability in no way diminishes its enjoyment, and references to Holy Scripture circle back repeatedly and relevantly, both in the story and in E.G. Marshall’s excellent commentary. Like earlier reviewer Russell, I never knew the term ‘Pearly Gates’ stems from the 21st chapter of the Revelation to John. CATCH THE SMALLEST DEVIL nets 4 out a 5 stars – JUROR # 4.


I truly loved this episode. Going on my favorites list too.


Wonderful episode!

Mr. Silva

Thoroughly enjoyable - and I was very impressed that E. G. Marshall gave the source of the term 'pearly gates'!


I loved watching Care 54 Where Are You! On Nick @ Nite in the 80s. He was quoted as saying: "Voice work is the kindest thing that can happen to an old actor." (Though wasn't he a judge in "My cousin Vinny", long after the last RMT episode - think it was Mr. Gwynne's final role before he passed.)


I rate this episode ★★★☆☆ for AVERAGE. I’ll review what I enjoyed the most first and then finish off what I disliked. First, I enjoyed the cast: Kevin McCarthy (as William Gillette/Sherlock Holmes), Jada Rowland (as Pamela Watson), Russell Horton (as Jim Watson), and Carol Teitel (as the Tour Guide and Mrs. Hudson). Carol Teitel was terrific in her 2 roles. Jada Rowland is my favorite actress in the CBSRMT series and having her partner up with Russell Horton again, like many episodes before, was delightful. And Kevin McCarthy was entertaining, just like his performance as Sherlock Holmes in previous episodes before this one. Next up, music and sound effects. Dozens of dramatic tunes were used, but no suspenseful or chilling tracks were used to match the feel of being trapped in a castle. Sound effects of car engine running, tires screech, footsteps, tourists murmuring, sliding doors, cat meowing, howling wind, gong, lamp breaking, doors, cane hitting clothing, gun shot, tapping of the phone, drawing the curtains, carriage rolling up, pouring of drinking glasses, and doorbell were very supportive in this tale. Next is our Host and his narrations. E.G. Marshall’s Prologue focused on castles and our story takes place at a castle in New England. In ACT-1, meet Jim & Pamela Watson where one of them is a Sherlock Holmes buff. In ACT-2, knowing so little about William Gillette’s career and we get a sense that some actors like him can go too far to create an illusion of reality. In ACT-3, after the strange turn of events, our Host’s only explanation to the Climax is to mention a quote from a playwright about the 6th sense of the Imagination. In his Epilogue, he recommends CBSRMT listeners to take a tour of the Gillette Castle itself in Connecticut. Good recommendation, but no Resolution explained on what happened to our characters afterwards. And so, it comes down to the final segment: the Script. Elizabeth Pennell has written decent drama mysteries and even did the adaptations of #0605-JANE EYRE and #0643-WUTHERING HEIGHTS. But this story was Fair. So-so, I should say. I was expecting it to be a haunting mystery about a haunted castle with the Sherlock Holmes references. But instead, this story’s turn of events created massive questions to think about. Like, how did the Jim & Pamela Watson hear about this castle? Was Mrs. Hudson going through nightmare problems? Was William Gillette really dead? Was he putting on a show for his guest just so he can play Sherlock Holmes for fun? Did these 2 tourists actually travel back in time? Was the castle actually haunted? Was it really a nightmare? Was anything resolved after Jim & Pamela Watson escaped from the castle? There are so many fill-in-the-blanks in this, the episode’s title should be changed and call it “A Bad Case Of The Jitters” or “Elementary, My Dear Guests.” Tune in to this, if you like. There are better castle stories in the CBSRMT vault. SPECIAL BONUS: This episode has commercials of AMEX travelers checks, Bob Armstrong’s Diamond Center, “The Ritual” novel, CBS-News, First Federal of Gary, Radio Advertising Bureau, Jewel’s Discount Grocery Store, CBS-Sports News in Chicago, CBS-News on Election 1980, Susan Anton for Serta Sleeper Mattresses, and Smokey Bear Program. Until next time…pleasant dreams.


I rate this episode ★★★★★ for EXCELLENT. I'd think that Robert Barr would have been pleased of the adaptation of this by James Agate, Jr. It has intricate clues, it has peculiar motives, and it has a surprising twist in the end. And above all, it has a great detective in this: Eugène Valmont. Robert Barr’s character ranks up with Jacques Futrelle’s Professor Augustus S.F.X. Van Dusen and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. Another way to title this story would be “A Case Of Interest” or even “The Parisian Detective.” In our Host’s Prologue, E.G. Marshall starts it off by comparing one of the characters as a “Scrooge.” In ACT-1, the bloodline of the James Dudley Hills on their fortunes. As the plot thickens, we realize that not all clues were divulged in the first Act alone. In ACT-2, questions pop up. More importantly, they see the evidence clearly, but not recognize it. In ACT-3, quoting Sir Francis Bacon about suspicions and our main detective plays a waiting game. In the end, after discovering where the loot was hiding all along and discovering who else was related to the family, we learned a private post-mortem joke that money would bring out the worst in those with the least character. In his Epilogue, E.G. Marshall finishes it off with the comparison of the Midas myth - great wealth does not equal great happiness. Outstanding narrations. Sound effects of bells, footsteps, background noise at the police station, phone receiving line, seals, patrons murmuring, paper note, newspapers, doors, dog wincing, phone ringing, paper bills, intercom buzzer, emergency sirens, pulling off wallpaper were terrific. As for the music, great selection of dramatic tunes that moved the story forward. And let us not forget our amazing cast: Norman Rose (as Eugène Valmont), Russell Horton (as James Dudley Hill III and Inspector Graves), and Robert Dryden (as James Dudley Hill, Jr. and Elijah Browning). These 3 worked well together. Norman Rose, performing with a French accent, was very entertaining. This is one mystery story that CBSRMT fans should not pass up on. Until next time…pleasant dreams.


I rate this episode ★★★★☆ for GOOD. I admire Murray Burnett’s work, particularly his adaptions of the Sherlock Holmes stories. But the story originally from Edith Wharton was better. The novelist’s ghost story had a Narrator without a name. In Murray Burnett’s version, we got a fashion designer that’s interested in the castle while the other male characters act persuasive and vulnerable. I was more interested in the mystery of the dogs and hope that they would play a bigger part to this tale. Other ways to title this would be “Dogs Of Kerfol” or “Strange Vendetta.” In our Host’s Prologue, that I had to find on other OTR websites, E.G. Marshall’s topic is about castles with ghosts. In ACT-1, meet our main character who’s interested in buying a castle. After digging into the story within the story, our Host points out the lifestyle differences of adultery from 2 different time periods. Our main character must’ve seen dogs or ghost dogs. After too many conflicts about pets getting killed in this story, E.G. Marshall mentions ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). Was E.G. Marshall trying to advertise this non-profit organization into the episode? In ACT-3, he understands the reaction that our main character felt when reading the history book. When the story was over, E.G. Marshall stated that when he talked about this story to a psychiatrist and what was his take on this? Was E.G. Marshall talking about his personal life on this? Or was this something that Murray Burnett wrote for him? What’s even weirder, is the Epilogue. E.G. Marshall tells the world’s shortest horror story ever. It’s a classic, but it’s irrelevant to this particular story. E.G. Marshall wasn’t off topic with his narrations, but he could’ve saved the ASPCA mentioning, the psychiatrist moment, and the shortest horror story for other episodes. The music was OK, but the tunes for the chilling moments kept on repeating in every Act. Sound effects of birds chirping, bell ring, iron gate squeaking, footsteps, car tires screech, jewelry case, door knocking, howling wind, violin music, and unbolting the door were good. And of course, the sounds of dogs barking were helpful. And finally, our cast: Mercedes McCambridge (as Paula Randall and Anne de Cornault), William Redfield (as Herve de Lanrivain and Andre de Lanrivain), Ian Martin (as Baron Yves de Cornault), and Guy Sorel (as the Judge and the Gypsy). I like this choice of cast members. In fact, this was my favorite part of the episode. All of the actors were great. But it was Mercedes McCambridge, our leading lady, who was superb. Her performance in this reminds me of her performance in Ep. #0318-CARMILLA where she played 2 roles: The Narrator and the Woman who dealt with death. Fans of her would enjoy this episode. Check this one out, but also check out Edith Wharton’s original ghost story. Until next time…pleasant dreams.


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