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The Transformation


A young man wastes both his inherited fortune and the love of a beautiful woman. He finally makes a deal for three days inside his beautiful body with a demon from underground. But the demon does not keep his deal and he must search for his body. He ends up finding way more.



Air Dates

  • First Run - May 7, 1975
  • Repeat - August 17, 1975





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26 Responses to Episode 0269

The performance is excellant! The adaptation could not be any better. 5 stars for Kevin McCarthy and for Elspeth Eric. This story ought to considered for a movie plot.


A man reunites with old friend and people around him start to die. Coincidence? Well written, well performed. Ending telegraphed somewhat, but still engaging.


A young man fritters away his family fortune and the love of a fine woman in this Kafkaesque tale of lost love and redemption. He exchanges three days of life inside his handsome body with a demon-like creature from the deep. When the creature does not return with his body, he must go hunting for it. He finds more than his body.

Bill Williams

An impetuous young man is determined to live life according to his own rules. He becomes enamoured with the young girl his father has been made guardian of while her own father was in exile abroad. He challenges men who try to claim her and in the end they are promised to each other. While out walking during a storm he sees a ship dashed against the reef and a trunk and dwarfish character cast from the wreckage. They make their way to the young man and then promptly shouts commands to the elements putting an end to the storm. He asks the young man to trade bodies with him for a short period… What do you think will happen?

Ms. Davies

this was not my "normal" type of cbsrmt show, but it was interesting. would have been really cool to see him go back after the case of jewels he "left behind" instead of never actually going to look for it. but with all he had been through, i guess its understandable.


Just listened to this one. It's a well-done episode. The story lends itself perfectly for RMT-- the supernatural aspects, the story of redemption, the multiple explainations given by the characters. It gives you plenty to think about long after the final curtain has fallen. I agree with the priest-- that it was his Guardian Angel-- trying to guide him back to the right path. I read the short story years ago, but I can't really remember how closely this broadcast follows it. Have to dig it out again. Until Next Time.

Fred Dukes

Yeah, I thought it was his angel as well. Nice show. I liked it because it kept my mind going while I was listening to it.


"Why tell a tale of impious tempting of Providence, and soul-subduing humiliation? Why? answer me, ye who are wise in the secrets of human nature! I only know that so it is; and in spite of strong resolve--of a pride that too much masters me--of shame, and even of fear, so to render myself odious to my species--I must speak." So begins The Transformation by Mary Shelly, a gothic fable I offer up to you as this week's show of the week, and my favorite Mystery Theater episode. I haven't heard all the RMT episodes, not by a long chalk, but this one in particular made a deep impression on me when I first heard it at the age of 13. For 28 years it has remained with me in perfect clarity and detail. It's got everything: Beautiful gothic prose, romance, wild storm-swept seas, a ship-wreck, a monstrous creature, a dark pact, a treasure, folly, pride, and redemption, and a sound thoughtful moral to the story. The Transformation is a finely crafted tale, and I still find it completely engaging, compelling, and thought-provoking all these years later. I hope you like it too. For anyone who'd like to read Mary Shelly's original.


I imagine the wreck was probably exactly what the creature had in mind--it's clear he is a chaotic influence, almost elemental, something morally ambiguous. Our hero was definitely not in his right mind. He was in turmoil------the constant crashing of the sea and thunder as he narrates are indicative of his mental state. And witnessing the odd, eerie spectacle of the shipwreck could almost be viewed as the wreck his life has become. In regard to the treasure, a big part of the moral to the story, metaphorically speaking, is that Juliette and her love are the real treasure, not the box of jewels. He learns that obsession with material possessions, and the pride that comes with that obsession, are a negative influence on his life--- so the treasure becomes a bad thing.Something to be avoided. He actually ends up receiving the true treasure in the form of his marriage to Juliette. Also, on a purely literal level, I imagine the whole experience was so horrific to him that he just didn't want to have anything to do with that chest and whatever evil influences might still hover around it. It's better to just leave some things lie. At the end, I don't believe the three characters' reactions are meant to be explanations at all. Rather, they present alternate ways of viewing such a tale. Different people respond in different ways to frightening, painful situations in life. Not any one way is the absolute correct way: Some, as Juliette, just write such things off and deny them. Some see them as an evil influence, something negative. And some (perhaps the oldest and wisest) see the positive effects of even the darkest situations, taking away a valuable lesson and counting it as a blessing. These last two are sort of a "glass-half-empty / glass-half-full" scenario. So there's not really a right answer, but choices. Which one is right? At the end, I think the narrator makes the healthiest and most positive choice, crediting it as personal redemption brought about by a guardian angel. And the two wounds, and no body to be found? Well, perhaps the creature was the narrator's own dark and ugly inner self--the jealous, greedy thing hidden behind his handsome face which he struggles with and ultimately conquers. (Another example of his dark half is when he nearly killed the other boy during his childhood.) If the creature caused the wreck, maybe, on another level, the dark half of our hero's personality made a wreck of his own life--a wreck which he, himself, must clean up. Taking responsibility for one's own actions is the main pillar of existentialism, and a philosophy with which, I imagine, Mary Shelly would have been very familiar. Such themes run through Frankenstein as well.

Kriston L.

i thought this was a pretty good show. i have a few questions. if the creature could control the weather why didn't he do it before the ship was wrecked on the rocks? was this all part of his plan? who in his right would make such a deal with such a creature? after going through all that he did why not go get the treasure chest? i would hav. would you? last question. which explanation do you beleve? a demon or an angel? the ending was fairly good. finding no body and the man having two wounds.


I thought this program was a classic CBSRMT adaptation. The dialogue and the first person telling of the tale worked to perfection for me. This is the first time I'd heard Kevin McCarthy in a CBSRMT program and I thought he was excellent He must have been a very established actor (Invasion of the Body Snatchers) by the time he did this play and his dramatic ability shines in radio as well as the on big screen. Our main character exhibited the classic traits of good and evil. As a young teen, his willingness to defend his future mate proved that he was both courageous and impetuous. As a young adult, this impetuous attitude led him to regrets and his greedy attempt for a quick fix turned horribly wrong when he made a deal with a monster. In the end, he was very fortunate to learn this lesson while returning to his original form. But we have to wonder, what really happened to the monster? Is he out there making another deal with someone who will be less fortunate?

Willmon Ryan

I wish I had read your intro before I wrote my first response. Your intro does a terrific job of explaining the essence of this program. It's got everything: Beautiful gothic prose, romance, wild storm-swept seas, a ship-wreck, a monstrous creature, a dark pact, a treasure, folly, pride, and redemption, and a sound thoughtful moral to the story. The Transformation is a finely crafted tale, and I still find it completely engaging, compelling, and thought-provoking all these years later. Yes, this program was an excellent adaptation of a classic gothic tale. It was perfect for radio because the mental picture was better than any visual presentation could have offered. The sound of seagulls and the crashing seas set a perfect setting for the transformation. I can certainly appreciate your notion that the monster could have been a reflection of our main character's dark side but I prefer to believe the monster is still out there, seeking another victim....makes the story all the more thrilling to me.

Roland Abot

I thought your first response was right on target! You made a really good point about the first-person narrative, and I also agree that Kevin McCarthy was excellent. And although I postulate on the idea of the creature as a metaphor for the hero's dark side, I like the fact that she leaves it open at the end. Makes it creepier. I actually also imagine that the creature might be lurking out there in the dark like a big spider. When I first heard that amazing description of the creature as a kid, I couldn't sleep for days! Good stuff!


I haven't heard the original, but I found the story predictable..(I mean, who would trust a monster in the first place?) But your right...the picture in my mind of the monster was far creepier than it could have been if I had actually seen it. Over all I give it an 8.

Lind Tate

Wow! This is one of the best adaptations I've heard in a while. The story, the writing, the acting - all superb. Steve, you know how to pick 'em! I listened to this while driving through Napa/Sonoma area a couple of evenings ago. The sliver of orange moon mixed with the shadowy twisting oaks really added to the experience. I swear something in the shadows on the side of the road lurched at me! :twisted: I'm of the opinion that the monster and main character are separate parts of the whole, although three days after hearing the episode, I'm still internally debating that position. Anyway, I agree with you Steve that the open ending is put to great effect. Too often today open endings are merely segues to sequels (How many times can you see "Jason" reborn before you just don't care?). I'm just glad that Mary Shelley wasn't my babysitter - I'm sure I'd have grown up to be a vegatative neurotic if I had to listen to her bedtime stories as a kid!

Dirky P.

This was a great story--creepy and kept me guessing and wondering.

Tychus F.

Great point. I have trouble with programs where there are so many characters that I get lost. It's not like we're reading a script and can see the parts of each character. If there are too many characters or the voices are too similar, I get lost and frustrated.


Ditto---an excellent point about the number of characters. I agree. Having the story narrated first-person with just a limited number of characters gives the whole play a more intimate tell-me-a-story feel, which really heightens the creepiness. Makes it very close, personal, and more real. Like being told a story by the hearth. And, Troy, yikes! I can just imagine listening to this one driving at night with only a sliver of moon and twisty shadows on both sides of the road. :shock: What a perfect setting! Thanks for your kind and enthusiastic words. I'm sure glad you all liked this play, and that you find it as creepy as I do.


Kevin McCarthy is terrific, and I think it's a strong adaptation, but Robert Dryden does make difficult to listen to, as he often does. It's a creepy story and I enjoyed the experience, but that shrill voice is grating.


A good listen - I wish I could compare it to the original story but I've never read it. I agree that Dryden's voice can be grating at times, but it can always be creepy (which worked well for the character in this story).


This reminds me of Shakespeare's Tempest and the monster as Caliban. Different story, butr deals with a shipwreck, Italian nobles, and a Caliban monster with magic powers.

Scooter D and the end of the greens

Excellent. Kevin McCarthy did a great job.


A handsome young man named Guido, living more than a century ago in Genoa, is refused, because he is destitute, the hand of his childhood sweetheart, Juliet. Despondent, he becomes a beachcomber and one day encounters an ugly, misshapen dwarf who offers to trade his chest full of jewels for Guido’s handsome face and figure -- for just three days. Guido reluctantly agrees, but three days later the dwarf fails to appear and Guido is certain he is seeking the hand of Juliet. And, Guido is right.


I really enjoying this strange, yet intriguing, episode as well.


This was a great story! I enjoyed it immensely. I rate this episode with FIVE STARS!!!⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Eric Templeton

This is one of my favorite all-time episodes. I was shocked to find out that it was written by Elspeth Eric because I'm not a big fan of hers. But it made more sense when I learned that it was based on a short story by Mary Shelley. I loved the imagery and I think this is one of Robert Dryden's best performances. Highly recommend this episode!

Julie Falk

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