Generic Radio Workshop Script Library (BACK)

Series: Mystery In The Air
Show: The Horla
Date: Aug 21 1947

Dramatis Personae:
PETER LORRE
MARIE
DOCTOR
DR. PARENT
MADAME SABLE
BLACKSMITH
MAN
and one CROWD

MUSIC:

SHIMMER OF "MYSTERY THEME"...FADE IN....BUILD, THEN FADE TO BACKGROUND

MORGAN:

"Mystery in the Air" starring Peter Lorre....Presented by Camel Cigarettes.

MUSIC:

"MYSTERY IN THE AIR" THEME

LORRE:

Ladies and gentlemen, there are two kinds of stories: those that you can take to bed with you and they relax you and put your mind at ease; and then - there is the other kind. And our story tonight is the other kind. I still do not know whether it was the shadow of the madness to which the author himself so tragically succumbed --- or whether there really was an evil something that could not be seen or described. Well, why don't you decide for yourself? I'm simply going to tell you the facts in the case as set forth by Guy de Maupassant in his immortal story - "The Horla."

MUSIC:

SWELLS BIG, THEN TO B. G.

MORGAN:

Each week at this hour, Peter Lorre brings us the excitement of the great stories of the strange and unusual - of dark and compelling masterpieces culled from the four corners of world literature.

MUSIC:

OUT

MORGAN:

Tonight---"The Horla" by de Maupassant.

MUSIC:

GONG...THEN SNEAK IN CURTAIN

ROY:

"Mystery in the Air"...starring Peter Lorre, brought to you by Camel Cigarettes!

MUSIC:

CURTAIN UP TO FINISH

(APPLAUSE)

ROY:

Experience is the Best Teacher! Try a Camel--let your own experience tell you why more people are smoking Camels than ever before! Yes...let your "T-Zone" experience what it means to enjoy Camel's choice, superbly blended tobaccos. You know, your "T-Zone"...that's T for Taste and T for Throat...is your true proving ground for any cigarette. So try a Camel. Discover whether that rich, full Camel flavor doesn't just hit the spot with your Taste... whether that cool Camel mildness doesn't get along beautifully with your Throat. See if you too don't say..."Camels suit my 'T-Zone' to a T!" -

MUSIC:

"MYSTERY IN THE AIR" THEME TO SHIMMER...THEN DOWN AND OUT

MUSIC:

GAY FRENCH PROVINCIAL AIR...FADES, AND CONTINUES UNDER FADING OUT GRADUALLY

SOUND:

SUMMER SOUNDS...A FEW BIRDS

LORRE:

May eight, 1889. What a lovely day it was. I spent all the morning lying in the grass in front of my house--the house in which I was born and grew up. It is a wonderful house--and I love it. From my windows I can see the Seine which flows along the side of my garden--the great wide Seine, which goes to Rouen and Le Havre, and is covered by boats passing to and fro.

SOUND:

CHURCH BELLS, FAR AWAY, CONTINUE UNDER REMAINDER OF SCENE

LORRE:

Down to the left lies Rouen--the whole city dominated by the spire of the cathedral, and full of bells which sound through the air on fine days even as far as my home. What a wonderful morning. I was almost sorry when Marie, - she's my housemaid you know - when she interrupted me.

MARIE:

Your luncheon is ready, M'sieu.

LORRE:

Thank you, Marie. But it seems a pity to go in the house. Do you like it here, Marie?

MARIE:

Oh yes, sir--I like it very much.

SOUND:

TUGBOAT WHISTLE...OFF

MARIE:

I love to watch the boats go by on the Seine.

LORRE:

You do? So do I. See that one--that big schooner - it's being pulled by a little tug--look, it's no bigger than a fly.

MARIE:

Oh, isn't it beautiful - so clean and white and shining.

LORRE:

Yes - she's a three-master. Brazilian, I think - yes, I see the flag - it is Brazilian. Oh, she has had a long journey, from South America to pass my house.

MARIE:

You love this place very much, don't you, M'sieu?

SOUND:

TUG BOAT WHISTLE, OFF

LORRE:

(MUSING) Yes, Marie - I love it. I can feel those deep roots which attach a man to the soil on which his ancestors were born and died - to the villages - to the atmosphere itself. (SMILES) You don't know what I'm talking about, do you, Marie?

MARIE:

No, sir. But I do know that if you don't come into the house soon, your luncheon will be cold.

LORRE:

(SIGHS) All right, Marie, I'll come in.

MUSIC:

BRIDGE - SEGUE INTO THEREMIN, PLAYING RATHER RESTLESS THEME - CONTINUES IN BACKGROUND UNDER FOLLOWING

LORRE:

May twelve. For some reason I have had a slight feverish attack for the last few days, and I feel low-spirited and ill. I have continually a horrible feeling of impending danger - an apprehension of some coming misfortune, or of approaching death. I have never experienced anything like this before - if it continues, I think I will have to see my doctor.

MUSIC:

UP AND OUT

DOCTOR:

(RATHER POMPOUS) Look - I've told you - your pulse is rapid and your eyes are slightly dilated. Otherwise you are in splendid condition.

LORRE:

But doctor, why is it then when evening comes on, a feeling of oppression seizes me - just as if night concealed something horrible?

DOCTOR:

Probably just a slight attack of indigestion.

LORRE:

(FURIOUS) Indigestion!! Yesterday when I was walking in the forest of Roumare, why did it suddenly seem to me that I was being followed - that someone was walking at my heels - close, quite close to me - near enough to touch me. And yet when I turned around, I saw nothing behind me but the path between the tall trees - horribly empty. Can you explain that by indigestion!?...Can you? Huh?

DOCTOR:

(LAUGHS) Here is a bromide. If you will take it, and several cold showers daily, I am sure your fears will vanish and you'll be able to sleep without any further trouble.

LORRE:

(TIRED) All right, Doctor...Thank you very much.

MUSIC:

STARTS QUIETLY, BUILDS TO CLIMAX, SUGGESTING A NIGHTMARE - CUTS ABRUPTLY

SOUND:

POUNDING ON DOOR

LORRE:

(WAKING) Uh...who...who's there?

MARIE:

(MUFFLED) It is I...Marie.

LORRE:

Oh...just a moment, just a moment.

SOUND:

DOOR UNBOLTS - OPENS

LORRE:

Yes, Marie?

MARIE:

Are you all right? You were screaming and calling out...

LORRE:

(WEARILY) Was I?

MARIE:

It waked the servants.

LORRE:

I'm sorry..I must have been having a nightmare.

MARIE:

Oh.....is that all.

LORRE:

Marie..if you dreamed that someone was looking at you - touching you - taking your neck in his hands - squeezing it - squeezing it with all his might in order to strangle you -- perhaps then you would cry out, too.

MARIE:

Oh yes, sir...I am sure I should.

LORRE:

All right. Tell the other servants I shall try to be more quiet.

MARIE:

(FADING SLIGHTLY) Yes, sir...thank you, sir. Good night.

LORRE:

(INTERRUPTING) (TERRIFIED) Hey look - look Marie - my water carafe!

MARIE:

(COMING IN) Your..water carafe, M'sieu?

LORRE:

(FEVERISHLY) It was full when I went to bed!

MARIE:

Oh, yes, sir..I filled it last night.

LORRE:

Look..it is empty. I haven't touched it..and it is empty!

MARIE:

Y-yes, sir.

LORRE:

(RAPIDLY..ALMOST HYSTERICALLY) Somebody has drunk the water from my carafe. Somebody has been in this room!! Somebody...some thing...drank that water!

MARIE:

I don't know who could have, sir..unless perhaps you yourself...in your sleep...

LORRE:

(WILDLY) Yes, yes, of course. That's it..I must have done it myself! Marie..tell them to pack my things...I am going to Paris...I'm leaving the first thing in the morning!

MUSIC:

HITS HARD..SEGUES INTO THEREMIN. . PARISIAN THEME FADES AND CONTINUES UNDER

LORRE:

July twelve .....Paris. I must have lost my head during the last few weeks. At home my mental state bordered on madness, for I had believed...yes I had believed ......that an invisible being lived beneath my roof. How perfectly ridiculous it all seems now...twenty four hours in Paris have completely restored my equilibrium. Tonight I am going to dine at the house of my cousin, Madame Sable, and Doctor Parent is going to be there.. he's the famous specialist for nervous disorders. I shall ask him and I'm sure he can finally put my mind at rest about this silly hallucination.

MUSIC:

UP AND OUT

LORRE:

Doctor Parent, I have been wanting to ask you, have you ever known of a case where a person feels that he is... how shall I put it?...Not entirely in command of his own soul?

PARENT:

It is curious that you should ask me that.

LORRE:

Curious? Why?

PARENT:

Because now only now in 1889, after all these years - we are on the verge of discovering one of the most important secrets of nature. Ever since man has thought, he has felt himself close to a mystery which has been impenetrable to his gross and imperfect senses.

MADAME:

Whatever are you talking about, Doctor Parent?

PARENT:

Apparitions, my dear Madame Sable--invisible spirits.

MADAME:

(LAUGHS) You doctors--you're always being mysterious.

PARENT:

Not at all. For more than a century now men seem to have had a presentiment of something new. Mesmer and some others have put us on an unexpected track, and we have arrived at really surprising results.

MADAME:

Oh, you're just trying to frighten us.

PARENT:

Not at all. If you think so, would you like me to try to send you to sleep, Madame?

MADAME:

It would be a novel experience--(LAUGHS)--if you can do it.

PARENT:

If I can, it will answer your cousin's question.

LORRE:

Yes, it certainly would.

PARENT:

Now, Madame, if you will just sit in this easy chair--So. Now you must let your mind go completely blank, and look fixedly in my eyes---That's right. (HIS VOICE ASSUMES THE HYPNOTIST'S MANNER) You are going to sleep--sleep--going to sleep--sleep--(SOTTO TO LORRE) See--her eyes are becoming heavy--her mouth is twitching. (THEN UP AGAIN)--To sleep--sleep--(AD LIB UNDER FOLLOWING SPEECH)

LORRE:

(SOTTO) Doctor, I do not like this - it frightens me.

PARENT:

There, she is asleep. An easy subject, I must say. Now--if you will stand directly behind her chair--I will proceed with the experiment. I hand her an ordinary pasteboard visiting card--so. Now, Madame Sable, you hold in your hand a looking glass.

MADAME:

(HYPNOTIZED) Yes, I am holding a looking glass.

PARENT:

What do you see in it?

MADAME:

I see my cousin, standing behind my chair.

PARENT:

What is he doing?

MADAME:

He is twisting his ear.

LORRE:

But she cannot see me behind her by looking at a piece of cardboard.

PARENT:

Of course she can't. She sees you through her mind--(SLOWLY)--or someone's mind. (PAUSE) This troubles you, doesn't it?

LORRE:

Yes, it troubles me.

PARENT:

But it answers your question!

LORRE:

No it does not - it's an axiom that human beings can be dominated by human beings. But what if a human being is dominated by something - something else. Something not human. What then, doctor?

MUSIC:

(BRIDGE..SEGUE INTO THEREMIN WHICH CONTINUES UNDER)

LORRE:

August sixth. I am back at home. I know now it is useless to struggle. Somebody possesses my soul and dominates it. Somebody orders all my acts, all my thoughts--I am nothing except slave and terrified spectator of all I do. Who is he, this invisible Being that rules me--this unknowable Spirit--this rover of a supernatural race? He must have a name. He has--I feel it. Some day it will come to me. Oh if I could only leave my house--go away--escape--and never return!! But I cannot. This - this Being I cannot call by name - will not let me!! I am helpless - what can I do - what can I do?

MUSIC:

SWELLS TO CLIMAX. CURTAIN.

(APPLAUSE)

 

MORGAN:

In a few moments, Mr. Peter Lorre will bring us the climax of tonight's "Mystery in the Air" when Camels present Act Two of - "The Horla."

MUSIC:

GONG

ROY:

Experience is the Best Teacher! Even thousands of years ago, that was an old saying. Today, sports champions like Polo Star Cecil Smith are living examples of its truth. Yes...as you see Cecil Smith streak down the field..see him hit a sixty-yard backhand shot for the winning goal of the game..you know it takes experience to play polo like that. As Cecil Smith himself said:

MAN:

Experience is the best teacher in polo...and in cigarettes too. During the wartime cigarette shortage, I smoked any brand I could get. Experience taught me how much I really appreciate Camels. They suit me to a T.

ROY:

During the wartime cigarette shortage, people smoked whatever brands they could get. Remember? Yes..smokers compared the different brands, whether they wanted to or not. People became experts in judging the differences in cigarette quality..and, on the basis of that experience, more and more people discovered they preferred the rich, full flavor of Camels...the cool mildness of Camels. As a result:

CHANDLER:

(FILTER) More people are smoking Camels than ever before.

ROY:

Experience is the best teacher. Try a Camel yourself!

MUSIC:

"MYSTERY" THEME TO SHIMMER - THEN UNDER TO BG

MORGAN:

Now back to De Maupassant's strange story of a man obsessed by the idea that he is dominated by an invisible Being. Fear is ruining his life - the suspicion that he is no longer master of his own actions, even of his own soul - has become a certainty.

SOUND:

CLOCK STRIKES TWO SOFTLY

LORRE:

(SOTTO TO HIMSELF) It is only two o'clock - the whole night is before me. Oh, how still it is. And the stars - how bright they are. Who inhabits those far-away regions, and what do they know that we do not know? Will not one of them some day appear on our earth to conquer it? We are so weak - so defenceless... What was that!? I heard the rustle of paper - yet there is no wind - absolutely no wind. (PAUSE) That book - the one there on the table under the lamp - No! It's incredible. The page has turned!! The page lifted itself up and fell down upon the others, as if a finger had turned it over. My armchair appears empty - but no! It isn't - no, he is there - I know he is - sitting in my place - and he is reading. I can't stand it any longer - I will grasp him --! (HYSTERICAL SCREAM)

SOUND:

CHAIR OVERTURNED, LAMP CRASHES, WINDOW CLOSES

LORRE:

(PANTING, HYSTERICAL) He ran away - he ran away - before I could reach him he ran away! And the window closed after him! He is afraid of me - afraid of me! (LAUGHS WILDLY) What do you call yourself, you evil shade? Whatever it is, someday I will catch you and crush you --!

SOUND:

POUNDING ON DOOR

MARIE:

(MUFFLED) M'sieu - Oh, M'sieu...

LORRE:

Yes...what? What?

SOUND:

DOOR UNBOLTS AND OPENS

MARIE:

We heard the noise, and we wondered - another nightmare, M'sieu?

LORRE:

(FEVERISHLY) No - not a nightmare this time. I was awake. Tell me - tell me, Marie, do you believe in invisible things?

MARIE:

(STARTLED) Invisible --?

LORRE:

(INTERRUPTING) Yes - invisible beings - that dominate you?

MARIE:

Oh. I read an article about that in the paper today.

LORRE:

What did it say?

MARIE:

That somewhere in - in Brazil, I think - people are frightened - leaving their houses - saying they are pursued by invisible beings which feed on their life while they are asleep - like vampires - you know.

LORRE:

Marie - Marie, that is where he came from!

MARIE:

Who, M'sieu?

LORRE:

(EXCITED) Don't you remember the day we saw the little tug pulling that big Brazilian schooner up the river?

MARIE:

Yes...

LORRE:

Remember she looked so white - all white. And he - he was on board... Yes, he came from there, where his race originated. And he saw me - and he saw my white house - and he sprang from the ship -- Oh, now I understand - don't you? Don't you?

MARIE:

No, M'sieu - I don't.

LORRE:

(PULLING HIMSELF TOGETHER) No, no, you couldn't. It's all right, Marie - go to bed. There is nothing wrong - don't worry any more. Go back to sleep.

MUSIC:

BRIDGE - SEGUE INTO THEREMIN CONTINUING UNDER

LORRE:

Now I know. How can I help knowing - it's obvious. Yes, the rule of man is over, and..."he" has come, "he"...has arrived. But what is his name? The - what do you call yourself? - What's that? Ah - now I know - he is shouting it out - the Horla - that's it - the Horla. He haunts me - he is within me - he is becoming my soul. (PAUSE - SLOWLY) I shall kill him.

MUSIC:

UP AND OUT

SOUND:

CLANGING OF METAL - STOPS

BLACK:

There, M'sieu - the iron shutters on the windows and door are complete. Though why anybody wants half-inch iron shutters in their bedroom is more than I can see. Well - at least it will keep everything out.

LORRE:

(ABSTRACTED) I don't want to keep things out - I want to keep something in.

BLACK:

Eh?

LORRE:

Never mind. If you are finished, take your tools and go. My housekeeper will pay you.

BLACK:

Yes, M'sieu.

SOUND:

CLANK OF TOOLS PICKED UP - DOOR OPENS

BLACK:

Good day, M'sieu.

LORRE:

Good day.

SOUND:

DOOR CLOSES

LORRE:

(TO HIMSELF, EXCITED) Now I am ready. Tonight he will come - but tonight I am ready for him. I am ready for him.

MUSIC:

BRIDGE

LORRE:

(TO HIMSELF, SOTTO) He is here - I feel it. At last he is here. But I don't want to alarm him. I will casually close the iron shutters - as if I am preparing for bed...

SOUND:

TWO IRON SHUTTERS CLOSE - BOLT

LORRE:

Now I will start to close the iron door, as if I am shutting myself in for the night. But instead of shutting myself in --

SOUND:

CREAK OF IRON DOOR

LORRE:

I will - shut myself out!

SOUND:

CLANG OF IRON DOOR - BOLTS

LORRE:

It is done - he is inside - he cannot escape! Downstairs - as fast as I can run.

SOUND:

FOOTSTEPS RUNNING RAPIDLY DOWNSTAIRS

LORRE:

Good, the lamp is still burning.

SOUND:

FOOTSTEPS ONTO LEVEL - STOP - SOUND OF LAMP CHIMNEY

LORRE:

Fire - that will dispose of him - fire.

SOUND:

SMALL CRACKLE OF FLAMES

LORRE:

The house is dry as tinder. It won't take long. See - the flames are reaching the ceiling already. I'd better get out before I burn myself up, too.

SOUND: RAPID FOOTSTEPS ON WOOD, DOOR OPENS, FOOTSTEPS ON GRAVEL

LORRE:

Here...Here...I can watch from here....

SOUND:

FOOTSTEPS STOP

LORRE:

How slow the house is in burning...you don't suppose..no, there...a tongue of flame, licking out the top of the window...another..and another.

SOUND:

CRACKLE OF FLAMES GROWING IN INTENSITY

LORRE:

See it burn...my house...my beautiful house..but it is more beautiful now in flames..... because he is inside...he will burn, too...and I will be free...free of the Horla forever. (INSANE LAUGHTER)

AD LIBS:

MURMUR OF EXCITED VOICES OFF

MAN:

(OFF) Fire....fire...the house is on fire..get some water.

LORRE:

(YELLING OVER SOUND OF FLAMES) Yes..it is burning... let it burn. (DOWN A LITTLE) Now the whole place is in flames, nothing can stop it!

MARIE:

(OFF) Help, help!

MAN:

That's Marie!...in the garret...they'll be killed! Stand back, all of you....the roof's going to cave in.

MARIE:

(SCREAMS)

AD LIBS:

OTHER SERVANTS CALLING FOR HELP

MAN:

Poor devils.....Got to get some help..(FADING) Maybe we can get them out of there.

AD LIBS:

CRIES CONTINUE IN BACKGROUND

LORRE:

Look...it is lighting up the whole countryside..a monstrous funeral pyre...and he is burning, too! He...my prisoner......that new Being...the new Master... the Horla!

SOUND:

TERRIFIC CRASH AS ROOF FALLS IN...SCREAMS OUT

LORRE:

(PEAK OF HYSTERIA) There...the roof has fallen in!!!

SOUND:

ALL BG NOISES FADE OUT, FAST

MUSIC:

THEREMIN STEALS IN

LORRE:

(QUIET) It is over. That is the end..for him...He is dead. Yes...but is he dead? No- a Spirit would never fear premature destruction. But we fear it...all our human terror..springs from that. And then after Man, what? The Horla. Yes after us-who can die any day, by any accident, comes he who can die only at his own proper hour...because he has touched the limits of his existence. He is not dead. What can I do. What can I do? There is one thing I can do..I can destroy myself. Yes I must destroy myself ...(ALMOST HYSTERICAL) No! No! Let me go-let me go!...I know I am Peter Lorre, I know it's a story. It's by De Maupassant ... Yes, I know it's Thursday night, and we are on the air...but it's the Horla!

MUSIC:

UP TO CLIMAX UNDER LAST FEW WORDS, TOPS WORDS, OUT ABRUPTLY

LORRE:

.....Oh I beg your pardon, I'm sorry I got so excited.. but I warned you at the beginning...this is a very uncomfortable story.

MUSIC:

CURTAIN

(APPLAUSE)

 

ROY:

Each week, the makers of Camel cigarettes send free Camels to servicemen's hospitals from coast to coast. This week the Camels go to Veterans' Hospital, Northampton, Massachusetts...U.S. AAF Station Hospital, Boca Raton Field, Florida...U.S. Naval Hospital, Bremerton, Washington...U.S. Marine Hospital, Galveston, Texas....and Veterans' Hospital, Augusta, Georgia.

CHANDLER:

(FILTER) According to a nationwide survey, more doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette.

ANDERSEN:

One hundred thirteen thousand, five hundred and ninety-seven doctors -- living in every state in America -- were questioned by three leading independent research organizations. What cigarette do you smoke, Doctor? was asked. The brand named most was Camel.

MUSIC:

"MYSTERY IN THE AIR" THEME...FADE UNDER TO BACKGROUND

MORGAN:

Next week, "Mystery in the Air", starring Mr. Peter Lorre, brings you "Beyond Good and Evil" by Ben Hecht, with a special musical score composed and conducted by Paul Baron.

MUSIC:

COMMERCIAL LEAD IN.... FADE OUT ON CUE

CHANDLER:

Mister Pipe Smoker! Do you know why more pipes smoke Prince Albert than any other tobacco? Well, just try a pipeful; then you'll know! Just taste the extra-rich full flavor of P.A.'s choice tobacco. See if you don't prefer Prince Albert's cool mildness. Prince Albert is specially treated to insure against tongue bite. Crimp cut to burn slow, smoke cool. Yes, Prince Albert is specially made for smoking pleasure. See if you don't enjoy your pipe more with Prince Albert.

Be sure to listen to Prince Albert's "Grand Ole Opry" Saturday night...for a half hour of folk songs and humor...with Red Foley, Minnie Pearl, Rod Brasfield and the rest of the Opry gang. And as Red's special guests...those musical Dinning Sisters! Remember...Prince Albert's "Grand Ole Opry" Saturday night over NBC.

MUSIC:

"MYSTERY" THEME UP...AND FADE TO BG FOR

ROY:

Listen again next week at this same time when the makers of Camel Cigarettes present Mr. Peter Lorre in "Mystery in the Air". Next week's play will be "Beyond Good and Evil" by Ben Hecht.

The artists supporting Mr. Lorre tonight were

HENRY MORGAN as "The Voice of Mystery"
PEGGY WEBBER as Marie
LURENE TUTTLE as Madame Sablay
KEN CHRISTY as the Doctor
BEN WRIGHT as Dr. Parent
HOWARD CULVER and
JACK EDWARDS, JR.

This is Michael Roy in Hollywood wishing you all a pleasant - goodnight - for Camels.

(APPLAUSE)

MUSIC:

THEME TO FINISH

NBC ANNCR:

THIS IS NBC - THE NATIONAL BROADCASTING COMPANY.