The Black Book

1952

Host: Paul Frees

The Black Book was a series where the "Teller of Tales" would recite a story from his giant collection of stories. Many of the tales centered around someone who was trying to commit the perfect murder, or was on the run after doing the deed. It seems to have evolved from an earlier concept called The Man In Black, which also starred Frees as the "Teller of Tales". Three audition shows using that title were produced, but when the series aired in the Spring of 1952 on CBS, it was called The Black Book (Digital Deli Too). Perhaps there was concern about causing confusion with Suspense and the British version (Appointment With Fear) starring Valentine Dyall, since his character also went by the MIB name. (Ironically, there was also a 1950 series called The Teller of Tales, so either way, they had a hard time coming up with original names!)

Whatever the reason for the name change, The Black Book didn't last long. It had good stories and great help (including John Dehner and Virginia Gregg), but realistically, Frees could have played all the parts, including the women. He was known in Hollywood as "the man with a thousand voices" and considered one of the few who could actually imitate a woman's voice convincingly. (Other famous Frees voices include Bullwinkle's Boris and the Pillsbury Dough Boy.) As it was, Frees did play multiple roles, although it is often tough to detect, as he was very effective at it.


 

Man In Black Standard Opening:

(SFX: Music)

Announcer: "Come with me, down the long corridor, through the shadows, to the secluded study of the famous 'Teller of Tales'.

(SFX: Door latch.)

Host: "Welcome. I am the man in black. These magnificent volumes you see surrounding me, contain the world's greatest collection of unusual and fantastic stories. Today, I have selected a tale by Mr. John Russell. A strange story of the South Seas. 'The Price of the Head.'

(SFX: Music sting.)

A Typical Opening Narration:

Host: "The processions of Mr. Christopher Pellet were these: a bad name in the Islands, a continuous thirst of liquor, and the set of fine red whiskers. Also, he had a friend, Kerockee. It was a strange thing, this friendship between Pellet and the native, for down among the Solomon Islands, the terrors of pure savagery lay just beneath the thin cover of the white man's civilization..."

 

The Black Book Standard Intro:

Host: "I have another story to tell you today. This one is about a murderer who is trapped by one of the most powerful forces of nature. Do you want to hear it?"

(Music: Horn flourish.)

Announcer: "Now starring Paul Frees as your Teller of Tales. Another story from The Black Book."

Host: "Yes, from the world's most fabulous collection of strange and unusual stories, The Black Book, I have selected a story called The Vagabond Murder."

A Typical Opening Narration:

Host: "Eric Patterson was growing desperate. He'd been there for over two hours, waiting. Waiting with less and less patience for the door in front of him to open. He listened intently for the warning sound of the key in the door. Eric needed to be warned, because when the man he was waiting for entered the room, he was going to kill him..."

(SFX: Music sting.)


Hear it now, FREE!

(Courtesy of Best-otr.com)

"The Vagabond Murder" - A jealous husband decides to murder the man who broke up his marriage, and to make it look like an accident.

"The Price of A Head" - A drunkard discovers that the natives of the Solomon Islands will do almost anything to obtain mementoes of red headed tourists.

(Clyde Ross Murder) - An adopted son decides to murder his benefactor, without anyone suspecting the truth.


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