Suspense's "Angel Face" is a radio noir set in New York City and narrated in the first person by Jerry Wheeler, a girl with an angelic face and a hard life as a nightclub performer. She does it all for her kid brother, Chick, whom she wants to see rise above their circumstances.
Chick gets himself into a serious mess when he hooks up with Ruby Rose Reading, the girlfriend of a mobster named Milt Militis. Over his sister's objections, Chick plans to go with Ruby on a trip to Chicago. When Ruby is murdered that evening, Chick takes the fall. Jerry knows her kid brother didn't commit the murder and she sets out, with the help of one of the detectives, to prove his innocence. As Chick heads for the electric chair, she has to work fast to find the real killer.
This episode was based on Cornell Woolrich's short story "Face Work" which was first published in the October 1937 issue of Black Mask magazine. Columbia Pictures bought the rights shortly after it was published and turned it into the 1938 B-movie Convicted starring Rita Hayworth.
Suspense's version of "Angel Face" retains portions of the original text in the dialogue but changes the story, particularly at the end. Their version does keep the quick pace and the basic plot, but it was reduced in a number of ways to accomodate a half-hour radio format. Not surprisingly, Suspense' s version skips over the scene where Jerry is branded on the hip with a hot poker by Milt Militis.
Although the announcer states that this episode was "an original play written for radio by Cornell Woolrich," it was not. It is generally believed that Woolrich did not write the adaptations of his stories that appeared on radio.
"Angel Face" stars "Queen of Film Noir" Claire Trevor and Joseph Kearns. It was produced, edited and probably adapted for radio by William Spier. (The obvious problem with this recording is that it seems to run a bit fast, particularly at the beginning. After checking a few other OTR repositories, a better recording was not to be found.)
This episode aired on May 18, 1950.
(Image by Clayton Lord from Word for Word Theater's current production of Angel Face in San Francisco. Pictured above are Paul Finochiarrio and Laura Lowry as Milt and Jerry. )