Escape's "Elementals" was based on the short story by American author Stephen Vincent Benet, which was first published in Cosmpolitan magazine in 1925, and is currently available online through Google Books. This is a strange and depressing episode that makes more sense after reading the short story."Elementals" is the story of a wealthy man, Mr. John Slake, who does not believe that love is more powerful than the "three prime movers" in the human soul--fear, hunger and hate. While having dinner with his scholarly friend, Sherwood Latimer, he discusses this belief. Slake points to the results of a cruel test done by the Renaissance Italian Prince Guiccardini in the sixteenth century. Guiccardini had tried to prove that love could not endure over hunger by performing an experiment in which two lovers went without food for ten days. At the end of the test, if their love endured over their pain, they would receive wealth and title. However, when the ten days ended, they died in a fight over a crust of bread. Slake offers Latimer the chance to undergo the same test for seven days with a prize of $10,000 if he and his fiance succeed. Latimer and his fiance do survive the test, and Slake accepts defeat in disgust.
In Escape's version, two men argue about the power of love, after seeing a play, and offer the experiment to their cab driver. Not being able to resist the money, the cab driver and his fiance, Cathy, agree to undergo seven days of starvation to prove the power of their love.
"Elementals" was originally adapted for radio by Meyer Dolinsky and produced/directed by Antony Ellis. Tony Barrett starred as Latimer, William Conrad as John Slake, and Georgia Ellis as Catherine Vane. Also appearing were Ben Wright and Byron Kane. This episode aired on October 11, 1953.
Suspense presented "Elementals" on June 12, 1960. Their version is much closer to the orginal story and the better of the two. (This episode also has a perky Fritos corn chips commercial right after the starvation scene --which helps break the tension.) Phil Meader played Latimer, Santos Ortega played Slake and Ellen MacCrea played Cathy. Paul Roberts produced/directed.
(Image of Stephen Vincen Benet)